The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017)

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The following are a few brief thoughts on The Last Jedi rather than a proper review. I try to keep it vague or completely unmentioned for fear of spoiling. Depending on how sensitive you are to such things, you probably shouldn’t be reading any reviews at all. Maybe I’ll come back to it in a few weeks, after I’ve had a chance to more fully absorb it and to see it again.

The Last Jedi is the Star Wars movie we’ve been waiting for, the culmination of years of ancillary products building on and expanding the mythos developed over the first trilogy and inverted in the second. Like The Force Awakens, its structure is explicitly modeled on a film from the first trilogy, in this case, The Empire Strikes Back. Despite our heroes’ triumph in the last film, a rag-tag band of freedom fighters find themselves under assault by the fascistic enemy. They escape, but the principal good guys are separated and their storylines play out individually, one set on the run in space, while another tries to get advice from a reclusive Jedi master. All threads come together in an ending more bittersweet than triumphant, setting the stage for a final showdown in part three of the story. But this, aside from a handful of gags both visual and verbal here or there, is where the similarities end. In fact, The Last Jedi deftly subverts the expectation of repetition, resolving some conflicts while deepening others, breaking out of the series’ ringlike story and calling for a radical break with the past. To put it into the terms of our contemporary politics: if the original trilogy is about the triumph of neo-liberalism, and the prequel trilogy about the corruption of that ideology by the forces of fascism, then The Last Jedi is where the trilogy truly embraces revolution.

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Friday December 8 – Thursday December 14

Featured Film:

Irma Vep at the Northwest Film Forum

Continuing their miniature festival de Léaud, the Northwest Film Forum this weekend has the new restoration of Jean-Luc Godard’s Le gai savoir, in which Jean-Pierre Léaud and Juliet Berto discourse on language, meaning and learning. It’s one of the few 1960s Godard features I haven’t seen yet. The film it’s paired with, a 35mm print of Olivier Assayas’s Irma Vep, is one of the very best European films of the 1990s. Maggie Cheung plays Maggie Cheung, an actress hired by famous French director Léaud to star in his remake of Louis Feuillade’s silent serial Les vampires. A scathing satire of the state of the French film industry in the ashes of the New Wave, anchored by a brilliant fish out of water performance by Cheung, it’s one of the very best films ever made about making movies. I wrote a bit about it way back in 2011, after we had tried and failed to play it at the Metro.

Playing This Week:

AMC Loews Alderwood:

Titanic (James Cameron, 1997) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988) Fri-Tues
Scrooged (Richard Donner, 1988) Fri-Tues

Century Federal Way:

The Swindlers (Jang Chang-won) Fri-Thurs
Sat Shri Akaal England (Vikram Pradhan) Fri-Thurs
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Stanley Kramer, 1967) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Faces Places (Agnès Varda & JR) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
Blade of the Immortal (Takashi Miike) Sat Only
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Sun Weds & Thurs Only
The King’s Choice (Erik Poppe) Tues Only
Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings (Various) Weds Only Free Screening

Grand Illusion Cinema:

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Fri-Mon 35mm, Free on Monday
Christmas Evil (Lewis Jackson, 1980) Fri, Sat & Weds
Potamkin (Stephen Broomer) Tues Only 16mm
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, 1969) Thurs Only 35mm

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen) Fri-Thurs
Jawaan (B. V. S. Ravi) Fri-Thurs
Gruham (U. Milind Rau) Fri-Thurs
Fukrey Returns (Mrigdeep Singh Lamba) Fri-Thurs
Malli Raava (Gowtam Tinnanuri) Fri-Thurs
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Stanley Kramer, 1967) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Daisy Winters (Beth LaMure) Fri-Thurs
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
My Friend Dahmer (Marc Meyers) Fri-Thurs
Christmas Vacation (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1989) Sat Only

Northwest Film Forum:

Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas, 1996) Sat & Sun Only 35mm
La gai savoir (Jean-Luc Godard, 1969) Sat & Sun Only
Perfume of the Lady in Black (Francesco Barilli, 1974) Weds Only
On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sangsoo) Starts Thurs Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Jane (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs
Fukrey Returns (Mrigdeep Singh Lamba) Fri-Thurs
Unexpectedly Yours (Cathy Garcia-Molina) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Thelma (Joachim Trier) Fri-Thurs
The Florida Project (Sean Baker) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Snowpiercer (Bong Joonho, 2013) Fri-Sun Our Podcast
Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990) Fri-Sun

Regal Thornton Place:

Christmas Vacation (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1989) Sat Only

SIFF Uptown:

Jane (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

The Square (Ruben Östlund) Fri-Thurs
Tribes of Palos Verdes (Emmett & Brendan Malloy) Fri-Thurs
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Stanley Kramer, 1967) Weds Only

In Wide Release:

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Our Review
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) Our Review

The Post (Steven Spielberg, 2017)

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Steven Spielberg’s latest couldn’t be more obviously a grasp at contemporary relevance if it was titled The Post #TheResistance. Like his last film, Bridge of Spies and 2012’s Lincoln, it’s a procedural about the levers of American power, in this case the argument within the Washington Post about whether or not to publish excerpts of the Pentagon Papers, the lengthy report on the history of American involvement in Vietnam which was leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the New York Times in 1971. The hero is Katharine Graham, beloved socialite, who finds herself unsteadily in the position of Post publisher after her husband’s death (he had inherited the position from Graham’s father). Pushing her to publish is Ben Bradlee, editor-in-chief and old school newspaperman, while an army of relatives, board members and advisors urge her to be more concerned with the bottom line (the controversy around the Pentagon Papers could threaten the paper’s IPO). With Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as the leads, and Spielberg’s unparalleled felicity with composition and movement, The Post has everything Liberal, Elite America could want in a movie about itself.

Continue reading The Post (Steven Spielberg, 2017)”