Friday April 27 – Thursday May 3

Featured Film:

Isao Takahata at the SIFF Uptown

It would take something special to wrest control of our Featured Film spot from the Northwest Film Forum, especially considering they have the most intersting new film of the week (Lucrecia Martel’s Zama) and a pair of excellent repertory films (The Third Man and The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach). But SIFF has done it with a special, one show Saturday morning only, presentation of the late, great director Isao Takahata’s My Neighbors the Yamadas. It’s the most underrated his work for Studio Ghibli, and endlessly inventive adaptation of a comic strip about a Japanese family. Like all Takahata’s best work, it’s weird and funny and almost surprisingly poignant.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Basket Case (Frank Henenlotter, 1982) Thurs Only

Central Cinema:

Sister Act (Emile Ardolino, 1992) Fri-Weds
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (Shinichirō Watanabe, 2001) Fri-Weds

SIFF Egyptian:

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Sophie Fiennes) Fri-Thurs
RBG (Julie Cohen & Betsy West) Starts Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Bhai Taru Singh (Sukhwinder Singh) Fri-Thurs
Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci) Fri-Thurs Our Review
The Leisure Seeker (Paolo Virzì) Fri-Thurs
Lean on Pete (Andrew Haigh) Fri-Thurs
Journey’s End (Saul Dibb) Fri-Thurs
Mystery Screening (???) Sat Only
Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010) Sun Only
A Bag of Marbles (Christian Duguay) Tues Only
East Side Sushi (Anthony Lucero) Weds Only
Felix (Roberta Durrant, 2013) Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Ismael’s Ghosts (Arnaud Desplechin) Fri-Thurs
Cinema Minneapolis Sat & Sun Only
Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple (Takuya Igarashi) Weds, and Next Sat & Sun Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Achari America Yatra (G. Nageswara Reddy) Fri-Thurs
Bharat Ane Nenu (Koratala Siva) Fri-Thurs
Diya (Karu) (Kanam) (A. L. Vijay) Fri-Thurs In Tamil or Telugu
Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986) Sun, Tues & Weds Only

Northwest Film Forum:

Zama (Lucrecia Martel) Fri-Thurs Our Review
The Judge (Erika Cohn) Fri & Sat Only
The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949) Sat Only
The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1968) Weds & Thurs Only

Paramount Theatre:

Ella Cinders (Alfred E. Green, 1926) Mon Only Live Score

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Never Not Love You (Antoinette Jadaone) Fri-Thurs
Finding Your Feet (Richard Loncraine) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Lean on Pete (Andrew Haigh) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

Lean on Pete (Andrew Haigh) Fri-Weds
Where is Kyra? (Andrew Dosunmu) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986) Sun, Tues & Weds Only

SIFF Uptown:

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay) Fri-Tues, Thurs Our Review
The Endless (Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead) Fri-Tues, Thurs
The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci) Fri-Thurs Our Review
My Neighbors the Yamadas (Isao Takahata, 1999) Sat Only

Varsity Theatre:

Final Portrait (Stanley Tucci) Fri-Thurs
Love After Love (Russell Harbaugh) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review
Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg) Our Review
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson) Our Review
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) Our Review

Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)


“What is dead may never die.”

The long-awaited latest film from Argentine director Lucrecia Martel (The Headless Woman, La Ciénega) opens this week at the Northwest Film Forum. It’s set sometime in the late 18th Century, in an unnamed Spanish colony in South America. Daniel Giménez Cacho plays Diego de Zama, an American-born magistrate who very much wants to get away, back to his family (from whom he hasn’t heard, as the film begins, in 14 months), or transferred out of the ramshackle outpost he’s assigned to and into something resembling a city. Zama though will be frustrated at every turn, and the film is a chronicle of his long, slow disintegration as he is ignored, confounded, ridiculed and betrayed by his fellow colonists and swallowed up whole by the flora, fauna, and pestilence of the land he’s invaded and so disdains. Early in the film, Zama is told by a child suffering from cholera that he is a god, born old but fated to never die. His progress, such as it is, recalls other descents into the wilderness, Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, Joesph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja, and so on, with the notable exception that for the majority of the film, Zama actually doesn’t journey anywhere, at least not spatially.

Based on a novel by Antonio di Benedetto, which I own but have not read, Zama is a slippery film: half allegory, half deadpan comedy, half realist fever dream. Giménez Cacho drifts through the film to the sounds of mid-century Brazilian guitar duo Los Indios Tabajaras (whose “Always In My Heart” you can also hear in Wong Kar-wai’s Days of Being Wild, a very different kind of film about a very different kind of jungle, that nonetheless shares Zama’s sense of aimless alienation). His Zama never seems to understand what is happening to him or why, he’s only apparently motivated by the desire to leave, or, alternately, the lust for women (only to be satisfied, if at all, off-screen). He is a magistrate, but from what we see not a very good one. He attempts to romance a fellow official’s wife, but is endlessly rebuffed. He tries to defend the young girls at his inn from a thief who may not have been uninvited. Time passes by while his entreaties to the governor for a transfer are endlessly delayed. Martel gives us no real markers for the passage of time, outside of Giménez Cacho’s physical deterioration. His physical state matches that of his surroundings: out of favor with the government he is evicted, and holed up in a hovel (that may be haunted) he contracts a fever. Or maybe he’s had it all along, or maybe he hasn’t ever really been there: he seems to have an extraordinary talent for not being noticed—even the servants can’t seem to remember his name.

Eventually, Zama makes it out of town, but not in the direction he’d hoped to be going. He joins a party searching for the notorious fugitive Vicuña Porto, a man held responsible for pretty much every crime in the area, fictional or not. The name has followed Zama from the beginning, not unlike the llama that stalks behind him during a meeting with the governor, the sounds and images of wildlife ever-present, even in the heart of the colonial community. On their journey, the men, of course, run afoul of the native population, who act mysteriously (one group wears masks, the other paints themselves orange and forcibly paint the Spaniards as well), but not with any kind of special hostility. Throughout the film, the natives, free and enslaved, linger in the background, as workers and servants, eying the colonists but rarely interacting with them. They are, like the environment itself, the force of otherness that torments Zama just as much as the other colonists. There’s no escape into nature for him, nor to the city. No chance for assimilation, either among the Spanish, or among the natives. He is doomed to in-betweenness: neither European nor America, urban or rural, civilized or wild, alive or dead.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018, Anthony & Joe Russo)


It is rare to find a film that so “neatly,” so thoroughly encapsulates not just a single mode of filmmaking, but the entire Hollywood apparatus and a national (almost international) culture to boot. Yet Avengers: Infinity War is just that: in theory and largely in practice, the culmination of a decade-long franchise, spanning nineteen films and counting, interweaving innumerable plot-lines and characters, all united against a single adversary. By design, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in no way limited to this, connected as it is in both narrative and fandom terms to a vast comic-book tradition as well as the cultural expectations that come with such a massive enterprise. If it weren’t for the multitude of MCU films yet to come (or that other franchise juggernaut), it might be safe to call this the most hotly anticipated film of the decade, perhaps of the century.

So how does a “single” film handle such expectations? The short, only mostly accurate answer: as well as the individual viewer might expect. I can say with a great deal of confidence that much of one’s enjoyment of almost any MCU film, especially one as pointedly summative as this, is directly related to their engagement with the wider mythological universe. Nevertheless, Avengers: Infinity War offers much in the way of determining just how one relates to this film, its franchise, and indeed modern Hollywood at large.

Continue reading Avengers: Infinity War (2018, Anthony & Joe Russo)”