Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018, Christopher McQuarrie)

paris

Discussing the evolution of a blockbuster franchise series can sometimes be a difficult venture (that is, when it is worth dissecting). With some, it seems patently obvious: for example, Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil series developed over the course of its thirteen-year existence from straightforward, video-game inflected horror to totally artificial, digital constructions. Others are tied explicitly to commercial interests: the Marvel Cinematic Universe has remained resolutely within its narrative and formal wheelhouse even while it aims to present the veneer of change.

In this context, the Mission: Impossible films present a fairly unusual case. On the surface, it would seem to lack a single unifying creative voice, having switched out directors every single installment until the most recent two, with the motley crew of helmers counting in its club Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, and Brad Bird. One could then turn to the man at its center: Tom Cruise, whose continual acceleration of his tendencies towards potential self-destruction in order to achieve maximum visceral thrills is unparalleled in the modern Hollywood cinema. But that still doesn’t account for the overall series, which has rarely (if ever) veered outside of excellence, a continuity of quality. Furthermore, the specific manifestation of this quality varies from film to film, and up to this point from director to director.

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Friday July 27 – Thursday August 2

Featured Film:

Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings at the Pacific Place

Tsui Hark’s last couple of movies have been disappointing: the schizophrenic Demons Strike Back, the underwhelming Sword Master, and the just not very good Thousand Faces of Dunjia. But with Four Heavenly Kings he’s made his best movie since The Taking of Tiger Mountain. Mark Chao returns as the Tang Dynasty hero, once again protecting the Empire (and the kind of evil Empress Wu) from the forces of magic and superstition, embodied this time in a gang of magician/assassins from the underworld and a gang of even more lethal cultists from India. With some of the best and most imaginative special effects we’ve seen since Baahubali, it’s blockbuster filmmaking at its best. I wrote about it this week in my column at Mubi. Also, the Northwest Film Forum, in their continuing effort to redefine the movie week, launches their run of the new retsoration of Barbara Loden’s classic Wanda on Wednesday. It only plays for four days, until Saturday the 4th. Don’t miss it.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Central Cinema:

Aliens (James Cameron, 1986) Fri-Tues
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Joe Johnston, 1989) Fri-Weds

SIFF Egyptian:

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Century Federal Way:

Soorma (Shaad Ali) Fri-Thurs
Ashke (Amberdeep Singh) Fri-Thurs
Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007) Sun & Tues Only

Grand Cinema:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
The Theta Girl (Christopher Bickel) Sat Only
Half the Picture (Amy Adrion) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

To Live and Die in LA (William Friedkin, 1985) Fri-Sun, Mon & Weds 35mm
Ronin (John Frankenheimer, 1998) Fri-Sun, Tues & Thurs 35mm
Filmworker (Tony Zierra) Sat-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 (Tigmanshu Dhulia) Fri-Thurs
Junga (Gokul) Fri-Thurs
Happy Wedding (Lakshman Karya) Fri-Thurs
Chumbak (Sandeep Modi) Sun Only
Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007) Sun & Tues Only

Regal Meridian:

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007) Sun, Tues & Weds Only

Northwest Film Forum:

Saving Brinton (Tommy Haines & Andrew Sherburne) Sun Only
7 Splinters in Time (Gabriel Judet-Weinshel) Sun Only
Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) Weds-Sat
Italo Disco Legacy (Pietro Anton) Thurs Only

AMC Oak Tree:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review

AMC Pacific Place:

Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings (Tsui Hark) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant) Fri-Thurs
Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Seattle Art Museum:

True Confession (Wesley Ruggles, 1937) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

Under the Tree (Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson) Fri-Sun

Regal Thornton Place:

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007) Sun, Tues & Weds Only

SIFF Uptown:

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant) Fri-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

The Catcher was a Spy (Ben Lewin) Fri-Tues

In Wide Release:

Mission: Impossible–Fallout (Christopher McQuarrie) Our Review
Ant-Man and the Wasp (Peyton Reed) Our Review
Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross) Our Review
Solo (Ron Howard) Our Review
Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review

Eighth Grade (2018, Bo Burnham)

high school

In the course of writing evaluative pieces on film, a reviewer must always contend with their own biases related to form and content. This is by necessity, for if a critic tasks themselves with writing on movies that are “outside” their preferred aesthetic wheelhouse, then they will inevitably come across films that, try as they might, they cannot help but feel repulsed by. Of course, no film is made for everyone, and some films, even and especially those in the consciousness of mainstream culture, are hyper-specific in their catering to a specific audience. But there is a feeling of churlishness that can arise, one that exists on a level that exceeds a reaction that merely runs counter to a critical and cultural consensus.

I say all of this to give some context for my personal reaction to Eighth Grade, the directorial debut of YouTube personality Bo Burnham. As the title suggests, it covers the last week of the middle school tenure of Kayla (Elsie Fisher), an outwardly shy and quiet student who posts daily YouTube vlogs covering topics almost exclusively related to self-betterment. Through the course of these few days, she deals with a variety of awkward and sometimes intensely embarrassing social situations, all while contending with the various pressures and possibilities of modern social media.

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Friday July 20 – Thursday July 26

Featured Film:

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure at the Ark Lodge

Sure, the Grand Illusion has 35mm prints of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and The Shining, but the Ark Lodge has a one showing only presentation (with free ice cream for the kids!) of one of the greatest movies of all-time, so they get our coveted Featured Film spot this week. Our love for Bill & Ted goes way back, as you can hear in this episode of The George Sanders Show. Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Dhadak (Shashank Khaitan) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Stephen Herek, 1989) Sat Only Our Podcast

Central Cinema:

Newsies (Kenny Ortega, 1992) Fri-Mon
The Apple (Menahem Golan, 1980) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Dhol Ratti (Shivam Sharma) Fri-Thurs
Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) Sun, Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday
The Sandlot (David Mickey Evans, 1993) Sun & Tues Only

Grand Cinema:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
The Guardians (Xavier Beauvois) Fri-Thurs
Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Sat & Mon Only
The Land Before Time (Don Bluth, 1988) Sat Only
Pink Flamingos (John Waters, 1972) Sat Only
Happy Birthday, Marsha (Reina Gossett & Sasha Wortzel) Mon Only Free Screening
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Sophie Fiennes) Weds Only
Paper Tigers (James Redford) Thurs Only Free Screening

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Fri, Sun, Mon & Weds 35mm
Barry Lyndon (Norman Jewison, 1975) Sat, Sun, Tues & Thurs 35mm
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (Mari Okada) Sat-Mon

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham) Fri-Thurs
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant) Fri-Thurs
Dhadak (Shashank Khaitan) Fri-Thurs
Aatagadharaa Siva (Chandra Siddhartha) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
Lover (Annish Krishna) Fri-Thurs
Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) Sun, Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday
The Sandlot (David Mickey Evans, 1993) Sun & Tues Only

Regal Meridian:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (Mari Okada) Sat & Tues Only
The Sandlot (David Mickey Evans, 1993) Sun & Tues Only

Northwest Film Forum:

Sea to Shining Sea (Maximón Monihan) Mon Only Filmmakers in Attendance
Saving Brinton (Tommy Haines & Andrew Sherburne) Weds, Thurs & next Sun Only

AMC Oak Tree:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant) Fri-Thurs
Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Seattle Art Museum:

My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava, 1936) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

The Cakemaker (Ofir Raul Graizer) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant) Fri-Thurs
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (Mari Okada) Sat & Tues Only
Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) Sun, Mon & Weds Only
The Sandlot (David Mickey Evans, 1993) Sun & Tues Only

SIFF Uptown:

Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Fri-Sun
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant) Fri-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) Weds Only

In Wide Release:

Ant-Man and the Wasp (Peyton Reed) Our Review
Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross) Our Review
Solo (Ron Howard) Our Review
Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review

Friday July 13 – Thursday July 19

Featured Film:

Actual Film at the Grand Illusion

This week the Grand Illusion kicks off a multi-week celebration of 35mm, with matched pairs of classic films from the 60s to the 90s. This first week features a pair of 50 year old Steve McQueen classics, the heist film The Thomas Crown Affair and the cop drama Bullitt, with its justly-celebrated car chase. Next week is a pair from Stanley Kubrick: The Shining and Barry Lyndon (which should be a must-see on film). Then two underrated crime classics from directors more famous for other movies: To Live and Die in LA from William Friedkin and Ronin by John Frankenheimer. The series concludes with the sci-fi films Outland, by Peter Hyams and Demolition Man, from Marco Brambilla. These days 35mm is almost wholly absent from Seattle Screens, and when we do get something it’s usually one of the same old titles that play again and again. Only the Grand Illusion is cool enough to give us a series with both Barry Lyndon and Demolition Man.

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theatre:

Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Weds Only

AMC Alderwood:

Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

The Goonies (Richard Donner, 1985) Sat Only Free Ice Cream for Kids
Scorchy (Howard Avedis, 1976) Thurs Only

Central Cinema:

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Fri-Tues Subtitled Tues Only
Blade II (Guillermo del Toro, 2002) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Vadhayiyaan Ji Vadhayiyaan (Smeep Kang) Fri-Thurs
Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Eating Animals (Christopher Dillon Quinn) Fri-Thurs
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001) Sat Only
Saturday Church (Damon Cardasis) Tues Only
Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Weds Only
Local Produce: Short Films Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Bullitt (Peter Yates, 1968) Fri-Sun, Tues & Thurs 35mm
The Thomas Crown Affair (Norman Jewison, 1968) Fri-Sun, Mon & Weds 35mm
En el séptimo día (Jim McKay) Sat-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle) Fri-Thurs
Kadaikutty Singam (Pandiraj) Fri-Thurs In Tamil or Telugu, Check Listings
RX100 (Ajay Bhupathi) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
Tamil Padam 2 (C. S. Amudhan) Fri-Thurs
Vijetha (Rakesh Sashi) Fri-Thurs
Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story (Tiffany Bartok) Fri-Sun
Damsel (David & Nathan Zellner) Fri-Thurs Skype Q&A 714
Sea to Shining Sea (Maximón Monihan) Weds, Thurs & Next Mon Only Filmmakers in Attendance

AMC Oak Tree:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Hands Across the Table (Mitchell Leisen, 1935) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist (Lorna Tucker) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle) Fri-Thurs
Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Sun & Weds Only

SIFF Uptown:

The King (Eugene Jarecki) Fri-Thurs
The Last Suit (Pablo Solarz) Fri-Thurs
Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Straight into a Storm (William Miller) Weds Only
Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Sun Only

Varsity Theatre:

Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Weds Only

In Wide Release:

Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross) Our Review
Solo (Ron Howard) Our Review
Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson) Our Review

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018, Peyton Reed)

duo

In the wake of not just Avengers: Infinity War, but the length of more or less the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, one could certainly be forgiven for a healthy dose of skepticism. Not to say that there haven’t been noteworthy or even good films in the twenty-strong series – although undoubtedly some would argue even that – but the more pertinent question is that of stakes. In terms of the wider MCU, all of the films involve as their central conflict a villain whose plans at some point involve widespread destruction of an “innocent” public. Even something as far afield from the standard operation like Black Panther couldn’t help but hew to this.

The first exception I can think of to this is Ant-Man and the Wasp, which by design seems to be a comedown from the galactic strife of Avengers: Infinity War. Directed by Peyton Reed (who also directed Ant-Man), this film somehow manages to embody all the qualities that Marvel films had heretofore merely suggested: light, breezy, and emotional in a way more linked to the characters rather than a wider society. This isn’t necessarily to say that this feels especially personal in the way that, say, Black Panther does. But it has more than its fair share of liveliness and sense of play, which makes this feel markedly different from other MCU films.

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Friday July 6 – Thursday July 12

Featured Film:

Carol Lombard at the Seattle Art Museum

SAM’s summer tribute to the great Carol Lombard kicks off this Thursday with Twentieth Century, the 1934 screwball masterpiece from Howard Hawks. John Barrymore plays a theatrical director who schemes on the eponymous train to get Lombard to agree to appear in his next show. Both Barrymore and Lombard are exceptional: it’s possibly the loudest screwball comedy there ever was. SAM’s series continues in the coming weeks with great films like Nothing Sacred, To Be or Not To Be and My Man Godfrey.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) Fri-Tues
Deep Blue Sea (Renny Harlin, 1999) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

The Last Suit (Pablo Solarz) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Nankana (Manjeet Maan) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976) Sat Only
Evolution of Organic (Mark Kitchell) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Gabriel & The Mountain (Fellipe Barbosa) Fri-Thurs
Strangers on Earth (Tristan Cook) Sat & Sun, Mon & Weds
Godmonster of Indian Flats (Fredric Hobbs, 1973) Fri, Sat & Tues Only
Ask the Sexpert (Vaishali Sinha) Thurs Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Pantham (K Chakravarthy) Fri-Thurs
Teju I Love You (A. Karunakaran) Fri-Thurs
Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi (Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
Amma I Love You (K. M. Chaitanya) Sat & Sun Only

Regal Meridian:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
Eating Animals (Christopher Dillon Quinn) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Time Regained (Raúl Ruiz, 1999) Weds & Thurs Only
Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story (Tiffany Bartok) Starts Weds

AMC Oak Tree:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review

AMC Pacific Place:

American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs
Brother of the Year (Witthaya Thongyooyong) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Nankana (Manjeet Maan) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

First Reformed (Paul Schrader) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review

Seattle Art Museum:

Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks, 1934) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

Czech That Film Fri-Sun Full Program

SIFF Uptown:

The King (Eugene Jarecki) Fri-Thurs
Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Fireworks (Akiyuki Shinbo & Nobuyuki Takeuchi) Sat Only
Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Sun Only

Varsity Theatre:

The Rider (Chloé Zhao) Fri-Thurs
Bleeding Steel (Leo Zhang) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross) Our Review
Solo (Ron Howard) Our Review
Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson) Our Review