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.

Continue reading Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018, Christopher McQuarrie)”

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.

Continue reading Eighth Grade (2018, Bo Burnham)”