Friday November 2 – Thursday November 8

Ug80ZiiiXhpR7LUOLJVrBJygTb-1400x788

Featured Film:

Jim Jarmusch at the Grand Illusion

There are a couple of excellent post-Halloween scary movies opening this week, John Carpenter’s The Fog in a new restoration at the Northwest Film Forum and the Brazilian werewolf/child-rearing thriller Good Manners (directed by Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas), at the SIFF Film Center, but there’s no doubt about what the must-see film event of this week on Seattle Screens is: the start of a two week retrospective on the films of Jim Jarmusch at the Grand Illusion. This week they’ve got his first three features: his debut, Permanent Vacation, on 16mm and his next two, Stranger than Paradise and Down by Law on 35mm. Stranger is the masterpiece of the bunch, a minimalist comedy of manners about a Hungarian woman who comes to visit her cousin in New York City where the two do almost nothing. Then they go to Cleveland. Then they go to Florida. It’s one of the few great American films of the 1980s. It puts a spell on you. Down By Law is more expansive, with a trio of convicts (John Lurie, Tom Waits and Roberto Benigni) escaping prison into the Louisiana woods. Next week, the retrospective continues with Night on EarthMystery Train and Dead Man, which is probably Jarmusch’s greatest film, if it isn’t Stranger than Paradise. Or Paterson. Or Ghost Dog. . . .

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

The Happy Prince (Rupert Everett) Fri-Thurs
Rampant (Kim Sunghoon) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Central Cinema:

My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988) Fri-Tues Subtitled Fri, Sat, Tues, Check Listings
V for Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2005) Fri-Tues
Dune (David Lynch, 1984) Thurs Only Hecklevision

SIFF Egyptian:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Rampant (Kim Sunghoon) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Grand Cinema:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Thurs
Tea with the Dames (Roger Michell) Fri-Thurs
Noche de Animas. Tzintzuntzan Sat Only Free Screening, In Spanish with No Subtitles
The Dead Zone (David Cronenberg, 1983) Sat Only
Lizzie (Craig William Macneill) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Stranger than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984) Fri-Sun, Mon & Weds 35mm
Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, 1986) Fri-Sun, Mon & Weds 35mm
Permanent Vacation (Jim Jarmusch, 1981) Sat & Tues Only 16mm
The Public Image is Rotten (Tabbert Fiiller) Sat & Tues Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Thurs
Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Kayamkulam Kochunni (Rosshan Andrrews) Fri-Thurs
Andhadhun (Sriram Raghavan) Fri-Thurs
Badhaai Ho (Amit Sharma) Fri-Thurs
Savyasachi (Chandoo Mondeti) Fri-Thurs
The Villain (Prem) Sat & Sun Only

Regal Meridian:

Wildlife (Paul Dano) Fri-Thurs
What They Had (Elizabeth Chomko) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The Fog (John Carpenter, 1980) Fri-Sun Our Review Our Other Review
The Price of Everything (Nathaniel Kahn) Fri-Thurs Discussion Fri
Chris Marker’s Cat Films (Chris Marker) Sat Only
Jack Straw Shorts (Various) Weds Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Late Life: the Chien-ming Wang Story  (Frank W. Chen) Fri-Thurs
Viper Club (Maryam Keshavarz) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Badhaai Ho (Amit Sharma) Fri-Thurs
Baazaar (Gauravv K. Chawla) Fri-Thurs
The Happy Prince (Rupert Everett) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Wildlife (Paul Dano) Fri-Thurs
Viper Club (Maryam Keshavarz) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Wicked Woman (Russell Rouse, 1953) Thurs Only 35mm

SIFF Film Center:

Good Manners (Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas) Fri-Sun

AMC Southcenter:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Uptown:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Romanian Film Festival 2018 Fri-Sun Full Program
The Reluctant Radical (Lindsey Grayzel) Tues & Weds Only
Advertisements

The Fog (John Carpenter, 1980)

john-carpenters-classic-horror-film-the-fog-to-get-a-4k-theatrical-re-release-social

This guest review comes courtesy of critic Jaime Grijalba.

John Carpenter seems to be the most prominent living horror director, even if he hasn’t made a film since 2010. His presence in the modern landscape of the genre is mostly due to his legacy, and the permanent mark he’s left behind with his films, from classics like Halloween, which defined the slasher genre, to cult films that have marked generations like They Liveand Big Trouble in Little China. His presence is unavoidable on the landscape of horror to this day, from his constant touring in support of his fascinating musical abilities, to his more active association with films associated with his brand, like the new Halloween, a continuation of the original, directed by David Gordon Green, for which he served as executive producer and score composer.

Although his fourth theatrical outing, The Fog, was commercially successful (more due to the very low budget it had), it was far from being critically well-received at the time, and even if it warranted a lackluster remake in 2005, it still remained one of the least discussed films in Carpenter’s filmography until recently. Now, thanks to a restoration done by Studiocanal in 4K and a re-release through Rialto Pictures, there’s a way to re-experience or enjoy for the first time on a big screen the Lovecraft-inspired and Stephen King-flavored horrors that are still completely owned by Carpenter.

The film opens, fittingly, with an old man telling kids some ghost stories, which fits the overall tone of the film, which follows the events of the 100th anniversary of Antonio Bay, a coastal town in California. In the same way as the old man tells these old tales, we are introduced to a voice that seems to narrate the life of the town, DJ Stevie Wayne (played by Adrienne Barbeau), who has a radio station at the lighthouse that she also commands. Her tone, verging on eroticism while at the same time assured of her position of power (she’s “above” the town, as she’s on the lighthouse, and at the same time separated from it), accompanies various characters that will eventually come together under the threat of the fog.

And it’s the DJ, from her vantage point, who is the first to see the threat of the fog, as it approaches a nearby ship, just as midnight strikes. Through clever parallel editing, all of it linked through her voice, we see many supernatural events happen around the town, from the discovery of an old diary written by one of the original settlers of Antonio Bay, to the shattering of all the windows on a truck, all of which builds up to showing what’s behind the bright fog that envelops the coast: vengeful ghosts that a hundred years ago were killed by the founders of the town, and not only that, were robbed from the gold they carried on their ship, which eventually was used to build the church and the rest of the structure of the village.

So, the film becomes more an exploration on the subject of moral living, which resonated with me in ways that I wouldn’t suspect. What’s our responsibility to our ancestors, colonizers who killed or displaced people that originally lived there? Is there any moral dwelling possible in colonized territory? Now, of course, in the story of The Fog, the vengeful ghosts weren’t actually living in the territory of Antonio Bay, but it’s as if it were the cause. We see the next night a massive event in which the founders are honored on the 100th anniversary, and knowing what we already know, we can feel the rage of these ghosts as they maim and kill and gut people, maybe not strictly related to the founders, but it’s their way of exacting revenge on a town that doesn’t know on which crimes it was founded, and even celebrates those who committed the murders.

Visually, the film is a treat, and even with the low budget it manages to create a chilling atmosphere that goes beyond the idea of just pumping lots of fog onto exteriors and interiors. There’s a blue tone that, I assume, the new restoration will hinge on to bring forward the spooky imagery of the shadowy figures that in a brute manner slit throats, decapitate heads and dismember bodies. Much like in Halloween, Carpenter conjures a sense of dread out of the emptiness of the frame, devoid of human figures–we often just see empty streets, houses and the church from outside, slowly being surrounded by the bright fog, just as we see the sea, flowing, coming and going. We only hear the tones of Carpenter’s magnificent score, as if it were the fog itself, creeping into the frame, slowly building toward the final confrontation.

What one appreciates more about a film like The Fog is that although it is only 85 minutes long, it seems to live beyond the opening crawl and its final frame, the town exists beyond this horrifying event, and what helps build that is a sense of place, which is built through the landscape shots as well as the assured nature of the performances, where we seem to know everyone from the moment they open their mouths and that’s because they know each other beforehand. The only progression the film has, as it barely even has what one could call a character arc, is with the two characters that meet each other on the midnight of the anniversary, played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins.

Beyond their travels, in which they first find each other (him, a truck driver, her, a hitchhiker looking for a ride) and then find out what’s happening in the town, the film is pretty much free-form, as it seems to be made out of patches of lived life in town, a special day that is, but one that is given its sense of normalcy through the voice of the DJ that keeps on commenting through the night, through the attacks and even is confronted with the ghosts themselves as she is both at a point where she can give information to others, but at the same time is alone and isolated, incapable of defending herself. It’s that lived-in quality what gives the supernatural a child-like wonder that makes it one of the most fascinating horror films of the 1980s.

Rampant (Kim Sunghoon, 2018)

Rampant_2

Billed as coming from the same studio (Next Entertainment World) as the breakout 2016 zombie thriller Train to Busan, Kim Sunghoon’s Rampant has a fine pedigree and a promising premise: what if zombies, but in medieval Korea? Set in what appears to be the 17th or 18th Century, a complex conspiracy works to both topple the sitting Joseon King (and his son the Crown Prince) while also introducing a horde of zombies among the dissatisfied and rebellious populace (rebellious because they resent the neighboring Chinese Qing dynasty’s suzerainty over Korea). This sets the stage for lots of fun fights between mindless armies of bloodthirsty undead and warrior heroes armed with arrows and big swords.

Alas, apparently that wasn’t enough for Kim and his writers, because they’ve decided to pack their zombie movie with lengthy scenes of palace intrigue, discourses on the requirements of filial and fraternal piety, and the true source of governmental legitimacy  (the sovereign or the people). Where the fights scenes are fluid and exciting (these zombies are of the fast-moving variety, though they are vampirically afraid of sunlight), the court drama plays out like one of those palace rivalry soap operas that seem to be ubiquitous nowadays in Chinese television (if not Korean). Rather then the increasing tension of the set-piece upon set-piece constriction of Train to Busan, which spends only a few quiet moments fleshing out its characters and hints at broader themes in-between the fights, Rampant spends the first 90 minutes or so of its two hour(!) run-time acquainting us with the various rivalries at court, with only occasional breaks for zombie mayhem.

That would, of course, be fine if the palace intrigue stuff was the least bit interesting. But it’s rote genre stuff played like serious drama (there’s a hint of an idea about the zombies coming from European traders, and so being a metaphor for Western influence on the country, but it doesn’t go anywhere and more time is spent bemoaning China’s relation to the country instead). It’s basically Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, but without the humor. Zhang Yimou’s upcoming Shadow has a similar problem: it desperately wants to be a silly action movie, but it plays its non-fight scenes so straight they simply come off as overwrought, repetitive and dull. But, as with Shadow, the final half hour or so of Rampant, once all the masks are dropped and there’s nothing left to do but kill the unkillable, is a lot of fun. Director Kim stages his fights well, with a hint of CGI wuxia wirefu amid the beige and grey, while lead actors Hyun Bin and Jang Donggun are solid: Hyun as the happy-go-lucky second son of the King turned People’s Hero and Jang especially as the power-hungry villain. And for Hong Sangsoo fans there’s even a special treat: the King is played by Kim Euisung, star of Hong’s first film and featured actor in many of his later ones (and also Train to Busan), and the Crown Prince is played by Kim Taewoo, star of Woman is the Future of Man, Like You Know it All and Woman on the Beach.