Friday November 16 – Thursday November 22

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Featured Film:

Monrovia, Indiana at the Northwest Film Forum

The Grand Illusion’s Jim Jarmusch series comes to an end this week with the very Thanksgiving appropriate Dead Man, playing in a new restoration. Which is good, because when we played it at the Metro a dozen years ago the print had a nasty scratch on the soundtrack. But as much as I love Dead Man (you can hear all about that on Episode 2 of The George Sanders Show), I have to go with the new Frederick Wiseman film as the Featured Film of the week. A portrait of the small Indiana town, Monrovia is a blunt portrait of the alienation and loss that mark aging rural American outposts. Beautiful and sad and cruel and fascinating and almost, but not entirely, hopeless.

Playing This Week:

Central Cinema:

Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1988) Fri-Tues Hecklevision Sun
Addams Family Values (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1993) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Weds
Reel Rock 13 (Various) Thurs Only

Century Federal Way:

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Sun, Mon & Tues Subtitled Mon

Grand Cinema:

Tea with the Dames (Roger Michell) Fri-Thurs
The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery) Fri-Thurs
Pokemon 4Ever (Kunihiko Yuyama/Jim Malone, 2002) Sat Only Free Screening
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn (Jim Hosking) Sat Only
Black ’47 (Lance Daly) Tues Only
The Wiz (Sidney Lumet, 1978) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995) Fri-Weds Our Podcast
The Last Race (Michael Dweck) Fri-Weds
Blood Tracks (Mats Helge, 1985) Sat Only VHS

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

The Front Runner (Jason Reitman) Fri-Thurs
Thugs of Hindustan (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Fri-Mon
Sarkar (A.R. Murugadoss) Fri-Mon
Amar Akbar Anthony (Manmohan Desai) Fri-Mon
Kaatrin Mozhi (Radha Mohan) Fri-Mon
Taxiwaala (Rahul Sankrityan) Fri-Mon
Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Sun, Mon & Tues Subtitled Mon

Regal Meridian:

Prospect (Chris Caldwell & Zeek Earl) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman) Fri-Weds Our Review
Narcissister Organ Player (Narcissister) Fri-Sun
Harry and Tonto (Paul Mazursky, 1974) Sat Only
Cuban Food Stories (Asori Soto) Weds Only

AMC Pacific Place:

A Cool Fish (Rao Xiaozhi) Fri-Mon
Last Letter (Shunji Iwai) Fri-Mon Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Thugs of Hindustan (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco (James Crump) Fri-Sun
The Laws of the Universe-Part I (Isamu Imakake) Fri-Sun

Regal Thornton Place:

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Sun, Mon & Tues

SIFF Uptown:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Tues
Seattle Turkish Film Festival 2018 Fri-Sat Full Program
Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008) Sat Only English Dubbed, Free Screening
Sadie (Megan Griffiths) Sun-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Tues Only

Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman, 2018)

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Alienation from the Land: The Movie.

The new Frederick Wiseman film is always one of the film events of the year, and this week his new one opens exclusively at the Northwest Film Forum. Wiseman, despite his advanced years, has been one of the most productive American directors of the last decade, with a string of documentary masterpieces (La danse: The Paris Opera Ballet, National Gallery and In Jackson Heights are my personal favorites from among his post-2008 work) that would be enough to mark him as one of the finest ever to work in that form even if he hadn’t been making films just as often and just as high-quality since the late 1960s.

Monrovia, Indiana starts with and continually returns to the rich farmland and livestock of the Midwest, worked almost completely by machines. Every turn in the editing shows a population disconnected from their past, from their environment. The landscapes, gorgeous skies and verdant croplands alike, are almost completely devoid of human life. The fascinating and weird diversity of Wiseman’s 1999 look at a small American town, Belfast, Maine, is almost nowhere to be seen, as is the vibrant chaos and struggle of Jackson Heights.

Instead bored students listen to a history lecture about the high school basketball stars of the 1930s. City council meetings vainly negotiate against the totalizing onslaught of cookie-cutter development, development literally severed from the land in that it cannot get proper water service to protect its residents from fire. People eat cheap pizza and drink Budweiser and get tattoos and guns and dock their dog’s tails for no apparent reason (in one of the most disturbing film scenes of the year). President Obama’s assertion about clinging to guns and religion is never far from one’s mind as the film continually circles back to the church, but the solace found there, however real (and that shaft of light shining in the penultimate funeral scene has a beauty the minister’s sermon can’t touch) seems hollow. The young are just as bored with God as they are old white guy basketball. The final shot is as perfect a capper as we’ll see this year.

Looking forward to the sequel, Monrovia, Liberia.