Legend of the Demon Cat (Chen Kaige, 2017)

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Chen Kaige’s Legend of the Demon Cat is not what you’d expect it to be. Well, at least not after the first 20 minutes or so, wherein the eponymous feline wreaks havoc on the lives of Tang Dynasty courtiers, promising buried treasure in exchange for fish eyes and then turning to murder. That kind of Strange Tales of a Chinese Studio off-beat horror-comedy kind of thing (the cat talks, oh boy is this a talking cat movie). But after the set-up, the horror dissipates and for long stretches of time, the talking cat is absent. And what we get instead is a moving melodrama based on some real history about the fall of the Tang Dynasty, famously beautiful concubine Yang Kwei-fei, and master of drunken poetry Li Po, plus or minus some eunuchs and a magician or three. Our heroes in exploring this mystery are a Japanese Buddhist monk and an unemployed Imperial Scribe/would-be poet, and they live in a world as lushly gorgeous as anything Chinese CGI has yet been able to muster.

The two tones, that of a deeply romantic melodrama and a talking cat picture, should be, by all conventional rules of movie-making, incompatible. And judging by the film’s reaction in the 14 months since it was originally released back in December, 2017, the combination does not work for most (it’s hard to know where to laugh, I suppose), though it should be noted that it did seem to be greeted positively when it played in Toronto last fall, in a supposed Director’s Cut (I have been unable to find out any details on what did and did not change since the film’s initial release). But I’m weird and I loved it. Because I’m perversely fond of history, I loved how the whole long middle section of the film contains almost no action, but is instead just the monk and the scribe talking about what might have happened thirty years earlier, while gorgeous visions of a lost Golden Age play out on screen. It’s that loss that is at the film’s heart: a movie motivated by people who have had a vision of perfection (a woman, a world, a poem) and lost it, and the anguish that can cause. And it’s about the lengths they’ll go to to bring it back, defying the laws of physics and even death itself for that end.

The film’s vision of the present isn’t quite degraded enough for the dichotomy to work, though. Chen is still as decorous as ever (fans of Farewell My Concubine need have no fear: the costumes here are just as decadently lustrous). Even his lost world, which should be significantly diminished even 30 years after the An Lushan Rebellion, possibly the bloodiest conflict of the entire Middle Ages, looks pretty nice. But, maybe that’s to the point: that even in relatively prosperous times, not unlike our own, the lure of the ideal can still be destructively strong. Maybe it’s time to let the old dreams die.

I opened at random my copy of David Hinton’s translation of Selected Poems of Li Po, looking for something to tie into this lovely, sad, weird movie. This is what I found:

Making My Way Toward Yeh-lang in Exile, I Remember Walking
Among Peach Blossoms Long Ago at Autumn River

Peaches in blossom, spring waters high,
white stones appear, then sink away,

and rustling wisteria branches sway,
a half moon drifting azure heaven.

Who knows how many fiddleheads wait,
clenched along paths I once walked?

In three years, back from Yeh-lang,
I’ll resolve my bones into gold there.

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Friday March 1 – Thursday March 7

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Featured Film:

Mutual Appreciation at the Grand Illusion

It doesn’t seem possible that Mutual Appreciation, one of the corwning achievments of the Mumblecore movement (some might say one fo the only good products of the Mumblecore movement) should be old enough to be in need of restoration. But here we are in 2019 and Andrew Bujalski’s now 13 year old film has indeed been restored and is playing four days this week at the Grand Illusion. His prior film, Funny Ha Ha, will be playing there next week. Bujalski has in recent years moved onto somewhat higher profile work: with the oddball minor sensation Computer Chess, the oddball rom-com Results, and the oddball workplace comedy Support the Girls, he’s responsible for some of the finest American films of recent years. Here’s a chance to catch up with where he started. And yes, it kind of killed me not to put Legend of the Demon Cat in this spot. A film far too good to be paired with SIFF’s novelty showing of a  Cat Video Festival.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
Luka Chuppi (Laxman Utekar) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks, 1974) Fri, Sat, Mon-Weds  
Serenity (Joss Whedon, 2005) Fri-Mon 
The Two Towers (Peter Jackson, 2002) Weds Only 

Cinerama:

Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) Fri & Sat Only 
Blackkklansman (Spike Lee) Sun & Mon Only 
Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Tues & Weds Only 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Egyptian:

Legend of the Demon Cat (Chen Kaige) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Cat Video Fest 2019 Sat & Sun Only 

Century Federal Way:

Extreme Job (Lee Byung-heon) Fri-Thurs 
Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun & Weds Only 

Grand Cinema:

Everybody Knows (Asghar Farhadi) Fri-Thurs 
Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) Fri-Thurs 
Police Story 2 (Jackie Chan, 1988) Sat Only 
Burning (Lee Chnagdong) Tues Only 
Women’s Adventure Film Tour Thurs Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

FP2: Beats of Rage (Jason Trost) Fri & Sat Only 
Jupiter’s Moon (Kornél Mundruczó) Fri, Sun, Tues & Thurs 
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm
Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski) Sat, Sun, Mon & Weds 
Lords of Chaos (Jonas Åkerlund) Mon-Thurs 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Everybody Knows (Asghar Farhadi) Fri-Thurs 
Total Dhamaal (Indra Kumar) Fri-Thurs 
Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
Luka Chuppi (Laxman Utekar) Fri-Thurs 
LKG (Prabhu) Fri-Thurs 
Sonchiriya (Abhishek Chaubey) Fri-Thurs 
Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel (B. Unnikrishnan) Sat-Mon Only 
Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun & Weds Only 

Regal Meridian:

Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs Our Review 

Northwest Film Forum:

The Gospel of Eureka (Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher) Fri-Weds Director Q&A Sat
Madaraka: The Documentary (Wael “L” Abou-Zaki) Sat Only 
Chronic Means Forever and Always (Kadazia Allen-Perry and Angela DiMarco) Sun Only Directors in Attendance
Salvador Dalí: In Search of Immortality (David Pujol) Mon-Thurs 
Festival of (In)Appropriation #10 Thurs Only 

AMC Pacific Place:

The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Sharkwater Extinction (Rob Stewart) Fri-Thurs 

Paramount Theatre:

Asphalt (Joe May, 1929) Mon Only 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Luka Chuppi (Laxman Utekar) Fri-Thurs 
Total Dhamaal (Indra Kumar) Fri-Thurs 
Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
Alone Together (Antoinette Jadaone) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

To Dust (Shawn Snyder) Fri-Sun 
Mankiller (Valerie Red-Horse) Thurs Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Everybody Knows (Asghar Farhadi) Fri-Thurs 
Capernaum (Nadine Labaki) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
Nordic Lights Film Festival Fri-Sun 
To Dust (Shawn Snyder) Mon-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun Only 

Friday February 22 – Thursday February 28

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Featured Film:

Jackie Chan at the SIFF Film Center

Apparently the first weekend SIFF played Police Story and Police Story 2 they were hits, because they’ve brought them back for another three days this weekend. With much of the calendar cleared this week for the Oscars (you can catch up with various nominees at a bunch of places around town), there isn’t a whole lot else of note out there. But the Chans are phenomenal, especially the first one, hands down his best film as a director. Catch them while you can. I reviewed them at the Notebook, and Ryan reviewed them here.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Central Cinema:

Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1951) Sat-Tues  
Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley) Sat-Weds 

Cinerama:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Weds Only 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Egyptian:

Burning (Lee Chnagdong) Fri-Sun 

Century Federal Way:

Oscar Shorts 2019 (Various) Fri-Sun 
Extreme Job (Lee Byung-heon) Fri-Thurs 
High End Yaariyaan (Pankaj Batra) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Sun
Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) Fri-Thurs 
Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985) Sat Only Our Review Our Other Review 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Lords of Chaos (Jonas Åkerlund) Fri-Thurs 
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm
Hunter x Hunter: The Last Mission (Keiichiro Kawaguchi, 2013) Sun, Mon & Weds Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Total Dhamaal (Indra Kumar) Fri-Thurs 
Kumbalangi Nights (Nazriya Nazim) Fri-Thurs 
Oscar Shorts 2019 (Various) Fri-Thurs  
Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
LKG (Prabhu) Fri-Thurs 
Mithai (Prashant Kumar) Fri & Sat Only 
NTR: Mahanayakudu (Krish) Fri-Thurs 
Bell Bottom (Jayatheertha) Sat-Tues 
Bhai Vyakti Valli Purvardh (Mahesh Manjrekar) Sat & Sun Only 

Regal Meridian:

Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Total Dhamaal (Indra Kumar) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Seattle Asian American Film Festival Fri-Sun 
Kaili Blues (Bi Gan, 2015) Tues Only 
Prairie Trilogy (John Hanson & Rob Nilsson, 1977-81) Weds & Thurs Only 
Future Language: The Dimensions of Von LMO (Lori Felker) Weds & Thurs Only Director Q&A
AMC Oak Tree:
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs Our Review

AMC Pacific Place:

The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Fall in Love at First Kiss (Chen Yu-Shan) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Total Dhamaal (Indra Kumar) Fri-Thurs 
Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
Alone Together (Antoinette Jadaone) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

2019 Oscar Documentary Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985) Fri-Sun Our Review Our Other Review 
Police Story 2 (Jackie Chan, 1988) Fri-Sun 
The Invisibles (Claus Räfle) Sat & Sun Only  

Regal Thornton Place:

Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) Thurs Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 
Capernaum (Nadine Labaki) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
Kirikou and the Sorceress (Michel Ocelot & Raymond Burlet, 1998) Sat Only 

Friday February 15 – Thursday February 21

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Featured Film:

Noir City at the SIFF Egyptian

Our Featured Film is a no-brainer this week, as Eddie Muller is back with another festival of film noir, this year focusing on noirs from the 1950s. All the shows are playing at the Egyptian, many of them on 35mm, and it’s a superb mix of recognized classics, underseen gems and films even a long-time noir fan like me doesn’t know anything about. If you’ve seen the big names (Touch of EvilKiss Me DeadlyPickup on South Street), don’t miss the less well-known, but just as good, File of Thelma JordanAngel FaceNightfall and Murder by Contract. The latter plays back-to-back with Touch of Evil on Wednesday night, which is as good a single night of movies that Seattle is likely to get this year. Best thing to do though is to go to some shows you don’t know anything about: you’re almost certain to find something special.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Afro-Punk (James Spooner, 2003) Thurs Only 

Central Cinema:

Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) Fri-Tues  
Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles) Fri-Mon, Weds 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Egyptian:

Trapped (Richard Fleischer, 1949) Fri Only 35mm
The File on Thelma Jordon (Robert Siodmak, 1950) Fri Only 35mm
The Well (Russell Rouse, 1949) Sat Only 
Detective Story (Detective Story, 1951) Sat Only 
The Turning Point (William Dieterle, 1952) Sat Only 
Angel Face (Otto Preminger, 1953) Sat Only 35mm
Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953) Sun Only 
City That Never Sleeps (John H. Auer, 1953) Sun Only 
Pushover (Richard Quine, 1954) Sun Only 35mm
Private Hell 36 (Don Siegel, 1954) Sun Only 35mm
Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955) Mon Only 35mm
Killer’s Kiss (Stanley Kubrick, 1955) Mon Only 35mm
The Scarlet Hour (Michael Curtiz, 1956) Mon Only 35mm
A Kiss Before Dying (Gerd Oswald, 1956) Mon Only 35mm
Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1956) Tues Only 35mm
The Burglar (Paul Wendkos, 1956) Tues Only 35mm
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958) Weds Only 
Murder by Contract (Irving Lerner, 1958) Weds Only 35mm
The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959) Thurs Only 35mm
Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise, 1959) Thurs Only 

Century Federal Way:

The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Extreme Job (Lee Byung-heon) Fri-Thurs 
Fall in Love at First Kiss (Chen Yu-Shan) Fri-Thurs 
Kala Shah Kala (Amarjit Singh) Fri-Thurs 
My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) Sun & Weds Only 

Grand Cinema:

2019 Oscar Documentary Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
An American Tail (Don Bluth, 1986) Sat Only Free Screening
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015) Sat Only 
Bathtubs over Broadway (Dava Whisenant) Tues Only 
Laurel & Hardy Short Films (Various) Weds Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Donnybrook (Tim Sutton) Fri-Thurs 
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Anandi Gopal (Sameer Vidwans) Fri-Thurs 
Dev (Rajath Ravishankar) Fri-Thurs In Tamil or Telugu, Check Listings
Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs
Lover’s Day (Omar Lulu) Fri & Sat Only In Telugu with No Subtitles
Nine (Januse Mohammed Majeed) Sat & Sun Only 
Natasaarvabhowma (Pawan Wadeyar) Sat & Sun Only 
My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) Sun & Weds Only 

Regal Meridian:

Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Mon Only Our Review Our Other Review Dubbed

Northwest Film Forum:

To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990) Fri & Sat Only 
Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999) Fri-Sun 
Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2019 Sat Only 
Tivoli (Alberto Isaac, 1975) Sun Only 
Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987) Mon & Tues Only 
The Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (Arwen Curry) Mon-Weds 
Kaili Blues (Bi Gan, 2015) Weds & Next Tues Only 
Ganja & Hess (Bill Gunn, 1973) Thurs Only 

AMC Oak Tree:

2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Fall in Love at First Kiss (Chen Yu-Shan) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975) Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

2019 Oscar Documentary Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

The Invisibles (Claus Räfle) Fri-Sun 

Regal Thornton Place:

My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) Sun & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 
Capernaum (Nadine Labaki) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

Tito and the Birds (Gustavo Steinberg, André Catoto & Gabriel Bitar) Fri-Thurs 
Love Eclectic (Bill Brown) Sun Only 
My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) Weds Only 

Fists of Fury: POLICE STORY and POLICE STORY 2 (1985/1988, Jackie Chan)

first

With the general, distressing decline in the state of action cinema, not only (but most noticeably) in the United States but in general film at large, standouts like the occasional Hong Kong film and Tom Cruise’s reign over the Mission: Impossible franchise become increasingly lonely lights in the darkness. So it comes as a relief to have the opportunity to reexamine works from more halcyon times, when pre-Handover Hong Kong served as one of the most exciting places for the production of film in cinematic history.

One of the most internationally well-known purveyors of Hong Kong’s particular mode of action cinema was (and to some degree still is) Jackie Chan, who, after a large amount of work as an actor and stunt performer and a brief, unsatisfying stint in Hollywood, returned to the colony to create his most enduring work as a director: 1985’s Police Story, which was followed by the equally popular (if not as artistically successful) Police Story 2 in 1988. Both star Chan as Inspector Chan Ka-Kui, a bold and talented police officer in the Hong Kong Police Force, who uses substantial martial arts skills and near-superhuman endurance to best the numerous criminals and gangs who beset him. This double-header cemented Chan’s status in the West as a presence equally gifted in death-defying action and physical comedy, and provided a path for his career going forward.

second

Keeping all this context in mind, the actual manner in which Police Story proceeds is often surprising in a gratifying way; for all the surface pleasures that Chan provides in lightweight films like the Rush Hour series, this is a film that consistently and impressively touches upon structures endemic to Hong Kong society. (Not for nothing did Richard Roud select the film for the 25th New York Film Festival.) Police corruption almost serves as the subtext that threatens to become text throughout the film, as Ka-Kui’s compatriots are either incompetent, bribed by the drug dealers, or hamstrung by bureaucratic expectations and regulations. Chan fills the role of the rogue cop who gets results almost too well, and yet (at least in the first film) he never becomes just the hero: his character is always complicated by his all-too human traits.

Like many a great director, Chan is interested in the processes that run microcosms, and the slow build-up to the first great setpiece of the franchise — involving extreme vehicular destruction — observes the police force outlining an operation. This idea is taken even further in Police Story 2, which is half taken up by a full-on surveillance investigation led by Ka-Kui, a development which lends some nice Hawksian charm that, if not essential, is missing from its predecessor.

But of course, the one and only star of the Police Story films — not to discount the efforts of a very game Maggie Cheung (in her breakout role) as Ka-Kui’s long-suffering girlfriend May, and Brigitte Lin in the first film as a material witness — is Jackie Chan, and the films’ best moments focus squarely on him, whether in total action mode or in very deft physical comedy. The latter may be the more unfamiliar, but such moments as when Chan must juggle four telephones and conversations simultaneously in a police station manage to feel both completely self-contained and yet endemic to the flow of the film.

That flow, of course, is centered around the action, and this trait is key to the first film’s astonishing power. Police Story‘s trajectory feels almost predestined, as Ka-Kui is thrown further and further into the machinations of the triad until he quite literally cannot restrain himself from causing untold amounts of property damage and corporeal devastation (though not to the point of death). Action is reconfigured as a motivating force that overrides every character’s moral and physical capabilities; in both films every character — even and especially Cheung’s May — gets brutally injured. Chan’s brilliance, at least in the first movie, is that the lines are at once blurred and totally clear, where Ka-Kui still remains the hero because of his herculean feats. And the fact that it is Chan himself hanging on to a bus with an umbrella, or sliding three stories down a light-covered pole, makes it that much more impressive, that much more legitimately, wondrously dangerous.

Missbehavior (Pang Ho-cheung, 2019)

missbehavior

This week’s snow has certainly thrown a wrench into my Lunar New year movie-watching plans, but fortunately my kids’ school actually started on time today so I was able to make the long drive to the Pacific Place to catch an early morning show of Pang Ho-cheung’s latest before it disappeared forever. Famous as the director of the Love in a. . . series of films, the first of which, Love in a Puff, was a vibrant breath of fresh air into the mostly moribund Hong Kong romantic comedy genre. Notoriously given a Category III rating (the equivalent of our NC-17) because of its use of foul language, it captured life among the disaffected professionals of an urban metropolis, at once highly culturally specific in its language and references while universal in that its story could take place in any highly developed center of global capitalism. The sequels continued in this vein, along with the fine but unrelated 2014 rom-com Women Who Know How to Flirt are the LuckiestMissbehavior does as well, though it is not a romance but rather an ensemble farce. And while it’s a great deal of fun, it’s Pang’s least interesting, and least essential film to date.

Reportedly put together in just two weeks, Missbehavior is about a group of old friends, all young urban professionals who have grown estranged from each other for various reasons, who band together to help out a friend who is in trouble at work. She managed to misplace her boss’s bottle of breast milk, and every works together to find a replacement by the end of the day so she doesn’t get fired. The plot alternates madcap schemes for milk retrieval with flashbacks that explain how various pairs of the friends became alienated from each other. It’s little more than an excuse for Pang (and us) to hang out with a bunch of fun actors goofing off, and on that level the film is a delight. Occasionally it gets bogged down in lesson-learning and hugging, which feels extremely heavy-handed in a film so packed with ridiculous gags (from wordplay which is pretty funny even in translation to the basest body humor).

Gigi Leung heads the cast and seems the most like a real actor. But the best performance, no surprise, comes from Lam Suet, as the world’s worst waiter. Other familiar faces abound: Isabella Leong, Miriam Yeung, Derek Tsang, June Lam, Roy Szeto, Susan Shaw, and many more.

Friday February 8 – Thursday February 15

Audition_-1200x520

Featured Film:

Holiday Movies All Over Town

The convergence of Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day had blessed us with an embarrassment of cinematic riches this week on Seattle Screens. On the former front, we have new releases The Wandering EarthPegasus and Integrity, along with the continuing run of Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year and revivals of one of Sammo Hung’s best movies (Pedicab Driver, on 35mm at the Grand Illusion) and Jackie Chan’s best (the restoration of Police Story and Police Story 2 at the Uptown). Valentine’s gives us some inspired programming: Takashi Miike’s Audition at the Northwest Film Forum, Cries and Whispers at SAM, Natural Born Killers at the Central Cinema, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas at the Cinemark theatres (albeit dubbed, apparently), Dick and Jane Drop Acid and Die at the Grand Illusion, alongside more traditional fare like Before Sunrise at the Grand, and Dirty DancingWings of Desire and Cold War at various other theatres. Here’s hoping the snow passes us by, or at least melts quickly, so we can actually get out to some of these great movies.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Extreme Job (Lee Byung-heon) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Hit and Run Squad (Han Jun-hee) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001) Fri-Weds
Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1993) Fri-Weds 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs  
Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Egyptian:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Fri-Tues  
Integrity (Alan Mak) Fri-Tues 
Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino) Sun & Weds Only 
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (Shin’ichirô Ushijima) Sun Only English Dub

Grand Cinema:

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross) Tues Only  Our Review
Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995) Thurs Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Pedicab Driver (Sammo Hung, 1989) Fri, Sun & Thurs Only Our Review Our Podcast 
Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Fri-Weds Our Review Our Other Review Dubbed or Subtitled, Check Listings
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm
Funny Fellows: Laurel & Hardy Comedy Shorts, 1924-1930 (Various) Tues Only 16mm 
Dick and Jane Drop Acid and Die (Matt Mitler, 1991) Thurs Only VHS

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs 
Yatra (Mahi V. Raghav) Fri-Thurs In Malayalam or Telugu, Check Listings
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs
Bhai – Vyakti Valli Uttarardh (Mahesh Manjrekar) Sat-Tues 
Joseph (M. Padmakumar) Sat & Sun Only 
Natasaarvabhowma (Pawan Wadeyar) Sat & Sun Only 
Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino) Sun & Weds Only 
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (Shin’ichirô Ushijima) Sun Only English Dub

Regal Meridian:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Fri-Weds 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Weds 

Northwest Film Forum:

Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987) Fri, Sun & Weds Only 
2018 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour Fri Only  
Capturing Cascadia’s Cassettes Sun Only  
To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990) Starts Weds 
Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999) Starts Thurs 

AMC Oak Tree:

2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Pegasus (Han Han) Fri-Thurs 
Integrity (Alan Mak) Fri-Thurs 

Paramount Theatre:

A Man There Was (Victor Sjöström, 1917) Mon Only 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972) Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

2019 Oscar Documentary Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985) Fri-Sun Our Review
Police Story 2 (Jackie Chan, 1988) Fri-Sun 
The Women on the 6th Floor (Philippe Le Guay) Thurs Only 

Regal Thornton Place:

Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino) Sun & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Capernaum (Nadine Labaki) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church (John McDermott) Weds Only 

Varsity Theatre:

The Amityville Murders (Daniel Farrands) Fri-Thurs 
Berlin, I Love You (Various) Fri-Thurs 
The Divorce Party (Hughes William Thompson) Fri-Thurs 
Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino) Weds Only 

Friday February 1 – Thursday February 8

 

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Featured Film:

Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year at the Meridian and Parkway Plaza

Tuesday marks the start of Lunar New Year, and this most holiest of seasons for Chinese film gets a robust start on Seattle Screens this week. The Pacific Place has the new Pang Ho-cheung romantic comedy, Missbehavior, which promises more of the same from the director of Love in a Puff and Women Who Know How to Flirt are the Luckiest. The Grand Illusion concludes the Hong Kong Kung Fu series they presented jointly with the NWFF with a couple of Sammo Hung movies, 1993’s Blade of Fury and 1989’s Pedicab Driver, one of his very best (it continues into next week as well). The Varsity and the Admiral have Chen Kaige’s Legend of the Demon Cat, which originally premiered in 2017 but was greeted quite positively at the Toronto Film Festival this past fall in a supposed “Director’s Cut.” I haven’t been able to find out which version is playing here. But the most exciting Lunar New Year film of the week has got to be Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year, a Chinese film in which the beloved animated pig learns all about the holiday. My kids love Peppa almost as much as my wife and I do, and we’re taking them to see it even though we’ll have to read the subtitles for them.

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theatre:

Legend of the Demon Cat (Chen Kaige) Tues Only 

AMC Alderwood:

Extreme Job (Lee Byung-heon) Fri-Thurs 
The Gandhi Murder (Karim Traïdia) Fri-Thurs 
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs 
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Afghan Cycles (Sarah Menzies) Tues Only 

Central Cinema:

Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) Fri, Sat, Mon, Tues
The Last Boy Scout (Tony Scott, 1991) Fri-Tues 
The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001) Weds Only 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs  
Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Egyptian:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Kaake Da Viyah (Rai Yuvraj Bains) Fri-Thurs 
Uda Aida (Ksshitij Chaudhary) Fri-Thurs 
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun, & Tues Only 

Grand Cinema:

Piercing (Nicolas Pesce) Sat Only 
A Private War (Matthew Heineman) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Genesis 2.0 (Christian Frei, Maxim Arbugaev) Fri-Thurs  
Blade of Fury (Sammo Hung, 1993) Fri & Sun Only
Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Sat-Tues & Thurs 
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm
Pedicab Driver (Sammo Hung, 1989) Weds and Next Fri, Sun & Thurs Only Our Review Our Podcast

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs 
Sarvam Thaala Mayam (Rajiv Menon) Fri-Thurs 
The Gandhi Murder (Karim Traïdia) Fri-Thurs 
F2-Fun and Frustration (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs
Vandha Rajavathaan Varuven (Sundar C.) Fri-Thurs Tamil with No Subtitles
K.G.F. Chapter 1 (Prashanth Neel) Sat & Sun Only 
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun & Tues Only 

Regal Meridian:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Tues Only 

Northwest Film Forum:

Children’s Film Festival Fri-Sun  
The Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (Arwen Curry) Fri Only 
Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987) Starts Weds 

AMC Pacific Place:

Miss Behavior (Pang Ho-cheung) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

The Gandhi Murder (Karim Traïdia) Fri-Thurs 
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Starts Tues 

Seattle Art Museum:

The Passion of Anna (Ingmar Bergman, 1969) Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 
Destroyer (Karyn Kusama) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

The Heiresses (Marcelo Martinessi) Fri-Thurs  

Regal Thornton Place:

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun, Tues & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 
Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration (Martyn Atkins) Thurs Only 

Varsity Theatre:

A Breath Away (Daniel Roby) Fri-Thurs 
Piercing (Nicolas Pesce) Fri-Thurs 
Legend of the Demon Cat (Chen Kaige) Tues Only