Hotel by the River (Hong Sangsoo, 2018)

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Sean Gilman: You and I both saw Hotel by the River not long after it premiered late last summer at the Locarno Film Festival. But while in recent years we’ve found it difficult to stop talking and writing about Hong Sangsoo, as far as I know, neither of us has had much to say about this one. I mean, you once wrote a review of just the trailer for Yourself and Yours, I was crazy enough to watch, and write about, all of Hong’s movies in chronological order last year, and we’ve talked about him in every single episode of our podcast for the past two years. So what is it about Hotel by the River that we’ve gone six months without having anything to say about it, and why is it so hard, even now after rewatching it, for us to discuss it?

On its surface, it’s of a piece with Hong’s most recent films. It stars Kim Minhee and, like The Day After and Grass, it’s shot in an icy black and white. One of his winter films, it is also, like Grass, a movie haunted by death. An aged poet has been living in a hotel for the past two weeks. His sons come to visit him. Next door are a pair of women (sisters we assume but I don’t think it’s confirmed). The whole action takes place over about 24 hours. Everybody naps, a lot. All the Hong/Kim films, but one, have flaunted their narrative experiments: the short story construction of Grass with Kim as observer/writer; the temporal confusion of Claire’s Camera; the dreams and allusion to Hong and Kim’s own life in On the Beach at Night Alone; the duplications of Yourself and Yours; the mirror structure of Right Now, Wrong Then. The one that plays things basically straight is The Day After, which we also, at least initially, were somewhat underwhelmed by. That film grew on me in retrospect and with rewatching, as I found a precision in the filmmaking and earnestness in the performances that is often missing in Hong’s work.

But revisiting Hotel by the River, I remain as nonplussed as I was the first time. More than anything else, the movie is a mood, of loneliness, of regret, of resignation. It’s maybe the least funny movie he’s ever made. And I guess that’s probably it: it just doesn’t feel like my idea of a Hong Sangsoo movie. Despite the familiar character types and situations, conversations about love and failure, over-drinking and social awkwardness, it seems like something else entirely. This is the persistent danger of fandom, or auteurism, which is not the same thing but is in the same ballpark: our reaction to the film is intricately entwined with what we have come to believe about the filmmaker. And so when Hong Sangsoo makes a movie that doesn’t fit our idea of a Hong Sangsoo movie, we don’t know what to do with it.

Years from now, Hotel by the River could mark a step in an evolution of Hong’s work that we’ve come to recognize and understand. He’s had many different periods along the way, with certain films sticking out as transition points (Virgin Stripped Bare; Woman on the Beach; Right Now, Wrong Then), the effects of which are occasionally not felt until another two or three films down the line—Night and Day and Like You Know It All feel more like pre-Woman on the Beach films, with Woman pointing the way instead to the Jung Yumi movies (Oki’s MovieIn Another CountryOur Sunhi). Perhaps Hotel will improve when we’re able to see it in the broad context of the next phase in Hong’s career.

Grass and Hotel seem of a piece in that they present a more sober, austere Hong. One increasingly less concerned with the agony of finding love than with the dread of what comes after life. I had a theory about Grass that the characters in it were in a kind of purgatory, trapped in an in-between state after death. I’m tempted to read some kind of similar twist into the overtly simple narrative of Hotel, that Kim and her sister are (literally) angels, weeping over the folly of men; or that they are figments of the old man’s poetic imagination; or that he dreams them while they dream him; or something like that. I don’t know I can support this kind of wild speculation though. At least not as much as I can the time travel theory of Claire’s Camera. It just doesn’t seem complicated. It’s a cold film and I’m having trouble breaking through all the ice.

Evan Morgan: I’m glad you brought up the difficulty of writing about this film; I’m in the same boat. Words usually flow like so much soju when it comes to Hong, but this time around, my enthusiasms seem exhausted. You’ve hit on a number of possible explanations: the air of guilt and reproach that hangs over the film, which, though not alien to Hong’s world (the otherwise utopian Grass evinces an unnerving fixation on suicide, for example), refuses to abate, like a fog that won’t lift; the deadened comic sensibility, a key contributor to the oppressive tone; and the relative lack of narrative play. At the moment, it’s the last point that’s bugging me the most: I wonder if the fatigue I’m feeling is in fact attributable to a certain enervation on Hong’s part, an exhaustion with his current working method. For the first time since he abandoned pre-planned scripts and started writing his movies on the fly, I suspect that Hong conceived the final moments first and then worked backwards to lay the groundwork to get us there. That would account for the sorely missed spontaneity—so often a source of humor—and for the doomed tone. Do any other Hong films telegraph their final purpose like this does? Or, to put a finer point on it: Having a character state “I feel like I’m going to die” and then having the plot deliver on the premonition is beneath Hong, or so I thought.

But it’s little perverse to start here, at the ending, so let me backtrack a bit. Not long after the opening shot, which introduces Hotel’s handled camera and its correspondingly destabilized world, Younghwan, the poet at the film’s center, muses to himself that he’s “done something foolish again.” The nature of this foolish act is, I think, key to unlocking Hotel by the River’s meaning, if not its cold heart. Younghwan has made the mistake of allowing his two adult sons—played, pointedly, by Hong regulars Kwon Haehyo and Yu Junsang—to intrude on his (presumably) solitary existence, and their presence is a haunting as literal as your “angels of death” theory is figurative; these are not Nobody’s Sons. The old poet clearly deserves some blame for his offspring’s unfulfilled lives, and though Hong keeps Younghwan’s specific fatherly crimes cloaked in ambiguity, his ex-wife’s assessment of his character (“A total monster without any redeeming human value”) ought to give us some clues about life in his household. And so the hotel, which under other circumstances might promise a reunion and a reconstitution of the family unit—it’s named, not incidentally, after the German word for “home”—acts instead as an anteroom for one man’s sins, a kind of purgatory, to borrow your apt description. Though I might disagree with you in one respect: perhaps it’s not the dread of what comes after but the terror of living with what we’ve wrought in this life that is Hong’s recent obsession.

That would make Hotel less of an aberration in Hong’s career, I think, given his cinema’s myriad reckonings with male failure, though the focus on familial bonds, rather than romantic relationships, robs the film of a certain generative ambivalence. A son’s bond with his father is, it seems to me, necessarily more solidified than that same man’s relationship to a prospective lover. Hence the two women: they hang around the edge of the movie as if to promise the malleability, even the mystery, that we’ve come to expect from Hong’s cinema, but they’re so far removed from the drama that their effect on it can only be countenanced in metaphorical terms, as you imply. The ease with which one could boot Kim Minhee and Song Seonmi from Hotel and be left with more or less the same movie makes me dubious about their diegetic utility. Still, their presence provides the film with its single best image: when Hong drapes them in charcoal overcoats and frames them against a snowy landscape, it’s a genuinely painterly moment, all that frosty negative space suggesting untouched silk parchment, the dark figures of the women seeming to stand in for the spare strokes of an ink wash master—not a brush wasted. The severe beauty that Hong is seeking finds an expression there, if nowhere else.

Sean: It’s important that you highlight that image, it’s by far the best thing about the movie. In fact, I wonder if that idea, an old man overwhelmed by the beauty of two women clad in black surrounded by white, was Hong’s starting point for the film, rather than the ending. It’s certainly more hopeful than the ending, and more in keeping with Hong heroes of the past, men struck stupid by what the perceive as an all-powerful beauty, one that redefines, or at least makes irrelevant, all traditional ideas of fidelity. Repeatedly Hong’s men conflate beauty and morality, usually to comic effect. The poet does the same, I think, but Hong never really undercuts that belief. I guess it depends on how you read the poem he eventually writes, which he claims was inspired by the two women. I don’t think it particularly resembles them, but that too is nothing new for Hong–the idea of art failing to match the reality that inspired it. But like a lot of ideas that seem to float around the movie, I don’t think any of this ever really goes anywhere.

That’s probably what I find most frustrating about it: the decided lack of forward movement. As you say, the two women literally do nothing for the entire film–they sleep, they talk around whatever issue Kim is having (a breakup probably and a burn of some kind), they observe the men, they sleep again. Kim in Grass was in the observer role as well, but actively so, such that you could reasonably imagine her not just watching but creating all the little dramas around her. And those dramas progress, in the nature of short stories, little slices of life that, when combined together in the whole of the film, create myriad rhymes and resonances, all united by a mysterious central figure. There are a lot of rhymes in Hotel, between Kim and the poet (we can hear each of their thoughts, their stories begin with them alone in their rooms), and contrasts (the differences in their reaction to their guests bringing coffee), but they don’t really amount to anything. Why are these characters linked? What do they have in common aside from the fact that they’re characters in a Hong Sangsoo movie?

Writing all this out, I’m almost certain I’m taking the wrong approach to this film. I do think it’s Hong stretching himself out, trying something new. A movie unified not so much by cause and effect, or by the collision of infinite possible worlds, or even one driven by the basest cruelties of men and women in love, but simply, as I said earlier, by mood. It’s a movie about the feeling of being old, of being out of touch with youth, even the younger people who should, theoretically, be closest to you (your children). The feeling you get when you’re old and alone and miserable and you see two beautiful young people, glimpses of warmth and heat and vitality, and know that your world is now a much colder place.

Evan: I like the way you emphasize Younghwan’s response to the women, his genuine appreciation of their beauty in aesthetic rather than sexual terms. Is the poet exempt from the boorishness that typically afflicts Hong’s men? His rapture reads to me as honest, almost achingly so, rather than predatory or pathetic. And if that’s the case, does Hotel introduce the possibility of a new kind of happiness in Hong’s world, the contemplative repose of old age? Despite the pervasive loneliness and the untended wounds of family history, I do think the movie gestures in this direction, for a time anyways.

But really, there’s no escaping the predestined end. Hong doubles down on the entrapped atmosphere that we both sensed in Grass, nowhere more so than in Younghwan’s last poem, a bizarre tale that describes a secret society that raises a young gas station attendant in seclusion from the rest of the world. Although we both seem to prefer the moments where Hotel yearns for warmth and communion, I’ll admit to being sort of fascinated by this sequence, the premise of which is supremely Mabusian. Lang is not an obvious touchstone for Hong, but he is for me, and in some ways this scene has prompted me to measure Hong’s cruelties, which I find increasingly dull, against Lang’s, which are consistently exhilarating. The difference, I think, is where each locates pleasure: for Lang, the geometry of death, its axiomatic certainty, is itself a wondrous thing to behold. It will crush us, no doubt, but its movements produce a thrilling whir. Hong, on the other hand, seems not to enjoy the narrative and visual stratagems necessary to bring his work into confrontation with death. That is his prerogative, I suppose, but it means that whatever pleasure there is to be had in Hotel exists only in its detours from the terminal path, and not on it. That’s why so much of the film feels like a slog and the reason, I think, that Hong hesitates when depicting Younghwan’s demise, why he holds on the empty hallway outside the bedroom instead of bolting inside with the sons. The image is among the ugliest in his career and inarguably the most evasive. If Hotel is, finally, a trap, it’s one that springs only half-heartedly. Which is to say: all the pain, none of the thrill.

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Friday April 26 – Thursday May 2

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Featured Film:

Hotel by the River at the Northwest Film Forum

There’s a big new superhero movie this week of course, and the Grand Illusion has The Godfather Part II (good movie, imo) on 35mm, but if you know anything about us here at Seattle Screen Scene, you know that our Featured Film this week has got to be the latest from Hong Sangsoo, playing this weekend only at the Film Forum. It’s not our favorite Hong, something we talk about in a discussion which should be up here soon, nor even our favorite of the movies Hong made in 2018 (that would be Grass, which just opened in New York and should make its way here later this year) but it is definitely essential viewing.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Family (Laura Steinel) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

Back to the Future Part II (Robert Zemeckis, 1989) Fri-Tues
Stargate (Roland Emmerich, 1994) Fri-Weds 

SIFF Egyptian:

Hail Satan? (Penny Lane) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

Wild Nights with Emily (Madeleine Olnek) Fri-Thurs 
Woman at War (Benedikt Erlingsson) Fri-Thurs 
Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 
Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) Fri & Sat Only 
Jinn (Nijla Mumin) Sun Only 
A Bread Factory Part One (Patrick Wang) Tues Only 
A Bread Factory Part Two (Patrick Wang) Tues & Weds Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Godfather Part 2 (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) Fri-Thurs 35mm
Penguin Highway (Hiroyasu Ishida) Sat & Sun Only Subtitled
Little Woods (Nia DaCosta) Sat-Mon Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Jersey (Gowtam Tinnanuri) Fri-Thurs 
Kalank (Abhishek Verman) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Meridian:

Kalank (Abhishek Verman) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Hotel by the River (Hong Sangsoo) Fri-Sun 
The Eyes of Orson Welles (Mark Cousins) Sat & Sun Only 
Suburban Birds (Qiu Sheng) Starts Weds 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Kalank (Abhishek Verman) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

William (Tim Disney) Fri-Thurs 
High Life (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs Our Discussion
Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 
Family (Laura Steinel) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

The Ladykillers (Alexander Mackendrick, 1955) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

The Russian Five (Joshua Riehl) Fri-Sun 

AMC Southcenter:

Family (Laura Steinel) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Uptown:

Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 
Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu) Fri-Thurs 
High Life (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs Our Discussion

Varsity Theatre:

Transit (Christian Petzold) Fri-Thurs Our Podcast
Sunset (László Nemes) Fri-Thurs 

Outer Limits: A Conversation on Claire Denis’s High Life

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EVAN MORGAN: Recently, I found myself thinking about Claire Denis and failure thanks to—what else?—a Film Twitter thread asking for cinematic recommendations on the subject. I offered up Bastards (2013) as a representative example, a film as enamored with ruin as any I know, but now having seen High Life, I’m thinking I may have spoken too soon. In the very least, I’ve been left wondering if Denis’s oeuvre isn’t uniquely crowded with contenders for this sad prize: Beau Travail (1999) and Trouble Every Day (2001) for their bleak assessment of desire as something caught perpetually in the throat, White Material (2009) and No Fear, No Die (1990) for their entropic politics; even something like Let the Sunshine In (2017), despite that exhortative title, is mostly a series of frustrations, no one of which is a true catastrophe on the merits, but as they pile up over a lifetime, they manage to block forward progress nonetheless. I’d like to nominate High Life too, though for different reasons and, it must be said, with some reluctance: for the first time, I suspect that Denis has been defeated by her own material. Unable to bend it to her will, she’s left with a film that only fitfully achieves her idiosyncratic vision. I’m willing to grant that the results might prove productive upon further reflection, but only in the way that mutations are productive: the variations introduce as much waste as they do benefit. As a Claire Denis Project, I think we have to speak of High Life in terms of failure. To emphasize the film’s continuity with Denis’s other work, as most of its admirers have done, is to fall into an auteurist trap. The film’s signal virtue, it seems to me, is bound up in its failures: it ought to frustrate easy auteurist readings.

For one thing, High Life is significantly less elliptical than the descriptions I’m reading: there are no lacunae to rival the narrative and structural gaps of a L’intrus, for example, and an honest attempt to outline the film’s trajectory should produce a fairly straightforward summary. For another, I think the approach to the images here (and in Let the Sunshine In, to an extent) is different from the approach in her mid-2000s films; again, people seem to be describing memories of L’intrus (2004) or something when talking about the way this looks. In all fairness, I haven’t fully articulated to myself the precise distinction between this late style and her mid-career style, but I feel it and I haven’t seen anyone grapple with it in a sustained way. In his interview with Denis at Cinema Scope, Adam Nayman gestures at this, but doesn’t probe further:

She never forces her images, which are striking without exceeding their narrative function, nor does she get lost in an elliptical thicket à la L’intrus, which is probably her most unsettled film. In terms of content and implication, High Life is anything but easy, and yet its craft gives an impression of effortlessness, as if its various complex, interlocking elements simply floated into place, zero-gravity style.

LAWRENCE GARCIA: Thematically, there’s no question that the film is of a piece with the rest of Denis’s filmography: the story alone charts the dual human failures of society (death row inmates sent on a perverse experimental voyage) and technology (the mission to harness the rotational energy of a black hole). In his mammoth appraisal of her career, Darren Hughes delineates the critical meta-narrative surrounding her work, and astutely describes High Life as “classic speculative fiction in that all of the narrative mechanisms—cosmology, astrophysics, violence, reproduction, the ethics of crime and punishment—are interlocking pieces of an ontological/theological puzzle box.” Indeed, the cube-like shape of the prison-cum-spacecraft seems explicitly designed around that notion. But the “unsettled” quality that Nayman suggests of L’intrus is what seems to be missing from High Life. Whereas, say, Trouble Every Day fuses its various oppositions—horror and pleasure, agony and ecstasy, drives of sex and death—into an experience of visceral, brutal beauty, High Life comes across as more monomaniacal in both intention and effect; the extremity of its gestures feels beholden to an external design, so the film registers mainly as an authorial expression of worldview. The moment-to-moment rhythmic, tactile, and sensuous incitements that I’ve come to expect from Denis’s cinema are, if not entirely absent, then severely diminished. To put it even more simply, High Life is less confounding or bewildering than any film of hers I’ve seen before.

As you suggest, the narrative is fairly easily pieced together, and what ellipses are present seem to remove ambiguity rather than inject it, which renders much of the character/action strictly symbolic/conceptual. Ewan Mitchell’s glowering convict, for instance, is so stringently defined in terms of his sexual frustration that his actions take on a lugubrious sense of portent. One might lament his eventual demise—a result of his rape of a female inmate, expected from the moment he’s introduced—but only in the sense of youth wasted by an oppressive order. So overall, High Life does seem to present a marked formal difference, one that goes beyond a shift in genre and a different set of collaborators. But what’s to account for it?

EM: It’s easy to see thematic consistency from a 1000-foot view, so yes, I’m thinking primarily in terms of style, but also the way style ought to shift our understanding of the thematic interests. Bastards, as I’ve already implied, is the baseline from which I’m trying to track the deviations: it’s also digital, similarly mythic, equally in erotic thrall to death, but hyper-specific in a way that makes High Life seem free-floating, anonymous even. There’s nothing here that comes close to the stuff with Vincent Lindon’s shirt in Bastards, for example, which is perfectly designed to explicate his character and string together a number of otherwise disparate sequences. The conceptual rigor represented by that shirt has no corollary in High Life.

LG: Part of me wonders whether or not this overall lack is a direct result of production constraints. The imagery of speculative fiction and sci-fi is so freighted by genre iconography; by her own admission the long shadows of Tarkovsky and Kubrick were inescapable in this. So perhaps in evoking the bare minimum of engagement from the viewer (i.e. the belief that this is “a space movie”) and then attempting to put her individual stamp on the narrative trajectory, Denis wasn’t quite able to make the ground-level experience specific enough to really connect.

EM: I think it goes deeper than the production constraints: As was the case with Sunshine, she pokes fewer holes in the generic template than one might expect, which suggests either a greater fealty to the genre than I would have thought possible given her earlier films or a thin conception of the genre’s possibilities. But I’m also curious whether that’s a feature and not a bug: in more ways than one, the film is about the outer limits of Denis’s cinema, the edges where her style breaks down, where intimate touch—both physical and cinematographic—is no longer possible, and so there’s a way in which the lack at the heart of the film is the text. Again, I think the auteurist reading that this is a self-evidently successful elaboration of her pet ideas and images, rather than an attempt to map out the points where they fail, seems flawed to me. Though in a way, I welcome High Life’s failures.

LG: That approach seems like the most compelling avenue for considering the film’s (mutated) success. Throughout the film, there’s an intense preoccupation with ritual: specifically, what occurs when one is removed or irrevocably cut off from it. Denis seems interested in the (im)possibility of continued existence apart from the human rites and observances that require deep codification—only possible across lengthy spans of time, which is precisely what the convicts don’t have—to truly take hold. This is, in part, the appeal of funeral ceremony, which consoles precisely because it places the individual at a kind of remove; the impersonal nature of its rituals and movements is part of its power. The sequence leading into the title card shot, then, during which Pattinson’s Monte disposes of the crew’s bodies, is an unequivocal rejection of that possibility—and the toll of its lack becomes increasingly evident. As we see throughout the film, there’s an attempt to build up a new set of ceremonial forms: Monte’s own diurnal rituals (in particular, the scene where he collects his hair); and, most obviously, his daughter Willow’s attempt to pray, mimicking some of the glitchy “transmissions” that the ship receives from Earth. But cut off from all else, these are bound to fail.

Along these lines, there’s a way to view High Life as an attempt to work through history—including film history—through such transmissions; to recapture a lost existence through glitchy snatches of it. Early on, Monte’s toddler daughter is faced with a pair of monitors: one showing Edward Curtis’s In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914), the other showing a surveillance video of Monte outside the ship. There are also seductive flashbacks to what feels very much like a previous life, as well as home-video footage of a child playing by the sea. There’s a sense that Denis is practically reconstructing her style within this black box, or at least probing its limits by removing certain tactile pleasures. (In this, it’s salient that the Earth scenes are shot in 16mm, the space scenes in digital, and the finale in 35mm.) So if there’s an overall feeling of lack, it stems from an attempt to, as you say, map out points of failure. It seems no coincidence that the film’s most compelling sequences are all departures from the main spacecraft location: the overhead shot of a train, which leads into the most bewildering, and thus engaging expository bit; and Mia Goth’s descent, all strobing lights and warped space-time. (Though I’d also like to mention the Beau Travail-like sequence of the inmates exercising on the craft, which reminded me of Jeremy Shaw’s Quantification Trilogy, specifically Liminals.) Still, I’m not sure that I can ever fully embrace a film that, however intentionally, sparks so little in-the-moment engagement.

EM: The earth scenes are crucial, especially given their texture: a means for the film to establish all that’s being left behind, as you suggest. And if the move to space is in fact an abandonment of tactility, then I think the film’s trajectory makes a strong case for jettisoning the received wisdom regarding Denis’s aesthetic proclivities and finding ways to start over. Though I sense that, at this point in her career, Denis is herself too conscious of the expectations that burden her work to begin anew, no matter the narrative’s invocation of a new Eden. I’m thinking, primarily, of the approach to sex, which she touches on in an interview at The A.V. Club:

A.V. Club: You see beauty in High Life? There’s horror in it, too.

Claire Denis: Yes, but also beauty. The horror is not in the rape scene. It’s in having to throw the crew into the void because they’re dead. This for me is the horror. I don’t think the sex scenes are horror, honestly.

I might expect her to say something like this about Trouble Every Day which, as you said earlier, more convincingly melds horror and beauty, but she’s simply failing to describe High Life’s effect here. Not her job to do so, perhaps, and she possesses the author’s absolute right to her own intentions. On the other hand, it’s not the critic’s job simply to parrot those expressed intentions when the images on screen induce a contrary experience in the viewer; Denis may conceive of the Binoche/Pattinson rape scene as throbbing with some kind of repressed pleasure, but given its narrative purpose and the chilly blue light that pervades it, it reads to me as clinical or, to borrow Nayman’s word, functional. When compared to Beatrice Dalle’s bite, Binoche’s touch is more or less gentle. So in a way I agree with Denis: the scene doesn’t register as horrifying, but that’s also why no real pleasure registers either, and therefore even less beauty.

If for Denis thanatos is a precondition of eros, and we accept that High Life fails to generate much that’s erotic, then I suspect that the problem lies with thanatos. Boundless, incorporeal voids aren’t capable of firing up the limbic system quite like an embodied threat; fear of a thing that touches and fear of a thing that fatally withholds touch are quite different beasts indeed. Which is why High Life only really palpitates when Binoche steps into the fuckbox and outer space is swapped for inner space. The sequence comes close to replicating the mise-en-scène of Trouble Every Day, with its dried blood palette and its very New French Extremity taste for shadow (Daniel Kasman rightly cited Philippe Grandrieux), and so it temporarily promises to revive the old Denis pleasures. But the film’s pessimism, its systematic denial of pleasure (contra Denis), is also located here: somatic experience in High Life is so degraded that a machine is necessary to arouse something, anything.

LG: In a 2015 interview, Denis pushed back on the general (critical) notion that her cinema is uniquely focused on the body: “I’m filming characters, you know?… I don’t see why I do more bodies than other directors.” In High Life at least, it’s more difficult to countenance that assessment, particularly given the film’s self-consciously horrific presentation of various bodily fluids (semen, blood, breast milk) and functions decoupled from the individual person; if anything, the film is defined by such demarcations of character/body. Trapped into self-evidently Sisyphean 24-hour-cycles of pointless activity, the inmates’s pursuit of touch becomes stripped of intimacy and eroticism and love: understandable, when faced with a yawning void—for after all, a thanatropic drive doesn’t indicate a fundamental desire for death, but a compulsion so overwhelming that it overrides one’s fear of it. That “systematic denial of pleasure,” as you put it, seems to be the crux of the matter: images and sensations pushed to a point where all that registers is numbing indifference. But on that note, I’d like to throw in Valeska Grisebach’s Western (2017)—a film that itself owes a fair debt to Denis, specifically Beau Travail—as an oblique, but perhaps relevant point of comparison. The chief achievement of Grisebach’s feature is the precise distance she locates from the material: the film’s studied withholding of conventional pleasures and confounding of viewer expectations creates, well, its own kind of pleasure; in the process, the film renders ostensibly familiar territory alien and new. To my eyes, High Life doesn’t offer a similar substitute, though perhaps that’s also an indication that my appreciation of Denis’s films has always been of a narrower, though still enthusiastic sort.

As the film heads towards its finale, there’s a disorienting cut to a teenaged Willow crawling into bed with Monte—an ellipsis that recalled the thrilling moment-out-of-time transition of Ulrich Köhler’s In My Room (2018), another work concerned with a desire to continue living in the face of overwhelming odds. (The trajectory of High Life could be seen as a distorted fulfillment of Armin’s desire to bring a child into his post-apocalyptic earth.) For as long as it took for Willow to reach this point, Monte found a desire to live—though not for much longer, as the film’s conclusion sees father and daughter, that familiar unit of Denis’s cinema, now descending into a black hole. But it’s to High Life’s credit that despite its overwhelming pessimism up to that point, this scene still feels as much a leap of faith as it is an affirmation of nihilism: the blinding final shot fulfills, with terrifying clarity, Let the Sunshine In’s ambiguous closing exhortation to “be open.” If we have indeed reached the outer limits of Denis’s cinema, the question now is: where will she go from here?

Friday April 19 – Thursday April 25

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Featured Film:

True Stories at the Northwest Film Forum

The highlights for this week on Seattle Screens are mostly movies I haven’t seen yet. Claire Denis’s High Life expands throughout the area, as does the Aretha Franklin doc Amazing Grace. The Pacific Place has the new Emily Dickinson film Wild Nights with Emily, while the new Mike Leigh joint plays at the Meridian and the Theatre Formerly Known as the Metro. The Cinerama has a whole series of anime, I’d recommend Mamoru Hosada’s Wolf Children as the one that doesn’t get revived all that often but is nonetheless as great as the best of the oft-screened Ghibli classics. SAM’s playing Kind Hearts and Coronets, if you’re in the mood to see Alec Guinness get killed as like a dozen different characters. And the Grand Illusion has an actual Jean Grémillon movie, can’t remember the last time we’ve had a chance to see one of those around here. But while I haven’t seen it yet, I have seen the video for “Wild Wild Life” and I’m gonna be super jealous of all of you who get to go see True Stories at the NWFF on Saturday night. It’s on 35mm!

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam, 1975) Fri-Weds
Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, 1968) Fri-Weds 

Cinerama:

Anime Film Series Fri-Thurs Full Program

SIFF Egyptian:

SPLIFF Film Fest Fri & Sat Only 
Hail Satan? (Penny Lane) Sun-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Manje Bistre 2 (Baljit Singh Deo) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

High Life (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs 
Woman at War (Benedikt Erlingsson) Fri-Thurs 
Buddy (Heddy Honigmann) Fri-Thurs 
Cat Video Fest 2019 Fri-Thurs 
Kid Flicks Two Sat Only 
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam, 1998) Sat Only 
Anote’s Ark (Matthieu Rytz) Tues Only 
The New Frontier (Kanani Koster) Thurs Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Penguin Highway (Hiroyasu Ishida) Fri–Thurs Dubbed Mon & Weds
Hagazussa (Lukas Feigelfeld) Fri, Sun, Mon, Weds & Thurs 
Little Woods (Nia DaCosta) Fri & Next Sat-Mon Only
Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bi Gan) Sat & Sun Only Our Review In 2D
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (Danny Leiner, 2004) Sat Only 
Drone Cinema Film Festival – Selected Works Sat Only 
Pattes blanches (White Paws) (Jean Grémillon, 1949) Tues Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

High Life (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs 
Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 
Finding Julia (Igor Sunara) Fri-Thurs 
Chitralahari (Kishore Tirumala) Fri-Sun
Vellaipookal (Vivek Elangovan) Fri-Sun
Jersey (Gowtam Tinnanuri) Fri-Thurs 
Kalank (Abhishek Verman) Fri-Thurs 
Kanchana 3 (Raghava Lawrence) Fri & Sat Only
Athiran (Vivek) Sat & Sun Only 
Kavaludaari (Hemanth Rao) Sat & Sun Only 
Okko’s Inn (Kitarō Kōsaka) Mon & Tues Only Subtitled Tuesday

Regal Meridian:

Peterloo (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs 
Kalank (Abhishek Verman) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Ramen Shop (Eric Khoo) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
The Venerable W. (Barbet Schroeder) Fri & Sun Only 
Mosquita y Mari (Aurora Guerrero, 2011) Sat Only Director Q&A 
True Stories (David Byrne, 1986)  Sat Only 35mm
The Eyes of Orson Welles (Mark Cousins) Sun & Next Sat & Sun Only 
Tomorrow Never Knows (Adam Sekular) Weds Only Director Q&A
Cadence Video Poetry Festival Thurs Only 

AMC Pacific Place:

Wild Nights with Emily (Madeleine Olnek) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Kalank (Abhishek Verman) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

Peterloo (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs 
High Life (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs 
Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 
The Brink (Alison Klayman) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

Babylon (Franco Rosso, 1980) Fri-Sun 

AMC Southcenter:

Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 
Finding Julia (Igor Sunara) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Thornton Place:

High Life (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Uptown:

Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 
Diane (Kent Jones) Fri-Thurs 
High Life (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

Mary Magdalene (Garth Davis) Fri-Thurs 
Breaking Habits (Rob Ryan) Fri-Thurs 

In Wide Release:

Captain Marvel (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck) Our Review Our Other Review 

Ramen Shop (Eric Khoo, 2018)

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Opening this weekend at the Northwest Film Forum is this perfectly fine food drama by one of Singapore’s leading directors. After his father, a successful ramen chef, dies, a young man heads to Singapore in search of his mother’s family. Gauzy flashbacks fill in his parents’ back story in-between meetings with his estranged uncle and grandmother. His father, Japanese, and his mother, Chinese, married against her mother’s wishes, her hostility a result of lingering hatred of the Japanese following their occupation of the city-state during World War II. But as resentments and hatred are passed down through the generations, so too are recipes, taught from parent to child, adding personal touches learned from their own life experience. The cuisine of Singapore, with its influences from throughout East and South Asia as well as Europe is the blunt instrument of metaphor in Eric Khoo’s quiet, yet maudlin melodrama. The young man’s journey is as much about learning the recipes of his mother’s family as it is reconciling himself to the past atrocities of his father’s homeland. English serves as the lingua franca, bridging the gap between ancient hatreds, facilitating the fusion of Japanese ramen (itself a combination of Japanese flavors with Chinese noodles) with Singaporean pork rib soup (a combination of Chinese soup with Southeast Asian flavors).

As a vision of transnational solidarity dramatized by a Japanese person’s trip to Singapore, it’s vastly more conventional and less interesting than Daisuke Miyazaki’s Tourism, which also played at last year’s Japan Cuts festival but which is not getting, as far as I know, even a very limited North American release. Probably because the food, at least, looks much better. Though even that pales in comparison to the food in the quiet Korean drama Little Forest (a second adaptation of a manga, the first of which, a Japanese version, played in two parts at SIFF a few years ago), which likewise won’t see American theatres, but you can stream it on Amazon.

Regardless, I too hope to one day pass down to my grandchildren my own ramen recipe, which I’ll also share with you here:

1. In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add noodles, breaking up if desired. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Remove from heat. Stir in seasoning from soup base packet.
3. Try adding an egg, vegetables, or meat as desired.

Friday April 12 – Thursday April 18

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Featured Film:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the SIFF Uptown

It’s another very strong week on Seattle Screens, with runs of An Elephant Sitting Still and The Fate of Lee Khan continuing at the Northwest Film Forum, Yuen Woo-ping’s solid fight film Master Z: Ip Man Legacy opening at the Meridian and a couple of suburban theatres, and Mark Cousins’s very good doc The Eyes of Orson Welles beginning its sporadic run at the NWFF. There are also a bunch of solid rep options: Clue and Clueless at the Central Cinema, The Matrix and The General at the Grand, Life of Brian at the Uptown, and a whole bunch of films from 1999 at the Cinerama. But the must-see films of the week are Claire Denis’s Robert Pattinson-starring sci-fi movie High Life, opening at the Lincoln Square and the Uptown, and Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, playing exclusively at the Uptown. I’m giving the edge here to Bi Gan, because I’ve actually seen his movie and it’s terrific. The hour-long continuous 3D take will get the headlines, but it’s the movie’s mood that will stick with you: film noir mystery and Wong Kar-wai romanticism condensed into a meandering labyrinth of memory and loss.

Playing This Week:

Central Cinema:

Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995) Fri-Tues
Clue (Jonathan Lynn, 1985) Fri-Weds 
Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992) Weds Only 

Cinerama:

1999 Film Series Fri-Thurs Full Program

SIFF Egyptian:

Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (Yuen Woo-ping) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Manje Bistre 2 (Baljit Singh Deo) Fri-Thurs 
Penguin Highway (Hiroyasu Ishida) Sun Only English Dubbed
Ben-Hur (William Wyler, 1959) Sun & Weds Only 

Grand Cinema:

The Aftermath (James Kent) Fri-Thurs 
Woman at War (Benedikt Erlingsson) Fri-Thurs 
The Matrix (Lilly and Lana Wachowski, 1999) Sat Only 
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World (Catherine Bainbridge & Alfonso Maiorana) Sun Only 
Sharkwater Extinction (Rob Stewart) Tues Only 
The General (Buster Keaton, 1926) Weds Only 
Colour Me (Sherien Barsoum) Weds Only 
The Way He Looks (Daniel Ribeiro) Thurs Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Ruben Brandt, The Collector (Milorad Krstic) Fri–Thurs 
Vampire Raiders Ninja Queen (Godfrey Ho, 1988) Sat Only VHS

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

High Life (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs 
Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack) Fri-Thurs 
Majili (Shiva Nirvana) Fri-Thurs 
Manje Bistre 2 (Baljit Singh Deo) Fri-Thurs 
Chitralahari (Kishore Tirumala) Fri-Thurs 
The Tashkent Files (Vivek Agnihotri) Fri-Thurs 
Vellaipookal (Vivek Elangovan) Fri-Thurs 
Wedding Cha Shinema (Saleel Kulkarni) Sat & Sun Only 

Regal Meridian:

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (Yuen Woo-ping) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Northwest Film Forum:

The Fate of Lee Khan (King Hu, 1973) Fri Only Our Review 
The Competition (Claire Simon) Fri-Sun 
Race (RAZA): A Cuban Documentary (Eric Corvalán, 2009) Sat Only 
An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo)  Sun & Weds Only 
The Eyes of Orson Welles (Mark Cousins) Weds Only 
Slumber Party Massacre II (Deborah Brock, 1987) Thurs Only 
Cadence Video Poetry Festival Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

The Brink (Alison Klayman) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

The Man in the White Suit (Alexander Mackendrick, 1951) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

In Search of Greatness (Gabe Polsky) Fri-Sun 

AMC Southcenter:

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (Yuen Woo-ping) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Storm Boy (Shawn Seet) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Uptown:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bi Gan) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
High Life (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs 
BoneBat “Comedy of Horrors” Film Fest 2019 Sat Only 
Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979) Thurs Only 

Varsity Theatre:

Mary Magdalene (Garth Davis) Fri-Thurs 
Ben-Hur (William Wyler, 1959) Weds Only 

In Wide Release:

Captain Marvel (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck) Our Review Our Other Review 

Black Mother (Khalik Allah, 2018)

black mother

In Khalik Allah’s debut documentary, Field Niggas, the focus was precise. He returned again and again to a single street corner – the power of the film derived from his commitment to capturing this environment, the specific light, and the people who roamed about. His camera was up close to his subjects, his gaze meeting them head-on. His follow-up, Black Mother, is in every sense a much more expansive, diffuse experience. Instead of a single street corner, he aims to capture an entire country.

The approach is the same – the images and sound are not synchronized, allowing for a certain abstraction, where the viewer can make associations and connections for themselves. But Black Mother is a much more challenging project, and this is because of a crucial difference. In his first film, Allah was able to focus on his gifts for portraiture and his background in photography. His subjects became his organizing principle, and their presence sustained the film’s logic and atmosphere for over its running time. It never felt forced. Its scope felt right. Faced with the whole of Jamaica to try and make sense of, Allah strains in organizing his material. The film is divided into four sections – three trimesters and a birth. Searching, he forces poetic motifs and associations in order to guide him. His subjects hold books to point to the island’s colonized past. School girls are juxtaposed with prostitutes. Water imagery abounds. There is death, and there is birth. Essentially, the design feels less intuitive, a solution to a problem.

But Black Mother does not feel programmatic or calculated, even if Allah’s structure is somewhat labored. This is because his approach remains open, allowing for dissonance. Think of the Chinese store-owners brought up early on in the film. The voiceover speaks to Chinese people buying up hotels and taking over Jamaica, a new colonization. To illustrate this Allah shows us some Chinese store-owners at work, frustrated, tired, reacting to his camera, and finally giving him the peace sign. The montage is conflicted, and it reminds one of his previous film and its treatment of the police. In that film, Allah voiced his opinion of the police, filming them with as much as respect as his other subjects, but his voice became one of many, and all throughout the film his subjects violently disagreed and said so. With the Chinese store-owners, he strives to complicate and elucidate this subjects’ voiceover through the imagery, finally arriving at a point where it simply remains inconclusive – how should one feel about this? There is contradiction and the note is left unresolved.

In Field Niggas, Allah was frequently on the soundtrack, asking questions, his reflection was seen on bodega storefronts; he became a part of the night, a member of the cast, his voice a part of the film’s choral patchwork. While his latest film incorporates footage from his own family, and part of the impetus for filming Jamaica is his own connection to it, aside from a few stray bits of dialogue and an image here or there, he has more or less removed himself from the film’s universe. This allows for an analytical distance toward his subject, submerging the images of his family in a grand design, just another people of the island, allowing him to develop the thematic framework he feels is necessary to do justice to what he feels is important. He no longer needs to be seen or heard for his presence to be felt, letting his camera distance carry the moral weight of his gaze. The montage becomes his tool – the structure allows him to search and understand, maybe even flail about a little bit.

We return to the structure, the trimesters and the birth. In the first three trimesters, he has given us a societal and spiritual context, returning again and again to Jamaican Woman. His metaphor is undoubtedly a male one, he frames himself as Son to Mother, his return to Jamaica an attempt to understand his roots, but it registers as respectful and his gaze is never compromised. Finally, Allah films the mother give birth to a son, images of running water flowing everlasting, while the mother cries in pain, making literal the struggles of all the women he has filmed so far, the prayers heard on the soundtrack earlier signaling a spiritual rebirth, not only for himself but for all of those on the island. It’s in moments like this where the structure pays off and Allah’s desire to capture it all almost feel possible.

Black Mother is currently playing at the Northwest Film Forum

Love in the Time of Upheaval [ASH IS PUREST WHITE and TRANSIT]

ash is purest white

transit

The release year of 2019 has already been a bountiful one for Seattle theaters, with such important films as The Image Book, Us, and a long-awaited run of Police Story arriving in the first three months. And by one of the quirks that comes with rolling limited releases, two of the best films of the year — and of the last three years — by two of the preeminent directors in world cinema are making their debut this week at SIFF Uptown: Jia Zhangke’s Ash Is Purest White and Christian Petzold’s Transit.

The two auteurs make for a fascinating comparison in terms of their relative profile in the arthouse film realm. Jia has created for himself a deserved reputation as the foremost chronicler of the unprecedented change — economically, socially, topographically — that has taken place in 21st-century China, and received consistent play in festivals and U.S. distribution. Petzold, by contrast, is an almost unknown quantity in America; though his films have had distribution from around 2008 and gotten some festival play, they have been little seen…except for his previous film Phoenix (2014), which upon its release in 2015 became the art-house version of a box-office smash, receiving more American viewers than probably any German film this side of The Lives of Others, and, significantly, possibly more than any of Jia’s films.

I should note here that I am far more familiar with Jia’s work than Petzold’s — I’ve seen all of the former’s features and only the latter’s two most recent films — but from my general understanding of their careers, the two share a particular thematic interest that links the two, and proves to be a essential asset to both films (in sometimes oblique ways): that of genre filmmaking. Since A Touch of Sin (2013), Jia has taken a sharp turn towards films explicitly emphasized and built around specific genres, from wuxia and action (Touch) to melodrama (Mountains May Depart, 2015) to the gangster genre that forms the base of Ash Is Purest White. Petzold has had this preoccupation from the beginning of his career: his second feature Cuba Libre (1996) was a remake of the great film noir Detour, and his explorations of genre have only developed since then.

What binds these two directors together even more is their particular methods of deploying these generic conventions; both are heavily invested in exploring their respective national societies, dissecting — in mostly pleasurable and sometimes sensual ways — the various means of oppression, resistance, and living within and outside systems impacts flesh-and-blood people. This is not to say that more traditional genre fare does not accomplish this, but Jia and Petzold are even more direct and acute in these respects. Certain other similarities can be drawn — continuous collaborations with muses (Jia with his wife Zhao Tao, Petzold until this latest film with Nina Hoss), a command of composition and editing stronger than almost any living filmmaker — but what makes them so vital is the particularities of their films.

Continue reading “Love in the Time of Upheaval [ASH IS PUREST WHITE and TRANSIT]”

Friday April 5 – Thursday April 11

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Featured Film:

Ash is Purest White at the SIFF Uptown

My favorite film of 2018 opens this week at the Uptown. I’ve been writing and talking about Ash is Purest White director Jia Zhangke a lot this year, with a career overview at Mubi and a lecture about him in Vancouver along with an essay at VIFF’s blog about his use of music. And there should be even more coming in the near future. But this week is packed with other great films if, like me, you’ve seen Zhao Tao uphold the jianghu code four times already. The Uptown also has Christian Petzold’s tremendous Transit, a kind of variation on Casablanca starring Franz Rogowski, who is a kind of variation on Joaquin Phoenix. We talked about it on our VIFF podcast last fall. If opening two of the best movies of 2018 wasn’t enough, the Grand Illusion has one of the best movies ever, with The Godfather on 35mm. And just to make things super crazy, the Northwest Film Forum has both Khalik Allah’s acclaimed Black Mother and Hu Bo’s monumental An Elephant Sitting Still, and then late in the week they open the new restoration of King Hu’s classic The Fate of Lee Khan (review at Mubi). It’s a good week on Seattle Screens.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Romeo Akbar Walter (Robby Grewal) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

The Fifth Element (Luc Besson, 1997) Fri-Weds Our Review
Super Troopers (Jay Chandrasekhar, 2001) Fri-Tues 

Century Federal Way:

Rabb Da Radio 2 (Sharan Art) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

The Aftermath (James Kent) Fri-Thurs 
Keanu (Peter Atencio, 2016) Sat Only 
Never Look Away (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) Fri-Sun, Tues-Thurs 35mm
Starfish (A.T. White) Sat & Mon Only 
Terror Nullius (Soda_Jerk) Sat Only 
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm
The Future is Female (Various) Sun Only  

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

The Aftermath (James Kent) Fri-Thurs 
Romeo Akbar Walter (Robby Grewal) Fri-Thurs 
Kesari (Anurag Singh) Fri-Thurs 
Lakshmi’s NTR (Ram Gopal Varma & Agasthya Manju) Fri-Thurs 
Lucifer (Prithviraj Sukumaran) Fri-Thurs 
Super Deluxe (Thiagarajan Kumararaja) Fri-Thurs 
Majili (Shiva Nirvana) Fri-Thurs 
Mera Naam Shaji (Nadirsha) Fri-Thurs 
Panchatantra (Yogaraj Bhat) Sat & Sun Only 

Regal Meridian:

The Aftermath (James Kent) Fri-Thurs 
The Public (Emilio Estevez) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Black Mother (Khalik Allah) Fri-Tues 
Best of the 45th Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival 2019 Fri Only 
An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo) Sat & Sun Only 
The Fate of Lee Khan (King Hu, 1973) Weds, Thurs & Next Fri Only Our Review 
Cadence Video Poetry Festival Thurs Only 

AMC Oak Tree:

The Aftermath (James Kent) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

P Storm (David Lam) Fri-Thurs 
More than Blue (Gavin Lin) Fri-Thurs 
Division 19 (Suzie Halewood) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Ulan (Irene Villamor) Fri-Thurs 
Badla (Sujoy Ghosh) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

The Aftermath (James Kent) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton, 1951) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

Loving Vincent: The Impossible Dream (Miki Wecel) Fri-Sun 

AMC Southcenter:

The Public (Emilio Estevez) Fri-Thurs 
Storm Boy (Shawn Seet) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Uptown:

Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhangke) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Transit (Christian Petzold) Fri-Thurs Our Podcast 
Woman at War (Benedikt Erlingsson) Fri-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

Giant Little Ones (Keith Behrman) Fri-Thurs 

In Wide Release:

Captain Marvel (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck) Our Review Our Other Review
Triple Threat (Jesse V. Johnson) Our Review