Suburbia (Penelope Spheeris, 1983)


I first saw this film in the mid-1980s, when I was a mildly alienated, slightly chicken-hearted New Waver who was curious about what more dangerous versions of myself were up to. I remember thinking at the time that Suburbia was really cool. Its depiction of rebellious street punks who make a home together in a squat spoke to my need to feel affiliated with something wild and counter-cultural without actually taking any real risks myself. And as someone who was disillusioned with suburbia, I appreciated the movie’s frank commentary on the hypocrisies of middle-class life. Revisiting the film today, I realize that I overlooked a great deal the first time around—not just its major themes about the blindness of youth but also the directness of its depictions of the casual racism, misogyny, and homophobia of some of its characters (and their society as a whole). Watching it now, it looks like much more than a stylish time capsule of a not-so-great period in American history (the Reagan years). It looks like an honest attempt to tell the truth about the way that young people experience a harsh world.

This is not to say that the film is always good. The performances of its mostly non-professional actors (actual street punks) are often wooden, the dialogue is stilted, and the attempts at humor mostly fail. Even so, the film is bold and completely unflinching in its attention to human ugliness, to the simultaneous vulnerability and cruelty of the young, and to the way that disaster so often strikes with little warning and for no good reason.

Continue reading Suburbia (Penelope Spheeris, 1983)”

Friday July 5 – Thursday July 11

Featured Film:

Three Colors: Red at the Grand Illusion

A couple of archival series kick off this week, led by the Grand Illusion’s annual celebration of 35mm film, their Sumer of Celluloid. First up is Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Red, the conclusion of the Three Colors Trilogy. If you haven’t seen Blue and White, I’d recommend watching them first. But also why haven’t you seen the Three Colors Trilogy yet? It’s great! Later in the week, SAM’s film program returns with a summer series devoted to American comedies, kicking off with William Powell and Myrna Loy as Dashiell Hammett’s alcohol-fueled sleuths in The Thin Man

Playing This Week:

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

The Rock (Michael Bay, 1996) Fri-Weds
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Frank Oz, 1988) Fri-Tues 

Century Federal Way:

DSP Dev (Mandeep Benipal) Fri-Thurs 
Shadaa (Jagdeep Sidhu) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

Pavarotti (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs 
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot) Fri-Thurs 
Suburbia (Penelope Spheeris, 1983) Sat Only 
Non-Fiction (Olivier Assayas) Tues Only Our Review 
The Bikes of Wrath (Cameron Ford & Charlie Turnbull) Weds Only Filmmaker in Attendance

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Three Colors; Red (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1994) Fri-Thurs 35mm
Queen of Diamonds (Nina Menkes, 1991) Fri-Thurs 
Funan (Denis Do) Sat & Sun Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Oh Baby (B. V. Nandini Reddy) Fri-Thurs 
Kabir Singh (Sandeep Reddy Vanga) Fri-Thurs 
Article 15 (Anubhav Sinha) Fri-Thurs 
Brochevarevarura (Vivek Athreya) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Red White & Wasted (Sam Jones & Andrei Bowden Schwartz) Weds & Thurs Only 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Article 15 (Anubhav Sinha) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

Pavarotti (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs 
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

The Thin Man (WS Van Dyke, 1934) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

Czech that Film Fri-Sun Full Program 

SIFF Uptown:

Meeting Gorbachev (Werner Herzog) Fri-Thurs 
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot) Fri-Thurs 
The Cure – Anniversary 1978-2018 Live in Hyde Park London (Tim Pope) Thurs Only