Friday February 21 – Thursday February 27

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Featured Film:

Celine and Julie and Susan at the Beacon Cinema

The Beacon this week has Jacques Rivette’s masterpiece Celine and Julie Go Boating, about two French women who meet and become friends and with the help of a magic candy become witnesses to, and ultimately deconstructors of, a Henry James-ish melodrama. They’ve paired it with a film it inspired, Susan Seidelman’s classic Desperately Seeking Susan, along with another 80s film that has a similar screwball energy, Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. But if a more classic screwball is your thing, check out the SIFF Film Center on Saturday, where our pal Kathy Fennessy is dissecting Howard Hawks’s His Girl Friday. Or if you want a wholly different Celine entirely, the Egyptian and the Lincoln Square have the long-awaited release of Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Hitesh Kewalya) Fri-Thurs 

The Beacon Cinema:

Celine and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette, 1974) Fri-Sun, Thurs 
Shock Waves (Ken Wiederhorn, 1977) Fri Only 
Journey Into a Burning Brain: A Tangerine Dream Mystery Triple Feature Sat Only 
Project A-Ko (Katsuhiko Nishijima, 1986) Sun Only 
Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) Sun Only 
Desperately Seeking Susan (Susan Seildelman, 1985) Mon, Tues & Thurs Only 
Something Wild (Jonathan Demme, 1986) Mon, Tues & Weds Only 
Gaza Fights for Freedom (Abby Martin) Weds Only 

Central Cinema:

Bring It On (Peyton Reed, 2000) Fri-Weds 
Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011) Fri-Weds 

SIFF Egyptian:

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Sufna (Jagdeep Sidhu) Fri-Thurs 
The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985) Sun Only 

Grand Cinema:

The Assistant (Kitty Green) Fri-Thurs 
Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, 1968) Sat Only 
Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Goldie (Sam de Jong) Fri-Thurs  
Saturday Secret Matinees Sat Only 
Olympic Dreams (Jeremy Teicher) Sat-Thurs 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma) Fri-Thurs 
Love Aaj Kal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs 
Bheeshma (Venky Kudumula) Fri-Thurs 
Bhoot – Part One: The Haunted Ship (Bhanu Pratap Singh) Fri-Thurs 
Mafia – Chapter 1 (Karthick Naren) Fri-Thurs 
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Hitesh Kewalya) Fri-Thurs 
The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985) Sun Only 

Northwest Film Forum:

Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Earth (Nikolaus Geyrhalter) Sun Only  
We Believe in Dinosaurs (Monica Long Ross & Clayton Brown) Sun Only  
Heedless into Night (Nifemi Madarikan) Weds Only  
Children’s Film Festival 2020 Starts Thurs  Full Program

AMC Pacific Place:

The Assistant (Kitty Green) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Hitesh Kewalya) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Boyfriends and Girlfriends (Eric Rohmer, 1987) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

The Cordillera of Dreams (Patricio Guzmán) Fri-Sun
His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940) Sat Only Dissection with Kathy Fennessy 

AMC Southcenter:

Las Pildoras de Mi Novio (Diego Kaplan) Fri-Thurs In Spanish with No Subtitles

Regal Thornton Place:

The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985) Sun Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Corpus Christi (Jan Komasa) Fri-Thurs 
63 Up (Michael Apted) Fri-Thurs 
Cat Video Fest 2020 Sat & Sun Only

Varsity Theatre:

Weathering with You (Shinkai Makoto) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
Standing Up, Falling Down (Matt Ratner) Fri-Thurs 
Manou the Swift (Andrea Block & Christian Haas) Fri-Thurs 
The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985) Sun Only 

In Wide Release:

The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams) Our Review 
Little Women (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Parasite (Bong Joonho) Our Review Our Podcast 

Friday February 14 – Thursday February 20

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Featured Film:

Noir City at the SIFF Egyptian

Always a major highlight of the movie year is Eddie Muller’s Noir City Festival, the 2020 version of which plays all this week at the Egyptian. The theme this time is international noir, and Muller has brought with him a wide swath of films from around the world, none of which I’ve seen. Sunday’s all-Japanese program in particular looks amazing, with Suzuki Seijun’s Branded to Kill (starring the late Joe Shishido) along with A Colt is My Passport, Pale Flower and Rusty Knife. Elsewhere around town, the Beacon has a Seattle repertory rarity in that they’re playing Indian movies. Two of them: Mani Kaul’s 1973 Duvidha and Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om, from 2007. Both look amazing. But if new Indian cinema is what you’re looking for, the Lincoln Square has Imtiaz Ali’s latest, Love Aaj Kal. It’s apparently neither a sequel to nor a remake of his 2009 film, also called Love Aaj Kal, but it does star the daughter of one of the stars of the first film. The 2009 version is pretty good, odds are this one will be too.

Playing This Week:

The Beacon Cinema:

Matt Christman’s Guide to Springfield Fri Only 
Burial Ground – The Nights of Terror (Andrea Bianchi, 1981) Fri Only 
Duvidha (Mani Kaul, 1973) Sat & Tues Only 
The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1947) Sat-Tues Only 
Jupiter Ascending (Lilly & Lana Wachowski, 2015) Sat-Mon Only 
Five Element Ninjas (Chang Cheh, 1982) Sat Only 
Andromeda Stories (Sasaki Masamitsu, 1982) Sun Only 
Song to the Siren: The Beacon Guide to 4AD Sun Only 
Om Shanti Om (Farah Khan, 2007) Weds Only 
Birth (Jonathan Glazer, 2004) Weds & Thurs Only 
Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (Itô Shunya, 1973) Thurs Only 

Central Cinema:

Joe vs. the Volcano (John Patrick Shanley, 1990) Fri-Tues 
Sleepless in Seattle (Nora Ephron, 1993) Fri-Weds 
Midsommar (Ari Aster) Weds & Thurs Only Director’s Cut

SIFF Egyptian:

Noir City Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program

Century Federal Way:

Sufna (Jagdeep Sidhu) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, 1971) Sat Only Free Screening
Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011) Sat Only 
Purple Rain (Albert Magnoli, 1984) Tues Only Our Podcast 
Downtown 81 (Edo Bertoglio, 2000) Weds Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Buffaloed (Tanya Wexler) Fri-Thurs  
Saturday Secret Matinees Sat Only 
Dark Romances: Bleeding Hearts Sat Only VHS
Paris Is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990) Mon Only 
The Sensually Liberated Female (Matt Cimber, 1970) Weds Only  

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Love Aaj Kal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs 
Oh My Kadavule (Ashwath Marimuthu) Fri-Thurs 
World Famous Lover (Kranthi Madhav) Fri-Thurs 
Jaanu (C. Prem Kumar) Fri-Thurs 
Malang (Mohit Suri) Fri-Thurs 
Varane Aavashyamundu (Anoop Sathyan) Sat & Sun Only 

Regal Meridian:

Ride Your Wave (Yuasa Masaaki) Weds Only 

Northwest Film Forum:

Eros + Massacre (Yoshida Yoshishige, 1969) Sat & Sun Only  
Heroic Purgatory (Yoshida Yoshishige, 1970) Sat & Sun Only  
Perfect Revolution (Matsumoto Junpei) Weds Only  
Blood Quantum (Jeff Barnaby) Weds Only  
The Great Communist Robbery (Alexandru Solomon, 2004) Thurs Only  

AMC Pacific Place:

The Assistant (Kitty Green) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao (Karim Aïnouz) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle (Eric Rohmer, 1987) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

After Midnight (Jeremy Gardner & Christian Stella) Fri-Tues
Matewan (John Sayles, 1987) Weds Only Our Podcast  

Regal Thornton Place:

Ride Your Wave (Yuasa Masaaki) Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Weds Animated 
Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov) Fri-Thurs 
And Then We Danced (Levan Akin) Fri-Thurs 
Bird (Clint Eastwood, 1988) Thurs Only

Varsity Theatre:

Weathering with You (Shinkai Makoto) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
Spy Intervention (Drew Mylrea) Fri-Thurs 
Camp Cold Brook (Andy Palmer) Fri-Thurs 

In Wide Release:

The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams) Our Review 
Little Women (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Parasite (Bong Joonho) Our Review Our Podcast
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino) Our Review Our Other Review 

Enter the Fat Dragon (Wong Jing & Tanigaki Kenji, 2020)

 

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Things have been tough in Hong Kong lately. Months of protests over the lack of democracy and transparency in the Special Administrative Region sparked violent reprisals by police, with fears of the coronavirus outbreak on the Mainland only making things worse. The protests have split the entertainment community, with many stars and other figures, who thanks to the integration of the Hong Kong film industry with the Mainland market are pressured to literally toe the party line, coming out as pro-cop and anti-protestor. Even as likable a figure as Donnie Yen is not immune from the controversy, as some recent pro-Beijing comments inspired HK protestors to boycott his Christmas film, Ip Man 4. I don’t know if anyone is planning to boycott Enter the Fat Dragon as well, its Mainland release was cancelled because of the virus, though apparently it was a hit in Singapore over Lunar New Year. But those hoping for Yen to pivot to a more Hong Kong specific message, as opposed to the PRC-friendly pan-Chineseness of Ip Man 4 are going to be disappointed. Not really for any political reason, outside of a generic “all Japanese people are yakuza” vibe, there isn’t a political message to be found in it, but nor is there any distinct Hong Kongness that you’d find in Donnie Yen and Wong Jing movies of old.

Bearing absolutely no relation to the 1978 Sammo Hung classic of the same name, Donnie stars as a hero cop who is constantly breaking stuff with his badassery. He smashes cars, buses, people, a police headquarters, etc, and misses a photography appointment with his finacée, all because he’s so darn dedicated to stopping crimes. So the girlfriend dumps him and he gets transferred to the evidence room, where he eats for six months and doubles his weight (though this appears to cause him no other physical difficulties). Then he gets sent to Japan escorting a witness and gets involved with a ring of yakuza smuggling cocaine inside of fish, leading to more action scenes. It’s Donnie Yen, so these scenes are pretty entertaining, but the whole reason for the movie to exist seems to be that Donnie and Wong think it’d be hilarious to see Donnie in a prosthetic fat suit. Spoiler: it is not.

That’s not to say that the fat suit movie can’t be good. Johnnie To’s Love on a Diet, for example, has the prospect of icons Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng in fat suits as its primary draw, but ends up being an actually pretty moving comedy about friendship and depression. Sammo Hung’s Enter the Fat Dragon too relies for many of its jokes on Sammo’s rotundity, and the incongruity between his size and his speed and agility, but it’s also, as its title indicates, a showcase for Sammo’s uncanny Bruce Lee impression, as well as being the kind of low-budget, independent street-level contemporary genre film that would be a hallmark of the Hong Kong New Wave. That Enter the Fat Dragon was grimy; it had the feel of a bunch of people coming together to make a movie just for the hell of it, to show off what they could do. There’s a similar anarchic quality in Wong Jing’s best work: the freest man in 1980s and 90s Hong Kong, he would throw together movie stars and special effects and lowest common denominator slapstick and puns and highly dangerous action sequences all without the slightest regard for plot coherence or moral sensibility. At its best, it was glorious.

But that was all a long time ago. In recent years Wong has been cashing checks with Chow Yun-fat in the From Vegas to Macau series (a pale reminder of the greatness that was his God of Gamblers films) and making silly, overblown gangster pictures like the Chasing the Dragon movies. Enter the Fat Dragon, one would think, would be an opportunity for Wong to indulge his crude side, maybe even out-joking the occasionally funny Fat Buddies, a modest hit from 2018. But alas, it seems that in his advanced age, Wong had no chance of withstanding the sheer, wholesome niceness of Donnie Yen.

In this movie whose entire premise is “Donnie Yen in a fat-suit” there’s nary a fat joke. Hardly a moment of crudeness or poor taste. Instead we get a story about how Donnie is just so great that he drives everyone around him nuts. Not because he’s actually annoying or anything, but because everyone else is too selfish to realize just how unselfish Donnie really is. It makes the Razor’s Edge-lite can-do optimism of his Big Brother seem downright edgy by comparison. The supporting cast is occasionally fun, with Wong himself playing the even fatter sidekick Donnie finds in Japan, and flashbacks to earlier Yen pictures Flash Point and SPL are almost inspired, though the jokes don’t really land. But the fights are the only thing memorable about it: leaps around a Japanese street set recall last years’ Master Z and a finale in a tall tower is a fun fight marred by a nonsensical bit with a helicopter (why is the charmingly silly police translator played by Jessica Jann piloting the helicopter? Who knows, it’s Wong Jing!). Wong as the sidekick doesn’t get to do much, and his one set-piece, when his character accidentally ingests a bunch of cocaine and drives a forklift around like a maniac doesn’t make any sense. He doesn’t act at all like a person high on coke. Now, I can believe that Donnie Yen has never done a drug in his life, but there’s no way Wong Jing isn’t intimately familiar with the physiological effects of cocaine on the human mind and body.

Because of the coronavirus, Lunar New Year movie season, traditionally the biggest and most crowd-pleasing time of year in the Chinese cinema calendar got cancelled. I’m not sure if Enter the Fat Dragon counts as a New Year movie (as best as I can tell it was originally scheduled for a Valentine’s Day release in China, but that may have simply been an earlier rescheduling), but so far in the US at least, it’s all we’ve got. Hopefully there are better times and movies ahead.

Friday February 7 – Thursday February 13

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Featured Film:

Ugetsu at the Beacon Cinema

Bertrand Bonello’s latest, Zombi Child, playing this weekend only at the SIFF Film Center, probably should get the spotlight this week, but I haven’t seen it yet. Bonello’s always an interesting filmmaker though and I’ve heard some good buzz on it I think. Instead, I’ve gotta stick with the Beacon and their presentation of one of my all-time favorite movies, Mizoguchi Kenji’s Ugetsu. A ghost story about two men who go off in search of war and riches and the miserable wives they leave behind, it weaves Mizoguchi’s favorite theme (the plight of women throughout history) with eerie and gorgeous images and brilliant performances from iconic actors like Kyō Machiko and Mori Masayuki (who starred together a few years earlier in Kurosawa Akira’s Rashomon), along with Tanaka Kinuyo. Yes I’m going to start writing Japanese names in the correct order and yes it sounds extremely strange to my ears, long accustomed as they are to reversing them into the Western order.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

The Man Standing Next (Woo Minho) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska & Ljubo Stefanov) Fri-Thurs 

The Beacon Cinema:

Ugetsu (Mizoguchi Kenji, 1953) Fri-Sun 
Tombs of the Blind Dead (Amando de Ossorio, 1972) Fri Only 
Portrait of Jennie (William Dieterle, 1948) Sat, Tues & Weds Only 
Withnail & I (Bruce Robinson, 1987) Sat, Mon & Tues Only 
Crippled Avengers (Chang Cheh, 1978) Sat Only 
Takemiya Keiko Boys Love Double Feature Sun Only 
On Cinema at the Cinema Oscar Special Sun Only 
Deep End (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1970) Mon & Weds Only 
Matt Christman’s Guide to Springfield Thurs & Next Fri Only 
Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (Itô Shunya, 1972) Thurs Only 

Central Cinema:

Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992) Fri-Weds 
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, 1971) Fri-Weds 

Century Federal Way:

The Man Standing Next (Woo Minho) Fri-Thurs 
2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Sun Animated, Documentary and Live Action
Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970) Weds & Sun Only 

Grand Cinema:

The Song of Names (François Girard) Fri-Thurs 
2020 Oscar Shorts Fri, Sat & Weds Only Live Action
Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992) Sat Only 
Medicine for Melancholy (Barry Jenkins, 2008) Tues Only 
After Parkland (Jake Lefferman & Emily Taguchi) Weds Only 
Horror noire (Xavier Burgin) Thurs Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska & Ljubo Stefanov) Fri-Thurs 
Citizen K (Alex Gibney) Fri-Thurs 
The Cave (Feras Fayyad) Sat & Sun Only  
Saturday Secret Matinees Sat Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Sun Animated, Documentary and Live Action 
Jaanu (C. Prem Kumar) Fri-Thurs 
Malang (Mohit Suri) Fri-Thurs 
Savaari (Saahith Mothkuri) Fri-Thurs 
Vaanam Kottattum (Dhana Sekaran) Fri-Thurs 
Jawaani Jaaneman (Nitin Kakkar) Fri-Thurs
Panga (Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari) Fri-Thurs 
Ayyappanum Koshiyum (Sachy) Sat & Sun Only 
Shylock (Ajai Vasudev) Sat & Sun Only 
Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970) Weds & Sun Only 

Northwest Film Forum:

We Believe in Dinosaurs (Monica Long Ross & Clayton Brown) Fri-Sun  
Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Earth (Nikolaus Geyrhalter) Sat-Thurs   
2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour Sun Only  
Berlin Bouncer (David Dietl) Thurs Only  

Regal Parkway Plaza:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Thurs Animated and Live Action, Check Listings
Street Dancer 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs 
Pain & Glory (Pedro Almodóvar) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon (Chris Johnson) Weds Only Q&A with Director & Produceer
The Green Ray (Eric Rohmer, 1986) Thurs Only Our Podcast 

SIFF Film Center:

Zombi Child (Bertrand Bonello) Fri-Sun 

AMC Southcenter:

Weathering with You (Shinkai Makoto) Fri-Thurs Subtitled

Regal Thornton Place:

Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970) Weds & Sun Only 

SIFF Uptown:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Sun, Tues-Thurs Animated and Live Action, Check Listings
Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Sun, Tues-Thurs 
Cunningham (Alla Kovgan) Fri-Sun, Tues-Thurs 
Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley) Fri-Sun, Weds & Thurs 
Foosballers (Joe Heslinga) Tues Only  
After Parkland (Jake Lefferman & Emily Taguchi) Weds Only 

Varsity Theatre:

Weathering with You (Shinkai Makoto) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Sun Live Action & Animated, Check Listings 
Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970) Weds Only

In Wide Release:

The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams) Our Review 
Little Women (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Parasite (Bong Joonho) Our Review Our Podcast
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino) Our Review Our Other Review 

Friday January 31 – Thursday February 6

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Featured Film:

Atlantics at the Beacon Cinema

Mati Diop’s debut feature is something that really should be seen on the big screen (its cinematographer, Claire Mathon, also shot Portrait of a Lady on Fire, but her work here is better), and fortunately the Beacon has got it all this week. A little bit Claire Denis (who directed Diop in 35 Shots of Rum) and a little bit Pedro Costa circa Casa de lava, Atlantics is the kind of atmospheric anti-capitalist ghost romance we all need every once in awhile. This week the Beacon’s also got an acclaimed Jean Epstein silent which I haven’t seen but probably should (Coeur fidèle) a crazy fantasy wuxia (Holy Flame of the Martial World) and one of Martin Scorsese’s finest films (After Hours).

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theatre:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Thurs Animated, Documentary and Live Action

AMC Alderwood:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Thurs Animated and Live Action

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska & Ljubo Stefanov) Fri-Thurs 

The Beacon Cinema:

Atlantics (Mati Diop) Fri-Thurs 
The Deadly Spawn (Douglas McKeown, 1983) Fri Only 
Coeur fidèle (Jean Epstein, 1923) Sat & Sun Only 
Holy Flame of the Martial World (Lu Chin-ku, 1983) Sat Only 
Toward the Terra (Hideo Onchi, 1980) Sun Only 
After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 1985) Sun & Weds Only 
Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (Shunya Itô, 1972) Thurs Only 

Central Cinema:

The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982) Fri-Sat, Mon-Weds 
Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) Fri-Weds 

SIFF Egyptian:

Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Thurs Animated, Documentary or Live Action, Check Listings
Us (Jordan Peele) Sat Only 
To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Wonderland (Sachiko Kashiwaba) Fri-Sun 
Citizen K (Alex Gibney) Fri-Thurs 
The Cave (Feras Fayyad) Sat-Next Sun 
Saturday Secret Matinees Sat Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Thurs Animated, Documentary and Live Action
Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
Ala Vaikunthapurramullo (Trivikram Srinivas) Fri-Thurs 
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (Om Raut) Fri-Thurs 
Panga (Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari) Fri-Thurs 
Psycho (Mysskin) Fri-Sun 
Jawaani Jaaneman (Nitin Kakkar) Fri-Thurs
Gul Makai (Amjad Khan) Fri-Thurs 
Dagaalty (Vijay Anand) Fri-Thurs 
Aswathama (Ramana Teja) Fri-Thurs 
Avane Srimannarayana (Sachin Ravi) Sat & Sun Only 
The Wonderland (Sachiko Kashiwaba) Sun Only 

Regal Meridian:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled

Northwest Film Forum:

Recorder: the Marion Stokes Project (Matt Wolf) Fri-Thurs  
Botero (Don Millar) Fri-Sun   
Mickey and the Bear (Annabelle Attanasio) Weds & Thurs Only  

AMC Pacific Place:

Ne Zha (Yu Yang) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Thurs Animated and Live Action, Check Listings
Street Dancer 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs 
Miracle in Cell No. 7 (Lee Hwan-kyung) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Thurs Animated, Documentary and Live Action

Seattle Art Museum:

Love in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer, 1972) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

Cléo from 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda, 1962) Sat Only 
Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson, 1996) Weds Only 

AMC Southcenter:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled

Regal Thornton Place:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled

SIFF Uptown:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Thurs Animated and Live Action, Check Listings
Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Thurs 
Cunningham (Alla Kovgan) Fri-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

2020 Oscar Shorts Fri-Thurs Doc Fri-Sun Only
Coda (Claude Lalonde) Fri-Thurs 
Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Thurs 
Les misérables (Ladj Ly) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams) Our Review 
Little Women (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Parasite (Bong Joonho) Our Review Our Podcast
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino) Our Review Our Other Review 

Friday January 24 – Thursday January 30

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Featured Film:

Chinese Portraits and Ghosts at the Beacon

This weekend is Lunar New Year, but because of the coronavirus outbreak in China, two of the week’s biggest releases were cancelled at the last minute. We hope to see detective Chinatown 3 and Dante Lam’s The Rescue sometime soon, but in the meantime, the Beacon has got us covered for our Lunar New Year needs. Saturday night, they’re playing Ching Siu-tung and Tsui Hark’s seminal 1987 fantasy wuxia A Chinese Ghost Story, with Leslie Cheung and Joey Wong. It’s a story from Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, done in the style of Evil Dead 2. And Friday through Sunday, they have the local premiere of Wang Xiaoshuai’s fascinating experimental documentary Chinese Portrait. Also at the Beacon this week, our friends at the Suspense is Killing Us podcast are presenting Brian de Palma’s Blow Out Tuesday night.

Playing This Week:

The Beacon Cinema:

Chinese Portrait (Wang Xiaoshuai) Fri-Sun Our Review 
Xtro (Harry Bromley Davenport, 1982) Fri Only 
Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975) Sat, Mon & Weds Only 
Fantastic Planet (René Laloux, 1973) Sat, Mon & Tues Only 
A Chinese Ghost Story (Ching Siu-tung, 1987) Sat Only 
Patlabor 2 The Movie (Mamoru Oshii, 1993) Sun Only 
Remains of the Day (James Ivory, 1993) Sun Only 
Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981) Tues Only 
The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978) Weds & Thurs Only 
Song to the Siren: The Beacon Guide to 4D Thurs Only 

Central Cinema:

The Muppet Movie (James Frawley, 1979) Fri-Weds 
Troll 2 (Claudio Fragasso, 1990) Fri-Weds Hecklevision

SIFF Egyptian:

Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled 

Grand Cinema:

Santa Sangre (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1989) Sat Only 
Midnight Family (Luke Lorentzen) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Cave (Feras Fayyad) Fri-Thurs 
VHYes (Jack Henry Robbins) Fri-Thurs  
Saturday Secret Matinees Sat Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
Ala Vaikunthapurramullo (Trivikram Srinivas) Fri-Thurs 
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (Om Raut) Fri-Thurs 
Sarileru Neekevvaru (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs 
Disco Raja (Vi Anand) Fri-Thurs
Panga (Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari) Fri-Thurs 
Street Dancer 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs 
Darbar (A.R. Murugadoss) Sat Only 
Anjaam Pathira (Midhun Manuel Thomas) Sat & Sun Only 

Regal Meridian:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings

Northwest Film Forum:

Redoubt (Matthew Barney) Fri & Sat Only  
Always in Season (Jacqueline Olive) Fri-Sun Filmmaker Q&A Fri
2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour Sat, Sun & Weds  
Murder on a Sunday Morning (Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, 2001) Sun Only  
The Swan (Ása Hjörleifsdóttir, 2017) Sun Only  
Visionaries: Pioneering Experimental Shorts Weds Only 16mm
Train of Life (Radu Mihăileanu, 1998) Thurs Only  
Botero (Don Millar) Thurs-Next Sun  

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Street Dancer 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs 
Miracle in Cell No. 7 (Lee Hwan-kyung) Fri-Thurs 
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (Om Raut) Fri-Thurs 
Pain & Glory (Pedro Almodóvar) Fri-Thurs 
Good Newwz (Raj Mehta) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

Les misérables (Ladj Ly) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Claire’s Knee (Eric Rohmer, 1970) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

Little Joe (Jessica Hausner) Fri-Sun 

AMC Southcenter:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled

Regal Thornton Place:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings

SIFF Uptown:

White Snake (Amp Wong & Zhao Ji) Sat Only Our Review

Varsity Theatre:

Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Thurs 
Les misérables (Ladj Ly) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams) Our Review 
Little Women (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Parasite (Bong Joonho) Our Review Our Podcast
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino) Our Review Our Other Review
 

Friday January 17 – Thursday January 23

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Featured Film:

Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain at the Beacon

The early evening showing of Death Race 2000 on Saturday is sold out, so unless you’ve already got a ticket, you’re not going to be able to make yourself a killer double feature of it and Tsui Hark’s fantasy wuxia masterpiece. If you are going to Death Race though, you owe it to yourself to stick around for the late show, because movies don’t get any wilder than Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, which is about Yuen Biao being a human in a war between color-coded armies (he fights Sammo Hung, as usual) who gets lost in the middle of a war between the gods and somehow might end up saving everyone. It’s part of a Beacon miniseries on 80s fantasy wuxia, with Tsui and Ching Siu-tung’s A Chinese Ghost Story (another indisputable classic) to follow next week and Holy Flame of the Martial World the week after that. Elsewhere around town, Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering with You is a worthy follow-up to his excellent Your Name. and the Rohmer series continues at SAM with Claire’s Knee. Also at the Beacon: many versions of Alec Guiness get killed in Kind Hearts and Coronets.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Ashfall (Lee Hae-jun & Kim Byung-seo) Fri-Thurs 
A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick) Fri-Thurs Our Podcast 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Thurs 

The Beacon Cinema:

Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949) Fri-Thurs 
Lifeforce (Tobe Hooper, 1985) Fri Only 
The Little Mermaid (Karel Kachyna, 1976) Sat-Mon & Weds Only 
Death Race 2000 (Paul Bartel, 1975) Sat Only 
Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain (Tsui Hark, 1983) Sat Only 
Macross: Do You Remember Love? (Shōji Kawamori, Noboru Ishiguro, 1984) Sun Only 
Property is No Longer a Theft (Elio Petri, 1973) Sun Only 
Tampopo (Juzo Itami, 1985) Tues Only 

Central Cinema:

Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) Fri-Weds 
Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932) Fri-Weds 

SIFF Egyptian:

Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley) Weds Only 

Century Federal Way:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
Ashfall (Lee Hae-jun & Kim Byung-seo) Fri-Thurs 
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Sun Only 

Grand Cinema:

March of the Penguins (Luc Jacquet, 2005) Sat Only Free Screening
The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) Sat Only 
The Kingmaker (Lauren Greenfield) Tues Only 
Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley) Weds Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Queen of Hearts (May el-Toukhy) Fri-Thurs 
The Wave (Gille Klabin) Fri-Sun, Weds 
Saturday Secret Matinees Sat Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
Ala Vaikunthapurramullo (Trivikram Srinivas) Fri-Thurs 
Darbar (A.R. Murugadoss) Fri-Thurs In Tamil or Telugu, Check Listings
Sarileru Neekevvaru (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs 
Chhapaak (Meghna Gulzar) Fri-Thurs
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (Om Raut) Fri-Thurs 
Entha Manchivaadavuraa (Satish Vegesna) Fri-Thurs 
Pattas (R.S. Durai Senthilkumar) Fri-Thurs 
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Sun & Weds Only 

Regal Meridian:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
Les misérables (Ladj Ly) Fri-Thurs
Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley) Weds Only 

Northwest Film Forum:

2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour Fri-Sun, Tues & Weds 
Chulas Fronteras (Les Blank & Chris Strachwitz, 1976) Fri-Sun 
Redoubt (Matthew Barney) Weds-Sat 
Georgetown Super 8 Film Festival Encore & Kick-Off Thurs Only 

AMC Pacific Place:

The Song of Names (François Girard) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Miracle in Cell No. 7 (Lee Hwan-kyung) Fri-Thurs 
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (Om Raut) Fri-Thurs 
Pain & Glory (Pedro Almodóvar) Fri-Thurs 
Good Newwz (Raj Mehta) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

Les misérables (Ladj Ly) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

My Night at Maud’s (Eric Rohmer, 1969) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

The Hottest August (Brett Story) Fri-Sun 
The Gleanors & I (Agnès Varda, 2000) Sat Only 
Faces, Places (Agnès Varda & JR, 2017) Sun Only Our Review

AMC Southcenter:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled

Regal Thornton Place:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Sun & Weds Only
Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley) Weds Only 

Varsity Theatre:

Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Thurs 
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Weds Only 

In Wide Release:

The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams) Our Review 
Little Women (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Parasite (Bong Joonho) Our Review Our Podcast
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino) Our Review Our Other Review
 

Friday January 10 – Thursday January 16

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Featured Film:

Eric Rohmer at the Seattle Art Museum

I somehow missed that the terrific Eric Rohmer series started at SAM last week, so apologies if you missed out on Pauline at the Beach because of me. But there’s still a lot more great Rohmer to come over the next several Thursday nights, starting with this week’s show of La collectionneuse. The series skips around the career of the greatest of all French New Wave directors, with four of his Moral Tales and three of his Comedies and Proverbs, and one of his Four Seasons and another miscellaneous one in the mix. The Green Ray, playing on February 13, is probably the best, but they’re all basically perfect so it’s kind of silly to rank them and you really should see them all. Elsewhere around town, SIFF’s Agnès Varda series continues with One Sings, the Other Doesn’t, and her last film, the lovely autobiography Varda by Agnès. And in what is sure to be one of the anime events of the year, the Beacon has all six episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Shin Godzilla genius Hideaki Anno’s Gunbuster on Sunday afternoon. There’s just time enough to watch it before the Seahawks game.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (Om Raut) Fri-Thurs 
Ip Man 4 (Wilson Yip) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick) Fri-Thurs Our Podcast 

The Beacon Cinema:

My Twentieth Century (Ildikó Enyedi, 1989) Fri-Sun, Tues-Thurs 
Set It Off (F. Gary Gray, 1996) Sat-Mon 
Gunbuster (Hideaki Anno, 1988) Sun Only 

Central Cinema:

Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953) Fri-Tues 
American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000) Fri-Weds 

Century Federal Way:

Ip Man 4 (Wilson Yip) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Sarileru Neekevvaru (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs
Forbidden Dream (Hur Jinho) Fri-Thurs
Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Weds & Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed

Grand Cinema:

Freeway (Matthew Bright, 1996) Sat Only 
The Cave (Feras Fayyad) Tues Only 
The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) Weds Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

When Lambs Become Lions (Jon Kasbe) Fri-Thurs 
Saturday Secret Matinees Sat Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Darbar (A.R. Murugadoss) Fri-Thurs In Tamil or Telugu, Check Listings
Sarileru Neekevvaru (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs 
Chhapaak (Meghna Gulzar) Fri-Thurs
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (Om Raut) Fri-Thurs 
Good Newwz (Raj Mehta) Fri-Thurs 
Mathu Vadalara (Ritesh Rana) Fri-Thurs 
Ala Vaikunthapurramullo (Trivikram Srinivas) Sat-Thurs   
Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Weds & Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed

Regal Meridian:

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (Om Raut) Fri-Thurs 
Darbar (A.R. Murugadoss) Fri-Thurs In Hindi or Tamil, Check Listings
Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Weds & Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed

Northwest Film Forum:

Fuselage Dance Film Festival: Winter Program Fri Only 
Duet for Cannibals (Susan Sontag, 1969) Sat & Sun Only 
The Hottest August (Brett Story) Sat, Weds & Thurs Only 
At the Video Store (James Westby) Weds & Thurs Only 

AMC Oak Tree:

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick) Fri-Thurs Our Podcast 

AMC Pacific Place:

Ip Man 4 (Wilson Yip) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Adoring (Larry Yang) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (Om Raut) Fri-Thurs 
Dabangg 3 (Prabhu Deva) Fri-Thurs 
Good Newwz (Raj Mehta) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

La collectionneuse (Eric Rohmer, 1967) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

Varda by Agnès (Agnès Varda) Fri-Sun 
One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda, 1977) Sat Only 

Regal Thornton Place:

Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai) Weds & Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed

Varsity Theatre:

Three Christs (Jon Avnet) Fri-Thurs 
The Assent (Pearry Reginald Teo) Fri-Thurs 
Reality Queen! (Steven Jay Bernheim) Fri-Thurs 
Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Thurs 

In Wide Release:

The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams) Our Review 
Little Women (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Parasite (Bong Joonho) Our Review Our Podcast 

Friday January 3 – Thursday January 9

dvd_vagabond
Featured Film:

Agnès Varda at the SIFF Film Center

SIFF launches a mini-retrospective on the late, great French director Agnès Varda this week. Emphasis on the “mini-” unfortunately, as her masterpieces Cléo from 5 to 7 and Vagabond get only one show each, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, respectively. There’s more Varda at SIFF in the coming weeks though. And later in the week the Film Center also has single shows of Pedro Almodóvar’s classic screwball Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (you can catch his latest, Pain and Glory, which like Women also stars Antonio Banderas, at the Parkway Plaza in Tukwila), and Terrence Malick’s 1978 Days of Heaven (his latest, A Hidden Life, is still at the Oak Tree and the Uptown).

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Good Newwz (Raj Mehta) Fri-Thurs 
Ip Man 4 (Wilson Yip) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Thurs 

The Beacon Cinema:

Good Time (Josh & Benny Safdie, 2017) Fri & Sat Only 

Central Cinema:

Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986) Fri-Weds 
The Hunger (Tony Scott, 1983) Fri-Tues 
Tammy and the T-Rex (Stewart Raffill, 1994) Thurs Only Hecklevision

Century Federal Way:

Ip Man 4 (Wilson Yip) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Grand Cinema:

Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Thurs 
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Sat Only 
#Female Pleasure (Barbara Miller) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Temblores (Jayro Bustamante) Fri-Mon, Thurs 35mm

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Ip Man 4 (Wilson Yip) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Adoring (Larry Yang) Fri-Thurs
Good Newwz (Raj Mehta) Fri-Thurs 
Mathu Vadalara (Ritesh Rana) Fri-Thurs 
Prati Roju Pandage (Maruthi) Fri-Thurs  
Avane Srimannarayana (Sachin Ravi) Sat & Sun Only 
Driving License (Jean Paul Lal) Sat & Sun Only  

Regal Meridian:

Avane Srimannarayana (Sachin Ravi) Fri-Thurs 
Good Newwz (Raj Mehta) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Babylon (Franco Rosso, 1980) Fri-Sun 
Midnight Family (Luke Lorentzen) Fri-Thurs 
Duet for Cannibals (Susan Sontag, 1969) Weds & Next Sat & Sun Only 

AMC Oak Tree:

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick) Fri-Thurs Our Podcast 

AMC Pacific Place:

Ip Man 4 (Wilson Yip) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Midnight Family (Luke Lorentzen) Fri-Thurs 
Adoring (Larry Yang) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodóvar) Fri-Thurs 
Dabangg 3 (Prabhu Deva) Fri-Thurs 
Good Newwz (Raj Mehta) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (Rob Garver) Fri-Sun 
Cléo from 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda, 1962) Sat Only 
Vagabond (Agnès Varda, 1985) Sun Only 
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988) Weds Only 
Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978) Thurs Only 

Regal Thornton Place:

Ip Man 4 (Wilson Yip) Fri-Thurs Our Review 

SIFF Uptown:

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick) Fri-Thurs Our Podcast 
Our Bodies Our Doctors (Jan Haaken) Weds Only 

Varsity Theatre:

Ana (Charles McDougall) Fri-Thurs 
Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg) Fri-Thurs 

In Wide Release:

The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams) Our Review 
Little Women (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Parasite (Bong Joonho) Our Review Our Podcast 

2019 in Review

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As I did last year, I asked the team here at Seattle Screen Scene to send in their favorites of the past year. They could be anything: movies, books, music, non-entertainment related thing, whatever. They could be from 2019, or from the past decade. No rules. This is what they said:

Lawrence Garcia:

Top 10 of 2019 (by world premiere):

1. To the Ends of the Earth (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
2. Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello)
3. A Voluntary Year (Ulrich Köhler & Henner Winckler)
4. A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick)
5. I Was at Home, But… (Angela Schanelec)
6. The Young Ahmed (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
7. The Traitor (Marco Bellocchio)
8. Tommaso (Abel Ferrara)
9. Belonging (Burak Çevik)
10. Synonyms (Nadav Lapid)

sound-euphonium-Final_Oath

Sean Gilman:

1. Kyoto Animation

I was of course quite taken with Naoko Yamada’s Liz and the Blue Bird last year, and had begun watching KyoAni’s unclassifiable series Nichijou, but after the devastating fire that rocked Kyoto Animation’s studio this year, I spent some serious time catching up with their work, and nothing I watched in 2019 made me happier. Sound Euphonium!, the series from which Liz and the Blue Bird spun off, is as gorgeous as anything Makoto Shinkai has done, but with a depth of feeling and character that belies its teen drama trappings. The earlier series K-On! is more fun, more cartoonish, but ultimately just as rewarding., and even more dedicated to the purity of being a show about nothing. These series, along with Liz and Yamada’s 2016 film A Silent Voice, had me seeing echoes of the slice-of-life anime genre everywhere: from more obvious antecedents like Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Linda Linda Linda to two of my favorites from this year’s VIFF: Mikhaël Hers’s Amanda and Dan Sallitt’s Fourteen, even in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. In the 2003 documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore, the genius writer and wizard predicted that thanks to exponentially increasing information, right around 2015 our culture would reach its boiling point and turn to steam. I think he’s undeniably been proven correct, and these films and shows, grounded in the minutiae of interpersonal experience, are the only antidote I’ve found to the speed and weightlessness of the present.

2. Chinese Movies

A perennial entry on my list of course, at least for the past six years. Most of my movie-watching this year was project-related: an obituary for Ringo Lam, a big piece on Jia Zhangke, a complete run through the work of Fruit Chan and partial dives into the filmographies of Ann Hui and Herman Yau. Seems like I spent the first quarter of the year on Jia, as the initial essay led to a lecture and a comprehensive look at his use of pop music, and then multiple podcasts where I talked at length about Ash is Purest White. But on the whole, this year’s Chinese films have been disappointing, whether because 2018 was such a good year, or as a result of the censorship and political concerns that have split Chinese-language film into multiple, mutually-hostile camps. Increasingly dispirited, I realized a couple of weeks ago that I hadn’t watched a Johnnie To film all year. None since April of 2018 in fact. But with a rewatch of Romancing in Thin Air (his best film of the decade) and an initial viewing of his surprise 2019 film Chasing Dream (dropped mere weeks after rumors of his retirement traversed the twitterverse), I’m feeling a bit better.

3. Star Wars

Well, until I think about Rise of Skywalker that is. I’d like to think that its failure can be agreed to be the nadir of the Disneyfied blockbuster era. That in the future we’ll be getting more idiosyncratic works out of the properties the corporate behemoth mined from my childhood faves. The Mandalorian is cool, and some of the Star Wars comics are pretty great (Doctor Aphra!). Rewatches of Clone Wars, RebelsRogue One, and The Last Jedi have confirmed that is possible to produce good, distinctive work under the Disney umbrella. But I also watched all of the MCU movies this year, and while I’ve now developed a grudging liking for most of them, they have yet to produce anything as good. And if the MCU is the Star Wars model moving forward. . . whelp. I’ll just be retreating a couple of decades into the EU books in the new year, I guess.

4. Reading Books

Speaking of books, I finally finished Robert Caro’s The Power Broker and it is magnificent. I loved it so much that I immediately started reading his LBJ series, knowing that it’ll probably take me most of the 2020s to finish it. I don’t care, it’s great. My chronological read-though of Agatha Christie continued, with some of the best and some of the worst books I read this year. I also read a bunch of Eliot Weinberger (the best) and continued to hack away at Against the Day and Middlemarch (both great) and even started another couple massive, but delightful, book projects (Ducks, Newburyport and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy). I finally caught up with some standout comics from the past: the first two volumes of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, and Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. My chronological read through of Marvel Comics continues apace as well: most of it is bad, but the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, and The Amazing Spider-Man are generally really good, and Jim Steranko’s run on Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD is the first thing to really break with the Lee/Kirby model and take the superhero comic somewhere new and weird.

5. The Beacon Cinema

The most exciting thing to happen to the Seattle screen scene in 2019 was the opening of the Beacon. I only made it there opening weekend, but checking the listings every week always sparks the kind of joy that’s been missing around here for a long time. And those shows I did see were the best non-VIFF theatrical experiences I had all year: the opening night show of Gold Diggers of 1933 (sweltering hot because they hadn’t figured out the AC yet, but no one cared) and the following day’s quadruple feature of City Lights, To Be or Not To Be, Speed Racer, and Buddha’s Palm. Nothing in 2019 made me like movies more.

6. Free Time

Maybe it’s just that Award Season has me down. It’s the time of year when I feel obligated to watch a bunch of movies I’m not really interested in, just so I can have a say in what people are calling the best of the year. It’s very dumb. But looking back at the movies I watched this year, almost all of them were related to some kind of writing project. A lot of those were very good, of course, but right now I’m really treasuring the movies I watched for no reason at all. Desperately Seeking Susan, for example. Or the Kyoto Animation stuff. The slasher movies I caught up with at Halloween: the Slumber Party Massacres and the first two Halloween sequels. Watching Shaolin vs. Lama dubbed just because RZA mentioned it in a video. Even capping off my MCU binge with Howard the Duck was an absolute blast. I’m increasingly ambivalent about the whole writing about movies thing, about turning what used to be my hobby into (almost completely) unpaid work. Watching things without a deadline, for no reason other than that it’s there and it looks interesting, should be the goal, right?

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Jhon Hernandez:

Not a very strong year of movies for me. Didn’t see much, and didn’t love much of what I saw. The list includes new films, and also the best old films I saw this year.

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick)
Richard Jewell (Clint Eastwood)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)
Ad Astra (James Gray)
Little (Tina Gordon Chism)

A Day in the Country (Jean Renoir)
Set It Off (F. Gary Gray)
Bamboozled (Spike Lee)
Lo Zebu e la Stella (Franco Piavoli)

Hope 2020 is better!

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Sue Lonac:

Sue’s Top Ten Films of the Decade

1. Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins, 2016): The most beautiful and moving film of the decade, Moonlight also featured some high-risk experimental moves that paid off handsomely. It turned mistakes into integral structural elements, cast three actors who look nothing alike as the same character, and expertly fused indelible moments of reality (like Mahershala Ali’s actually teaching Alex R. Hibbert how to swim) into the fictional world. A masterpiece.

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, 2018): Utterly brilliant, vibrantly imaginative, totally hilarious. John Mulaney should have won an Oscar for his sassy turn as Peter Porker/Spider-Ham.

3. Leave No Trace (dir. Debra Granik, 2018): This intensely suspenseful and profoundly affecting drama is a close-up depiction of a young woman’s mastery of survival skills and her simultaneous painful individuation from her father. Not one false step for the length of the film.

4. What We Do in the Shadows (dir. Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, 2014): This vampire-mockumentary is the funniest film ever made.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. George Miller, 2015): The guitar is also a flame-thrower.

6. Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele, 2017): Jordan Peele’s “elevated horror” film is both a completely terrifying thriller and an incisive, illuminating comment on the emotional experience of being marginalized and never truly safe. Absolutely original.

7. Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2019): Not as bonkers as Snowpiercer, less brittle than Okja, Bong Joon-ho’s latest exposes the deep cruelties of class inequity with real feeling but no sentimentalism. The film is tragic, hilarious, stylish, and resolutely unflinching in its look at human ugliness and human frailty.

8. Selma (dir. Ava DuVernay, 2014): This film had one of the most thrilling climaxes of the decade in the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s soaring speech at the courthouse. The film is even more remarkable given that DuVernay had to write all the speeches herself because Steven Spielberg refused to give up the film rights to King’s real speeches. Somehow, she caught the tone, the rhythms, and the distinctive verbal finesse of the real King’s writing perfectly. For his part, Oyelowo caught all the cadences of the real man’s voice exactly without ever descending into impressionism. A triumph.

9. Gravity (dir. Alfonso Cuarón, 2013): The expertly managed suspense of this film was secondary to its delicate depiction of a woman’s fear, bravery, loneliness, strength, and resourcefulness. Cuarón created a work of great psychological realism that rises to the level of myth by its last, profoundly resonant frames.

10. Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig, 2019): Simply lovely.

amanda

Evan Morgan:

10 for 2019

After putting together multiple Best of the Decade ballots and enduring countless year-end roll calls, I cannot abide another rank ordered catalog of movies, so I’m taking Sean’s open-ended invitation to heart this year and offering a few non-cinematic favorites, chaotically organized. Admittedly, because I am a captive who loves his captor, there are still some films and filmmakers included in this personal sampler platter (please, let’s not call it a list) though it does seem that, with each passing year, literature and music conquer more and more of the mental space that I once greedily stored away for the seventh art. If there was simply less room in my head this year for cinema, well, that was probably for the best. We could all stand to watch a few fewer movies. Then again, I’ve been offered the key that unlocks this dark little room once or twice before, and each time, without fail, I stay put, right where I am.

The Fiction of David Stacton

My regular rendezvous with novelist, historian, poet, and all-time great gay David Derek Stacton were, without doubt, the most rewarding that I had this year. His fiction encompasses an incredible range of topics, periods, and experiences (a small sample: the doomed life of Giovanna d’Aragona, Duchess of Amalfi; Akhetaton’s failed attempts to remake Egyptian state religion; a sexual roundelay at an international film festival circa 1962) but they are united by Stacton’s unusual voice, which is wisecracking and aphoristic, and by the melancholy emotions that they inspire, which Stacton conjures up despite his work’s obvious literary “flaws.” Stacton’s characters are described with cutting wit, but they are stubbornly theoretical; his narratives lurch forward without much development; everything is subordinate to a good turn of phrase. And yet, somehow, each Stacton novel gives birth to a universe—and then, brutally, one epigram at a time, snatches it away. “Not that there will not be a new world, but this is the end of ours. And being selfish, we are concerned with that.” There is also, for a particular kind of reader, the unexpected inkling of recognition: I would challenge anyone of the other persuasion to read a Stacton novel (preferably one that lacks obviously queer content, of which there are many) and not to experience some shock of the familiar. Stacton’s people may often be kings and sovereigns, men who rule over vast swaths of land and who command the most prized levers of power, but they are closeted fantasists all. They thirst after precisely that which society says they cannot have, and, being subject always to the laws of sociological circumstance (for who is the ultimate subject of a society if not its ruler?), they remain forever behind a mask. Their only true dominion is a borderless empire of solitude.

Jean-François Stévenin, in front of the camera, yes, but—more importantly—behind it.

Monsieur singulier

The Cinema of Patricia Mazuy

Gone to earth!

Titanic Rising

No other work of art from 2019 offered me so much comfort amid the general doom. Music for drowning people.

Crying with Mikhaël Hers

I included Amanda on Seattle Screen Scene’s 2018 round-up, so, even if I had some minor reservations, the film clearly clicked for me on a first viewing. It took a revisit this year, however, for me to understand just how deeply it had penetrated my heart. (I wept thrice.) Encountering Hers’s earlier work was crucial: in classic auteurist fashion, I can now list a dozen ideas and images that recur throughout his oeuvre, most of which reach their zenith in Amanda. But I won’t, because if I’m being honest, what really matters to me is that I got to savor the sweet taste of validation. A pet theory is—by my lights, anyways—confirmed: namely, that despite a certain straightness of approach, Hers’s films belong, indisputably, to the Diagonale lineage. Like Paul Vecchiali, Jean-Claude Guiguet, and Marie-Claude Treilhou (whose first film, Simone Barbes or Virtue, gets a cameo in Montparnasse), Hers believes—with a conviction unparalleled in contemporary cinema—that tears are a gift.

Eating with Joseph Wechsberg

Life (and history and culture) is meals.

Black Wings Has My Angel

I do not believe in “Lynchian” as an adjective to describe works made by anyone other than The Man from Another Place, but for once I’m tempted to use it. A complete cosmology of American desire.

Aspern

An infinite mansion is best explored with friends.

A King Alone

Who is it who said, “A king without diversion is a man full of wretchedness?”

Japan’s “Lost Decade”

The 1980s get a bad rap among Japanese film critics. Numerous theses abound, some more compelling than others, but I sense that the implicit idea is, essentially, a version of that old saw about economic prosperity and aesthetic ambition: good times produce bad art. An obvious if undefeatable fallacy, so I won’t bother with a full-throated rebuttal. I’ll just assume, with utmost generosity, that the scholars have simply been watching the wrong movies: this so called “Lost Decade” bears fruit as bountifully as any of the more cherished periods of Japanese film history. Personal favorite Nobuhiko Obayashi had his greatest run from ‘82-’86; Seijun Suzuki returned from television exile with the Taisho Trilogy; Kiyoshi Kurosawa made his debut with a superior screwball porno. And those are the big names. I keep running across little curios that suggest rich veins yet to be mined. There’s Yokohama BJ Blues, for example, a jazzy noir about a singer who moonlights as a P.I. and who—between torchlit performances of ditties that describe too much drinking and too much Hemingway—investigates Yokohama’s gay crime syndicate; or The Lonely Hearts Club Band in September, a biker movie in which a middle-aged, middle-class salaryman exacts violent revenge on a gang of young cruisers. Their crime? Choosing to ride their own road while society barrels forward in a different direction. If, strapped in with the culture at large, we fail to glimpse them as we zoom on by, if we continue to survey cinema from its empty, homogenized center, rather than from its shabbier margins, that’s on us, not the movies.

hlHUSnd

Ryan Swen:

Top 10 2019 Double Features

2019 was an unusually great year for film, both in terms of US releases and in my viewing of new-to-me films. In commemoration of this, I’ve decided to steal Mubi’s annual “Fantasy Double Features” idea (which three fellow Seattle Screen Scene writers have contributed to) and list my 2019 top ten along with ten of my favorite first watches. Most of these are fairly obvious picks, but they’re all eminently great films.

1. La Flor (Mariano Llinás)/Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974, Jacques Rivette)

Two sprawling films co-conceived by their directors and four actresses, openly engaging with the limitless potential of storytelling, viewership, and cinema, exploding barriers one indelible moment and flight of fancy at a time.

2. Asako I & II (Ryüsuke Hamaguchi)/Syndromes and a Century (2006, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Sure, there’s the bipartite construction of each film, but registering even more strongly is the subtle interplay between the city and the countryside in each, and how they inform and shape the sense of romance on display. Their senses of rapture resonate together, even if one’s height is at the beginning and the other’s at the close.

3. Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bi Gan)/India Song (1975, Marguerite Duras)

Two of the most intoxicating atmospheres put to film, using a surfeit of formal daring and judiciously deployed star presence to encapsulate worlds and histories of longing and loss.

4. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)/Stray Dogs (2013, Tsai Ming-liang)

Decay of the body, the landscape, and the nation, captured in a way only digital technology and the talents of some of the most masterful directors and actors alive can do.

5. Transit (Christian Petzold)/The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933, Fritz Lang)

Two Germanic masters operating at the height of their powers, daringly depicting the fascist forces thriving under strife and unrest and the romantic agents desperately trying to resist and survive.

6. Ash Is Purest White (Jia Zhangke)/A City of Sadness (1989, Hou Hsiao-hsien)

Two of the greatest modern directors cast a glance back at the weight of national change, locating unrest in the quotidian and in the absences that accumulate as the years go by.

7. Grass (Hong Sang-soo)/Certified Copy (2010, Abbas Kiarostami)

Some of the most elusive films by enormously elusive filmmakers, utilizing familiar forms and actors in entirely unfamiliar and emotionally/relationally revelatory ways.

8. Parasite (Bong Joon-ho)/Mahjong (1996, Edward Yang)

In a certain sense Bong’s airtight constructions and Yang’s freewheeling approach are at odds, but both capture the hustle and disappointments of capitalism, the transactional nature of interpersonal interactions.

9. High Life (Claire Denis)/The End of Evangelion (1997, Hideaki Anno)

This really should include the entirety of Neon Genesis Evangelion, one of the most significant experiences I had with any media object this year; these are works moving between coldness and viscera, anguish and remove, operating with frightening range and abandon.

10. Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry)/The Mother and the Whore (1973, Jean Eustache)

Though one of Perry’s earlier films would be an even better fit; there’s no redemption for Eustache’s characters, just a sense of total exhaustion. But there’s plenty of that in Perry’s latest, as maximalist and overtly sensorial as Eustache’s approach is minimalist and documentarian.

Pather Panchali (1955 India)
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Shown: Subir Bannerjee

Melissa Tamminga:

In the midst of 2019 year-end (and decade-end) lists, I find myself reflecting more on viewing experiences, often viewing experiences I’ve shared with others, more than specific 2019 films I loved. It’s the moments of film-related insight, or inspiration, or emotion, and, especially, personal connection, I think, that will keep me going this new year, in a world that feels increasingly lost and chaotic, in need of beauty and of reminders of humanity.

In no particular order, just a few of these moments:

–Re-watching Pather Panchali and seeing and feeling, as I hadn’t before, the heartbreaking beauty contained in waterbugs and wind-whipped lily pads, a world contained in a series of images and feeling again that thing, that knowledge you can’t know but you have to feel, the thing that is cinema

–The rapturous reception of Godard’s Breathless by one particular film history student — though an avid and voracious consumer of film, she’d never seen anything like Breathless and her joy in it, whatever my jaded reflections on the New Wave, particularly with regard to women, reminded me what is so invigorating about the New Wave, perhaps particularly to youthful film lovers

–Watching The Florida Project with a group of students who’d never seen it nor heard of it but, as a group, were more moved by it than by any film I’ve ever shown to a class, and who managed to sweep away any reservations I had about the film myself; their wide-ranging discussion afterwards about social justice and the need for marginalized perspectives, reminded me just how provocative a medium film is and how grateful I am for it

–Discussing If Beale Street Could Talk with a student who was doing an independent study and landing in our discussion on the point in the film where the camera seems to hold its breath, where it stops time, contains an overwhelming emotion that cannot be done with words — in remembering the scene together, all we could do was look at each other and say nothing for a long moment

–After a screening of Stories We Tell, one student walking up to me in tears, so moved was she by the film, and then we both just cried together

–Watching Wadjda with my 10-year old, who loved the way Wadjda colored her shoes with a black marker, a moment of two girls and a simple, shared humanity

–The stillness of the rapt silence when my film history students watched Killer of Sheep and the way they struggled to articulate themselves about what they’d seen and been so moved by afterwards

–Watching Eighth Grade with my teen daughters and seeing the way film can reach across distances and bring validation and healing in ways that perhaps no other medium can do

–My daughters all falling in love with Agnès Varda while watching Faces Places

–Experiencing, yet again, the truth that film moves others in ways it does not always move me, in this case, after years of earnestly trying to get my daughters to love the Star Wars universe as I do, it was, ironically, the deeply flawed Rise of Skywalker (and, let’s face it, the hot blood of the Kylo Ren and Rey dynamic) that finally got them to see the light, and, at their bidding, we’ve re-watched the original Star Wars films as a family, and now they are pretending they’ve always loved the series