The Seattle Screen Scene Top 100 Films of All-Time Project

When the new Sight & Sound poll came out in 2012, Mike and I each came up with hypothetical Top Tens of our own. For the next few years, we came up with an entirely new Top Ten on our podcast, The George Sanders Show every year around Labor Day. The podcast has ended, but the project continues here at Seattle Screen Scene.

The idea is that we keep doing this until the next poll comes out, by which time we’ll each have a Top 100 list. Well, I will. Mike will have only 98 because he repeated two from his 2012 list on the 2013 one.

Here are Mike’s Top Ten Films of All-Time for 2018:

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1. The Skeleton Dance (Walt Disney, 1929)

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2. Thieves’ Highway (Jules Dassin, 1949)

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3. All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

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4. Lola (Jacques Demy, 1961)

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5. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)

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6. The Train (John Frenkenheimer, 1964)

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7. Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita, 1973)

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8. Harlan County, USA (Barbara Kopple, 1976)

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9. Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984)

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10. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)

And here are Sean’s Top Ten Films of All-Time for 2018:

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1. Morocco (Josef von Sternberg, 1930)

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2. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

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3. A Canterbury Tale (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1944)

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4. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)

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5. I am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964)

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6. Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985)

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7. Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989)

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8. A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang, 1991)

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9. The Matrix (Lana & Lilly Wachowski, 1999)

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10. Kung Fu Hustle (Stephen Chow, 2004)

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SIFF 2018 Preview: Week Three and Beyond

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There’s a week and a half left in the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival. So far, here at Seattle Screen Scene we’ve reviewed: Freaks and Geeks: The DocumentaryFirst Reformed (twice), and People’s Republic of Desire (twice),  The Bold, the Corrupt, and the BeautifulRedoubtable (aka Godard mon amour)Let the Sunshine In, The Mis-education of Cameron Post, and Matangi/Maya/MIA, with more to come.

Here are some of the movies we’re looking forward to over the last ten days of the festival:

Leave No Trace – Director Debra Granik’s long-awaited fiction film follow-up to her 2010 art house hit Winter’s Bone (she directed the doc Stray Dog in 2014), with Ben Foster as a traumatized vet trying with his teenage daughter to reintegrate into society after living for years in the Oregon wilderness.

 – One of the few experimental films at this year’s SIFF. The festival describes it: “Structural filmmaker Johann Lurf collected all the filmed images of starscapes he could find from high quality sources and assembled them in chronological order, rejecting the clips that had trees or people or spaceships or text. The result is a hypnotic journey through film history starting in 1905 and going all the way through 2017.”

The Empty Hands – Chapman To, who was here a few years ago starring in the film The Mobfathers, directs Stephy Tang in this film about a young directionless woman who inherits half her karate instructor father’s dojo after he dies. She wants to carve it up and sell it off, but her father’s former student (To himself) convinces her to give fighting another chance. A fine film, reminiscent in its best moments of the Johnnie To (no relation) masterpiece Throw Down.

The Crime of Monsieur Lange – The new restoration of Jean Renoir’s 1936 film about “a writer of pulpy Westerns who becomes an improbable hero in order to combat the misdeeds of a slimy, predatory publisher.” It’s one of the Renoir classics I haven’t seen yet and thus one of my most-anticipated Seattle film events of the year.

Ballet Now – The next film in the Tiler Peck Cinematic Universe, as the New York City Ballet dancer (who featured in the fine doc Ballet 422 a few years back) travels to Los Angeles to put on a show.

Susu – “Two Chinese students find themselves in a chilling Gothic tale in a secluded 16th century mansion in the British countryside.” Sounds good to me.

Tyrel – “A comedy where a man realizes that he is the only black man attending a weekend getaway.” Yup.

Good Manners – Brazilian film about a woman who takes a job as a caretaker for a wealthy pregnant woman. With monstrous consequences. One of the better films about parenthood and wolves of recent years.

Girls Always Happy – The debut film from Yang Mingming, who writes, directs and stars as a college graduate who moves back home with her mother. Yang was the editor for the 2015 film Crosscurrent, which played in Seattle for I believe only a single show at the Meridian. But it’s pretty great.

Wrath of Silence – Xin Yukun’s follow-up to his twisty thriller The Coffin in the Mountain, one of the highlights of SIFF 2015. Stars Jiang Wu (last seen here in the Andy Lau film  Shock Wave and the brother of actor/director Jiang Wen) as “a mute Chinese miner (who) sets off to find his missing son using whatever tactics necessary.”

SIFF 2018 Preview: Week Two

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We’re now into the second week of the Seattle International Film Festival. So far, here at Seattle Screen Scene we’ve reviewed: Freaks and Geeks: The DocumentaryFirst Reformed (twice), and People’s Republic of Desire, with much more to come in the next few weeks.

Here are some of the movies we’re looking forward to that are playing during the second week of the festival:

Angels Wear White – Director Vivian Qu was received acclaim for this, her second feature on the festival and award circuit for almost a year now. SIFF’s description: “A young woman witnesses a local official’s assault against two schoolgirls, leading to a complex aftermath of cover-ups and gaslighting.” I quite liked Qu’s first film, Trap Street, an effective noirish film about living in a surveillance state, so I have high hopes for this one.

The Third Murder – Fresh off his Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, here is the prolific Kore-eda Hirokazu’s film from last year, a courtroom drama that sounds very different from his more popular (in the US at least) movies about Japanese families.

Love Education – The latest from director and star Sylvia Chang (herself the subject of an on-going series at the Metrograph in New York, which I wrote about last week) is about a woman who hopes to exhume her father’s ashes so they can be buried with her recently deceased mother. Problem is the ashes currently reside under the watchful eye of her father’s first, and possibly only, wife. A nuanced and moving exploration of ideals of love and commitment across generations and genders, it’s surely one of the best new films at SIFF this year.

Let the Sunshine In – No less anticipted though is the arrival at last of Claire Denis’s latest film, a romantic comedy starring Juliette Binoche. Probably the one film from 2017 I most regret not having seen yet.

The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful – This Taiwanese film from director Yang Ya-chee was somewhat of a surprise Best Picture winner at last year’s Golden Horse Awards, especially considering its strong competition (which included Love Education and Angels Wear White). But with the always great Kara Hui starring as the head of a crime family, it certainly should be pretty great.

Belle de jour – Luis Buñuel’s classic starring Catherine Deneuve as a bored housewife who decides to dabble in prostitution gets the restoration treatment. We talked about it on The George Sanders Show way back in 2013.

The Widowed Witch – “A third-time widow who falls on especially hard times is declared cursed, but turns superstition to her advantage by travelling the wintry landscape of rural China and offering supernatural advice, in this modern tale of mysticism told with mordant humor and starkly beautiful cinematography.” Sold.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda – A documentary about the Japanese musician and composer (who starred with David Bowie in the very great World War II film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence). Another in an interesting selection of musician docs at SIFF this year.

SIFF 2018 Preview: Week One

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Today marks the start of the annual odyssey that is the Seattle International Film Festival. Here at Seattle Screen Scene we’ll have full coverage of the festival, with reviews of as many movies as we can manage to see and maybe even an episode or two of The Frances Farmer Show to go along with it.

Here are some of the movies we’re looking forward to playing during the first week of the festival:

First Reformed – Ethan Hawke plays a country priest in the latest from Paul Schrader, writer of Taxi Driver and director of Cat People.

Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary – Probably won’t be much in the way of a film, but even an overblown DVD extra should be worth watching since Freaks and Geeks was one of the best TV shows of the 2000s.

Dead Pigs – Director Cathy Yan got the job directing the upcoming Harley Quinn movie, which probably says something about the appeal of this, her feature debut. SIFF’s tagline makes it sound promising: “Five Shanghai residents find their lives converging amidst the backdrop of a mysterious river of dead swine.”

Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day – If I didn’t have to be out of town this weekend, spending quality time with my children, I would be at the Film Center on Saturday watching this marathon screening of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s TV series, “a decades-spanning social history of postwar Germany as told through the life of a young toolmaker and his sprawling group of friends, coworkers, and family.” It also plays in three different parts on Wednesdays throughout the festival.

People’s Republic of Desire – Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like SIFF’s Asian Crossroads and China Stars programs are by far the most interesting of this year’s festival. This documentary by Hao Wu covers the culture of internet fame in contemporary China.

The Greenaway Alphabet – I like the few Peter Greenaway movies I’ve seen (especially Prospero’s Books), and he seems like a genuinely weird person, so this doc about him, made by his wife Saskia Boddeke, should be fun.

Sansho the Bailiff – One of the absolute highlights of the festival, almost guaranteed to be the best film playing in Seattle this month, is this restoration Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1954 masterpiece about two kidnapped children who grow up in medieval servitude, dreaming of their mother and a better life. One of the most emotionally devastating films ever made, don’t miss it.

Redoubtable – I’m refusing to acknowledge that they changed the name of The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius’s film about Jean-Luc Godard and Anne Wiazemsky’s 1968 romance. “Godard mon amour” isn’t just a much less interesting title, I’m pretty sure they changed it to disassociate the film from all the reviews that blasted it on its festival run last year. It makes my list of want-to-see films, purely for its car wreck spectacle value, which I imagine approaches Weekend-like dimensions.

I Am Not a Witch – I don’t really know anything about Rungano Nyoni’s film other than that it got a lot of strong buzz on the festival circuit last fall. SIFF says: “A nine-year-old Zambian girl is thrown into a witch camp after she’s blamed for a seemingly innocuous accident.” Could go either way.

Edward II – Derek Jarman’s 1991 film is another of the strong archival presentations at this year’s festival, an adaption (more or less) of Christopher Marlowe’s play about the gay 14th Century English monarch, with Tilda Swinton as his queen, Isabella.

The African Storm – Sylvestre Amoussou’s film about a fictional country in Africa confronting the forces of imperial capitalism by nationalizing their mining industry.

Matangi/Maya/MIA – A doc about the Sri Lankan pop star and activist MIA, which SIFF calls “a kinetic collage of her own footage”. I really liked her first two albums, but have lost track of her career since then, so I’m looking forward to catching up with this.

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection – A documentary about the fiery genius tennis player, made by Julien Faraut and focusing on footage from McEnroe’s performance at the 1984 French Open. I don’t know anything about tennis, but it sounds fascinating.

 

I Was Born, But: Nobuhiko Obayashi and Japan’s Lost Children

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Nobuhiko Obayashi is most famous in this country for a film about a house that eats the young.

In Japan, Obayashi is known for his films that celebrate the laze and haze and promise of youth in its natural season, summer. These are his furusato—or hometown—movies, as he calls them: films conceived in close consultation with their locales, suffused with the particular light of a place or its singular air, where the action is as much determined by the ungainly curve of an ancient street as it is by the generic demands of the youth film. Familiar adolescent conflicts are there, and occasionally inflected with a touch of the supernatural—as in his great body swap comedy Exchange Students—but they are always enveloped and nurtured by the real communities in which these young people live. Summer is, then, Obayashi’s natural season too: when the heat ticks up childhood spills out into the streets, all the better for detailing the public spaces where communities educate their children through performance, ritual, and, importantly for Obayashi, festivals. In His Motorbike, Her Island a young man falls in love on summer vacation, with an island first, a young woman second. When she takes him home, the joyous dancing at a local festival puzzles him. Isn’t this festival to honor the dead? Yes, she tells him. They dance for the people who were born, lived, and died on this island.

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VIFF 2017 Index

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This is an index to our coverage of the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival, categorized by writer:

All of Us:
The Frances Farmer Show #15: VIFF 2017 Recap

Sean Gilman:
24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)
Claire’s Camera (Hong Sangsoo, 2017)
120 Beats per Minute (Robin Campillo, 2017)
Bad Genius (Nattawut Poonpiriya, 2017)
Future//Present (Maison du bonheur, Fail to Appear, Black Cop, Still Night Still Light, PROTOTYPE, & Forest Movie)
SPL: Paradox (Wilson Yip, 2017)
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

Evan Morgan:
Forest Movie (Matthew Taylor Blais, 2017) & Prototype (Blake Williams, 2017)
Maison du bonheur (Sofia Bohdanowicz, 2017)
Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
Paradox (Wilson Yip, 2017)

Ryan Swen:
“Scaffold” (2017, Kazik Radwanski) & “Let Your Heart Be Light” (2016, Deragh Campbell & Sophy Romvari)
A Skin So Soft (Denis Côté,2017)
Faces Places (Agnès Varda & JR, 2017)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)

Jhon Hernandez:
Close-Knit (Naoko Ogigami, 2017)

Nathan Douglas:
Milla (Valérie Massadian,2017)
BC Spotlight (Luk’Luk’I, Never Steady, Never Still, Entanglement, Once There Was A Winter, Gregoire)

Melissa Tamminga:
24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)
Sami Blood (Amanda Kernell, 2016)
Top of the Lake: China Girl (Jane Campion, 2017)

The Seattle Screen Scene Top 100 Films of All-Time Project

When the new Sight & Sound poll came out in 2012, Mike and I each came up with hypothetical Top Tens of our own. For the next few years, we came up with an entirely new Top Ten on our podcast, The George Sanders Show every year around Labor Day. The podcast has ended, but the project continues here at Seattle Screen Scene.

The idea is that we keep doing this until the next poll comes out, by which time we’ll each have a Top 100 list. Well, I will. Mike will have only 98 because he repeated two from his 2012 list on the 2013 one.

Here are Mike’s Top Ten Films of All-Time for 2017:

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1. Scarface (Howard Hawks, 1932)

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2. La Strada (Federico Fellini, 1954)

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3. Toute la mémoire du monde (Alain Resnais, 1957)

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4. Ride the High Country (Sam Peckinpah, 1962)

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5. Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967)

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6. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (Kenji Misumi, 1972)

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7. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Peter Hewitt, 1991)

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8. Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007)

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9. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)

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10. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson, 2015)

 

And here are Sean’s Top Ten Films of All-Time for 2017:

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1. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)

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2. Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945)

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3. The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)

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4. The Young Girls of Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1968)

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5. A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971)

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6. Celine and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette, 1974)

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7. Wheels on Meals (Sammo Hung, 1984)

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8. Broadcast News (James L. Brooks, 1987)

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9. Fire Walk With Me (David Lynch, 1992)

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10. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995)

SIFF 2017: Week Four Preview

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This weekend the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival comes to an end, with three more days featuring another handful of interesting titles. here are some of the ones we’re anticipating.

The DoorRogue One star Jiang Wen’s brother Jiang Wu (A Touch of Sin) stars in this interdimensional comedy about a mechanic who discovers a time-portal.

The Feels – Constance Wu stars in Jenée LaMarque’s film in which “a lesbian bachelorette weekend goes awry when one of the brides admits she’s never had an orgasm.”

A Ghost Story – In one of the year’s most-anticipated American films, Casey Affleck plays a white-sheeted ghost haunting his wife, Rooney Mara.

The Witches – SIFF-honoree Anjelica Huston stars in Nicholas Roeg’s 1990 Roald Dahl adaptation, which is apparently a kind of touchstone for people younger than me.

Free and Easy – A variety of oddballs and conmen interact in a Northern Chinese town in Jun Geng’s film. SIFF compares it to Jarmusch and Kaurismaki.

Taste of Cherry – The late Abbas Kiarostami’s most famous film, winner of the 1997 Palme d’Or, about a man looking for someone to bury him after he kills himself. Stick a jazz band on my hearse wagon/Raise hell as I stroll along.

 

SIFF 2017: Week Three Preview

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We’ve passed the halfway point of the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival, and there are still a number of interesting films to come. Here are some of the ones playing this week, between June 2 and June 8:

Soul on a String – Director Zhang Yang returns with what appears to be a genre companion to last year’s Paths of the Soul, about a Buddhist traveling through Tibet.

I, Daniel Blake – Ken Loach’s 2016 Palme d’Or winner is about one man struggling to work a computer and other failures of Britain’s public welfare system.

Gook – Justin Chon’s comedy about two Korean-American brothers caught up in the Rodney King riots.

Mr. Long – Chang Chen plays a hitman hiding out cooking noodles in a small Japanese town in this film from Sabu. SIFF calls it “Yojimbo meets Tampopo“.

The Reagan Show – Archival footage takes us back to the first fake presidency of my lifetime. Should be fun.

The Dumb Girl of Portici – Archival presentation of silent film director Lois Weber’s adaptation of the opera that inadvertently helped spark the Belgian Revolution. Stars superstar ballerina Anna Pavlova.

My Journey through French Cinema – Bertrand Tavernier’s amiable history lesson loses  focus in its final third, but is nonetheless a fun and insightful idiosyncratic look at mid-Century French film. Will make you want to watch Eddie Constantine films.

Landline – Director Gillian Robespierre and star Jenny Slate, who’s Obvious Child is one of the better Hollywood romantic comedies of this decade, reunite for this film about two sisters who discover their father is having an affair.

Wind River – Hell or High Water writer Taylor Sheridan directs this backwoods policier with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson investigating a murder in snowy Wyoming.

Brainstorm – Douglas Trumbell’s 1983 mind-bender starring Christopher Walken and Louise Fletcher as scientists attempting to keep their brain-recording virtual reality device from the military.

Love and Duty – Archival presentation featuring Ruan Lingyu, one of the greatest of all silent film stars, in a romantic melodrama directed by Bu Wancang. With live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin.

Columbus – Video essayist and critic Kogonada’s debut feature stars John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson a couple who meet and travel through Columbus, Indiana.

Nocturama – Director Bertand Bonello’s film about young leftist terrorists hanging out in a shopping mall.

SIFF 2017: Week Two Preview

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Eight days into the festival and the SIFF is beginning to pick up steam, ready to plow through unheard of 80 degree weather this Memorial Day weekend and on into June. Here are some of the movies we’re looking forward to this week, May 26-June 1.

God of War – Sammo Hung and Vincent Zhao vs. Pirates. I should not need to say more.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World – Documentary on the contributions of Native Ameircans like Link Wray, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Robbie Robertson to popular music.

Chronicles of Hari – Indian film about an actor who specializes in female roles on stage. Jhon reviewed it for us here.

Girl without Hands – French animated adaptation of a Grimm Brothers tale about a girl who, well, loses her hands, trying to escape from the Devil.

Finding Kukan – Doc about the search for the woman who may have been the primary creative force behind, a documentary on World War II China that won an Academy Award in 1941. Melissa reviewed it for us here.

The Little Hours – Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie and Kate Micucci as a gang of foul-mouthed nuns. I should not need to say more.

The Marseille Trilogy – As they did two years ago with Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy, SIFF presents new restorations of three classic films on three consecutive days. This time it’s Marcel Pagnol’s early 1930s French series following the complicated lives of Marius and Fanny, two shopkeepers in love who can’t seem to end up together.

Godspeed – Taiwanese direct Chung Mong-hong’s blackly comic thriller about a taxi driver and a drug courier stars Hong Kong legend Michael Hui, in a performance that earned him several Best Actor nominations throughout Asia.

By the Time it Gets Dark – Thai director Anocha Suwichakornpong’s mysterious exploration of the fracturing effects of the 1976 Thammasat University massacre. Evan reviewed it for us here.

The Ornithologist – Portuguese director João Pedro Rodrigues’s oddball quest film starts as the story of a man lost in the woods and somehow becomes an adaptation of the story of St. Anthony. Along the way he’s tricked by Chinese backpackers, falls in love with a young man named Jesus and stumbles across a primitive tribe of demons.