Friday July 19 – Thursday July 25

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Featured Film:

The Beacon Cinema’s Grand Opening Week

I can’t recall the last time a new theatre opening in the Seattle area was as exciting as this week’s launch of the Beacon in Columbia City. Maybe when SIFF bought the Uptown? It seems like all the news over the past decade has been beloved movie houses closing. It’s a small venue (only 50 seats), but hopefully that will make it more viable in the long run. And if the programming retains the spirit of what they’ve put together for their inaugural week of shows, we have a new favorite Seattle Screen. This week all the shows are free: no tickets, first come first served, and they’ve got a wild mix of art house (Duelle, High and Low) and mainstream (Speed Racer, Magic Mike XXL), classic (City Lights, Gold Diggers of 1933, To Be or Not To Be) and cult films (Django, Buddha’s Palm, Starcrash). I’m planning on going to five of the first six shows, and I’m wondering if I can sneak out of the house to catch a couple more later in the week. 

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Super 30 (Vikas Bahl) Fri-Thurs 
Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable (Aaron Lieber) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

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

The Beacon Cinema:

Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933) Fri & Thurs Only Free Screening
Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs, 2015) Fri & Thurs Only Free Screening
City Lights (Charles Chaplin, 1931) Sat-Mon Only Free Screening
To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942) Sat & Sun Only Free Screening
Speed Racer (Lana and Lilly Wachowski, 2008) Sat & Mon Only Free Screening
Buddha’s Palm (Taylor Wong, 1982) Sat Only Free Screening
Duelle (Jacques Rivette, 1976) Sun Only Free Screening
Starcrash (Luigi Cozzi, 1978) Sun Only Free Screening
High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) Tues & Weds Only Free Screening
Django (Sergio Corbucci, 1966) Tues & Weds Only Free Screening

Central Cinema:

Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984) Fri-Weds
Mandy (Panos Cosmatos) Fri-Weds 

SIFF Egyptian:

The Farewell (Lulu Wang) Fri-Tues, Thurs 
Artifishal (Josh Murphy) Weds Only Director, etc Q&A

Century Federal Way:

Ardaas Karaan (Gippy Grewal) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

Echo in the Canyon (Andrew Slater) Fri-Thurs 
All is True (Kenneth Branagh) Fri-Thurs 
Space Jam (Joe Pytka, 1996) Sat Only Free Screening
The Hunger (Tony Scott, 1983) Sat Only 
To Dust (Shawn Snyder) Mon Only 
Ask for Jane (Rachel Carey) Weds Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Pulp Fiction (Qeuntin Tarantino, 1994) Fri-Thurs 35mm
In the Aisles (Thomas Stuber) Fri-Thurs 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

The Farewell (Lulu Wang) Fri-Thurs 
Aadai (Rathna Kumar) Fri-Thurs 
iSmart Shankar (Puri Jagannadh) Fri-Thurs 
Kadaram Kondan (Rajesh M. Selva) Fri-Thurs 
Super 30 (Vikas Bahl) Fri-Thurs 
Oh Baby (B. V. Nandini Reddy) Fri-Thurs 
Article 15 (Anubhav Sinha) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Meridian:

Maiden (Alex Holmes) Fri-Thurs 
Super 30 (Vikas Bahl) Fri-Thurs 
Wild Rose (Tom Harper) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Blowin’ Up (Stephanie Wang-Breal) Fri-Sun 
Instant Dreams (Willem Baptist) Fri-Thurs 
Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury (Matt Hinton) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

The White Storm 2 (Herman Yau) Fri-Thurs 
Sea of Shadows (Richard Ladkani) Fri-Thurs 
Looking Up (Deng Chao & Yu Baimei) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Super 30 (Vikas Bahl) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

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

Seattle Art Museum:

Easy Living (Mitchell Leisen, 1937) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

For All Mankind (Al Reinert, 1989) Fri-Sun 

Regal Thornton Place:

Glory (Edward Zwick, 1989) Sun & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Diamantino (Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot) Fri-Weds
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) Fri-Weds
Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1952) Sat Only 

Varsity Theatre:

Bottom of the 9th (Raymond De Felitta) Fri-Thurs 
Glory (Edward Zwick, 1989) Weds Only 
The Muppet Movie (James Frawley, 1979) Thurs Only 

Friday July 12 – Thursday July 18

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Featured Film:

The White Storm 2 at the Pacific Place, the Meridian and the Lincoln Square

The first White Storm was a mediocre Hong Kong thriller starring Louis Koo, Nick Cheung and Lau Ching-wan. It was directed by Benny Chan, last seen here directing Koo in the space-cat family comedy MeowWhite Storm 2 is almost assuredly unrelated to the first film, in what is a Hong Kong tradition, and is directed by Herman Yau, which means it is certain to be significantly better. Koo is back, joined by Andy Lau. The last time Yau and Lau teamed up was in Shock Wave, two years ago, one of the better action films to come out of Hong Kong in recent years. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but it’s my top priority for this weekend. If it ends up being bad, just pretend I recommended Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (playing Thursday at the Uptown) in this space instead. That movie is a national treasure.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Wild Rose (Tom Harper) Fri-Thurs 
Super 30 (Vikas Bahl) Fri-Thurs 
Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable (Aaron Lieber) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

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

Central Cinema:

ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982) Fri-Tues
Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn, 2010) Fri-Mon 
Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders, 2009) Tues Only 
Face/Off (John Woo, 1997) Weds Only 

Century Federal Way:

Munda Hi Chahida (Santosh Thite & Deepak Thapar) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot) Fri-Thurs 
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliott, 1994) Sat Only 
Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu) Tues Only 
The Queen (Frank Simon, 1968) Weds Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994) Fri-Thurs 35mm
Summer Night (Joseph Cross) Fri-Thurs 
Funan (Denis Do) Sat & Sun Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

The White Storm 2 (Herman Yau) Fri-Thurs 
Super 30 (Vikas Bahl) Fri-Thurs 
Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable (Aaron Lieber) Fri-Thurs 
Oh Baby (B. V. Nandini Reddy) Fri-Thurs 
Article 15 (Anubhav Sinha) Fri-Thurs 
Dorasaani (K.V.R. Mahendra) Fri-Thurs 
NVNN (Caarthick Raju) Fri & Sat Only 
Konttho (Shiboprosad Mukherjee & Nandita Roy) Sat Only 

Regal Meridian:

The White Storm 2 (Herman Yau) Fri-Thurs 
Super 30 (Vikas Bahl) Fri-Thurs 
Wild Rose (Tom Harper) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Too Late to Die Young (Dominga Sotomayor) Fri-Thurs 
Lumberjacks & Logrollers: Icons of Finnish Cinema Fri-Sun Full Program 
Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme, 1984) Weds & Thurs Only 

AMC Pacific Place:

The White Storm 2 (Herman Yau) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Super 30 (Vikas Bahl) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

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

Seattle Art Museum:

Dick Dale: King of the Surf Guitar (Matt Marshall) Weds Only 
After the Thin Man (WS Van Dyke, 1936) Thurs Only 

SIFF Film Center:

The Silence of Others (Robert Bahar & Almudena Carracedo) Fri-Sun 

Regal Thornton Place:

Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969) Sun & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Halston (Frédéric Tcheng) Fri-Thurs 
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot) Fri-Thurs 
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) Fri-Thurs 
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (Allen Arkush, 1979) Fri-Thurs Our Podcast

Varsity Theatre:

Firecrackers (Jasmin Mozaffari) Fri-Thurs 

Friday July 5 – Thursday July 11

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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 

Friday June 28 – Thursday July 4

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Featured Film:

Do the Right Thing at the Pacific Place and Lincoln Square

If I were a responsible cinephile, I’d have seen Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini (opening this week at the Grand Illusion, but already five years old) or Jafar Panahi’s 3 Faces (which played at VIFF last fall and SIFF this spring and opens this week at the Uptown) by now. But I haven’t, and while I’m sure they’re terrific, for this 4th of July week I’m going with Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing as the Featured Film. It’s a great summer movie (taking place on the hottest day of the year) and a great American movie (being about America in all it’s glories and horrors) and a great movie to see in a theatre, which you can this week at the Pacific Place and the Cinemark in Bellevue.  

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

The White Crow (Ralph Fiennes) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

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

Central Cinema:

Mad Max Fury Road (George Miller, 2015) Fri-Tues
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (Tim Burton, 1985) Fri-Weds 
Independence Day (Roland Emmerich, 1996) Weds Only 

Century Federal Way:

Mindo Taseeldarni (Avtar Singh) Fri-Thurs 
Shadaa (Jagdeep Sidhu) Fri-Thurs 
Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondō, 1995) Mon & Tues Only Subtitles Tues

Grand Cinema:

Pavarotti (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs 
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Shin’ya Tsukamoto, 1989) Sat Only 
Funan (Denis Do) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Pasolini (Abel Ferrara, 2014) Fri-Thurs 
Panther Squad (Pierre Chevalier, 1984) Fri Only VHS

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya (Swaroop RSJ) Fri-Thurs 
Kabir Singh (Sandeep Reddy Vanga) Fri-Thurs 
Article 15 (Anubhav Sinha) Fri-Thurs 
Brochevarevarura (Vivek Athreya) Fri-Thurs 
Kalki (Prashanth Varma) Fri-Thurs 
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) Fri-Thurs 
DNA (Ashay Javadekar) Sat & Sun Only 
Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondō, 1995) Mon & Tues Only Subtitles Tues

Regal Meridian:

Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondō, 1995) Mon & Tues Only Subtitles Tues

AMC Pacific Place:

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Captain Ranaprathap (Harinath Policharla) Fri-Thurs 
Article 15 (Anubhav Sinha) Fri-Thurs 
The White Crow (Ralph Fiennes) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

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

SIFF Film Center:

The Quiet One (Oliver Murray) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Uptown:

Non-Fiction (Olivier Assayas) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
3 Faces (Jafar Panahi) Fri-Thurs 
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot) Fri-Thurs 
Bite Me (Meredith Edwards) Sun Only Writer/Star in Attendance

Varsity Theatre:

Ophelia (Claire McCarthy) Fri-Sun, Weds & Thurs 
Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondō, 1995) Mon & Tues Only 

Friday June 21 – Thursday June 27

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Featured Film:

Yann Gonzalez at the Grand Illusion

With nothing of note on the new release front, I’m going to default Evan’s judgement and name the pair of Yann Gonzalez films at the Grand Illusion as the Featured Film of the week. I haven’t seen them, but he tells me they’re the best of the recent crop of neo-giallo movies that have been sweeping art houses over the past few years (you can hear him talk about them on the latest episode of The Frances Farmer Show). Gonzalez’s new film, Knife+Heart, recently played at SIFF, but the Grand Illusion has it in 35mm. Otherwise, there’s some movies that have played here recently (the Jackie Chan Police Story movies, Stop Making Sense) and Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, which I did finally see last weekend and which is indeed very funny.

Playing This Week:

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

Hairspray (John Waters, 1988) Fri-Mon
The Big Lebowski (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1998) Fri-Weds 

Century Federal Way:

Shadaa (Jagdeep Sidhu) Fri-Thurs 
Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) Sun & Tues Only 

Grand Cinema:

Pavarotti (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs 
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (W. D. Richter, 1984) Sat Only 
Loving Vincent: The Impossible Dream (Miki Wecel) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Knife+Heart (Yann Gonzalez) Fri-Thurs Our Podcast 35mm
You and the Night (Yann Gonzalez, 2013) Fri-Mon, Weds 
Equation to an Unknown (Dietrich de Velsa, 1980) Sat Only 
Made in Abyss: Wandering Twilight (Masayuki Kojima) Mon (Subtitled) & Weds (Dubbed) Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya (Swaroop RSJ) Fri-Thurs 
Kabir Singh (Sandeep Reddy Vanga) Fri-Thurs 
Mallesham (Raj Rachakonda) Fri-Thurs 
Sindhubaadh (Arun Kumar) Fri-Thurs 
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir (Ken Scott) Fri-Thurs 
Unda (Khalid Rahman) Sat & Sun Only 
Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) Sun & Tues Only 

Northwest Film Forum:

Before Stonewall (Greta Schiller & Robert Rosenberg) Sun-Fri 
Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985) Sun Only Our Review Our Other Review
Police Story 2 (Jackie Chan, 1988) Sun & Weds Only Our Review

AMC Pacific Place:

All is True (Kenneth Branagh) Fri-Thurs 
Ladies in Black (Bruce Beresford) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Bharat (Ali Abbas Zafar) Fri-Thurs 
All is True (Kenneth Branagh) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

Pavarotti (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

Nightmare Cinema (Alejandro Brugués, Ryûhei Kitamura, David Slade, Joe Dante & Mick Garris) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Uptown:

Non-Fiction (Olivier Assayas) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot) Fri-Thurs 
This is Spinal Tap (Marty DiBirgi, 1984) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Seattle Taiwanese American Film Festival Sat, Sun & Weds Full Program 
Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme, 1984) Fri-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

Framing John DeLorean (Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce) Fri-Thurs 
Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) Sun Only 

Friday June 14 – Thursday June 20

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Featured Film:

Non-Fiction at the SIFF Uptown

I’m really tempted to name Jim Jarmusch’s new zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die as our Featured Film this week, even though I haven’t seen it and the reviews have been ranging from mixed to downright abysmal ever sense it opened Cannes a few weeks ago. That doesn’t bother me: some of Jarmusch’s best movies were dismissed initially (check out Roger Ebert’s 1 1/2 star review of Dead Man for example), but when there’s a new Olivier Assayas movie out as well, one that not only have I seen but one I liked quite a bit, I pretty much have to give it the nod. Evan reviewed it here last fall at VIFF. It’s a lot of fun: the best Woody Allen movie of the past 30 years. SIFF’s also playing their Best of the Festival series this week. Of that bunch, I recommend House of Hummingbird (which I wrote about here). You can check out our podcast about this year’s SIFF as well.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

American Woman (Jake Scott) Fri-Thurs 
5B (Paul Haggis & Dan Krauss) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981) Fri-Tues
Raising Arizona (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1987) Fri-Tues 
The Matrix Revolutions (Lilly & Lana Wachowski, 2003) Weds Only 

Cinerama:

Faster than Light Film Series Full Program 

Century Federal Way:

Jind Jaan (Darshan Bagga) Fri-Thurs 
Munda Faridkotia (Mandeep Singh Chahal) Fri-Thurs 
Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson, 1989) Sun Only 

Grand Cinema:

The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg) Fri-Thurs 
The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester) Fri-Thurs 
Free Willy (Simon Wincer, 1993) Sat Only Free Screening
Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999) Sat Only 
Walking on Water (Andrey Paounov) Tues Only 
Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946) Weds Only Our Review 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Leto (Kirill Serebrennikov) Fri-Thurs 
Deep Murder (Nick Corirossi) Fri & Sat Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Pavarotti (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs 
Game Over (Ashwin Saravanan) Fri-Thurs 
Bharat (Ali Abbas Zafar) Fri-Thurs 
Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson, 1989) Sun & Tues Only 

Regal Meridian:

American Woman (Jake Scott) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Walking on Water (Andrey Paounov) Fri Only 
The Raft (Marcus Lindeen) Fri-Thurs 
Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985) Sun, Weds & Next Sun Only Our Review Our Other Review
Police Story 2 (Jackie Chan, 1988) Sun & Next Sun & Next Weds Only Our Review

AMC Oak Tree:

The Tomorrow Man (Noble Lincoln Jones) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

Pavarotti (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Bharat (Ali Abbas Zafar) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

American Woman (Jake Scott) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank (Gerald Fox) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Uptown:

Non-Fiction (Olivier Assayas) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Best of SIFF 2019 Full Program
Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation (Barak Goodman & Jamila Ephron) Fri-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

Plus One (Jeff Chan & Andrew Rhymer) Fri-Thurs 
Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson, 1989) Tues Only 

The Frances Farmer Show #20: SIFF 2019

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Sean and Evan discuss some of the films they saw at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival, including neo-giallos from Peter Strickland (In Fabric) and Yann Gonzalez (Knife+Heart), Joan Micklin Silver’s shambolic newspaper picture Between the Lines, Radu Jude’s I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians, James Mason supercut Invest in Failure (Notes on Film 06-C, Monologue 03), Chuck Smith’s doc Barbara Rubin and the Exploding NY Underground, Makoto Tezuka’s Legend of the Stardust Brothers and more.

You can listen to the show by downloading it directly, or by subscribing on iTunes or the podcast player of your choice.

Chasing the Dragon II: Wild Wild Bunch (Wong Jing & Jason Kwan, 2019)

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Don’t let the title fool you: in fine Hong Kong tradition Chasing the Dragon II has no relation whatsoever to Chasing the Dragon, a 1970s-set crime epic starring Donnie Yen and Andy Lau that came out a couple of years ago. The only thing the two movies have in common is that they’re crime films and that Wong Jing and Jason Kwan (as cinematographer and co-director) are to blame for them. Wild Wild Bunch is set on the eve of the Handover, in 1996, as Louis Koo is sent undercover as a bomb-maker to ensnare kidnapping kingpin The Other Tony Leung. He’s a Hong Kong cop, working in cooperation with the Mainland police, to catch badguys in Macao. Wong Jing has for forty years now made a career out of pandering to the basest pleasures of the genre film fan. He’s the most prolific bottom-feeder in Hong Kong, incorrigible master of cheap, tasteless sensationalist cinema. His comedies are silly and crude, his action films bloody and bombastic. Now finding himself in a new socio-political environment, he seems to be doing his best (such as that is) to appeal to a whole new audience: the Chinese security state.

In broad outlines, the plot of Wild Wild Bunch makes sense: undercover cop keeps getting trapped in suspenseful situations, including bomb diffusing and car chases. And certain moments do stand out: Wong and Kwan have a knack for the hyperbolic image (one of a bad guy dying in a car, metal rod jammed though his head, futilely grasping at a $1,000 bill on the other side of the windshield, is something I haven’t seen before), but almost every scene in the film if looked at with even minimal scrutiny reveals itself to be utter nonsense. My favorite: PRC cops set up a roadblock for escaping bad guys on the wrong side of an intersection, allowing the crooks to simply make a left turn to avoid them. This is the kind of joyous laziness we’ve all come to expect and, if not exactly love, then at least tolerate out of Wong Jing.

In the film’s final moments, spoilers ahead here, though God knows how anyone could spoil a Wong Jing movie, Koo leads Leung across the border, into the arms of the Mainland military, which, despite their ineffectuality at blocking roads, is otherwise vast, powerful and ruthless. This could easily be read as a paean to the PRC’s no-nonsense efficiency (as well as their habit of extraditing people from supposedly autonomous jurisdictions), but there might be something else going on. Because, for all his loucheness, Wong has always been just a bit more clever than he appears. It’s not hard to project Wong himself (and thus the old, weird Hong Kong) onto Tony Leung’s character, a loud, cruel man of greed and familial loyalty, dressed in white, throwing tattered bills in the air in a gesture of joyous release as he raises his arms in surrender to the Mainland cops. The film fades to black and then returns, and instead of the final credits we get a brief series of images scored to what passes these days for Chinese rock music. Leung is escorted out of his prison cell, while we see images of his past, open skies and roller coaster rides, he is taken to the side of a dusty road and executed. And then the credits roll.

Friday June 7 – Thursday June 13

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Featured Film:

Asako I & II at the Northwest Film Forum

One of the year’s best films opens this week at the NWFF, with the latest from Ryûsuke Hamaguchi. After breaking out with his five+ hour 2015 film Happy Hour, it’s a bit of a surprise to see Hamaguchi working within the confines of high-concept mainstream romance, but what marks him as one of the finest directors working today is his attention to the smallest details of character and performance (check out Evan’s look at his early films over at Mubi). In his hands, a plot that might have been a run of the mill slice of life anime turns into something special, a sincere look at the confusions and exhilarations of being a young person in love, and the compromises we make to stay that way in adulthood.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Bharat (Ali Abbas Zafar) Fri-Thurs 
The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil (Lee Wontae) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984) Fri, Sat, Mon & Tues
The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999) Fri-Mon 
The Matrix Reloaded (Lilly & Lana Wachowski, 2003) Weds Only 

SIFF Egyptian:

The 2019 Seattle International Film Festival Full Program 

Century Federal Way:

Laiye Je Yarrian (Sukh Sanghera) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg) Fri-Thurs 
The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester) Fri-Thurs 
Red Joan (Trevor Nunn) Fri-Thurs 
The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, 2013) Sat Only Subtitled
Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer, 1999) Sat Only 
Stockholm (Robert Budreau) Tues Only 
Wasted! The Story of Food Waste (Anna Chai & Nari Kye) Weds Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

General Magic (Sarah Kerruish & Matt Maude) Fri-Thurs Filmmaker in attendance on Thurs
Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn (Masayuki Kojima) Sat & Sun Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Virus (Aashiq Abu) Fri-Thurs 
The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil (Lee Wontae) Fri-Thurs 
Bharat (Ali Abbas Zafar) Fri-Thurs 
Hippi (Krishna) Fri-Thurs 
Kolaigaran (Andrew Louis) Fri-Thurs 
The Mosquito Philosophy (Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan) Sun Only 

Regal Meridian:

Bharat (Ali Abbas Zafar) Fri-Thurs 
The Tomorrow Man (Noble Lincoln Jones) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

Asako I & II (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Walking on Water (Andrey Paounov) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Oak Tree:

The Tomorrow Man (Noble Lincoln Jones) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

Chasing the Dragon 2: Wild Wild Bunch (Jason Kwan & Wong Jing) Fri-Thurs 
My Best Summer (Zhang Disha) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

De De Pyaar De (Akiv Ali) Fri-Thurs 
Bharat (Ali Abbas Zafar) Fri-Thurs 
Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk (Jason Baffa) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg) Fri-Thurs 
The Tomorrow Man (Noble Lincoln Jones) Fri-Thurs 
The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

The 2019 Seattle International Film Festival Full Program 

AMC Southcenter:

The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Uptown:

The 2019 Seattle International Film Festival Full Program