Friday July 13 – Thursday July 19

Featured Film:

Actual Film at the Grand Illusion

This week the Grand Illusion kicks off a multi-week celebration of 35mm, with matched pairs of classic films from the 60s to the 90s. This first week features a pair of 50 year old Steve McQueen classics, the heist film The Thomas Crown Affair and the cop drama Bullitt, with its justly-celebrated car chase. Next week is a pair from Stanley Kubrick: The Shining and Barry Lyndon (which should be a must-see on film). Then two underrated crime classics from directors more famous for other movies: To Live and Die in LA from William Friedkin and Ronin by John Frankenheimer. The series concludes with the sci-fi films Outland, by Peter Hyams and Demolition Man, from Marco Brambilla. These days 35mm is almost wholly absent from Seattle Screens, and when we do get something it’s usually one of the same old titles that play again and again. Only the Grand Illusion is cool enough to give us a series with both Barry Lyndon and Demolition Man.

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theatre:

Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Weds Only

AMC Alderwood:

Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

The Goonies (Richard Donner, 1985) Sat Only Free Ice Cream for Kids
Scorchy (Howard Avedis, 1976) Thurs Only

Central Cinema:

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Fri-Tues Subtitled Tues Only
Blade II (Guillermo del Toro, 2002) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Vadhayiyaan Ji Vadhayiyaan (Smeep Kang) Fri-Thurs
Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Eating Animals (Christopher Dillon Quinn) Fri-Thurs
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001) Sat Only
Saturday Church (Damon Cardasis) Tues Only
Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Weds Only
Local Produce: Short Films Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Bullitt (Peter Yates, 1968) Fri-Sun, Tues & Thurs 35mm
The Thomas Crown Affair (Norman Jewison, 1968) Fri-Sun, Mon & Weds 35mm
En el séptimo día (Jim McKay) Sat-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle) Fri-Thurs
Kadaikutty Singam (Pandiraj) Fri-Thurs In Tamil or Telugu, Check Listings
RX100 (Ajay Bhupathi) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
Tamil Padam 2 (C. S. Amudhan) Fri-Thurs
Vijetha (Rakesh Sashi) Fri-Thurs
Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story (Tiffany Bartok) Fri-Sun
Damsel (David & Nathan Zellner) Fri-Thurs Skype Q&A 714
Sea to Shining Sea (Maximón Monihan) Weds, Thurs & Next Mon Only Filmmakers in Attendance

AMC Oak Tree:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Hands Across the Table (Mitchell Leisen, 1935) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist (Lorna Tucker) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle) Fri-Thurs
Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Sun & Weds Only

SIFF Uptown:

The King (Eugene Jarecki) Fri-Thurs
The Last Suit (Pablo Solarz) Fri-Thurs
Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Straight into a Storm (William Miller) Weds Only
Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Sun Only

Varsity Theatre:

Big (Penny Marshall, 198) Weds Only

In Wide Release:

Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross) Our Review
Solo (Ron Howard) Our Review
Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson) Our Review
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Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018, Peyton Reed)

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In the wake of not just Avengers: Infinity War, but the length of more or less the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, one could certainly be forgiven for a healthy dose of skepticism. Not to say that there haven’t been noteworthy or even good films in the twenty-strong series – although undoubtedly some would argue even that – but the more pertinent question is that of stakes. In terms of the wider MCU, all of the films involve as their central conflict a villain whose plans at some point involve widespread destruction of an “innocent” public. Even something as far afield from the standard operation like Black Panther couldn’t help but hew to this.

The first exception I can think of to this is Ant-Man and the Wasp, which by design seems to be a comedown from the galactic strife of Avengers: Infinity War. Directed by Peyton Reed (who also directed Ant-Man), this film somehow manages to embody all the qualities that Marvel films had heretofore merely suggested: light, breezy, and emotional in a way more linked to the characters rather than a wider society. This isn’t necessarily to say that this feels especially personal in the way that, say, Black Panther does. But it has more than its fair share of liveliness and sense of play, which makes this feel markedly different from other MCU films.

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Friday July 6 – Thursday July 12

Featured Film:

Carol Lombard at the Seattle Art Museum

SAM’s summer tribute to the great Carol Lombard kicks off this Thursday with Twentieth Century, the 1934 screwball masterpiece from Howard Hawks. John Barrymore plays a theatrical director who schemes on the eponymous train to get Lombard to agree to appear in his next show. Both Barrymore and Lombard are exceptional: it’s possibly the loudest screwball comedy there ever was. SAM’s series continues in the coming weeks with great films like Nothing Sacred, To Be or Not To Be and My Man Godfrey.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) Fri-Tues
Deep Blue Sea (Renny Harlin, 1999) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

The Last Suit (Pablo Solarz) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Nankana (Manjeet Maan) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976) Sat Only
Evolution of Organic (Mark Kitchell) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Gabriel & The Mountain (Fellipe Barbosa) Fri-Thurs
Strangers on Earth (Tristan Cook) Sat & Sun, Mon & Weds
Godmonster of Indian Flats (Fredric Hobbs, 1973) Fri, Sat & Tues Only
Ask the Sexpert (Vaishali Sinha) Thurs Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Pantham (K Chakravarthy) Fri-Thurs
Teju I Love You (A. Karunakaran) Fri-Thurs
Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi (Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
Amma I Love You (K. M. Chaitanya) Sat & Sun Only

Regal Meridian:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
Eating Animals (Christopher Dillon Quinn) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Time Regained (Raúl Ruiz, 1999) Weds & Thurs Only
Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story (Tiffany Bartok) Starts Weds

AMC Oak Tree:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review

AMC Pacific Place:

American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs
Brother of the Year (Witthaya Thongyooyong) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Nankana (Manjeet Maan) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

First Reformed (Paul Schrader) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review

Seattle Art Museum:

Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks, 1934) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

Czech That Film Fri-Sun Full Program

SIFF Uptown:

The King (Eugene Jarecki) Fri-Thurs
Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Fireworks (Akiyuki Shinbo & Nobuyuki Takeuchi) Sat Only
Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968) Sun Only

Varsity Theatre:

The Rider (Chloé Zhao) Fri-Thurs
Bleeding Steel (Leo Zhang) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross) Our Review
Solo (Ron Howard) Our Review
Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson) Our Review

Leave No Trace (2018, Debra Granik)

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One of the more pressing concerns of any narrative film is the representation of the environment – in purely geographic terms – that surrounds the characters and plot. In the hands of a carefully attuned director, the setting can (and almost always should) inflect and influence the mood of the film and the course of the events, drawing upon a landscape in order to reflect upon whatever conflicts or crises the figures are involved in. Such an ideal seems to apply to such a film as Leave No Trace, directed and co-written by Debra Granik.

Granik, whose last narrative feature film was the widely lauded Winter’s Bone back in 2010, seems to have developed this sense of location and place as her professed metier: her previous film derived much of its critical cachet from its hard-nosed portrayal of the Ozarks and the people that inhabited it. In a similar vein, Leave No Trace is defined by its primary (though crucially not sole) location: the forests of Oregon and Washington, especially an unspecified public park outside Portland.

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Friday June 29 – Thursday July 5

Featured Film:

Cold Water at the Grand Illusion

There’s some good stuff out there this week, including a pair of highly anticipated Chinese films at the Pacific Place (Herman Yau’s The Leakers and Han Yan’s Animal World) and Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night at the Ark Lodge, but the restoration of Olivier Assayas’s Cold Water at the Grand Illusion is a film I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a very long time (not even Scarecrow had it, if I remember correctly). The celebrated French dirctor’s first big film, it stars Virginie Ledoyen (a couple of years before she stole Edward Yang’s Mahjong) in a semi-autobiographical teen coming-of-age type story, a story Assayas would continue almost a decade later with 2012’s terrific Something in the Air.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester, 1964) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986) Fri-Tues
Tank Girl (Rachel Talalay, 1995) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

The Last Suit (Pablo Solarz) Fri-Thurs
Andy Irons: Kissed by God (Steve Jones & Todd Jones) Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

The Rider (Chloé Zhao) Fri-Thurs
The Seagull (Michael Mayer) Fri-Thurs
Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
The FP (Brandon Trost & Jason Trost, 2012) Sat Only
The 12th Man (Harald Zwart) Tues Only
What the Health (Kip Andersen & Keegan Kuhn) Thurs Only Free Screening

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Cold Water (Olivier Assayas) Fri-Tues, Thurs
The Misandrists (Bruce LaBruce) Sat-Tues, Thurs
The Workers Cup (Adam Sobel) Sun-Tues Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi (Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
Tik Tik Tik  (Shakti Soundar Rajan) Fri-Thurs

Regal Meridian:

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The Gospel According to André (Kate Novack) Fri-Sun
Everything Else (Natalia Almada) Sat & Sun Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Animal World (Han Yan) Fri-Thurs
Lobster Cop (Li Xinyun) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs
The Leakers (Herman Yau) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Race 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs
Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

First Reformed (Paul Schrader) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review

SIFF Film Center:

Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis) Fri-Thurs Our Review

SIFF Uptown:

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondô, 1995) Sat Only Dubbed in English
Seattle Taiwanese American Film Festival Fri-Sun Full Program
Fireworks (Akiyuki Shinbo & Nobuyuki Takeuchi) Weds & Thurs Only

Varsity Theatre:

A Kid Like Jake (Silas Howard) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross) Our Review
Solo (Ron Howard) Our Review
Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson) Our Review

Friday June 22 – Thursday June 28

Featured Film:

The Rider at the Pacific Place and the Grand Cinema

I haven’t seen it yet, but there isn’t a lot out there of note opening this week (everyone’s clearing the deck for Animal World next week I guess) but if I have a chance to go see anything, it will be Chloé Zhao’s highly-acclaimed film about South Dakota rodeo cowboys. A kind of update of The Lusty Men made by a Chinese woman who has spent years in and around the Badlands and Pine Ridge? Sold. It’s playing at the Pacific Place in Seattle, the Grand in Tacoma, and the Roxy in Bremerton.

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theatre:

West Side Story (Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise, 1961) Weds Only

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Mother of George (Andrew Dosunmu, 2013) Tues Only

Central Cinema:

The Matrix (The Wachowskis, 1999) Fri-Tues
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, 1971) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

Mountain (Jennifer Peedom) Fri-Thurs
Andy Irons: Kissed by God (Steve Jones & Todd Jones) Weds Only

Century Federal Way:

Asees (Rana Ranbir) Fri-Thurs
West Side Story (Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise, 1961) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

The Rider (Chloé Zhao) Fri-Thurs
First Reformed (Paul Schrader) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
Mountain (Jennifer Peedom) Fri-Thurs
Revenge (Coralie Fargeat) Sat Only
Films by Masahiro Sugano Mon Only
Final Portrait (Stanley Tucci) Tues Only
What the Health (Kip Andersen & Keegan Kuhn) Thurs Only Free Screening

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town (Christian Papierniak) Fri-Thurs
Best F(r)iends (Justin MacGregor) Fri & Sat Only
The Workers Cup (Adam Sobel) Sun-Tues Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Tik Tik Tik  (Shakti Soundar Rajan) Fri-Thurs
Race 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs
Sammohanam (Mohan Krishna Indraganti) Fri-Thurs
West Side Story (Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise, 1961) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Race 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Here to Be Heard: The Story of The Slits (William E. Badgley) Fri-Sun Director in Attendance
The Gospel According to André (Kate Novack) Fri-Thurs
Joy Ride Screened and Alive: Adventures of Unavoidable Embodiment Weds Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Lobster Cop (Li Xinyun) Fri-Thurs
The Rider (Chloé Zhao) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs
The Seagull (Michael Mayer) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Race 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs
Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story (Irene Villamor) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs
First Reformed (Paul Schrader) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review

SIFF Film Center:

Breath (Simon Baker) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

West Side Story (Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise, 1961) Sun & Weds Only

SIFF Uptown:

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Nancy (Christina Choe) Fri-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

West Side Story (Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise, 1961) Weds Only

In Wide Release:

Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross) Our Review
Solo (Ron Howard) Our Review
Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review
Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg) Our Review
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson) Our Review

Friday June 15 – Thursday June 21

Featured Film:

2001: A Space Odyssey at the Pacific Place

Sure the Pacific Place isn’t the ideal spot for watching a classic film, but the Cinerama I guess would rather be one of fifty screens in the area playing the new Pixar movie than be the home of an unmissable film event. Stanley Kubrick’s seminal sci-fi epic is of course no stranger to Seattle Screens, but this is a new restoration and it’s playing on 70mm. With the rest of the city suffering its annual SIFF hangover (with the exception, as usual, of the Grand Illusion, which has a restoration of Melvin Van Peebles’s equally classic Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song), you might as well go to the AMC and see a great movie again, even if Christopher Nolan was somehow involved.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Morgan Neville) Fri-Thurs
Believer (Lee Hae-young) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Manos Returns (Tonjia Atomic) Thurs Only

Central Cinema:

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielberg, 1989) Fri-Tues
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliott, 1994) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

Mountain (Jennifer Peedom) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Carry on Jatta 2 (Smeep Kang) Fri-Thurs
Pom Poko (Isao Takahata, 1994) Sun, Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday

Grand Cinema:

The Rider (Chloé Zhao) Fri-Thurs
First Reformed (Paul Schrader) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
Mountain (Jennifer Peedom) Fri-Thurs
Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993) Sat Only
Madagascar (Eric Darnell & Tom McGrath, 2005) Sat Only Free Screening
Strangers on the Earth (Tristan Cook) Mon & Tues Only
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Mary Shelley (Haifaa Al-Mansour) Fri-Thurs
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles, 1971) Fri, Sat & Tues Only
Bijou (Wakefield Poole) Thurs Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Morgan Neville) Fri-Thurs
Kaala (Pa. Ranjith) Fri-Thurs Tamil, Telugu or Hindi, Check Listings
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs
Naa Nuvve (Jayendra Panchapakesan) Fri-Thurs
Veere Di Wedding (Shashanka Ghosh) Fri-Thurs
Race 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs
Sammohanam (Mohan Krishna Indraganti) Fri-Thurs
Pom Poko (Isao Takahata, 1994) Sun, Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday

Regal Meridian:

How Long Will I Love U (Su Lun) Fri-Thurs Our Review
First Reformed (Paul Schrader) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Morgan Neville) Fri-Thurs
Race 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Queerama (Daisy Asquith) Fri-Sun
Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf (Thomas Piper) Fri-Thurs
Mama Colonel (Dieudo Hamadi) Thurs Only

AMC Pacific Place:

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) Fri-Thurs 70mm
The Rider (Chloé Zhao) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Race 3 (Remo D’Souza) Fri-Thurs
Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story (Irene Villamor) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
American Animals (Bart Layton) Fri-Thurs
Disobedience (Sebastián Lelio) Fri-Thurs
On Chesil Beach (Dominic Cooke) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Summer 1993 (Carla Simón) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Pom Poko (Isao Takahata, 1994) Sun, Mon & Weds Only

SIFF Uptown:

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley) Fri-Thurs
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Morgan Neville) Fri-Thurs
Best of SIFF 2018 Full Program 

Varsity Theatre:

The Year of Spectacular Men (Lea Thompson) Fri-Thurs
The Yellow Birds (Alexandre Moors) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross) Our Review
Solo (Ron Howard) Our Review
Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo) Our Review
Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg) Our Review
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson) Our Review
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) Our Review

SIFF 2018: The Widowed Witch (Cai Chengjie, 2018)

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A woman survives the explosion at the makeshift fireworks factory that kills her third husband. Now homeless, she wanders in and around the wintery Northern Chinese villages she has called home alongside her young, deaf-mute brother-in-law. The villagers decide that she has magical powers, and she might, but whether she does or not, and whether she believes it or not, the results are much the same: everything goes wrong and everyone is out to screw over everyone else.

As a stark black and white journey through the dark side of society, it recalls Dead Man in style, but more cynical and hopeless. Director Cai Chengjie makes sparing but deft use of color, sometimes highlighting objects (usually light) within the black and white image, other times brightening into full color (the opening sequence, for example, which may be a dream or may be the afterlife). The evocation of a persistent (resurgent?) pre-Taoist, animist worldview existing alongside the deprivations and struggles of contemporary China recalls other recent films that fuse mysticism with the documentary realism and social problem focus of the previous, Sixth Generation filmmakers. Chai Chunya’s Four Ways to Die in My Hometown for example, and Yang Chao’s Crosscurrent.

SIFF 2018: Girls Always Happy (Yang Mingming, 2018)

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Yang Mingming edited Yang Chao’s Crosscurrent, but this film is almost nothing like that one. She stars as well as directs, playing a young woman who has a rough relationship with her mother, with whom she lives (off and on) in ramshackle house in a Beijing hutong (an kind of neighborhood built out of narrow alleys). The two women are both aspiring writers, and they alternate between vehement arguments (over things both big and small) which can get devastatingly cruel, and happy times sharing meals and shopping trips. It’s a fascinating relationship, we don’t normally see a family filled with such evident love and hate. The film never really evolves, and in its stasis, both women are stuck both professionally and romantically in addition to being continually forced back together, it finds a unique kind of misery. It might be a dark comedy, and there are moments of delightful whimsy (in the devouring of food, in Yang’s rides around town on her scooter), enough that the suffocating relationship never feels unbearable.