Our Featured Film is a no-brainer this week, as Eddie Muller is back with another festival of film noir, this year focusing on noirs from the 1950s. All the shows are playing at the Egyptian, many of them on 35mm, and it’s a superb mix of recognized classics, underseen gems and films even a long-time noir fan like me doesn’t know anything about. If you’ve seen the big names (Touch of Evil, Kiss Me Deadly, Pickup on South Street), don’t miss the less well-known, but just as good, File of Thelma Jordan, Angel Face, Nightfall and Murder by Contract. The latter plays back-to-back with Touch of Evil on Wednesday night, which is as good a single night of movies that Seattle is likely to get this year. Best thing to do though is to go to some shows you don’t know anything about: you’re almost certain to find something special.
Trapped(Richard Fleischer, 1949) Fri Only 35mm The File on Thelma Jordon (Robert Siodmak, 1950) Fri Only 35mm The Well(Russell Rouse, 1949) Sat Only Detective Story (Detective Story, 1951) Sat Only The Turning Point(William Dieterle, 1952) Sat Only Angel Face(Otto Preminger, 1953) Sat Only 35mm Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953) Sun Only City That Never Sleeps (John H. Auer, 1953) Sun Only Pushover(Richard Quine, 1954) Sun Only 35mm Private Hell 36 (Don Siegel, 1954) Sun Only 35mm Kiss Me Deadly(Robert Aldrich, 1955) Mon Only 35mm Killer’s Kiss(Stanley Kubrick, 1955) Mon Only 35mm The Scarlet Hour (Michael Curtiz, 1956) Mon Only 35mm A Kiss Before Dying (Gerd Oswald, 1956) Mon Only 35mm Nightfall(Jacques Tourneur, 1956) Tues Only 35mm The Burglar(Paul Wendkos, 1956) Tues Only 35mm Touch of Evil(Orson Welles, 1958) Weds Only Murder by Contract(Irving Lerner, 1958) Weds Only 35mm The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959) Thurs Only 35mm Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise, 1959) Thurs Only
2019 Oscar Documentary Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs An American Tail(Don Bluth, 1986) Sat Only Free Screening The Lobster(Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015) Sat Only Bathtubs over Broadway(Dava Whisenant) Tues Only Laurel & Hardy Short Films(Various) Weds Only
The convergence of Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day had blessed us with an embarrassment of cinematic riches this week on Seattle Screens. On the former front, we have new releases The Wandering Earth, Pegasus and Integrity, along with the continuing run of Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year and revivals of one of Sammo Hung’s best movies (Pedicab Driver, on 35mm at the Grand Illusion) and Jackie Chan’s best (the restoration of Police Story and Police Story 2 at the Uptown). Valentine’s gives us some inspired programming: Takashi Miike’s Audition at the Northwest Film Forum, Cries and Whispers at SAM, Natural Born Killers at the Central Cinema, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas at the Cinemark theatres (albeit dubbed, apparently), Dick and Jane Drop Acid and Die at the Grand Illusion, alongside more traditional fare like Before Sunrise at the Grand, and Dirty Dancing, Wings of Desire and Cold War at various other theatres. Here’s hoping the snow passes us by, or at least melts quickly, so we can actually get out to some of these great movies.
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year(Zhang Dapeng) Fri-Tues Integrity(Alan Mak) Fri-Tues Dirty Dancing(Emile Ardolino) Sun & Weds Only I Want to Eat Your Pancreas(Shin’ichirô Ushijima) Sun Only English Dub
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs Yatra (Mahi V. Raghav) Fri-Thurs In Malayalam or Telugu, Check Listings URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs Bhai – Vyakti Valli Uttarardh (Mahesh Manjrekar) Sat-Tues Joseph (M. Padmakumar) Sat & Sun Only Natasaarvabhowma (Pawan Wadeyar) Sat & Sun Only Dirty Dancing(Emile Ardolino) Sun & Weds Only I Want to Eat Your Pancreas(Shin’ichirô Ushijima) Sun Only English Dub
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year at the Meridian and Parkway Plaza
Tuesday marks the start of Lunar New Year, and this most holiest of seasons for Chinese film gets a robust start on Seattle Screens this week. The Pacific Place has the new Pang Ho-cheung romantic comedy, Missbehavior, which promises more of the same from the director of Love in a Puff and Women Who Know How to Flirt are the Luckiest. The Grand Illusion concludes the Hong Kong Kung Fu series they presented jointly with the NWFF with a couple of Sammo Hung movies, 1993’s Blade of Fury and 1989’s Pedicab Driver, one of his very best (it continues into next week as well). The Varsity and the Admiral have Chen Kaige’s Legend of the Demon Cat, which originally premiered in 2017 but was greeted quite positively at the Toronto Film Festival this past fall in a supposed “Director’s Cut.” I haven’t been able to find out which version is playing here. But the most exciting Lunar New Year film of the week has got to be Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year, a Chinese film in which the beloved animated pig learns all about the holiday. My kids love Peppa almost as much as my wife and I do, and we’re taking them to see it even though we’ll have to read the subtitles for them.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs Sarvam Thaala Mayam (Rajiv Menon) Fri-Thurs The Gandhi Murder(Karim Traïdia) Fri-Thurs F2-Fun and Frustration (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs Vandha Rajavathaan Varuven (Sundar C.) Fri-Thurs Tamil with No Subtitles K.G.F. Chapter 1 (Prashanth Neel) Sat & Sun Only The Wizard of Oz(Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun & Tues Only
In a futile attempt to get my hopes up, the Academy this week nominated Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman for a bunch of awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. I thought after I first saw it this summer, that this would probably be Spike’s best chance to win the Best Picture Oscar that has eluded him for so long, and the narrative of him beating Green Book, after Do the Right Thing didn’t even get nominated the year Driving Miss Daisy (Green Book‘s closest cinematic analogue) won is irresistible. But it’s probably not going to happen. But maybe? It’s playing this week for a handful of shows at the AMC Seattle (formerly the Metro) and the AMC Alderwood, along with the Regals in Auburn and Lakewood. I never wrote about it here, but I did write a blurb for it a couple weeks ago as part of InReview Online’s Best Films of 2018 round-up, wherein I claim it’s Spike Lee’s Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
It’s been four year since we launched Seattle Screen Scene, and if there’s one thing I hope we’ve established over that time, it’s that there are a great many more Asian films, specifically films from China, Korea, and India, playing around town than anyone ever seems to notice, and that quite a few of them are very good. If there’s one other thing, it would be that European cinema, at least for the last several decades, has been a vast wasteland of drab, dull, self-important, ugly, and overrated movies. European cinema has been, in my opinion of course and with notable exceptions, for lack of a better word, dead. So I was as surprised as anyone when I watched Pawel Pawlikowski’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning Ida at VIFF last fall and absolutely loved it. A vibrant, breathless, decadently romantic love story set against the sweep of mid-20th Century history, anchored by two fine performances, excellent music and lustrous black and white cinematography that ranks with the best Europe has ever produced (by which I mean Luchino Visconti’s White Nights), it was almost enough to make me rethink my sweeping condemnation of the cinema of an entire continent. Almost.
I said I’d do my best not to name whichever film was playing in the Northwest Film Forum’s Shaw Brothers series as our Featured Film every week, so I’m definitely not picking Come Drink With Me, the King Hu classic that started it all, which is playing Wednesday night only. Instead I’m going with the AMC Pacific Place, which is playing 15 of the best documentaries of the year (the ones shortlisted for the Academy Awards nomination) for a couple of shows each over the course of this week. The ones not to miss are: Shirkers, which has otherwise only be available on Netflix, Minding the Gap, and Hale County This Morning, This Evening, each of which had unfortunately brief runs here in Seattle. This might be your last chance to ever see them in a theatre.
If Beale Street Could Talk at the Uptown and the Meridian
It figures of course that the finest American film of the year would only be released on a handful of screens in the final days of 2018. Barry Jenkins more than follows through on the promise of Moonlight with this dreamy, yet scathing, look at life and romance under structural racism in the USA. Though based on the mid-century novel by James Baldwin, there’s nothing antiquated about its story of young love struggling to endure against all odds, while Jenkins’s style marks the most successful yet attempt to adapt Hou Hsiao-hsien to the Hollywood mainstream.
Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan at the Northwest Film Forum
Yeah, I know, it’s awards season and the theatres are packed with the respectable products of Hollywood and the international festival circuit. You got your Lanthimoses and Cuarón’s and Kore-eda’s, your respectable actors doing biopics and whatever it is Natalie Portman is up to in Vox Lux. Well, you can have all that if you want, for me, the undisputed highlight on Seattle Screens this week is a 45 year old rape-revenge film by Chor Yuen, the Shaw Brothers answer to Josef von Sternberg. Intimate Confessions kicks off what is to be a series of Hong Kong films over the next month, splitting between the Film Forum (who will be playing Come Drink with Me, Golden Swallow, and The One-Armed Swordsman in coming weeks) and the Grand Illusion (who have a pair of Sammo Hung movies: Pedicab Driver and Blade of Fury). I will do my best not to name them the Featured Film every week. But no promises.
Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs The Favourite(Yorgos Lanthimos) Fri-Thurs At Eternity’s Gate(Julian Schnabel) Fri-Thurs A Christmas Story(Bob Clark, 1983) Sat Only Free Screening Rare Exports (Jalmari Helander, 2010) Sat Only Heavy Trip (Juuso Laatio & Jukka Vidgren) Sat Only Life and Nothing More (Antonio Mendez Esparza) Tues Only Bell, Book and Candle (Richard Quine, 1958) Weds Only
There are a lot of films of interest out this week, including award-hopefuls The Favorite and At Eternity’s Gate, both of which aren’t bad at all, and Peter Bogdanovich’s fine Buster Keaton doc The Great Buster, which continues into a second week at the Grand Illusion. And Roma, of course, Alfonso Cuarón’s Netflix movie has a decent shot at being the first true foreign language film to win the Best Picture Oscar, and it’s playing at the Cinerama and, of all places, the Crest. I haven’t seen Roma yet (it’s planned for later tonight), so if I had to pick one essential movie to see on Seattle Screens this week (and I do, that’s what this space is for), it’d be Lee Changdong’s Burning, playing exclusively at the Northwest Film Forum.
I’m not even sure if Burning is a very good movie. It’s made with exceptional craft though, a slow-ahem-burning psychological thriller about a disaffected young man who comes to believe that a rich guy (Steven Yeun, in a performance sure to get plenty of deserved award recognition in coming weeks) is both an arsonist and has done something to the woman the young man loves. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, with lots of added Murakami in-jokes and shades of William Faulkner, it’s the most diabolically engrossing film of the year.
Burning (Lee Changdong) Fri-Thurs In the Soup (Alexandre Rockwell, 1992) Fri & Next Sat Only The Apology (Tiffany Hsiung) Sat Only Free Event I am Evidence (Trish Adlesic & Geeta Gandbhir) Sun Only Free Event From the West (Juliane Henrich) Tues Only Filmmaker in Attendance Wobble Palace (Eugene Kotlyarenko) Weds Only
Goon (Michael Dowse, 2011) Fri Only The Cutting Edge (Paul Michael Glaser, 1992) Sat Only Youngblood (Peter Markle, 1986) Sat Only I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie) Sun Only Mystery, Alaska (Jay Roach, 1999) Sun Only
Bathtubs Over Broadway(Dava Whisenant) Fri-Thurs Maria by Callas(Tom Volf) Fri-Thurs Moomins and The Winter Wonderland(Ira Carpelan & Jakub Wronski) Tues Only White Christmas(Michael Curtiz, 1954) Weds Only
It’s getting into awards season and you know what that means: Seattle Screen Scene recommends you go out and watch anime. Last week it was Liz and the Blue Bird, which criminally only played for a handful of shows around town. This week, it’s Mamoru Hosada’s Mirai, which is playing sporadically at various multiplexes in the area, mostly Regal but also at the Cinemark in Bellevue. Much like the other truly great anime from this year, Night is Short Walk on Girl, it’s playing as part of some kind of specialty release program (targeted at, I don’t know, Cruchyroll subscribers?) rather than getting proper theatrical distribution. I don’t know why but it’s too bad, because in a just world Mirai and these other films would be getting the kind of art house rollout even the most mediocre (or outright bad) Oscar hopeful gets this time of year. Anyway, Mirai is very good. Like Hosada’s best film, Wolf Children, it’s a deceptively wise look at growing up, this time from the perspective of a child who comes to see themself as a part of a wider continuity through time and space. With a light touch and moments of striking beauty, it’s one of the very best films from what has been an exceptional year for (non-American) animation.