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SIFFing: Parallax View’s SIFF 2016 Guide

The 42nd Annual Seattle International Film Festival opens on Thursday, May 19, with the opening night gala presentation of Woody Allen’s Café Society (in its North American premiere), and closes 24 days later on Sunday, June 12 with Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker. In between there are (at last count) 181 feature films, 75 documentary features, 8 archival films, and 153 short films. All told: 421 films representing 85 countries (as of opening night).

Here is Parallax View’s coverage and guide to SIFF resources from around the web. We will update a few times a week.

* Updated Sunday, June 12 *

SIFF Week by Week, Day by Day:

SIFF 2016: Audiences give ‘Captain Fantastic’ the Golden Space Needle Award (Sean Axmaker, Parallax View) NEW
Selections for the Fourth Week of the Seattle International Film Festival (Robert Horton, Seattle Weekly) NEW
SIFF 2016: Highlights of the final weekend (Moira Macdonald and John Hartl, Seattle Times) NEW
The 11 Best Films to See During SIFF’s Closing Weekend (staff, The Stranger) NEW
Recommended SIFF: Viggo, Viggo, Viggo AND Viggo! (Amie Simon, Three Imaginary Girls) NEW
SIFFtings 2016: Final Weekend (June 10-June 12) (Sean Axmaker, Parallax View) NEW
Some short SIFF reviews, part four (Chris Burlingame, The SunBreak) NEW
SIFF 2016: Picks for Centerpiece Weekend (June 3-June 5) (Tony Kay, The SunBreak)
Some short SIFF reviews, part 3 (June 1-June 7) (Chris Burlingame, The SunBreak)
Selections for the Third Week of the Seattle International Film Festival (Robert Horton, Seattle Weekly)
SIFF 2016: Highlights of week three (Moira Macdonald and John Hartl, Seattle Times)
SIFF 2016: Picks for Week Two (May 31-June 2) (The SunBreak)
SIFF 2016: Picks for Memorial Day Weekend (May 27-30) (The SunBreak)
Selections for the Second Week of SIFF
(Robert Horton, Seattle Weekly)
SIFF 2016: Highlights of week two (Moira Macdonald and John Hartl, Seattle Times)
The 26 Films You Should See at SIFF Over Memorial Day Weekend (staff, The Stranger)
SIFFtings 2016 Week 2 (May 27-June 2) (Sean Axmaker, Parallax View)
Some short SIFF reviews, part duex (May 25-May 31) (Chris Burlingame, The SunBreak)
SIFF 2016 Picks: Week One (May 23-May 30) (Seth Sommerfeld, Seattle Met)
Seattle Weekly’s SIFF Selections (Week 1) (Robert Horton, Seattle Weekly)
SIFF 2016: 17 Highlights of week one (Moira Macdonald and John Hartl, Seattle Times)
Some short SIFF reviews, part 1 (May 19-May 24) (Chris Burlingame, The SunBreak)
SIFFtings 2016 – Week One (Sean Axmaker, Parallax View)
SIFF 2016: Picks for Opening Weekend (The SunBreak)
SIFF 2016: Week One Highlights (Three Imaginary Girls)
Recommended SIFF: three picks for this weekend (Amie Simon, Three Imaginary Girls)

Spotlight Features and Commentary:

Lou Diamond Phillips embraces serial killer mentality for ‘The Night Stalker’ (Tom Tangney, MYNorthwest) NEW
Imaginary SIFF Interview: 5 questions with Lou Diamond Phillips (Amie Simon, Three Imaginary Girls) NEW
SIFF Sitdown: Q&A with Lou Diamond Phillips (Joe Veyera, Queen Anne & Magnolia News) NEW
SIFF Interview: The Mads are Back (Chris Burlingame, The SunBreak) NEW
Spencer Haywood (Tom Tangney, MYNorthwest)
SIFF interview: Behind the scenes with the Pistol Shrimps (Chris Burlingame, The SunBreak)
SIFF interview: Streetwise director Martin Bell (Chris Burlingame, The SunBreak)
Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max (Tiffany Ran, Northwest Asian Weekly)
Megan Griffiths: A fascination with ‘The Night Stalker’ (Sean Axmaker, Parallax View)
The frightening origins of director Megan Griffiths’ new film, premiering at SIFF (Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times)
Megan Griffiths Premieres ‘The Night Stalker’ at SIFF (Tony Kay, CityArts)
Imaginary SIFF Interview: Megan Griffiths (Amie Simon, Three Imaginary Girls)
SIFFX Dares Seattle to Get Real About Virtual Reality Right Now (Charles Mudede, The Stranger)
Interview – Xu Haofeng – The Final Master – SIFF 2016 (Tim Hall, Seattle PI)
Nick Terry’s ‘Finding October’ at SIFF (Tony Kay, CityArts)
Empathy Device: The first-ever SIFFX arrives
(Jonathan Zwickel, CityArts)
Reel Grrls puts SIFF and Woody Allen under the microscope (Daniel Nash, City Living Seattle)
SIFF Interview: If There’s a Hell Below director Nathan Williams (Chris Burlingame, The SunBreak)
Why SIFF should not be celebrating Woody Allen’s ‘Café Society’ (Nicole Brodeur, Seattle Times)
Portrait of a Survivor: Big Sonia (Tony Kaye, CityArts)
SIFF Interviews: Sonics legend Spencer Haywood (Chris Burlingame, The SunBreak)

Reviews and capsules:

SIFF 2016: Festival Roundtable (Week Two) (staff, The Sun Break) NEW
SIFF Face The Music 2016 Preview: We Are X (Janice Headley, KEXP) NEW
SIFF Face The Music 2016 Preview: Red Gringo (Janice Headley, KEXP) NEW
SIFF 2016: Festival Roundtable (Week One) (staff, The Sun Break)
At SIFF: A New High (Tony Kay, City Arts)
SIFF Take: Tag (Amie Simon, Three Imaginary Girls)
SIFF Face The Music 2016 Preview: The Austin City Limits Story (Masa, KEXP)
SIFF Face The Music 2016 Preview: Yo-Yo Man and the Silk Road Ensemble
(Janice Headley, KEXP)
SIFF Face The Music 2016 Preview: Contemporary Color (Janice Headley, KEXP)
SIFF 2016 Mini-Reviews: ‘Weiner,’ ‘ The Last King,’ ‘Tickled’ (David Chen, /Film)
NWAW at SIFF (staff, Northwest Asian Weekly)
17 Films You Must See at SIFF 2016 (Staff, The Stranger)
Tom’s top 10 picks for SIFF 2016 (Tom Tangney, MYNorthwest)
The Stranger Says (Staff, The Stranger)
7 great old films you can see at SIFF (Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times)
SIFF Face the Music 2016 Preview: Presenting Princess Shaw (Masa, KEXP)
SIFF Face The Music 2016 Preview: Concerto – A Beethoven Journey (Janice Headley, KEXP)
A film about eating bugs might be the best thing you see at SIFF this year (Bethany Jean Clements, Seattle Times)
The Stranger’s SIFF Notes (Staff, The Stranger)

Previews:

SIFFting Through SIFF (Robert Horton, Seattle Weekly)
SIFF 2016: Woody’s latest, Viggo Mortensen in person, and 421 movies (at last count) (Sean Axmaker, Parallax View)
SIFF 2016: The SIFF 42 Floodgates are Open (Tony Kaye, The SunBreak)
SIFF 2016 Preview: Face the Music (Amie Simon, Three Imaginary Girls)
SIFF 2016 Preview: Northwest Connections (Amie Simon, Three Imaginary Girls)
Seattle International Film Festival 2016: Face The Music (KEXP)
SIFF wants you to party all the time (party all the time, party all the time) (Amie Simon, Three Imaginary Girls)
Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) Announces Rich African Pictures Program Lineup of Features and Shorts (Tambay A. Obenson, Indiewire)

How to SIFF:

How to make your way around SIFF 2016 (Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times)
SunBreak SIFF Pro Tips for 2016 (Tony Kaye, The SunBreak)

Official sites:

SIFF 2015 homepage
SIFF calendar
SIFF Films A to Z
SIFF 2015 Box Office
SIFFtv (video shorts and interviews from the festival)
Updates and schedule changes

And other resources:

The Stranger’s SIFF Notes
Three Imaginary Girls
The Sunbreak
City Arts
KEXP

A few blogs at SIFF

Should I See It?
Seattle Screen Scene
Den of Cinema
The Last Thing I See
A Classic Movie Blog

Schedule updates:

ADDED FILM AND TBA SLOTS ANNOUNCED!

NEW FILM:
The Love Witch – A modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, in a vivid tribute to ’60s Technicolor thrillers.
(d: Anna Biller c: Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, USA 2016, 120 min)
Screens Saturday June 11, 9:00pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND!
FRIDAY JUNE 10
The Night Stalker, 3:30pm, Pacific Place Cinemas
SUNDAY JUNE 12
SIFF Closing Night Gala The Dressmaker, 6:30pm, Pacific Place Cinemas
As You Are, 8:00pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
The Pistol Shrimps, 9:00pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Slash, 9:00pm, Pacific Place Cinemas

Video: Framing Pictures – April 2016

Richard T. Jameson, Bruce Reid, Kathleen Murphy, and Robert Horton sat down at the Scarecrow Video screening room on April 8, 2016 for the April edition of Framing Pictures. Over the course of the evening they discussed Cutter’s Way (newly released on Blu-ray; RTJ’s original review on Parallax View here) and declared Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings the greatest movie ever made.

The Seattle Channel was there to record the event. It is now showing on cable and streaming via their website. Or you can see it here.

Video: Framing Pictures – March 2016

Robert Horton, Richard T. Jameson, and Bruce Reid sat down at the Scarecrow Video screening room on March 11, 2016 to discuss talk Wim Wenders, Terrence Malick, and remember Vilmos Zsigmond (1930-2016), cinematographer on McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Seattle-shot favorite Cinderella Liberty, and more recently TV’s The Mindy Project, and French filmmaker Jacques Rivette.

The Seattle Channel was there to record the event. It is now showing on cable and streaming via their website. Or you can see it here.

Seattle Screens for week of Friday, March 18

Cemetery of Splendor

The 11th Science Fiction+Fantasy Short Film Festival plays on Saturday, March 19 at Cinerama (tickets are sold out with standby seating only) with an encore screening of award winners and audience favorites on Sunday, March 20 at the Uptown.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s new film Cemetery of Splendor opens for a week-long run at NWFF. Kathleen Murphy praises the film in a lovely essay at Parallax View and Robert Horton reviews it at Seattle Weekly. Showtimes and ticket information here.

The Wim Wenders retrospective “Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road” this week presents Kings of the Road (1975) at SIFF Film Center (Wednesday, March 23) and Notebooks on Cities and Clothes (1989) at NWFF (Thursday, March 24).

Fathom Events presents The Ten Commandments (1956) to celebrate its 60th Anniversary on the big screen in select theaters across the country for two nights this week: Sunday, March 20 and Wednesday, March 23. You can find participating theaters in your area here.

Coming up: tickets are now on sale for two film series. “Cinema de Paris,” the Spring film series of the Seattle Art Museum, begins on March 31 and features 9 films playing on successive Thursday, and “Seijun Suzuki Retrospective,” co-presented by NWFF and Grand Illusion, begins on April 9.

Visit the film review pages at The Seattle TimesSeattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases.

View complete screening schedules through IMDbMSNYahoo, or Fandango, pick the interface of your choice.

Kings of the Road

Video: Framing Pictures – February 2016

Film critics and Parallax View partners Bruce Reid, Richard T. Jameson, and Kathleen Murphy gathered at the Scarecrow Video screening room on February 11, 2016 to discuss the TV series American Crime, grapple with the politics of awards shows, and celebrate the Coen Brothers with a discussion about the subtleties of Hail Caesar!

The Seattle Channel was there to record the event. It is now streaming via their website. Or you can see it here.

Video: Framing Pictures – December 2015

Richard T. Jameson, Kathleen Murphy and Robert Horton convened on December 11, 2016 at the Scarecrow Video screening room for the annual ritual of choosing their “10 best” movies of the year. They each discussed their 10 favorite flicks and talked about what made them impactful, meaningful and enjoyable. Hear the critics discuss It Follows, Room, 45 Years, Son of Saul, The Assassin, and more.

The Seattle Channel was there to record the event. It is now showing on cable and streaming via their website. Or you can see it here.

Parallax View’s Best of 2015

Welcome 2016 with one last look back at the best releases of 2015, as seen by the Parallax View contributors and a few notable Seattle-based film critics.

Soren Andersen

1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Spotlight
3. The Revenant
4. Ex Machina
5. Chi-Raq
6. Steve Jobs
7. Kingsman: The Secret Service
8. Goodnight Mommy
9. The Martian
10. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
(more at The Seattle Times)

Sean Axmaker

1. Clouds of Sils Maria
2. Carol
3. Phoenix
4. Taxi
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. Spotlight
7. 45 Years
8. Mustang
9. Jauja
10. Ex Machina
And ten more that almost made the list: Brooklyn, Experimenter, Girlhood, Inside Out, It Follows, Love & Mercy, The Martian, Queen & Country, Sicario, Timbuktu
Also lists at Village Voice Film Poll and Keyframe

David Coursen

(alphabetical)
About Elly (Asghar Farhadi, Iran)
Chi-Raq (Spike Lee,US)
Leviathan (Russia, Andrey Zvyagintsev)
Love and Mercy (Bill Pohlad, US)
Sicario (Denis Villeneuve, US)
Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, US)
Taxi (Jafar Panahi, Iran)
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, Mauritania)
The Tribe (Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, Ukraine)
Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey)
Honorable Mention: Carol (Todd Haynes, US)

Bob Cumbow

(in no intending order)
Phoenix
Brooklyn
Ex Machina
Spotlight
Sicario
Slow West
Carol
The Big Short
Bridge Of Spies
Jauja
Also: The Walk, Mr. Holmes
Endings: PhoenixCarol
Disappointments: SpectreThe Hateful 8
Surprises: Mission Impossible: Rogue NationPredestination
Guilty Pleasure: San Andreas
Actors: Nina Hoss (Phoenix), Ronald Zehrfeld (Phoenix), Rooney Mara (Carol), Saorise Ronan (Brooklyn), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), Emily Blunt (Sicario), Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies), Laura Linney (Mr. Holmes)
Director: Christian Petzold (Phoenix)
Music: Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spies; Carter Burwell, Carol; Howard Shore, Spotlight; Alan Silvestri, The Walk; Andrew Lockington, San Andreas

John Hartl

45 Years
Spotlight
Brooklyn
Sicario
Trumbo
Carol
Ex Machina
Bridge of Spies
Inside Out
99 Homes
A second 10: The Walk, Joy, Timbuktu, Love & Mercy, Phoenix, Tab Hunter Confidential, Rosenwald, I’ll See You in My Dreams, The Big Short, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Most miraculous restoration: The Apu Trilogy.

Robert Horton

1. 45 Years
2. Son of Saul
3. Bridge of Spies
4. Experimenter
5. It Follows
6. Clouds of Sils Maria
7. Ex Machina
8. The Assassin
9. Spotlight
10. The Duke of Burgundy
The second 10, just missing: The droll Swedish film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence; Mad Max: Fury Road, maybe not as good as the fanboys say, but definitely good; the straightforwardly lovely Brooklyn; Viggo Mortensen in the magical Jauja; Bone Tomahawk; Mississippi Grind; the devastating documentary The Look of Silence; The Hateful Eight; the pictorially astonishing The Revenant; and—why not—Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
(via Seattle Weekly)

Richard T. Jameson

1. It Follows
2. Clouds of Sils Maria
3. Spotlight
4. Bridge of Spies
5. Room
6. The Assassin
7. 45 Years
8. Son of Saul
9. Jauja
10. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Close and by all means a cigar: Bone Tomahawk, Brooklyn, Blackhat, Mad Max: Fury Road, Phoenix, Ex Machina, Sicario
Pix: Saiorse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Brooklyn; Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, 45 Years
(via Framing Pictures)

Jay Kuehner

1. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
2. Carol (Todd Haynes)
3. Horse Money (Pedro Costa)
4. Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)
5. The Kindergarten Teacher (Nadav Lapid)
6. Heaven Knows What (Benny and Josh Safdie)
7. The Wonders (Alice Rohrwacher)
8. Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes)
9. Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
(via Keyframe)

Moira Macdonald

(in alphabetical order)
45 Years
Brooklyn
Carol
Diary of a Teenage Girl
Grandma
Inside Out
Room
Shaun the Sheep Movie
Spotlight
The Third Man/ Tales of Hoffmann
(more at The Seattle Times)

Brian Miller

Favorite moments at Seattle Weekly

Kathleen Murphy

(in no intending order)
Brooklyn
Phoenix
Clouds of Sils Maria
45 Years
It Follows
Room
Son of Saul
Jauja
Bone Tomahawk
Mad Max: Fury Road / The Assassin
(via Framing Pictures)

Bruce Reid

1. Experimenter
2. Taxi
3. It Follows
4. The Hateful Eight
5. Welcome to New York
6. Blackhat
7. Clouds of Sils Maria
8. Timbuktu
9. Queen and Country
10. Maps to the Stars

In my absolute favorite scene of the year Stanley Milgram sits and reads from Speak, Memory the famous opening line of how we’re all our lives suspended between oblivions. Behind him two assistants lower lab equipment into a crate with the professional solemnity of undertakers.

In my second favorite scene a figure loping down a road, dressed in a ridiculous, baggy frog costume complete with bulging eyes, is revealed to be the last-act badass whose coming has been threatened throughout the movie.

One of those films made the list below; the other, Miike’s entertainingly unhinged Yakuza Apocalypse, didn’t quite. But both show off the quality that marks my favorite movies: an apparent legibility that, looked at more closely, resists any definitive reading. The ending of Milgrim’s most famous experiment is framed (literally, through a window that carves another screen inside the screen we’re watching) as a death; but one of the movie’s many points is that lives carry on, quite fulfillingly, after their supposed defining moments have passed. And when the muppet suit comes off there’s another surprise, and a further bad guy to confront.

We’re always told that movies, capturing real people moving through real environments, tend away from the mysterious and toward the concrete in a way that the other arts aren’t hampered. Except the camera’s eye can make even concrete glow with mysteries. I fell in love with the films above for the way they tracked down hallways in prisons and apartments, refusing to distinguish between the two; for the expertly timed closing of a piano lid; for the anxious way its actors clutched fishbowls, and the nonchalance with which they grasped cameras; for clouds roiling down a mountaintop, which you’d think would be beyond a director’s control; for a skyscraper flickering in a dying woman’s eyes. But it’s not just pianos and hallways, fishbowls and clouds and cameras, or even flicker. It never is.

Andrew Wright

1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Blackhat
3. Carol
4. The Hateful Eight
5. It Follows (Reviewed for the Portland Mercury)
6. Bridge of Spies (Reviewed for The Stranger)
7. Tangerine (Reviewed for The Stranger)
8. Bone Tomahawk
9. Creed
10. Sicario

Lists of lists:

Village Voice (poll and lists)
Roger Ebert.com
Variety
Keyframe Best Feature Films of 2015
Keyframe Daily Lists and Award 2015 Index

Polls
Film Comment
Indiewire Poll
Roger Ebert
Sight and Sound
Time Out London

Other lists
2015 additions to the National Film Registry
Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell’s Ten Best Films of … 1925
New York Times Year in Culture

Imitation of Life: ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’

[Originally published in Movietone News 30, March 1974]

American officials and the American public began to believe that the Soviet Union was bent on building a Communist empire and that it would halt its expansion only when forced to do so.
With this conviction, the American government took steps to block further Soviet expansion. From then on, relations between the two powers bordered on a state of war….
The Red Scare after World War II … had roots not only in the cold war but in long-buried currents of anti-intellectualism and in the rapid social changes attendant on the shift from depression to prosperity. …
Much of what was widely believed during the scare was nonsense. There was a notion, for example, that large numbers of Communists had infiltrated the American government. … There was another notion that large numbers of Communists had infiltrated the news media, the motion picture industry, and the clergy, so that news, movies and sermons had gulled the public into approving pro-Communist policies. These beliefs rested on the fantasy that the United States, if it chose, could shape the world to its will, and that, whenever anything went wrong, the fault had to lie at home.

—Ernest May, Anxiety and Affluence, 1945-1965

The wave of anti-intellectualism crested with McCarthy and washed over much of the remainder of the decade. Blacklisting had become such a threat that many filmmakers consciously made openly anti-Communist films, to preserve their reputations and obtain favors. Red Paranoia was so widespread that many more filmmakers reflected the fear of subversion and infiltration in their movies, even unconsciously. In either case, the monster movies of the Fifties in general reflect an intense fear of infiltration and dehumanization by a subversive, colonizing power (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Brain Eaters) or by a communal society bent on destructive expansionism (Them!, War of the Worlds). Creeping Communism became one of the main themes of monster movies in 1954, and the monster movies themselves became one of the main proponents of the battle against Communist ideology (or what was generally understood to be such). Its metaphors were monsters, from outer space, from under the earth or on it, bent on conquering the human race (always starting with the United States of America), and often determined to create a mindless Utopia devoid of feelings and individuality.

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Videophiled: Neil Marshall’s ‘Dog Soldiers: Collector’s Edition’

Dog Soldiers
Scream Factory

Dog Soldiers: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory, Blu-ray+DVD) – “If we engage the enemy, I expect nothing less than gratuitous violence from the lot of you.” Neil Marshall ransacks and revitalizes every cliché in the book in this howling good reworking of the werewolf tale.

Borrowing liberally from the “survivors under siege” classics Aliens and Night of the Living Dead, Marshall drops his full moon boogie in the deep misty forests of the Scottish Highlands, pits platoon versus wolf pack, and watches the fur fly. Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd are the career soldiers on a weekend war game turned into a primal bloodbath, Emma Cleasby the backwoods naturalist who knows more than she’s saying, and Liam Cunningham the ruthless Special Forces officer with a conspiratorial streak. “There was only supposed to be one…” Cunningham moans when his troops find him at the otherwise deserted base camp, wounded and dazed and surrounded by spots of blood and bits of human organs. Their retreat is only marginally more successful and before you can say “Lucky you came along on this lonely dirt road in the nick of time,” they hitch a ride and hole up in the only house for miles around.

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SIFFing: Parallax View’s SIFF 2015 Guide

The 41st Annual Seattle International Film Festival opens on Thursday, May 14, with the opening night gala presentation of Spy, and completes its 25-day run on Sunday, June 7 with The Overnight. In between there are (at last count) 193 feature films, 70 documentary features, 19 archival films, and 164 short films: all told, 450 films representing 92 countries. Here is Parallax View’s coverage and guide to SIFF resources for all 25 days.

* Updated through Friday, June 5, with newly-added screenings listed below

SIFF Week by Week, Day by Day:

7 highlights of SIFF 2015’s final weekend (Moira Macdonald, John Hartl, Seattle Times) NEW
Week 4 at SIFF: From Early Grunge to The Killing Fields (Brian Miller, Seattle Weekly) NEW
SIFFtings 2015: Archival Presentations (Sean Axmaker, Parallax View) NEW
Closing Weekend Highlights (Three Imaginary Girls) NEW
Festival Roundtable (Week Three, AKA “That’s All, Folks!”) (Josh Bis, Tony Kay, Chris Burlingame, The Sunbreak) NEW
Keep Reading

Orson Welles goes ‘Around the World’

‘Around the World with Orson Welles’

When handed the raw materials from an unfinished documentary about Elmyr de Hory, an art forger whose life was being written up by biographer Clifford Irving, Orson Welles took the opportunity to make something far beyond the concept of the traditional documentary. F for Fake has been called the Orson Welles’ first essay film, a true enough statement if you limit the accounting to feature films, but he had been doing short-form non-fiction since 1955, when he made Around the World with Orson Welles (a.k.a. Around the World) for British television.

It was ostensibly a series of travelogues, shot on location with Welles as tour guide, host, and narrator. Welles himself described them as “all sort of home movies—a vacation documented…,” but these are sort of home movies that only Welles could make. They are built on Welles’s public persona as much as on his directorial personality. He is “as always, obediently yours,” the worldly yet personable host who casts a spell with his voice, disarms with a boyish grin and invites the audience into his confidence as he tosses out cultural observations and historical asides.

Continue reading at Keyframe

Orson Welles at 100

Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on May 6, 1915. This week marks his centenary: the hundredth anniversary of the birth of one of the most influential, ambitious, unique, and complicated filmmakers in the American cinema, or any cinema, for that matter. The occasion has been celebrated with a number of new books and documentaries on Welles, the first significant progress on completing his unfinished feature The Other Side of the Wind, retrospectives of his films, a tribute to Welles at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and a symposium at Indiana University featuring many of the top Orson Welles scholars in the world. Here’s what Parallax View contributors have written about Orson Welles. – Sean Axmaker

‘Citizen Kane’ by Richard T. Jameson
‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ by Richard T. Jameson
‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ by Robert Horton
The Earth is Made of Glass: Orson Welles’ ‘The Stranger’ by Peter Richards
‘The Lady from Shanghai’ by Richard T. Jameson
‘Othello’ by Richard T. Jameson
‘Mr. Arkadin’ by Richard Jameson
‘Touch of Evil’ by Richard T. Jameson
‘Touch of Evil’: Crossing the Line by Robert C. Cumbow
The Making, Unmaking and Reclamation of ‘Touch of Evil’ by Sean Axmaker
“A tremendous piece of filmmaking”: Walter Murch on ‘Touch of Evil’ interview
“Let’s give them something to really work with”: Rick Schmidlin on revising ‘Touch of Evil’ interview by Sean Axmaker
“A once in a lifetime project”: Bob O’Neil on restoring and revising ‘Touch of Evil’ interview by Sean Axmaker
“A rough, jagged, jarring, shaking-you-up kind of movie”: Janet Leigh on ‘Touch of Evil’ interview by Sean Axmaker
“Actors loved him”: Charlton Heston on Orson Welles and ‘Touch of Evil’ interview by Sean Axmaker
Cinematic Archeology: ‘Orson Welles’ Don Quixote’? Not even close by Sean Axmaker

Related features on other sites:

Orson Welles: The Enigmatic Independent (Sean Axmaker, Keyframe)
The Orson Welles Bookshelf (Sean Axmaker, Keyframe)
Rediscovery: Orson Welles’ ‘Too Much Johnson’ (Sean Axmaker, Keyframe)
Schooled by Orson Welles: Roberto Perpignani (Sean Axmaker, Keyframe)
Orson Welles goes ‘Around the World’ (Sean Axmaker, Keyframe)
Orson Welles: ‘The Trial’ (Sean Axmaker, Keyframe)

Boys at Work: ‘They Drive by Night’ and ‘Manpower’

[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975]

They Drive by Night and Manpower gave Walsh some contact with another Warners specialty, the workingman picture. Both films tell us something about the conditions under which their respective kinds of work, commercial trucking and powerline repair, are conducted. Walsh, characteristically, puts greater emphasis on comedy than on any social problems that might arise—particularly in Manpower, where the nature of the script leaves him no choice.

They Drive by Night is a likeable film that doesn’t seem too certain where it’s going. Initial focus is on two fiercely independent truckers, Joe Fabrini (George Raft) and his brother Paul (Humphrey Bogart); but a feisty waitress (Ann Sheridan), Paul’s worried wife (Gale Page), a driver-turned-executive (Alan Hale) and his treacherous wife (Ida Lupino) give the film several kinds of “romantic interest” and eventually lead it off the highways and into various offices and a courtroom. Otis Ferguson suggested that the film’s errant plotting may have derived in part from a failure of nerve in adapting a socially conscious novel: “At least half of the film was ‘suggested’ by the Bezzerides novel Long Haul, and in this I wish they had been more suggestible, for the trucking stuff is very good and could have not only made the whole picture but made it better.” The first half of the film crackles with a sense of the risks the drivers take, but the second gravitates toward conventional melodrama with no special point or effect. (An earlier, non-Walsh Warners film, Bordertown [1935], seems to have been the source for this section.)

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Videophiled: ‘Ride the Pink Horse’

RidePinkHorseRide the Pink Horse (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) – It wouldn’t be fair to call this film unknown—ask any die-hard film noir fan—but outside of classic movie buffs and noir aficionados, Ride the Pink Horse (1947) simply isn’t a familiar title. The film’s debut on DVD and Blu-ray should help change things, and the Criterion imprint certainly doesn’t hurt.

Based on the novel by Dorothy B. Hughes, whose work also inspired In A Lonely Place, and directed by Robert Montgomery, this is rural noir, set in a fictional New Mexico border town created almost entirely on studio sets (with a few location shots in Santa Fe). Montgomery also stars as “Lucky” Gagin, a big-city thug who tracks a crime boss (Fred Clark) to San Pablo for a shakedown on the eve of its fiesta season. The shift from the city at night to a dusty southwestern town, where Spanish fills the streets and cantinas outside of the tourist hotel, gives this film a striking atmosphere and texture, but the themes come right out of the post-war dramas and crime movies. Montgomery is a working class thug who came home from the war disillusioned and angry and Clark, his blackmail target, is a war profiteer who hides behind the façade of big business and looks more like a middle-management functionary than a criminal tough guy. One of the oddest touches in film involves his hearing aid, which turns familiar phone call scenes upside down. (You might recalls Clark as the producer who dismisses William Holden’s baseball script in Sunset Blvd and as dyspeptic comic relief in scores of films and TV shows.) Ride the Pink Horse anticipates the connection between organized crime and corporate America that became even more prevalent in the 1950.

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Videophiled: ‘The Immigrant’

ImmigrantThe Immigrant (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD) – Marion Cotillard earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in the Dardenne Brothers’s Two Days, One Night but I think her best performance of 2014 is in this film. She plays Ewa, a Polish immigrant in 1921 New York who, turned away by relatives, is dependent on a mercenary burlesque producer and pimp (played with the cheap charm of a low-rent impresario by Joaquin Phoenix) for her freedom and for the money to get his sister out of quarantine on Ellis Island. (It is, of course, for bribes.)

If you think you know where this film is going based on that premise, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The film, co-written and directed by James Gray, isn’t just about her degrading ordeal (which isn’t explicitly shown but is made awfully clear). The initially shy beauty steels herself to the hard times of life on the margins of society, disconnecting her emotions not just from her work but her every interaction in this unforgiving culture, and Cotillard invests Ewa with the fiery will to survive and save her little sister from deportation. Phoenix, meanwhile, creates a fascinating figure of the pimp Bruno, chasing the American dream in the shadows and falling in love with Ewa as she hardens with every day on the streets. Jeremy Renner co-stars as a stage magician and rival for Ewa’s affections, though his underwritten character is easily overpowered by the vivid and nuanced portraits by Cotillard and Phoenix.

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