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Join Seattle Film Critics to Discuss the Year in Film 2013

This year contributors to Parallax View will convene at not one but two separate free events to discuss the films of 2013.

Thursday, December 19 at 7pm at the Frye Museum:

For the ninth straight year, a congenial if idiosyncratic coven of Seattle film critics—Robert Horton, Andrew Wright, Jim Emerson and Kathleen Murphy—convenes at the Frye Museum, 7 pm, December 19, to thrash out what were the best, most loved, and/or criminally overlooked movies in 2013. The audience is invited to join in the gentle fray with its own cinematic winners and losers. Admission is free, but tickets go fast.

Free tickets may be picked up at the Information Desk one hour prior to the start of the program. There is no late seating, so please arrive early.

As a special benefit, Frye members may reserve free tickets in advance to guarantee seating. To reserve, call 206 432 8289 or email at least two days prior to the event. Each member may reserve two tickets and must claim their tickets at the Information Desk fifteen minutes prior to the start of the program.

And on Friday, December 20 at 6pm at Northwest Film Forum:

Join us for a free, lively monthly discussion led by long-time Seattle film critics (and occasional guests) who have much to say on the subject of cinephilia past, present and future. The December conversation includes former Film Comment editor Richard Jameson, Everett Herald/KUOW critic Robert Horton, critic Kathleen Murphy and freelance critic Bruce Reid.

From the critic’s chair for December:

“The rumors are true: once again all four Framing Pictures regulars will form up, CinemaScope-style, at the front of the Northwest Film Forum cinema. Two of them, Horton and Murphy, will have been doing the Ten Best thing at the Frye on the 19th; they may turn around and denounce their selections. . . Then again, Framing Pictures’ agenda won’t focus solely on Ten Best tilting. We expect—and yes, that “we” also includes Jameson and Reid—to talk about things and people we valued, things we admired (or dissed) about 2013 as a film year, and what, if any, shape it had. Plus who knows what you dear interlopers will have to throw into the mix. Please do interlope.”

While this event is free, you must RSVP to guarantee entry. Get your free tickets reserved here.

The state of our Framing Pictures is sound

Framing Pictures comes roaring back this Friday, June 21, 5 p.m. to talk about films new and old. The old will include a couple of Fifties Westerns from Hollywood veteran Delmer Daves—the original 3:10 to Yuma, which verges on greatness, and Jubal, a more problematic title that people nevertheless seem to be digging as it and 3:10 roll out in Blu-ray and DVD. Glenn Ford stars in both.Foremost among the new is Berberian Sound Studio, an uncanny “it’s not a horror film” that has creative and increasingly unsettling fun with the Italian giallo school of screen horror—especially Dario Argento, though in some ways the movie keeps reminding one of Abbas Kiarostami’s narrative strategies. Expert Brit player Toby Jones shoulders a lot of the burden, and the man can carry it.

We may or may not get around to two others: Hannah Arendt, Margarethe von Trotta’s latest meditation on a history-making woman (with Barbara Sukowa); and Byzantium, Neil Jordan’s return to vampire territory. Who knows, we may even flick some kryptonite at Man of Steel and dare to suggest that World War Z has turned out to be not the mess soothsayers gleefully anticipated.

The venue is once again Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave. Admittance free; libations not.

Originally posted, in a slightly different form, at Straight Shooting, 6/20/13.

Framing Pictures gets Rectify’d

First ‘Parade’s End,’ now ‘Rectify’—Adelaide Clemens is one of the best things to happen to 2013. Nor is Aden Young, at right, to be sneezed at.

Framing Pictures will be staring down the opening weekend of the Seattle International Film Festival. That’s right, the talkmeisters convene Friday, May 17, 5 p.m. at Northwest Film Forum for their monthly mulling over of movies new and old. Emend that: screen experiences new and old, because part of the evening will be devoted to Ray McKinnon’s provocative Sundance Channel series Rectify. NWFF will be starting a week’s run of the 1981 Jacques Rivette film Le Pont du Nord, so that’s on the agenda as well. Maybe Robert Horton will beam fondly on another French picture: he really digs Olivier Assayas’s Something in the Air. And if all this is sounding too rarefied, how about the Leonardo DiCaprio version of The Great Gatsby?

Talk is cheap. Fact is, it’s free, and of course freewheeling. Come join in. 1515 12th Ave., between Pine and Pike.

Meet Pierre Étaix – Rediscovering a forgotten clown of French cinema

Who is Pierre Étaix? His filmography is small (five features and a handful of short films, one of which earned an Oscar), but he worked with Jacques Tati and Robert Bresson, and he’s celebrated as a genius of ’60s French screen comedy. Shouldn’t his reputation precede him? Watch a couple of his masterful films, though, and a more relevant question comes to the fore: “How can it be that I’ve never heard of Pierre Étaix?”

Pierre Étaix in ‘The Suitor’

The simple answer: His films were out of circulation for decades due to legal issues, freed only in 2009, restored in 2010, and re-released in France to great acclaim. Northwest Film Forum is now presenting all five of his features and his first three comedy shorts.

As for the original question: Étaix trained and performed as a clown, became a star on the ’50s cabaret circuit, and worked with Tati as both gag man and graphic artist on the latter’s classic Mon Oncle (1958) before directing his own films. Between 1961 and 1971 he created and starred in four features and three comedy shorts (all written with Jean-Claude Carrière, who went on to script films for Luis Buñuel, Jean-Luc Godard, and others). Étaix even shot a documentary, 1971’s Land of Milk and Honey, also included in this series.

As both filmmaker and comic screen persona, the obvious comparisons are to Tati and Buster Keaton: a silent-movie clown in a sound world. Étaix’s films are simple, sweet, and built on some of the funniest and most deftly executed gags you’ll have the pleasure to see onscreen. There’s not a wasted gesture in his repertoire. His hangdog face, poised between curiosity and measured focus, barely changes expression as he takes every setback with a resigned acceptance before going right back in. (Born in 1928, Étaix has essentially retired as a director, but continues to act, most recently in Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre.)

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly