For one week only, the new restoration of Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight (1966) plays at The Uptown. Welles developed the film from a stage production drawn from Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” and “Henry V” (as well as “Holinshead’s Chronicles”) centered on Falstaff (played with bedhead and bulbous nose red with drink) and his bad-father relationship with young Prince Hal (Keith Baxter), the heir to the crown of England, is his wastrel years. “If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, that’s the one I would offer up,” Welles said of the film, which suffered from distribution issues, competing claims of ownership, and degraded prints almost from the time it was completed. Now it has been lovingly remastered from the negatives and Janus films (a partner with Criterion) has applied digital technology to create a new digital restoration for the U.S.
It’s a Brian De Palma weekend. The documentary De Palma, directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, opens at The Uptown while short retrospective Obsessions: Classic De Palma, featuring seven De Palma films, plays through Sunday at the SIFF Film Center. All tickets to the retrospective screenings are $5 and SIFF members get free admission (based on ticket availability).
The 2nd annual Twist of Pride Film Festival opens at the Egyptian Theatre on Friday, June 17 with a 20th Anniversary screening of the Seattle-produced Crocodile Tears (1996) followed by the World Premiere of Brides to Be. The festival runs through the weekend. Schedule and tickets here.
The documentary Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, about the making of the legendary shot-for-shot remake of the Steven Spielberg film by a group of schoolkids with a camcorder over the course of seven years, plays through Sunday, June 19 at Northwest Film Forum.
Seattle International Film Festival audiences bestowed top Golden Space Needle Awards on Captain Fantastic, Gleason and Spy Time (among others) while juried awards singled out Girl Asleep and the documentary Death by a Thousand Cuts at the 42nd Seattle International Film Festival.
Over 420 features, documentaries and short films from more than 85 countries were screened over the 25 days (and the last day is not over as of this writing, mind you) in 15 different venues.
Matt Ross’s Captain Fantastic (US), starring festival guest Viggo Mortensen (who was honored with the Festival’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Acting over the final weekend) and shot in part in the state of Washington, took the audience award for Best Film, Javier Ruiz Caldera won the Best Director award for Spy Time (Spain), Best Actor went to Rolf Lassgård for A Man Called Ove (Sweden/Norway), and Best Actress to Vicky Hernandez for Between Sea and Land (Colombia 2016).
Best Documentary was awarded to Gleason (US), directed by Clay Tweel, and Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa (USA/South Africa), directed by Lara-Ann de Wet, took home the Best Short Film award. The Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision given to the female director’s film that receives the most votes in public balloting at the Festival, went to The IF Project (USA ), directed by Kathlyn Horan.
New to the competition awards this years is the SIFF Official Competition award, selected from 12 entries making their World, North American, or US premiere at SIFF. Girl Asleep (Australia), the debut feature directed by Rosemary Myers, was honored with the award in its inaugural year.
Also new is the SIFF Ibero-American Competition, for films having their US premiere during the Festival that do not yet have US distribution. The inaugural winner is You’ll Never Be Alone (Chile ), the feature debut from Chilean writer-director Alex Anwandter.
The New Directors Competition winner is Sand Storm (Israel), directed by Elite Zexer; the New American Cinema Competition winner is Middle Man (USA), directed by Ned Crowley; and the Documentary Competition winner is Death By a Thousand Cuts (Dominican Republic/Haiti/USA), directed by Juan Mejia Botero and Jake Kheel.
The Short Film awards went to Killer (USA, directed by Matt Kazman) for live action, These C*cksucking Tears (USA, directed by Dan Taberski) for documentary, and Carlo (Italy, directed by Ago Panini) for animation.
The complete press release, which includes runners-up and jury statements, is featured below. Keep Reading
It’s the final weekend of SIFF and Viggo Mortensen is coming to celebrate it. There are newly added screenings (including a second venue for the closing night film, The Dressmaker), visiting filmmakers, and more. You can survey the highlights at Parallax View’s SIFF overview and the comprehensive SIFF 2016 Guide.
The monthly film discussion “Framing Pictures” reconvenes in the screening room at Scarecrow Video at 7pm on Friday, June 10, with your hosts Robert Horton, Bruce Reid, and Richard T. Jameson. The discussion this month engage Orson Welles’s Chimes at Midnight (coming to SIFF Cinema on June 24, after a single screening at SIFF 2016), Jean Renoir’s first sound feature La Chienne (coming to Criterion next week), and Brian De Palma (a new documentary on the filmmaker opens on June 24, along with a short retrospective), and the floor is open to other timely subjects as well. It’s a free event so come join the discussion. Scarecrow is located in the U-District at 5030 Roosevelt Way N.E.
Silent Movie Mondays returns to the Paramount Theatre on Monday, June 13 (the day after SIFF 2016 closes) with the original Chicago (1927), produced by Cecil B. DeMille (who knew something about sex and showmanship) and starring Phyllis Haver as the cheerfully mercenary Roxie Hart. It’s the first in a three-film series celebrating the Flapper Era. The series continues with The Flapper (1920) with Olive Thomas on June 20 and Why Be Good (1929) with Colleen Moore, and all feature accompaniment on the Mighty Wurlitzer. Doors open at 6pm, films begin at 7pm. More on the Paramount page.
Viktoria, the debut feature from Maya Vitkova, charts three generations of women in the final years of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria and the early years of the new government, plays through Sunday, June 12 at NWFF.
Queer Fan Nights continues at NWFF with the Anna Nicole Smith feature To the Limit (1995) on Thursday, June 16 at 8pm (Happy Hour in the lobby at 7pm), co-sponsored by Three Dollar Bill Cinema.
Viggo Mortensen is honored with the Seattle Film Festival Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting. The introspective, soft-spoken actor will be interviewed in an onstage Q&A at A Tribute to Viggo Mortensen on Saturday, June 11 at the Egyptian, followed by a screening of his latest film Captain Fantastic, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and was just honored with the Best Director prize for writer/director Matt Ross from the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes. Ross will also attend the screening of the film, which repeats (sans onstage interview) on Sunday, June 12, at 2:30pm, Uptown.
Frank & Lola, a romantic noir thriller starring Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots, is directed by Matthew Ross (not to be confused with Captain Fantastic director Matt Ross), who will attend the screening. Saturday, June 11, 7pm. Pacific Place
Jocelyn Moorhouse will attend the SIFF Closing Night Gala The Dressmaker, based on the novel by Rosalie Ham and starring Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis, and Hugo Weaving, at The Cinerama. It is sold out and on standby and a second show has been added at 6:30pm, Pacific Place Cinemas (does not include a director appearance or closing night party).
Their story is now legend. In 1982, twelve-year-old friends Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala, and Jayson Lamb started shooting a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark on a borrowed VHS camcorder in their small Mississippi town. Chris played Indiana Jones, Eric directed and played Belloq, and Jayson manned the camera, edited the footage, and brainstormed the special effects. They spent every summer vacation for seven years completing the film (every scene except one: the fight around the airplane with spinning propellers), by which time they had fallen out and weren’t even speaking to one another. Completed in 1989, it was practically forgotten until VHS copies started making their way to film buffs and movie collectors. Filmmaker Eli Roth brought a copy for an unannounced screening at the 2002 Butt-Numb-a-Thon and the underground legend exploded. In the years since, Chris and Eric traveled around the country for special screenings of their fan film.
Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, directed by Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen and inspired by the book by Alan Eisenstock, will be the closest most people will get to seeing that astounding piece of DIY spectacle—the film was never meant to be seen outside of the friends who made it and what twelve-year-old thinks to get a waiver from the creators of the original film? It features clips from the film and outtakes from the production that show not only the spirit of the endeavor but the potentially life-threatening situations the boys put themselves through to do the shoot, as well as new interviews with the Chris, Eric, Jayson, their parents (God bless the mothers of these kids, who believed in their dreams, even if they worried about their methods), and other members of the cast and crew. And it’s built around the crazy impulse to finish the film decades later. Chris and Eric raised money in a Kickstarter campaign to get that last scene. It turned out to be just as dangerous an undertaking as the most reckless things they did as kids.
Picking some highlights from MOMA’s ongoing retrospective of Universal pictures from the ’30s, Imogen Sara Smith looks at three films apiece from a pair of directors deserving greater attention. The cinematic flair of Edward L. Cahn enlivens three explosive portraits of society collapsing: Law and Order, Afraid to Talk, and Laughter in Hell. (“In these films it’s as though people are so consumed by the fight to survive, or by the determination to forget their worries, that they have no time for private emotions. Society itself is so anxious, so hysterical, so compulsively bitter, that it takes the place of individual psyches. Everyone is part of one big nervous breakdown.”) While Seed, Back Street, and Only Yesterday have Smith marveling at John M. Stahl’s invisible manipulation of emotions and his facility with shifting empathy among his characters. The female ones at least; John Boles remains mostly a dull cad in all three. (“The three rarely screened Stahl films form a set of variations on a theme, female devotion and self-sacrifice. They treat this theme with unusual nuance and ambivalence, both accepting the great loves—whether maternal or romantic—to which the women give their lives, and looking with a cool and even cynical eye at how little they get in return.”
“What’s established in a film like Au Hasard Balthazar is a teeter-totter rhythm, an oscillation between the film you’re watching and another taking place over your shoulder, sliding into view with a lithe camera movement, or a cut that elides the passage of time. In short, what often comes across in reviews as stiff, boring art movies are exactly the opposite: not empty but teeming, not cold but visceral, not dry but saturated.“ With Au Hasard Balthazar hitting 50, Jamie N. Christley praises how Bresson’s total command keeps slipping the film’s message, and even its ostensible ever-enduring protagonist, out of our grasp. And Leigh Singer compiles a gallery of Bresson’s key techniques, screenshots of potent dissolves, blank faces, and so many expressive hands. Via Movie City News.
With a new collection of their writings and MOMA mounting the first complete retrospective of their films, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet are the subjects of a pair of pieces at Artforum. P. Adams Sitney offers the overview on a career that never compromised or offered an easy way in for the viewer. (“One sometimes gets the impression that they were forever challenging themselves to find texts that made complacent resolutions less and less amenable, and then to offer them up to cinema so nakedly that their skeletal structure could not be eluded.”) And James Quandt tries to fitSicilia! in with the couple’s musical films. (“Aside from a folk song and the Beethoven string quartet that introduces and ends Sicilia!, the film avoids nondiegetic music, but it is itself structured as a chamber work in four movements, and the idiosyncratic delivery of the baroque dialogue often hits the ear as discordant ariettas and semi-recitatives.”) Film Comment, meanwhile, offers an excerpt from the aforementioned collection, a letter from Huillet to Nuances magazine on the impossibility of viewing artpieces at museums hanging them up behind occluded glass. (“It was horrible: each painting was now under armored glass, and often damaged in the process (new little cracks, etc.). When we protested this madness, saying that it’s better to risk a—rare—act of madness than to make the paintings invisible—reflections, etc.—and surely damage them, we were told, grudgingly: It was a requirement of the insurance….”)
“Canon City is an art film made on the terms of an unpretentious hardboiled procedural—a breathless true-crime piece in which Hadley’s delivery of the word “dreaming” lands perfectly on a dissolve from a real cell block to a prison cell set.” Ignatiy Vishnevetsky plunks for Crane Wilbur’s prison-escape film, which, with the invaluable help of John Alton, straddles blunt docudrama and the heightened use of “spaces that double as metaphors,” as one of Poverty Row’s great triumphs.
“Maybe even more than MGM anticipated, it was perfect Depression-era escapism: one of those thirties movies that take place in drawing rooms where the ceilings are about twenty feet high, where men are always in formal wear and women, even in the afternoon, wear floor-length lounge gowns and speak in that bright, quick, affected accent that no real American ever used.” Charles McGrath recounts how Van Dyke’s brisk engagement, a script that expanded upon Hammett’s witticisms, and impeccable casting (including a change in Asta’s breed) made The Thin Man less a whodunit than a classic screwball comedy of marriage draped around a murder mystery.
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.
The 42nd Seattle International Film Festival opens on Thursday, May 19 with a gala screening of Woody Allen’s Café Society, direct from Cannes where it was the opening night event. That would generally be considered a coup for SIFF but the glitz is tarnished thanks to allegations of child abuse by Allen against the children of Mia Farrow. The controversy isn’t new but was effectively swept under the rug by a willing media until Ronan Farrow turned the spotlight back on his biological father and called out the media for letting the accusations slide as the film opened at Cannes. Nicole Brodeur writes about it at The Seattle Times, and I recommend Matt Zoller Seitz’s personal essay on his struggle to grapple with the art of Allen versus the actions of the artists. As for Seattle, neither Allen nor any of the stars will be attending the film.
What does any of this have to do with the film? Maybe nothing, maybe everything, depending on how you separate your engagement with popular art from the artists who create it. But by putting the film in the opening night spot, SIFF has made a statement of sorts whether it meant to or not. It was announced weeks before the embers of the controversy were fanned back to life, but those embers were always there, even if we (and I include myself) were willing to conveniently forget about it.
The festival really begins on Friday, May 20 as movies play in eight venues radiating out from Seattle Center to Capitol Hill, Ballard, and Bellevue. On Thursday it adds Renton and Friday it leaves Ballard for Shoreline, with Kirkland and Columbia City taking part later. But for now, let’s take a look at some of the highlight in this first week.
[Originally published in Movietone News 32, June 1974]
At least half of Seattle knows by now that the Seattle Film Society did not show AnimalCrackers as originally announced for May 18. They know because at least half of Seattle was planning to come see AnimalCrackers at St. Mark’s Cathedral. This is what happened.
AnimalCrackers is the one among the thirteen films of the Marx Brothers that has not been in general release for years. Like its predecessor Cocoanuts, it was based on—it virtually is—a stage show the boys did late in the Twenties. The original producer was Paramount Pictures, the studio that produced all of the first five Marx films (Cocoanuts, AnimalCrackers, MonkeyBusiness, Horsefeathers, DuckSoup). Paramount no longer distributes its post-silent, pre-1950 films; they were picked up for nontheatrical distribution and TV leasing by Universal MCA. Because of some hassle involving the copyright on the preexisting stage material, Universal has never troubled to clear the way toward officially rereleasing AnimalCrackers. Hence its increasingly conspicuous absence on the repertory circuit otherwise wellnigh glutted with Marx Brothers movies.
The monthly film discussion “Framing Pictures” convenes in the screening room at Scarecrow Video at 7pm on Friday, May 13, with your hosts Robert Horton, Richard T. Jameson, and Kathleen Murphy. It’s a free event so come join the discussion. Here’s the official Facebook page.
High-Rise, Ben Wheatley’s screen adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel, opens this week at SIFF Egyptian. Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Elizabeth Moss, and Jeremy Irons star. More information and showtimes here.
UCLA Festival of Preservation continues at Northwest Film Forum and Grand Illusion. NWFF presents a screening of Spring Night, Summer Night (1967), the first and only feature from J.L. Anderson, on Friday, May 13 at 7:30om. New 35mm print of this recently rediscovered American indie drama. More at NWFF website.
Grand Illusion presents the low budget horror film The Crime of Doctor Crespi (1935) with Erich von Stroheim, on Saturday, May 14 at 9pm, and the pre-code melodrama Bachelor’s Affairs (1932), directed by Alfred L. Werker, on Sunday, May 15 at 5pm. Grand Illusion website is here.
Vincent, Francois, Paul and the Others (1974), directed by Claude Sautet and starring Yves Montand, Michel Piccolo, and Gérard Depardieu, plays on Thursday, May 19 at Plestcheeff Auditorium. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis. Details here.
And, of course, SIFF 2016 kicks off on Thursday, May 19 with opening night gala Café Society, the Woody Allen film produced by Seattle’s own Amazon Studios, direct from opening the Cannes Film Festival.
In the age of video streaming, Ocular Rift, and Sean Parker’s proposed day-and-date VOD service Screening Room, what remains about movies that demands theater attendance? A. O. Scot and Manohla Dargis hash out the latest death notice the movies have received, Scott playing up the cautiously optimistic angle (Without wanting to play the devil’s advocate—or Sean Parker’s—I’m not entirely sure that streaming is necessarily an existential threat to moviegoing…. And also, not to be completely heretical, what’s so sacred about “the darkened cinema” anyway?”), Dargis the, I’m going to say realistic, viewpoint that industries being what they are, little good will come from letting them have their way (“It’s nice that we can pay five bucks to stream a crummy studio movie that looked too awful to leave the house for, I suppose, but I had superior, more interesting choices at my local video stores than I do with Netflix streaming (no Douglas Sirk!) or even Amazon. If you want to stream nonindustrial product, you often need to do time-consuming digging online”).
“Shortly after her death in 1977, Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina published “Mommie Dearest,” a memoir detailing her mother’s alleged abusive nature, alcoholism and neuroses. Katharine Hepburn, Myrna Loy, her first husband Douglas Fairbanks Jr., her two youngest daughters and others close to her denounced the book. But with Frank Perry’s 1981 film adaptation, featuring Faye Dunaway’s shrieking, hollow, larger-than-life performance, the damage was done. In just 129 minutes the film unravels what Crawford had been building for herself since first gracing the screen in the late 1920s. It turned the image of Crawford in the cultural imagination into a monstress, a soulless camp icon to be mocked and reviled but rarely respected, and a cautionary tale of what happens when women put their careers first.” Angelica Jade Bastien sets the record right; whatever the veracity of Christina Crawford’s charges, her mother should be remembered first as a daring, surprisingly mercurial actor who only ever let her staunch professionalism tamp down an energy that could overwhelm any of her co-stars.
SIFF announces the line-up for SIFF 2016 on May 3. SIFF members can buy advance tickets beginning May 4, non-members on May 5.
The Chantal Akerman retrospective continues at NWFF with the West Coast premieres of the documentary Chantal Akerman, From Here (2012), featuring a length interview with the director, and Akerman’s final film Down There (2016), plus her 1993 film From the East. Dates and showtimes here.
Max et les Ferrailleurs (1970), directed by Claude Sautet and starring Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider, plays on Thursday, May 5 at Plestcheeff Auditorium. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis. Details here.
NFFTY 2016 marks the 10th anniversary for the National Film Festival for Talented Youth. It launches on Thursday, April 28 with an event at the Cinerama, which is already sold out, but the festival continues with screenings and events at SIFF Uptown through Sunday, May 1. Complete schedule his here.
Gus Van Sant’s Elephant (2003) screens on Tuesday, April 26 at NWFF to mark the 17th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre and the 9th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting with a pre-screening discussion with Professor Frederick P. Rivara, MD.
SIFF Uptown presents encore screenings of four films from the Wim Wenders retrospective—The American Friend (1977), Paris, Texas (1984), Wings of Desire (1988), and Until the End of the World: Director’s Cut (1988)—playing through Wednesday, April 27. Schedule here.
Fathom Events presents On the Waterfront (1954) on the big screen in select theaters across the country for two nights this week: Sunday, April 24 and Wednesday, April 27. You can find participating theaters in your area here.
The Things of Life (1969), directed by Claude Sautet and starring Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider, plays on Thursday, April 28 at SAM’s Plestcheeff Auditorium. It’s the first of five films by Sautet featured in the series. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis.