The Japanese horror classic Kuroneko (Black Cat) (1968), directed by Kaneto Shindo, is both an eerie ghost story and a ferocious horror tale of righteous revenge. Set in feudal Japan, in a bamboo forest perpetually shrouded in fog and shadow as ethereal as the ghosts that seem to float through it, the film chronicles the spirits of two women, raped and murdered by scruffy samurai who are more like feral bandits, driven to revenge themselves on all samurai, which they lure to their ghost house, itself a spirit that moves through the forest like a supernatural creature. It’s one of the greatest of Japanese ghost stories, a horror film of elemental drive, feminist rage and visual grace. It plays three shows at Grand Illusion this week from a 35mm print.
Also at Grand Illusion in 35mm is Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan (1965), a quartet of ancient ghost stories. It may not be strictly speaking a horror film—it’s not scary or particularly unsettling apart for a few exquisitely created images—but it is breathtakingly lovely, visually composed like a painting, scored and sound designed by Toru Takemitsu with a spareness that leans on silence, and suffused in sadness, regret, and loss. The 160-minute film plays twice this week.
Twist 2016, the Seattle Queer film festival, has its opening night at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian on Thursday, October 13 with the world premiere of Seattle artist Clyde Petersen’ debut feature Torrey Pines and continues through Sunday, October 23 with screenings and events at the Egyptian, NWFF, 12 Ave Arts Building, Pacific Place, and other venues. The closing night film The Pass screens at Cinerama on Sunday, October 23. Complete schedule and other details at the website here.
The 11th Annual Seattle South Asian Film Festival opens on Friday, October 14 with a screening of Aynabaji (India) at Seattle Art Museum, moves to SIFF Film Center for a weekend of screenings, and screens films at Thompson Hall at the UW, Carco Theater in Renton, and other venues through Sunday, October 23. It closes with Waiting, a Hindi-language film from India. Complete schedule and other details at the website here.
The Seattle Polish Film Festival plays at SIFF Cinema Uptown this weekend with screenings of Cellin Gluck’s Persona Non Grata, Tomasz Wasilewski’s The United States of Love, Jerzy Skolimowski’s 11 Minutes, and revivals of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s A Short Film About Killing (1988) and The Double Life of Veronique (1991) among other films. It plays through Sunday, October 23. Complete schedule and other details at the website here.
Kinofest Seattle, a collaboration between The Portland German Film Festival and Northwest Film Forum, opens on Friday, October 7 with Margarethe von Trotta’s The Displaced World and continues through Sunday, October 9 at NWFF, screening seven German language features and a collection of shorts over three days. Among the featured films: Windstorm 2 by Katja von Garnier, the documentary Then Is it the End? from Dominik Graf, and the American premiere of Exit Oerlikon from director Paul Riniker. Complete schedule and ticket information here.
The Irish Reels Film Festival opens Friday, October 7 at SIFF Film Center with the coming of age drama My Name is Emily and ends on Sunday with You’re Too Ugly. Complete schedule here.
French Cinema Now kicks off a series of French language films from France and Canada at SIFF Cinema Uptown with on Thursday, September 29 with opening night feature Lost in Paris from filmmaking team Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon. Among the highlights: the romantic comedy Two Friends from actor/director Louis Garrel, Don’t Tell Me the Boy was Mad from Robert Guediguian and set in 1970s Paris, the documentary Reset which takes viewers behind the scenes at the Opéra National de Paris, and the drama After Love with Be?re?nice Bejo and Ce?dric Kahn as a married couple sticking through a failing marriage for their kids. The series plays through Thursday, October 6. The complete schedule and ticket and festival pass information is here.
Mink Stole presents a midnight screening of the new restoration of John Waters’ trash classic Multiple Maniacs (1970) at SIFF Egyptian on Friday, September 30. The event is hosted by Peaches Christ and features a special performance by RainbowGore Cake.
Young Frankenstein (1971) returns to cinemas across the country for a special one-night-only screening on Wednesday, October 5 from Fathom Events. This screening features a live introduction by director Mel Brooks, who co-wrote the film with his star and good friend Gene Wilder. You can find participating theaters in your area here.
This week, Central Cinema goes classic with Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and crowd-pleasing with The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Showtimes here.
Back for another go: The Art of the Story: The Hero’s Journey is a workshop that looks at the power of myth and the hero’s journey in storytelling through Star Wars (1977) and its relationship to Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Conducted by media educator Malory Graham. Sunday, October 2 at SIFF Film Center.
The 39th edition of the longest-running film noir series in the world kicks off on Thursday, September 29 with a screening of Nightmare Alley (1947). Matinee idol Tyrone Power is brilliantly cast as the opportunistic carnie who tramples his partners to climb out of the sideshow and into nightclub glamour and high society in one of the most offbeat examples of film noir. Opening and closing in the dregs of a two-bit carnival, the rise and fall of a drifter who connives a mind-reading act from a rummy has-been and transforms it into a scam targeting the gullible rich straddles the chasm between sleaze and class, thanks to the oddly interesting miscasting of studio stalwart Edmund Goulding as director. He never manages to sink to the depths suggested in Jules Furthman’s screenplay (behold the Geek!) but his studio elegance has its own rewards. Tyrone Power’s self-conscious screen persona perfectly fits his character, a phony whose entire life is a performance, and Colleen Gray is film noir’s baby-faced innocent, though she’s anything but naïve here. Joan Blondell and Mike Mazurki co-star as Gray’s protective carnie pals and Helen Walker proves herself just as ruthlessly cunning as Power’s scam artist in the role of a corrupt analyst. It screens from a 35mm film print at 7:30 pm at Plestcheeff Auditorium at the Seattle Art Museum. More information here, and the series continues on Thursday nights through December at SAM.
SIFF Cinema Uptown celebrates Arthouse Theatre Day with a screening of the newly restored cult horror film Phantasm (1979) on Saturday, September 24 at SIFF Cinema Uptown, with a live stream Q&A with director Don Coscarelli joined by J.J. Abrams.
Central Cinema gets back to school with repertory runs of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and Mean Girls (2004). Showtimes here.
More openings: The conspiracy thriller Operation Avalanche at Sundance Cinemas, the French drama Come What May at Guild 45, the romantic comedy/fantasy Zoom at Grand Illusion, and the documentaries Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary at SIFF Film Center and Three Days in Auschwitz at Sundance Cinemas.
The autumn movie calendar brings a handful of essential annual events to local screens—for instance, the Seattle Art Museum’s Film Noir series (kicking off Sept. 29) is the world’s longest-running showcase for noir, and SIFF presents its yearly French Cinema Now festival (also Sept. 29). An increasingly important mainstay is the Northwest Film Forum’s Local Sightings Film Festival. Launched in 1997, Local Sightings draws its roster from movies made throughout the Northwest, casting its net far enough to include Alaska and Montana as well as near-flung Canadian provinces.
The result is inevitably a mixed bag, but that’s part of the point. Some of the films are authentic finds, some are not ready for prime time. But all movies need air, and the festival provides a way to get these things onto a screen and exposed to audiences, where they can flourish or wither. Almost as important, Local Sightings surrounds a year’s worth of regional films with panels, workshops, and parties, all part of maintaining the we-can-do-this-here energy.
The 19th edition of Local Sightings, “Seattle’s only festival dedicated to Pacific Northwest films and filmmakers,” opens at NWFF on Thursday, September 22 with “The Future is Zero: Local Sightings Edition,” a local game show taped live in locations around Seattle. The festival presents over 100 features and short films, including 26 world premieres (four of them features), plus workshops and panels and other events. Plays through Saturday, October 1 at NWFF. Complete schedule and other details here.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, a documentary directed by Ron Howard (his first), opens for a week-long run at SIFF Cinema Uptown. It also plays on Hulu for streaming subscribers, but the theatrical version features an exclusive 30 minute concert of The Beatles’ performance at Shea Stadium in 1965. Reviewed on Parallax View here.
Heidi (1992) is an experimental reinterpretation of the classic children’s novel by artists Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley. It screens on Sunday, September 18 at NWFF in a special presentation co-sponsored by the Henry Art Gallery.
Cinerama’s 70mm Film Festival opens on Friday, September 9 with screenings of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Tron (1982) and continues through Monday, September 19. The offerings are wide ranging, from such large-gauge standbys as Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Spartacus (1960) to modern 70mm event releases The Master (2012) and Interstellar (2014) to unconventional choices like Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce (1985), John Carpenter’s Starman (1984), and Michael Cimino’s Year of the Dragon (1985). You’ll want to get your tickets in advance; it’s all reserved seating and the first two shows of 2001, the Saturday show of Lawrence, and both screenings of Aliens (1986) are already sold out. Embrace the old school standard for high-definition cinema and remind yourself what it looks like to see film projected on the big screen. Showtimes and tickets here.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift plays on 35mm at NWFF on Saturday, September 10.
Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys (1968) plays one show at NWFF on Sunday, September 11. It screens from a 16mm print, just like it did in its original release.
The American indie comedy Chatty Catties plays three shows over the next few weeks at NWFF. The first is screening is on Friday, September 9, and it plays again on Saturday, September 17 and Saturday, October 8.
WRETCHED WOMAN // Pig or Poet? showcases the video works by Chicago-based artist Emily Esperanza in a two-part program at NWFF on Sunday, September 11. All screened from VHS tapes with the artist in attendance.
Take Three 2016 is a showcase of experimental film and animation curated by Barbara Robertson, Joseph Pentheroudakis, and Janet Galore. It screens on Thursday, September 15 at NWFF. Some of the artists represented in the showcase will be at a pre-screening reception at 7pm.
Don’t Blink: Robert Frank, a documentary on the legendary photographer and filmmaker by Laura Israel, opens on Thursday, September 15 and plays through the weekend at NWFF.
Passes are now available for the 39th edition of the longest-running film noir series in the world. This year’s edition begins on Thursday, September 29 with Nightmare Alley (1947) and ends on December 8 with the modern noir Nightcrawler (2014), and seven of the nine feature will be screened on 35mm prints. Screenings are on Thursday evenings at Plestcheeff Auditorium at the Seattle Art Museum downtown. More information here.
A Rialto Pictures revival of Louis Malle’s 1958 Elevator to the Gallows, a thriller starring Jeanne Moreau and featuring a score by Miles Davis, opens for a week-long run at Sundance Cinemas.
The People vs. Fritz Bauer, a German drama about the district attorney who fought the state to bring criminal charged again Adolph Eichmann in the late 1950s, topped the German film awards with nine nominations. It opens at Seven Gables.
Elio Petri’s A Quiet Place in the Country (1968), starring Franco Nero and Vanessa Redgrave, plays on 35mm at NWFF for two shows only on Saturday and Sunday this weekend.
Two films that played at SIFF open this weekend: Southside with You, a Before Sunrise with actors playing young Barack and Michelle on a first date in Chicago, opens at The Egyptian and The Intervention, the directorial debut of actress Clea DuVall, opens at Sundance Cinemas.
Breaking a Monster, a documentary about rock trio of 13-year-old boys whose mix of heavy metal and speed punk makes the jump for Times Square to major recording contract with the help of a 70-year-old manager, plays through Sunday at NWFF.
From South Korea comes Tunnel, a survival drama about a man trapped in a collapsed tunnel and the shifting public support as the rescue drags on and the media get distracted. Directed by Kim Seong-hun (A Hard Day). Opens at the AMC Alderwood and the Cinemark Century at Federal Way.
This week’s free outdoor movie at Cal Anderson Park is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005). The screening begins at sunset on Friday, August 26, around 8:30pm, but viewers are encouraged to arrive early for a good seat, concessions, and entertainment by a DJ playing from 7pm.
The Rogers & Hammerstein musical The King and I (1956), starring Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Rita Moreno, and the singing voice of Marni Nixon, plays on big screen in select theaters across the country for two nights this week through Fathom Events: Sunday, August 28 and Wednesday, August 31. You can find participating theaters in your area here.
A 35mm print of the award-winning animated French feature Fantastic Planet (1973) plays on Saturday, August 20 and Thursday, August 25 at Grand Illusion. Andrew Wright reviews it for The Stranger: “… its combination of seriously trippy illustrations and groovy jazz-porny musical score creates a stunning, vividly potent sensation. Once it hits your brain, it’s there to stay.”
This week’s free outdoor movie at Cal Anderson Park is Roger Vadim’s Barbarella (1968) with Jane Fonda. The screening begins at sunset on Friday, August 19, around 8:30 pm, but viewers are encouraged to arrive early for a good seat, concessions, and entertainment by a DJ playing from 7pm.
On Tuesday, August 23, Magic Society presents Super Duper Video, a curated collection of Puppet-centric clips from films and TV shows interspersed with live puppet performances. One show only at SIFF Cinema Uptown at 7pm.
The Cinerama has announced its 70mm Film Festival schedule. Along with the usual suspects (Lawrence of Arabia, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Spartacus) are some oddities: Starman, Lifeforce, and Year of the Dragon). Which is cool. It begins September 9.
Framing Pictures is back and this month the discussion topics include Warren Oates (who stars in the newly rediscovered Private Property), Hirokazu Kore-eda’s new film Our Little Sister, the Kino Lorber Video box set Pioneers of African-American Cinema, Brazilian director Hector Babenco (who passed away this month), and more. Discussion begins on Friday, August 12 at 7pm at the screening room of Scarecrow Video on 5030 Roosevelt Way and it is free. More details at the official Facebook page.
The recently rediscovered and restored 1960 film Private Property, directed by Leslie Stevens and starring Warren Oates and Corey Allen as homicidal drifters who wander into the Beverly Hills home of an unhappy housewife, plays for a week at Grand Illusion.
Buster Keaton’s The General (1926) returns in a newly-restored edition featuring a new orchestral score composed and conducted by Joe Hisashi, who scored the great animated features of Studio Ghibli and the classic gangster films of Takeshi Kitano. It was announced to play SIFF last month but an older version was shown, so this is the first time Seattle audiences will be able to experience this new presentation. Plays matinees Saturday and Sunday only.
NWFF reopens (after a brief closure for renovations) for a screening this week of ‘Til Madness Do Us Part, an epic documentary about the inmates of an isolated mental institution in rural Zhaotong directed by Wang Bing. It plays on Wednesday, August 17, and then again on Thursday, August 25.
The documentary Tattoo Nation plays one show only on Thursday, August 18 at SIFF Cinema Uptown, presented by Bloodworks Northwest and timed to kick off Seattle’s Tattoo Expo. Director Eric Schwartz and renowned tattoo artist Jack Rudy are scheduled to attend and will hold a Q&A following the film.
This week’s free outdoor movie at Cal Anderson Park is Mel Brooks’ Star Wars spoof Spaceballs (1987). The screening begins at sunset on Friday, August 12, around 8:30pm, but viewers are encouraged to arrive early for a good seat, concessions, and entertainment by a DJ playing from 7pm.
Filmmaker Mike Birbiglia will appear at the Uptown for the opening night screenings of his new film Don’t Think Twiceon Friday, August 5.
A new restoration of Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders (1964) plays for three days only this weekend at SIFF Film Center. So does the restoration of a true rarity: almost forgotten sci-fi noir oddity Kamikaze ’89 (1982), which stars legendary New German Cinema director Rainer Werner Fassbinder in his final screen appearance as a cop in a leopard skin jumpsuit.
Three Dollar Bill Cinema is back with a program of free outdoor movies at Cal Anderson Park on Friday nights through August. This week: Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (2011). The screening begins at sunset, around 8:30pm at the southeast corner of Cal Anderson Park, but viewers are encouraged to arrive early for a good seat, concessions, and entertainment by a DJ playing from 7pm.
SIFF joins French Truly for a monthly event they call French Truly Salon, which celebrates French language, culture, history and cinema with a keynote speech, a reception featuring wine, cheese, and hors d’oeuvres, and a movie. It kicks off with Francis Veber’s La Chèvre (1981) starring Gérard Depardieu and Pierre Richard. The event is on Wednesday, August 10 at SIFF Film Centre and begins at 6:30.
The Seattle Art Museum summer film series Cary Grant for President concludes with Stanley Donen’s Charade (1963), co-starring Audrey Hepburn and Walter Matthau. It screens on Thursday, August 11 at 7:30pm at Plestcheeff Auditorium and is shown on 35mm. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis.
A new restoration of Ousmane Sembène’s debut feature Black Girl (1966) plays for a week at Grand Illusion. It was inspired by a news item he spotted in a French language paper, Sembène turns the brief mention into a painful portrait of a young woman who suddenly loses her freedom and her identity when transplanted from her native Dakar to France, where she toils as a maid. Sembène’s attack on neo-colonialism and “the new slave trade” (Sembène’s words) of African workers in Europe won a number of awards and was widely praised, and has since come to be regarded as the first important film of the black African cinema.
Seattle Transmedia and Independent Film Festival (STIFF) returns with a new venue—Factory Lux in the Rainier Brewery Building on Airport Way—for an abbreviated 2016 run. Opens Thursday, July 28 with the documentary Screenagers and plays through Sunday, July 31. Full schedule and more information at the STIFF website here.
Portland-based film preservationist Ned Thanhouser presents “The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema,” a presentation of films produced by the short-lived but influential studio that thrived between 1909 and 1918 with a slate of professional and inventive short films and serials that gave the Hollywood studios a run for their money. The program plays at SIFF Film Center on Saturday, July 30 and is free to SIFF Members.
San Francisco-based filmmaker Paul Clipson presents a collection of his experimental films on Friday, July 29 at NWFF, with live musical accompaniment by Seattle musician Liz Harris of Grouper, and on Sunday, July 31, Sabine Gruffat & Bill Brown accompany their impressionistic documentary Speculation Nation (2014).
The Seattle Art Museum summer film series Cary Grant for President continues with Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House (1948), co-starring Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas. It screens on Thursday, August 4 at 7:30pm at Plestcheeff Auditorium and is shown on 35mm. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis. Details here.
Noir City returns to Seattle, after going on the run in 2015, for a week-long program at The Egyptian titled “Film Noir from A to B.” “The satellite festivals were growing around the country at such a rate that I wanted to take a break from Seattle with the expectation that we would return there bigger and better than ever,” explains Film Noir Foundation founder and Noir City MC Eddie Muller. “My idea for coming back and retooling was to—and this is the first place in the country that I’ve done this—do “Film Noir From A to B” matching an “A” film from a particular year with a “B” film from the same year, to try and recreate a microcosm of film noir in one series. Which I have found is a pretty amusing thing to do.” One exception: Tuesday is “the Edith Head show. The wardrobes for both of those films were designed by Edith Head.” Seattle authors (and film noir obsessives) Vince and Rosemary Keenan will cohost the evening and do a book signing for their debut novel Design for Dying, which features Edith Head as a detective.
The program opens in 1940/1941 with I Wake Up Screaming (seriously one of the greatest titles ever for a film noir) and Stranger on the Third Floor, which has been called the first true film noir by many historians, and it ends with a newly-struck print of Southside 1-1000 (1950), directed by Boris Ingster, who began the fest with Stranger. It presents the Seattle premiere of two Film Noir Foundation restorations—The Guilty (1947) and Woman on the Run (1950)—and six films that are unavailable on home video (disc, streaming, or VOD)—Dr. Broadway (1942), Night Editor (1947), The Guilty, Desert Fury (1947), The Reckless Moment (1949), and Southside 1-1000. All films screened on 35mm. I wrote a preview for The Stranger here.
NWFF and Scarecrow Video present selections from Kino’s Pioneers of African-American Cinema, a box set of rare preserved and restored films from African-American filmmakers, most of them produced between 1915 and 1946. This is a members-only event for NWFF and Scarecrow $100+ members on Wednesday, July 27 at Northwest Film Forum.
The Seattle Art Museum summer film series Cary Grant for President continues with Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), directed by Frank Capra. It screens on Thursday, July 28 at 7:30pm at Plestcheeff Auditorium and is shown on 35mm. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis. Details here.