Browse Category

Seattle Screens

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of May 27

Laughter in Hell

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.


Gene Kelly / Channing Tatum

“That was [Gene Kelly’s] genius—he could make a dance, or a prop, out of anything. No surprise, then, that over 60 years later, a faux-musical in the guise of a stripper movie might invoke Kelly in order to depict a retired male entertainer getting his old groove back. It sounds like more of a reach than it is.” Indeed it does, and K. Austin Collins does a good job finding ways Magic Mike XXL stands honorable comparison to An American in Paris—and even acknowledges the Tatum vehicle deserves credit for acknowledging and exploring the racial borrowing that the earlier film elides.

Reverse Shot’s symposium asking writers to pair a documentary and a narrative feature continues, with Adam Nayman using the openness of Marczak’s Fuck for Forest to show up the shallowness of Roth’s The Green Inferno; Mayukh Sen praising Dahan’s “heightened and excessively dramatic” La vie en rose for capturing a sense of the artist that Kapadia’s Amy cannot; Daniel Witkin on how in both Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light and Jia’s Still Life the “everyday is shot through with a sense of the cosmic. Guzmán’s film, though, does so more optimistically”; and Michael Koresky has a lovely examination of unplanned events intruding upon and transforming Loznitsa’s Maidan and Malick’s The Tree of Life (“The camera creates the frame in which an entire world can exist. It’s a tiny window, really, but its walls are imaginary and limitless.”).

Nostalgia for the Light

Hitchcock’s intertitles for the 1922 silent Three Live Ghosts have been lost; Anna Aslanyan was asked to attempt to recreate them by translating the ones from an existing Russian print, but found the task impossible given the Soviet censors’ ideological rejiggering of the story. Via David Hudson.

“Temple University, 1968 or ’69. I go down there to show Putney Swope. I think I had my kid with me. After the screening, this guy comes up—jacket and tie—and says, ‘I want to thank you for getting me into advertising.’ That’s when I realized I don’t know anything about anything. That guy was serious. Isn’t that great? He thought he was going to have that kind of fun.” Robert Downy Sr. talks the fun and challenges of underground filmmaking, and the relief that both he and his son have made it out of their addictions alive, with Bilge Ebiri.

“I’m not ashamed of any of my films. Of course some are more controlled, which is to say that they look more as I imagined they would look when I was making them. That’s especially true of the smaller, more intimate films. Others, less so. But most of them are ageing pretty well, you know? When I watch them again, I don’t have the impression that they’re dated. They still feel quite fresh to me.” Agnieszka Holland discusses her latest, Game Count, and, of all her features, some amusing anecdotes from the set of The Secret Garden, with Alex Ramon.

“For me…theatre is all about the possibility of not doing theatre. Very often in theatre, you think you’re obliged to do certain things—but it really gets interesting when you’re obliged to do precisely nothing. It’s about placing writing and language somewhere other than they’re usually supposed to go.” Isabelle Huppert looks back with Jonathan Romney over a career that’s specialized in going “somewhere other” than expected, including working with Chabrol, Haneke, Verhoeven—and her wish she could do more comedy. You know, like The Piano Teacher.

Isabelle Huppert

“In the films that I did when I went to Europe, I promised myself I wasn’t gonna work with an arthouse filmmaker, but my manager at the time pointed out to me that I needed to continue to make art films because that’s what I was known for [the Warhol/Morrissey films]. And my films had never shown in Italy when I first went to live there, because they said nobody would relate to these films since supposedly people weren’t hustling in Italy, and I would laugh because I just thought that what we were doing basically originated over in Italy. I think they got that, but they still weren’t gonna release the movies.” Interviewed by Dan Sullivan, Joe Dallesandro discusses his European career—a heady combination of art house and violent schlock—and gives sharp portraits of what it was like to be directed by Morrissey in a foul mood and Rivette content to just spin his story out longer and longer.

Adrian Curry’s latest gallery collects posters for Anna Magnani films, a variety of artists from all over the world trying to capture the unique emotional intensity of the she-wolf.

Obituary

Alan Young

Alan Young was the human star of Mr. Ed and the voice of the animated Scrooge McDuck, the roles he’s best remembered for by contemporary audiences. He was born in England, spent his early years in Scotland, and was raised in Canada and he began his career on radio, first in Canada and then in the U.S. He made his feature film debut in Margie (1949), played the title characters in Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick (1952) and Androcles and the Lion (1952), and co-starred in tom thumb (1958) and The Time Machine (1960), but he was busier on TV, and in later years he was a prolific voice artist on animated shows. He passed away at age 97. More from Dennis McLellan for Los Angeles Times.

Burt Kwouk will be remembered for playing Cato to Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies but his career encompassed much more. He was born in Manchester, raised in Shanghai, lived in the U.S., and returned to Britain, where he had a busy later career on British TV. He died at the age of 85. More from Martha Chilton for The Telegraph.

Bill Herz, the last surviving member of Orson Welles cast and crew on his “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast and a member of Welles’s Mercury Theatre group in the 1930s, passed away earlier this month at the age of 99. Sam Roberts for The New York Times.

Seattle Screens

Congratulations to Courtney Sheehan, longtime NWFF programmer and artistic director, on her promotion to Executive Director. Northwest Film Forum will have an open house on Tuesday, May 31 where you can meet the new Executive Director. Doors open at 6pm. More on the event Facebook page.

The second week of SIFF expands to Shoreline for the first time for nine days of screenings at Shoreline Community College, and features the world premiere of Martin Bell’s Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell and the North American premiere of The Final Master and Sammo Hung’s The Bodyguard. Parallax View’s weekend overview is here, and the updated SIFF 2016 Guide is here.

John Ford’s The Long Voyage Home (1940), the final film in NWFF’s section of the UCLA Festival of Preservation, plays in a restored 35mm prints on Friday, May 27 at 7:30pm.

Grand Illusion presents a 35mm print of Edgar G. Ulmer’s Her Sister’s Secret (1946) on Sunday, May 29 at 5pm.

The new documentary Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made plays in a special screening with Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation (1989) the legendary shot-for-shot remake of the Steven Spielberg film by a group of schoolkids over the course of seven years. Documentary directors Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen will be in attendance. The one-night-only event is Thursday, June 2 at 7pm at Northwest Film Forum. The documentary will return (sans the 1989 fan feature) to NWFF on June 17 for a three-day run.

The new 4K restoration of Fritz Lang’s Destiny (1921), which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, debuts on Wednesday, June 1 (more here) and Naomi Kawase’s Sweet Bean (2015), which played at the Un certain regard section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, debuts on Thursday, June 2 (details here). Both play through the weekend.

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.

The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries and Seattle Screens curated by Sean Axmaker, and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of May 20

Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s ‘Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach’

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 fit Sicilia! 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.

Keep Reading

SIFFtings 2016 – Week One

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.

Keep Reading

Cracker Crumbs

[Originally published in Movietone News 32, June 1974]

At least half of Seattle knows by now that the Seattle Film Society did not show Animal Crackers as originally announced for May 18. They know because at least half of Seattle was planning to come see Animal Crackers at St. Mark’s Cathedral. This is what happened.

Animal Crackers 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, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horsefeathers, Duck Soup). 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 Animal Crackers. Hence its increasingly conspicuous absence on the repertory circuit otherwise wellnigh glutted with Marx Brothers movies.

Keep Reading

Seattle Screens: ‘High-Rise’ opens, UCLA Preservations continue, and ‘Framing Pictures’ is back

‘High-Rise’

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.

Dan Savage hosts Hump Fest 2016 at SIFF Uptown on Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14. Two shows each night, adults only please. The official Hump Film Festival website is here and tickets here.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) celebrates its 30th Anniversary with a return visit to the big screen in select theaters across the country for two nights this week: Sunday, May 15 and Wednesday, May 18. You can find participating theaters in your area 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.

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.

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of May 6

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.

Keep Reading

Seattle Screens: Chantal Akerman, Seijun Suzuki, and ‘Purple Rain’

Purple Rain

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.

NFFTY 2016 continues with screenings and events at SIFF Uptown through Sunday, May 1. Complete schedule his here.

SIFF Cinema presents a tribute to Prince with a screening of Purple Rain on Tuesday, May 3 at the Uptown. Admission is $5, free to SIFF members. Tickets here.

The Seijun Suzuki retrospective continues with screenings of Yumeji (1991) at Grand Illusion on Saturday, April 30 and Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Carmen from Kawachi (1966) at NWFF on Wednesday, May 4.

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.

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.

Seattle Screens: Remembering Chantal Akerman

Chantal Akerman

The legacy of filmmaker Chantal Akerman, who took her life in 2015, is celebrated in a brief retrospect co-sponsored by SIFF and NWFF. It begins on Friday, April 22 at SIFF Film Center with screenings of No Home Movie, a personal documentary on her mother, a Holocaust survivor sharing her memories with her daughter, and I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman, a documentary by Marianne Lambert. They play in rotation for a week, and then the series shifts to NWFF for single screenings of three more films.

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.

Arnaud Desplechin’s My Golden Days plays for a week at NWFF. Showtimes and tickets here, and read Robert Horton’s review at Seattle Weekly.

As Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some opens wide, Dazed and Confused (1993) comes back for a midnight showing at the Egyptian on Saturday, April 23.

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.

The Seijun Suzuki retrospective continues with screenings of Ziguernerweisen (1980) on Saturday, April 23 and Kagero-Za (1981) on Sunday, April 24 at Grand Illusion and Tattooed Life (1965) on Wednesday, April 27 at NWFF.

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.

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.

Seattle Screens: Quentin Tarantino in 70mm at Cinerama

The 70mm roadshow version of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is back for a limited run at the Cinerama starting Friday, April 15. If you’ve been waiting for the ideal conditions for the full experience, you won’t get much better than this. Showtimes and tickets here.

SIFF’s interactive Cinema Dissection event this weekend presents Dog Day Afternoon with the discussion hosted and moderated by Robert Horton, filling in for the previously announced Sandy Ciofi. The discussion begins at 11am at SIFF Film Center on Saturday, April 16. Details here.

Elvis, Evergreens, and Umbrellas: 50 Years of Seattle on the Big Screen is a three-hour tour of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest on film hosted by location scout Dave Drummond at SIFF Film Center on Sunday, April 17. Details here.

The Seijun Suzuki retrospective continues with screenings of Gate of Flesh (Saturday, April 16) and Fighting Elegy (Sunday, April 17) at Grand Illusion.

ByDesign 2016 film series continues at NWFF through Sunday. Schedule here.

François Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses (1968), starring Jean-Pierre Leaud as Antoine Doinel, plays on Thursday, April 21 at Plestcheeff Auditorium. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis. Details here.

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.

Seattle Screens: Seijun Suzuki, ByDesign, Beckett and Keaton, and a new Framing Pictures

Seijun Suzuki’s ‘Youth of the Beast’

Robert Horton, Bruce Reid, and Richard T. Jameson are your hosts for the monthly film discussion Framing Pictures at the screening room at Scarecrow Video. This month the talk revolves around Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings (1939) and Ivan Passer’s Cutter and Bone (1981), both arriving on new Blu-ray editions, plus the new films Midnight Special, Everybody Wants Some, and My Golden Days. This free event begins at 7pm on Friday, April 8. More at the Framing Pictures Facebook page.

NWFF and Grand Illusion join forces to present the “Seijun Suzuki Retrospective,” a collection of 11 films screening over the course of the next four weeks, many of them on 35mm film prints. It begins this week with Passport to Darkness (1959), which screens at Grand Illusion on Saturday, April 9, and Youth of the Beast (1963) on Wednesday, April 13 at NWFF. The complete series schedule is here, and series tickets are available.

ByDesign 2016, the annual series spotlighting works that explore visual culture, opens on Thursday, April 14 with the Tom Sachs’ A Space Program, which then moves to SIFF Film Center for a week-long run starting April 15. Complete series schedule here.

Ross Lipman’s documentary NotFilm explores the often contentious collaboration between Samuel Beckett and Buster Keaton and the making of Beckett’s avant-garde 1965 short film called Film. The short ran 20 minutes, the documentary over two hours. Plays through the week at NWFF. Details here.

Arturo Ripstein’s Bleak Street plays through Sunday, April 10, also at NWFF. More here.

Also opening on Friday, April 8: Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, his spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, at Sundance Cinemas; Born to Be Blue, starring Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker, at Sundance; Alexander Sokurov’s Francofonia, set within the Louvre during the Nazi occupation of Paris, at The Uptown; and the French comedy Marguerite at Seven Gables.

SIFF celebrates the grand opening of KEXP’s new Seattle Center studios with a special screening of Storefront Hitchcock, the 1998 Robyn Hitchcock concert film directed by Jonathan Demme, with Robyn Hitchcock introducing the screening in person. Thursday, April 14 at the Uptown. Advance tickets and details here. KEXP and SIFF members get free admission on day of show (while seats last).

The French crime classic Classe Tous Risque (1960), directed by Claude Sautet and starring Lino Ventura and Jean-Paul Belmondo, plays on Thursday, April 14 at Plestcheeff Auditorium. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis. Details here.

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.

Seattle Screens: The Grand Illusion celebrates 12 years of independence and more

Welcome to The Grand Illusion

The Grand Illusion, the pocket theater that has been running in form or another in the University District since the early 1970s, celebrates its 12th Anniversary of its current non-profit incarnation with a week of the weird and the wonderful. On the latter front, they are screening new 35mm prints of Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (1946) (on Friday, Saturday, and Wednesday) and Max Ophuls’ From Mayerling to Sarajevo (1940) (on Sunday and Monday). Also on Sunday, April 3 is Spencer Williams’ Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. (1946), which screens as part of its “Pioneers of African-American Cinema” series of restored films, and on Tuesday, April 5 is a new 35mm print of Corn’s-a-Poppin’ (1956), an indie comedy from the midwest co-written by Robert Altman. Running all through the week is the new Turkish horror film Baskin. Schedule and showtimes here.

The 21st Seattle Jewish Film Festival opens on Saturday, April 2 with A Tale of Love and Darkness, the directorial debut of Natalie Portman, who also stars in the film, at Pacific Place and continues through the weekend at Pacific Place, moving to SIFF Cinema Uptown on Monday and the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island next weekend, where the closing night film Baba Joon, winner of 5 Ophir Awards (the Israeli equivalent of the Academy Award), screens with actor Navid Negahban in attendance. Filmmaker Aviva Kempner will attend with her new documentary Rosenwald, about Sears owner Julius Rosenwald, and director Jake Witzenfeld brings his documentary Oriented, focused on the lives of three gay Palestinian friends in Tel Aviv (both on Sunday, April 3 at Pacific Place). The complete schedule is here.

The Last Dragon (1985), a Motown martial arts movie seeped in New York urban culture and eighties color and music, stars real-life 19-year-old karate black belt Taimak as an earnest martial arts student nicknamed Bruce Lee-roy by the locals and Prince protégé Vanity as a music club deejay pressured by gangsters to play lousy music videos. Clearly that calls for a hero. Directed by Michael Schultz and produced by Berry Gordy, the film became a cult favorite and it is playing on Friday, April 1 at the Uptown with Taimak appearing in person. Details here.

Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special opens this weekend exclusively at the Egyptian Theater in Capitol Hill. Film critics Robert Horton and Andrew Wright both recommend it.

The documentary Before the Big Bang, directed by Richard Beymer and featuring Beymer and novelist Rudy Wilson, makes its West Coast premiere on Wednesday, April 6 at Seattle Art Museum’s Plestcheeff Auditorium at 7:30pm. Details here.

A Pig Across Paris (1956), directed by Claude Aurtant-Lara and starring Jean Gabin, plays on Thursday, April 7 at Plestcheeff Auditorium at SAM. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis. Details here.

It’s not too late to make your plans for Friday, April 8. Robert Horton and Richard T. Jameson are your hosts for the monthly film discussion Framing Pictures at the screening room at Scarecrow Video. It’s a free event. More at the Framing Pictures Facebook page.

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.

Seattle Screens: ‘I Knew Her Well’ and ‘Ran’ restorations

Stefania Sandrelli in ‘I Knew Her Well’

Antonio Pietrangeli is the greatest Italian filmmaker of the sixties you’ve never heard of and his bittersweet I Knew Her Well (1965), starring Stefania Sandrelli as a country girl in Rome trying to break into show business, is his masterpiece. Young and beautiful, Adriana (Sandrelli) is able to get by on her looks, taking temporary jobs between modeling gigs and screen tests, and she’s savvy enough to understand that sex is a commodity to be traded for favors from press agents, managers, and minor celebrities. But she’s far from cynical, at least at first, as she plays the game and enjoys the nightlife, and she’s even a bit naïve, constantly hooking up with charming, good-looking cads who have a habit of abandoning her. It’s episodic by nature, a series of snapshots from her life, and directed with the light touch of a frothy Italian comedy that belies the mercenary society and cruel behavior of the rich and successful.

Pietrangeli co-wrote the film with Ettore Scola (among others) and they offer a satirical portrait of the shallow celebrity culture and Roman nightlife of La Dolce Vita with both a more vicious edge—the callous treatment of a washed up actor (played by Ugo Tognazzi) is truly painful—and a breezy, easy style. The simple irony of the title isn’t hard to fathom. None of the men ever bothers to get to know Adriana at all, dismissing her as a silly beauty good for a one night stand, and Sandrelli plays her as a seemingly frivolous, capricious young woman with nothing on her mind, kind of Italian Holly Golightly without the cynical calculation. Yet she’s more perceptive than anyone realizes as she navigates the mercenary world with energetic optimism before she grows disillusioned in the final act of the film. Sandrelli has a kind of blank, oblivious beauty that makes her great casting for simple, silly, not-too-bright characters (see The Conformist) in her youth, and Pietrangeli uses that surface frivolity beautifully. She’s simply heartbreaking.

I Knew Her Well plays for four days at NWFF in a newly restored edition. Showtimes and tickets here.

The new 4K restoration of Ran (1985), Akira Kurosawa’s epic re-imagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear in sixteenth-century Japan, runs for a week at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Tatsuya Nakadai plays the aging warlord who divides his empire among his three sons and slips into madness as he is neglected, betrayed, and stripped of his dignity. Kurosawa is not merely true to Shakespeare’s story, he brings scenes alive with a cultural twist and a visual mastery, from the pageantry of warriors filling vast fields of green with red and white flags and uniforms to the howling storm that strikes during the warlord’s spiral into madness. The spectacle is brought home with delicately observed performances and beautifully sculpted relationships, an intimacy that gives the epic its soul. I haven’t seen the restoration but I imagine those colors are more vivid than ever. Chris Marker’s documentary A.K.: The Making of Akira Kurosawa’s Ran (1985), a profile of Kurosawa on the set of the film, also plays at SIFF Film Center.

Richard T. Jameson’s 1985 review is on Parallax View here.

Akira Kurosawa on the set of ‘Ran’

Jacques Becker’s Antoine and Antoinette (1947), the first film in SAM’s “Cinema de Paris” series, plays on Thursday, March 31 at Plestcheeff Auditorium. Individual tickets are available on the day of show on a first come, first served basis. Details here.

The Wim Wenders retrospective “Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road” this week presents Buena Vista Social Club (1999) at SIFF Film Center and Pina 3D (2011) at SIFF Uptown (both Wednesday, March 30) and Until the End of the World: Director’s Cut (1991) at NWFF (Thursday, March 31).

If you missed Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendor during its weeklong run at NWFF, it will be back for one night at SIFF Film Center on Monday, March 28.

The Cinerama is one of the only ten theaters in the country to show Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in a 70mm film print. It will run for a week on film, and then revert to DCP on Friday, April 1, so celluloid junkies should make a plan for that first week. And remember: the Cinerama sells reserved seating so you may want to purchase in advance. The Cinerama webpage is here.

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.

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

The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of March 11

Un chant d’amour

Between the articles from the new issue available online and the ever-expanding blog, Film Comment offers almost a week’s worth of good reads by itself. Michael Koresky takes in a Lincoln Center festival on early gay films and argues that, along with simplistic views of gender and sexuality, one false binary that needs to go is the notion that cinematic portraits of homosexuality come in two flavors: ashamed and fatalistic pre-Stonewall, liberated afterwards. (“If any single title could stand in for the sublimated yet radical titillation of all pre-Stonewall gay cinema, it’s the 26-minute Un chant d’amour (50), the one and only feature made by Jean Genet, and a complete sensual experience: film as erogenous zone.”) Paul Schrader then sets about constructing a binary of his own, dividing production design into an art cleanly demarcated between films before and after The Conformist. (“So here’s the radical importance of The Conformist: this to my mind is the first film shot entirely on location in which the locations are treated as sets. It has the same freedom with a location that you would have if you had designed your own room.”)

Farran Smith Nehme finds much to admire in Sirk’s Sleep, My Love, even if dampening Claudette Colbert of her usual “canny and commonsensical “ intelligence so she doesn’t spot the conspiracy against her isn’t among them. (“Ameche slithers around in heavy silk dressing gowns, smoking cigarettes and saying soothing things in a low-pitched, doctorly voice. If it weren’t for Brooks’s opiate presence, you could argue that he’s the one with the femme fatale role.”) And on the eve of Jerry Lewis’s 90th birthday, Violet Lucca dismantles the harmful myths about work in America that Lewis’s movies endorsed (“Being the utterly wonderful nouveau riche narcissist he is, Lewis would always portray these man-children while wearing a large gold pinky ring, giant wedding ring, and, sometimes, a gold watch, giving more than a touch of cognitive dissonance to his performances.”); while some highlights from last October’s sitdown at the Museum of the Moving Image between Lewis and Martin Scorsese are offered by an unidentified transcriber/editor. (“Sometime he [“Jerry”] gave me problems. When he got overly anxious, he would screw me up and I would yell to the crew, tea time! Get coffee or do something, cause I’ve got to have a talk with the star of the movie! I looked at the mirror and said, do you want to make this, or what’s your plan? And I would talk back to myself.”)

Keep Reading

Seattle Screens for the week of March 4

The View from Parallax is taking a break this week but we’ve got your screening highlights right here.

Seattle Screens

The documentary series “Art of the Underdog,” playing at NWFF through the month of March, puts unchampioned arts and little-known and forgotten artists in the spotlight. The series opens on Sunday, March 6 with Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015), a portrait of storyboard artist Harold Michelson and film researcher Lillian Michelson, and Love Between the Covers (2015), which investigates the hugely-popular but much maligned literary genre of romance fiction. The complete schedule is at the NWFF website and series tickets are available.

The Wim Wenders retrospective “Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road” this week presents Alice in the Cities (1974) at SIFF Film Center (Wednesday, March 9) and The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1971) at NWFF (Thursday, March 10).

‘Alice in the Cities’

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Arabian Nights (1974) screens on Thursday, March 10 at Seattle Art Museum in a 35mm print as part of the “Magnifico! Cinema Italian Style” series. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door on a first come, first served basis. More here.

Keep Reading