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Seattle Screens: ‘Headhunters’ and ‘Post Mortem’ take on SIFF

While Men in Black 3 attempts to knock The Avengers out of its box office domination, this Memorial Day Weekend brings SIFF into its second week, so the screening list will be understandably abbreviated this week.

Post Mortem

Parallax View continues to update its SIFF 2012 guide here, with links to capsules, features, and reviews from The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, The Stranger, Straight Shooting, and others.

Meanwhile, two imports with macabre dimensions compete for festival audiences. Headhunters, a black comedy from Norway, pits a business professional who moonlights as an art thief to maintain his lavish lifestyle against a millionaire art collector. Robert Horton, writing for The Herald, says: “We always have a few foreign titles that try to out-do Hollywood at the suspense game, and Headhunters is an especially berserk example.” It opens at The Varsity. More reviews here.

Post Mortem, Pablo Larrain’s follow-up to Tony Manero, is a darkly comic piece about a morgue clerk in 1973 almost oblivious military coup exploding around him. Tom Keogh, writing for The Seattle Times calls it “mesmerizing, somehow otherworldly… a kind of horror movie on two levels.” Plays for a week at Grand Illusion.

More Openings

First Position, a documentary about young ballet dancers training for the Youth America Grand Prix, gets high marks from Seattle Times film critic Moira Macdonald: “The movie doesn’t dwell on the very real possibility that none of these young people will spend their careers as professional dancers (only a tiny fraction of students achieve this); instead, it lets us enjoy their youthful exuberance, lingering with them on every jump.” Opens at Seven Gables.

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Seattle Screens: All SIFF 2012, All the Time (or so it seems)

While The Dictator and Battleship compete for multiplex audiences, the usually robust Seattle film scene has otherwise given a wide berth to the annual event that devours all.

Yes, SIFF 2012 has begun. Opening night celebrates local filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s latest, My Sister’s Sister, and by extension an impressive line-up of Washington State-born films. From homegrown productions (Megan Griffiths’ excellent Eden, where Eastern Washington stand in for the American Southwest) to locally-shot films (Safety Not Guaranteed, with Aubrey Plaza and honorary Seattle actor Mark Duplass, and closing night film Grassroots, a Seattle story with Jason Biggs and Joel David Moore playing versions of Phil Campbell and activist Grant Cogswell), this is without a doubt the best showing of Seattle and Washington State cinema at SIFF ever.

Along with the premieres and galas and special presentations, SIFF will also screen Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, direct from Opening Night at Cannes, before its Seattle opening in June, and host tributes to actress Sissy Spacek and director William Friedkin during its final week of screenings and events.

How to navigate event? Parallax View is here to help. This weekend we will launch launched our SIFFing 2012 guide, with links to reviews, previews, interviews, and other coverage on the web. In the meantime, browse these resources.

Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass in Lynn Shelton's 'Your Sister's Sister'

In addition to my Parallax View preview, here’s an overview from Richard T. Jameson at Straight Shooting and a preview of the Northwest Connections line-up from Moira Macdonald at Seattle Times.

Reviews and capsules:
Seattle Weekly has a slew of Week 1 Picks & Pans (from Brian Miller and others, including a couple from me) and The Stranger’s Guide to SIFF 2012 has just kicked in, blog style (their guide is more accessible on print right now; pick up the latest copy for the pull-out guide). And there’s opening weekend highlights from Three Imaginary Girls and more at SIFFBlog from Kathy Fennessy.

Let us now praise our local filmmaking luminaries. Lynn Shelton is profiled by Moira Macdonald for The Seattle Times and interviewed by Brian Miller for Seattle Weekly (that’s in addition to a well-deserved profile at The New York Times earlier this month!). I took a look at Rick Stevenson’s “5,000 Days” project, and his documentary feature “Two Brothers), for Seattle Weekly. But where is the much deserved profile of Megan Griffiths, whose Eden is arguably the best homegrown film of the festival? Here’s one from March from IndieWIRE’s SXSW coverage.

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Seattle Screens: Silent Rarities and ‘Children of Paradise’

Tim Burton will try to cast his Dark Shadows across the worldwide domination of The Avengers this weekend, but while these splashy, fantastical Hollywood heavyweights battle it out for box supremacy (and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel reaches out the older demographic), there are plenty of alternatives for discerning filmgoers.

Leatrice Joy teases in 'Eve's Leaves'

The UCLA Festival of Preservation continues at NWFF with a long weekend of four silent features, each on 35mm and presented with live accompaniment, none of them available on American home video in any form.

Rex Ingram was one of the great directors of the 1920s Hollywood (thanks to films like The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the original The Prisoner of Zenda) but no longer as well known as contemporaries D.W. Griffiths, Cecil B. DeMille, and King Vidor. Two of his early features will be screened: The Chalice of Sorrow (1916), his first Hollywood film, on Friday, May 11 (presented with a live score by Lori Goldston and Jessika Kenney), and The Flower of Doom (1917), a mystery in a Chinatown setting, on Monday, May 14 (live score by Jason Staczek and Ian Moore).

Leatrice Joy, one of the largely forgotten superstars of the silent era, stars in the comedy Eve’s Leaves (1926), a Cecil B. DeMille production (Saturday, May 12, with a live score by Carla Torgenson, John Leighton Beezer, Gerry Amandez and Glenn Slater), and Marie Dressler is The Goose Woman (1925), a Clarence Brown-directed drama inspired by a real-life murder mystery (Sunday, May 13, with a live score by Paris Hurley).

All shows at 7pm. Complete schedule and film notes at NWFF website.


A brand new restoration of the French classic Children of Paradise plays for a week at The Uptown. As Richard T. Jameson explains, the film has been “often described as “the French Gone With the Wind”—except that this movie isn’t kitsch, and its artistic excellence and superb production values were achieved under the Nazi Occupation, with key creative personnel obliged to work clandestinely.” More from Jameson at his blog Straight Shooting. This is a digital presentation of a new 4K restoration, the highest quality currently available to commercial cinemas.

Framing Pictures, the monthly discussion of films old and new with Robert Horton, Richard T. Jameson, and Kathleen Murphy at NWFF, returns on Friday, May 11. Jameson throws out some conversation starters at Straight Shooting. And it has a Facebook page too. “Like” it and keep up with the discussion.

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Seattle Screens: SIFF Reveals, STIFF Unfolds, NWFF Perseveres with Preservations

The Avengers Assemble! But while the superhero supermovie takes over thousands of screens across the country (where the instant audience favorite will surely play to packed houses), Seattle audiences have plenty of alternatives: festivals of films new and old, including the 7th Annual SIFF alternative STIFF and the UCLA Festival of Preservation. Read on for all the options…

But first: the complete 2012 Seattle International Film Festival Schedule is now available online. Print editions will be available at Starbuck locations and SIFF offices beginning Friday, May 4. That also means that individual tickets are now on sale.

Meanwhile STIFF (Seattle True Independent Film Festival) 2012 changes up its usual counterprogramming to open in advance of the onslaught of SIFF. This year it runs from Friday, May 4 through Saturday, May 12 at Grand Illusion, The Varsity Theatre, Wing-It Productions, and Central Cinema. The STIFF website is here, but for reasons beyond my understanding, the have offer no schedule of screenings. The closest you’ll find is at the Eventbrite site for ticket sales.

Buster Keaton in 'Film'

Northwest Film Forum presents the UCLA Festival of Preservation: 10 archival features presented in new 35mm prints, plus collections of shorts and other archival programs, over the next four weekends. The inaugural event is a screening of Robert Altman’s Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean on Saturday, May 5 at 5 p.m. Barbara Loden’s 1970 drama Wanda plays Sunday and a double feature of Samuel Beckett’s Film (a short starring Buster Keaton) and a 1965 TV production of Waiting For Godot with Zero Mostel plays Monday. Next weekend comes four rare silent features over four days, each with live accompaniment. Complete schedule and film notes at NWFF website.

Notes on the Cinematographer: The Films of Robert Bresson concludes this week with screenings of the director’s 1974 Arthurian drama Lancelot of the Lake on Tuesday, May 8, a new 35mm print of Four Nights of a Dreamer on Wednesday, and Une Femme Douce on Thursday. For more information, visit NWFF website. Notes on Bresson at Videodrone here.

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Seattle Screens: Six Nights of Robert Bresson

Northwest Film Forum presents Notes on the Cinematographer: The Films of Robert Bresson, a series of six Bresson films (four of them never on DVD in the U.S.) screening on 35mm over the next two weeks. It’s a revisit, in a way, of a similar 1998 touring series organized (as was this one) by James Quandt in Toronto.

Four Nights of a Dreamer

Les Anges du Peche (1943), his debut feature, opens the series on Tuesday, May 1, with Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne on Wednesday and The Trial of Joan of Arc on Thursday. Next week is Lancelot du Lac (1974), Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971), and Une Femme Douce (1969). (The complete schedule is here.)

So no, it’s not in chronological order and it is certainly not a complete retrospective. NWFF notes that “Several of his other films have recently screened at Northwest Film Forum, and two more will screen in coming months for longer engagements in new 35mm prints.” What we have are some of his rarest films, those most difficult to see under any circumstances.

“Difficult” is a word that comes up all the time discussing Bresson – his films eschew the kind of dramatic spikes and psychological grounding of his contemporaries (the psychological intensity of Bergman seems downright flamboyant next to Bresson’s minimalist approach) – and even many cineastes are left cold by Bresson’s remove.

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Seattle Screens: Cinerama’s First Annual Science Fiction Film Festival

Cinerama’s First Annual Science Fiction Film Festival opened Thursday, April 19 with a screening of Fritz Lang’s restored Metropolis accompanied live by The Alloy Orchestra, a show repeated for Friday evening and Saturday matinee shows. This same program played at the old SIFF Cinema a couple of years back, complete with the Alloy, but it’s hardly the same experience compared to seeing Metropolis across the big screen of the Cinerama. I reviewed the restoration and the Alloy score for Parallax View here.

Metropolis is presented from a HD-Cam digital master – there is no film print of the restored edition available in the U.S. – but the rest of the festival is all film, all the time, with five 70mm prints (including a new 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey playing Saturday and Sunday this week) and a new 35mm print of the original 1953 War of the Worlds (playing Sunday afternoon). Also screening this week: Silent Running and Barbarella on Monday, Omega Man and Close Encounters of the Third Kind on Tuesday (the website doesn’t specify which cut of Close Encounters is being shown), and a matched set of apocalyptic burning rubber thrillers on Wednesday: Mad Max and The Road Warrior. The series picks up again on Friday for another six days of screenings.

Most tickets are $12 a show, higher for Metropolis, 2001, and War of the Worlds. Complete schedule and ticket information is at the Cinerama website here.


Austrian filmmaker Michael Glawogger is coming to Northwest Film Forum with his Globalization Trilogy, three documentaries about the underclasses around the world. Megacities, which looks at Mexico City, Bombay, Moscow, and New York, plays Tuesday, April 24, and Workingman’s Death, about manual labor in the 21st century, plays Wednesday, April 25, and Glawogger will discuss Werner Herzog and the film Fata Morgana at the Thursday, April 26 event “Herzog at Inspiration.” Whore’s Glory, his most recent film, plays for a week starting Friday, April 27. Details at NWFF website here.

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Seattle Screens: ‘This Is Not a Film’

If you want to just say Moe to the week’s wide releases (including the Farrelly Bros. attempt to recreate The Three Stooges with new actors in the iconic roles), here are some of the options outside (and, in come cases, inside) the multiplexes.

Jafar Panahi expresses his frustration

This is Not a Film is a protest of great power, right down to the title. Made clandestinely by Jafar Panahi while he was under house arrest, awaiting the decision of his appeal after he was sentenced to jail and a twenty-year suspension from filmmaking, Panahi and his co-director, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, knew that their public defiance of the government could only hurt them. They made the film and smuggled it out as a protest. That this pointed commentary on the nature of this kind censorship is also a profound expression of art, creativity, and the drive to express oneself, makes it almost heartbreakingly profound. “Never mind the title,” advises Seattle Times film critic Tom Keogh. “The remarkable This Is Not a Film, an almost unclassifiable act of subtle defiance against an oppressive authority, is, in fact, very much a film.” More reviews here.

Plays at Northwest Film Forum, scheduled for only a week, so make a point to go soon.

Cabin in the Woods, a deviously self-aware horror film that spoofs, deconstructs, and reconfigures decades of horror movie tropes, arrives in theaters after two years of limbo, thanks to the bankruptcy of MGM. It’s clearly a work from the mind of Joss Whedon, he of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and the upcoming Avengers movie, and his co-conspirator Drew Goddard, who directs and co-wrote the film, really nails the Whedon humor and modern take on cinematic mythmaking. They let their inner horror movie fans go wild, riffing in every “kids in the woods tormented by supernatural killers” but especially the “Evil Dead” movies. You have to love, or at least appreciate, the conventions of horror cinema over the last few decades to enjoy the film, but if you give yourself to it, it’s a blast. And it justifies every stupid decision made by every dumb teenager in every slasher movie every made. More reviews here.

In multiple area theaters.

The Langston Hughes African American Film Festival opens Saturday, April 14 with The Last Fall, directed by former NFL player turned filmmaker Matthew Cherry, who will be on hand to present the film and answer questions at the post-screening Q&A. The festival runs through April 22 at the newly-renovated 320-seat auditorium at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, at 104 17th Avenue South in the Central District. More from Moira Macdonald at The Seattle Times. Official website here, and you find the complete schedule and ticket information here.

John Zorn: Treatment for a Film in 15 Scenes is an anthology of four short avant-garde films written and scored by John Zorn and directed by four different filmmakers. It screens one time only, at 9pm on Saturday, April 14, at Grand Illusion.

Robert Horton will discuss film and its influences with Susie J. Lee, whose work is exhibited now at the Frye Art Museum, in the final event of the Magic Lantern series for the current season. Sunday, April 15 at 2pm. It’s free, but come early to get tickets, for these events often fill to capacity.

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Seattle Screens: Mysteries of ‘Anatolia’

Not up for the American Reunion of the Pie-pals of the sex-comedy series? There’s plenty of alternatives arriving this week, including Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s mesmerizing Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Joseph Cedar’s Oscar-nominated Footnote from Israel, and revivals of the classics Laura and North by Northwest.

The Mysteries of 'Anatolia'

“The best films I saw during my week at the Vancouver Film Festival were Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Béla Tarr’s incomparable The Turin Horse,” wrote Kathleen Murphy a few months ago. “Both ran two hours plus. The storytelling in the former unreels slowly, cumulatively, so mysteriously that if you don’t watch with intense concentration, you’ll miss moments when everything racks focus. The narrative in Tarr’s masterpiece is terrifyingly repetitive and monotonous, in the Beckettian sense, like a great engine grinding itself ever deeper into a hole, in circular slow motion that you fear might go on forever.”

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia arrives in Seattle this week for a week-long run at Northwest Film Forum (followed in a couple of weeks by The Turin Horse) and it is a mesmerizing film where, by Hollywood standards, nothing happens, and yet everything happens along the way of this hyper-real and dreamily surreal take on the police procedural in the middle of nowhere. In the words of Ms. Murphy: “as this strange, tedious drive toward a hole in the ground continues, Anatolia drifts out of the mundane into the mystical, invisibly morphing from police procedural into existential fairy tale.” Read her complete review on Parallax View here, and for more, read Robert Horton’s review at The Herald here.


Expect Anatolia to be a topic of conversation in this month’s round of “Framing Picturesat NWFF this Friday, April 6. Join Seattle film critics and Parallax View contributors Robert Horton, Richard T. Jameson, and Kathleen Murphy for a discussion of the movies of the moment and of the ages. According to the website, “On April 6, we talk about current Northwest Film Forum screenings including Laura and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, and also the wider critical response to The Hunger Games.” Richard Jameson describes it into his own inimitable way at Straight Shooting. Starts at 5pm at NWFF, and it’s free.

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Seattle Screens: ‘The Movie Orgy’ and a Side of Schtick

A Joe Dante cinema inferno, a night silent shorts with original music and live entertainment, and festivals of Cary Grant movies, British noir, and classic Bollywood musicals all compete for your attention this week. And that doesn’t even take into account the theatrical debuts of Cannes Film Festival award winner The Kid on a Bike and Oscar winning documentary Undefeated. Read on to plan you cinema fix this weekend…

Jetting off to watch 'The Movie Orgy'

Joe Dante’s The Movie Orgy is legendary in some circles. Neither a feature nor a documentary nor even a compilation, at least in the conventional sense, The Movie Orgy was first created in 1968 by movie-mad buddies Joe Dante and Jon Davidson, spliced together from Dante’s collection of films, serials, trailers, shorts, TV commercials, and other 16mm ephemera, not simply strung end to end but intercut, stirred around, one big melting pot of pop culture bouncing between genres and media.

Glenn Erickson reviewed a 2008 screening at The New Beverly in Los Angeles: “The resulting psychological profile of Dante and Davison proves that their wicked sense of humor and sarcastic outlook began long before their association with Roger Corman: this explains where Airplane! came from. ” Dennis Cozzalio was at the same screening and wrote up his take for his website, Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule: “The Movie Orgy isn’t really a movie. It’s more like a hallucinatory party for the certifiably movie mad.”

The current incarnation, which Joe Dante digitized for digital screenings (the original version was literally spliced together, making it quite fragile), runs just over 4 ½ hours.

Grand Illusion presents a single showing of this event to celebrate its 9th anniversary as an independent, non-profit cinema on Saturday, March 31 at 7pm. The event is free but you must RSVP. Send to movieorgy [at] grandillusioncinema [dot] org.

And while we’re on the subject of “events,” the one-night celebration “The Sound of Silence with a Side of Schtick” presents an evening of movies and music with live performances between the shorts. It’s a modern take on the cinema programs of old, playing out on Thursday, April 5 at The Uptown. The shorts in the program include the landmarks Voyage dans la lune by George Melies and The Great Train Robbery by Edwin S. Porter and Orson Welles’ 1934 “student film” The Hearts of Age, which are accompanied live with original compositions performed live by a chamber orchestra, and magicians and comedians perform in between. Details at SIFF website here.

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Seattle Screens: The Hunger Cinema

You might assume that since The Hunger Games is opening on over 4,000 screens across the country that it’s the only film around, but that’s not quite true. There is Salmon Fishing in Yemen from Lasse Halstrom and Boy from New Zealand and the final weekend of the Seattle Jewish Film Festival at The Uptown. And on the micro-indie front is Invincible Force, which received its North American premiere at the 2011 Olympia Film Festival.

The Hunger Games

But the big news is The Hunger Games, the latest young adult book series-turned-Hollywood movie franchise. It opens midnight Thursday, March 22 (actually at 12:01, technically making it Friday for contractual reasons), in dozens of theaters in the Seattle area, including Cinerama and the IMAX at Pacific Science Center. Every critic in America is obliged to offer his or her opinion and the response has been, for the most part, respectfully affirmative. (Parallax View’s own Kathleen Murphy is a notable exception, calling it “a glossy entertainment sufficiently bland and sanitized that it will offend no one.”)

Not that any review is going to make one iota of difference in the opening weekend take. The fact that director Gary Ross, who adapted the novels with screenwriter Billy Ray and author Susan Collins, remained so faithful to the book in terms of plot and presentation will satisfy most fans of the book, and the message of resistance and defiance in the face of tyranny is just the kind of rousing theme that everyone can get behind. Ross correctly frames the “games” as both punishment and pitiless entertainment at the expense of the players and shows how the our heroine uses the entertainment factor of so-called reality TV to write her own story and use it as another weapon in her quiver, and he avoids so many potential potholes along the way (focusing on the survival over the competition, making sure the violence is not glorified) that it’s easy to forget that “smart” doesn’t necessarily mean expressive. Clearly Ross gets the book. He merely fails to communicate the experience: the intensity of runaway emotions, the isolation of mistrust and desperation, even the vitality of the characters themselves.

The final weekend of the Seattle Jewish Film Festival brings shorts, documentaries, and features to The Uptown, including Rabies (Israel’s first slasher movie), the American romantic comedy Dorfman, the dramas Wunderkinder from Germany and My Lovely Sister from Israel, and the closing night film The Boys of Terezin, a documentary about teenage boys who risked their lives to create a secret magazine to communicate their experiences while incarcerated at the Terezin concentration camp. Schedule, showtimes and descriptions are here.

Invincible Force

The zero-budget Invincible Force, a feature shot over 90 consecutive days using only obsolete video formats, opens for a week at Grand Illusion. Seattle Weekly film critic Brian Miller warns that it is “long and slow, immersed in dull dieting process and amusing home workouts set to bad techno music, but there’s also a creepy art-film fascination as our hero gradually morphs into Travis Bickle.”

Raj Kapoor and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema, opening Thursday, March 29 and running through Wednesday, April 11, presents twelve newly restored films from Indian superstar-turned-director Raj Kapoor spanning from the 1940s to the 1980s. Opening night is at the Uptown, where the Bollywood splendor can play across the big screen, and moves to the SIFF Film Center for the rest of the series, unspools mostly on new 35mm prints (with some digital prints). Complete schedule and showtimes here. Series tickets are also available.

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Seattle Screens: Rendez-Vous with Festival Season

The Well-Digger's Daughter

Festival season is apparently underway in Seattle. This weekend finds three separate cinema celebrations competing for your attention: the 2012 Seattle Jewish Film Festival, the new edition of the Rural Route Film Festival at Grand Illusion, and a curated sampling from the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series making its first appearance in Seattle.

Eight films from the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema will screen at the Uptown between Friday, March 16 and Sunday, March 18. “This smorgasbord of Gallic screen fare has been an annual event since its inception in 1996,” explains Richard T. Jameson. “SIFF is one of 50 exhibitors nationwide to be offered a touring version of the 2012 edition, a weekend’s worth of feature films representing about a third of the festival…”

Jameson surveys the films at Straight Shooting and offers recommendations on two in particular: The Well-Digger’s Daughter, which screens 5:30 p.m. Sunday, March 18 “[Director Daniel] Auteuil honors the maître’s decision to open his earthy storytelling to the sun, wind, and ripeness of Provence: one’s eyes virtually breathe this movie”) and the new 4K digital restoration of Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert’s 1945 Children of Paradise, screening 2:15 p.m. Sunday, March 18 (“one of the most splendiferous movies ever made”). Schedule and details here.

The 2012 Seattle Jewish Film Festival, which opens Thursday, March 15 with the film Mabul (The Flood) at Cinerama, begins in earnest over the weekend with screenings at Pacific Place on Saturday and Sunday and then moves to the Uptown. The program includes features, documentaries and short programs, including what is being called the first slasher films from Israel: Rabies. Schedule, showtimes and descriptions are here.

The Rural Route Film Festival is, in the words of the organizers, the only film fest devoted to rural people and places. Grand Illusion presents highlights from the 2011 incarnation throughout the week: a collection of narrative shorts, a program of short documentaries, and the documentary feature Truckfarm, from the makes of King Corn. The programs play through Thursday, March 22. Showtimes and schedule here.

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