Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Seattle Screens

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.



Bully, the documentary about the culture of high-school bullying that was fanned into a controversy over the rating, opens this week in Seattle, a week after its New York/L.A. release and its last-minute ratings reprieve: it sacrificed a few utterances of the f-word to get a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, which means it won’t have to go out unrated. Seattle Times film critic Moira Macdonald writes that, while the film is not perfect, “you watch the film with gratitude that Hirsch made it, and with hope that seeing these images and hearing these stories will inspire action.”

More openings:

Applause, the Danish theater drama starring Paprika Steen, plays at the Varsity.

Luc Besson’s The Lady, starring Michelle Yeoh as Aung San Suu Kiy (Burma’s Joan of Arc), opens at the Harvard Exit (Kathleen Murphy wasn’t impressed by Besson’s film, but was impressed by Yeoh).

Natural Selection, a comedy starring Rachel Harris and Matt O’Leary, plays at The Uptown.

Free Men, a World War II thriller set in the Muslim community of Paris during the Nazi Occupation, plays at SIFF Film Center.

The Great Northwest, an experimental documentary of a 1952 road trip recreated by Portland artist and filmmaker Matt McCormick, plays for a week at Northwest Film Festival.


Cinerama’s First Annual Science Fiction Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, April 19, with the first of three screenings of the new restoration of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis with live accompaniment by The Alloy Orchestra. This will be the only digital screening in the entire festival, which runs through Wednesday, May 2, and only because there are no film prints of this restoration in the United States. More on the festival in next week’s Seattle Screens, but you can browse the full schedule at the Cinerama website.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is getting a revival rerelease. It plays at The Varsity for a week.

Charade, Stanley Donen’s lightfingered romantic thriller, concludes the Cary Grant fest at Grand Illusion. A 35mm print plays for a week.

On Thursday, April 12, the 1947 They Made Me a Fugitive starring Trevor Howard plays in the “Shadow Street: The Best of British Film Noir” series, on 35mm.

Screening Saturday & Sunday at SIFF Film Center is Duck Soup (part of Films4Families), Raiders of the Lost Ark plays at the Uptown on Tuesday, April 17 in their “Back to the 80s” series, and Lina Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties plays at SIFF Film Center on Thursday, April 18 as part of the “Not Chick Flicks” series.

Late night: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo plays midnight at the Egyptian Theatre, the anime feature Chocolate Underground from Japan plays at the Grand Illusion on Friday and the Australian crime drama The Snowtown Murders plays on Saturday.

For more alternative screenings, read Moira Macdonald’s At A Theater Near You roundup at The Seattle Times.

Schedules and Showtimes

You can check your favorite independent cinemas, neighborhood theaters and multiplexes here.

Independent theaters:
SIFF Cinema
Northwest Film Forum
Grand Illusion
Seattle Art Museum
Central Cinema
The Big Picture
Majestic Bay Theatres

Multiplexes and Chains
Landmark Theatres (Egyptian, Guild 45, Harvard Exit, Metro, Varsity and others)
Regal Cinemas (Meridian 16, Thornton Place and others)
AMC Cinemas (Pacific Place, Oak Tree, Alderwood and others)
Kirland Park Place
Lincoln Square Cinemas
Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas