Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Seattle Screens

Seattle Screens: ‘La Grand Illusion’ of Cinema

La Grand Illusion, Jean Renoir’s elegant, loving drama of class and culture among POWs in the German prison camps, plays in a new 35mm print plays for a week at Northwest Film Forum. It’s the second of six repertory runs of films from the thirties to the nineties in 35mm prints scheduled for the summer at NWFF.

Pierre Fresnay and Erich von Stroheim

Made on the eve of World War II but set during World War I, it is ostensibly an prison camp escape adventure but is really about class, race and cultural identity among a quartet of officers: working class Jean Gabin (whose early career was built on such proletariat heroes), cultured aristocrat Pierre Fresnay, Jewish nouveau riche Marcel Dalio, and Prussian blueblood Erich von Stroheim, their German jailer. Renoir and co-scenarist Charles Spaak wear their hearts and minds on their tattered sleeves – the script far too often voices the obvious – but Renoir brings his points home in moving moments woven through the film (the final scene between Stroheim and his prisoner Fresnay, with whom he feels more at ease with than his own men, is one of the most poignant in his career). It’s an elegant, lovingly detailed, but ultimately safe drama brought to life through the richness of Renoir’s humanity.

Star Wars: Uncut, a shot-by-shot crowdsourced tribute to Star Wars in 15-second segments created by 473 volunteers, plays for a one-night-only screening at Grand Illusion on Saturday, July 24 at 8:45.

There’s another round of “Framing Pictures,” a conversation about cinema in and around Seattle with Robert Horton, Richard T. Jameson, and Kathleen Murphy, at NWFF on Friday, July 13. The discussion, with begins at 5pm, is free. More details from Richard Jameson at Straight Shooting. And if you want to catch up on last month’s discussion, you can view a recorded version on the Seattle Channel (channel 21 on Comcast).

Sundance ShortsLab: Seattle, an event presented by The Sundance Institute at SIFF Film Center on Sunday July 15, features presentations by writer/director Lynn Shelton and cinematographer Ben Kasulke, filmmaker Todd Haynes, and Short Film programmers from the Sundance Film Festival. The event, which begins at noon and lasts most of the day, costs $75. Details at the SIFF website and at the Sundance Institute website.


Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz, starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, opens at The Harvard Exit.

Beasts of the Southern Wild, an American indie of hard times and magic realism in post-Katrina New Orleans, took home awards at Cannes, Sundance, and SIFF. It opens at The Egyptian and Lincoln Square Cinemas in Bellevue.

Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Elena, winner of Un Certain Regard at Cannes, opens at The varsity.

Technically a late-night program, Juan of the Dead is also the Seattle opening of the satirical zombie comedy from Cuba (the first Cuban zombie movie). Plays late nights at NWFF on Friday and Saturday.

Also opening this week: SIFF 2012 favorite Paul Williams Still Alive at SIFF Film Center and the documentary The Invisible War at The Uptown.

At NWFF, the documentary Unfinished Spaces plays Friday through Sunday and I Want My Name Back plays Wednesday and Thursday.



Marcel L’Herbier’s 1928 L’argent, a French epic of based on Emile Zola’s novel and starring Brigitte Helm and Alfred Abel (of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis), Pierre Alcover, Yvette Guilbert, and Antonin Artaud, plays Monday, July 16 at The Paramount as part of the summer “Silent Movie Mondays” series. Jim Riggs accompanies the 35mm showing on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

Gilda, Charles Vidor’s 1946 film noir with Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth, plays for week in a 35mm print at Grand Illusion.

The Seattle Art Museum’s “Queen of Screwball: The Films of Jean Arthur” summer series continues with a screening of You Can’t Take It With You on Thursday, July 19. All screenings are, of course, in 35mm.

Shorts screenings: Capitol Hill Block Party presents the inaugural year of The Totally Stacked! Video Contest, with a screening at The Uptown on Friday, July 13, and The 48 Hour Film Project screens the films made in the competition on Tuesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 18 at The Uptown.

No Woman No Cry plays for free at SIFF Film Center on Wednesday, July 18, in the Next 50 Film Series.

SIFF Cinema continues its Films4Familes series with Mary Poppins, playing Saturday and Sunday matinees at The Uptown.

Late Nights: Dude! The Big Lebowksi plays midnights at The Egyptians and The Pact plays late nights at Grand Illusion on Friday and Saturday.

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
Sundance Cinema
Landmark Theatres (Egyptian, Guild 45, Harvard Exit, Varsity)
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