Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Seattle Screens

Seattle Screens: Buster!

As much as I’ve enjoyed trying put together a weekly film page that looks for what’s interesting rather than what’s getting the biggest promotion, commitments have forced me to scale back contribution. So I’ll continue to offer a few notes and point you in the direction of other local coverage, but hopefully I can introduce you to some events you might not have known about.

Buster Keaton in ‘Steamboat Bill Jr.’

Into the Vaults: Celebrating the Library of Congress screens 10 classic films on archival 35mm prints over four days at The Uptown and the SIFF Film Center. Kicking off the series on Thursday, July 26, at The Uptown, are a pair of silent Buster Keaton classics with live accompaniment by Donald Sosin (a long time SIFF regular at festival silent screenings). Seven Chances (1925) and Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) are absolutely delightful silent comedies from my favorite silent comic of them all and they don’t come around on the big screen very often. I reviewed Seven Chances for Turner Classic Movies when it debuted on Blu-ray and Steamboat Bill, Jr. just may be my favorite of his film. I’m charmed by the heart and soul of it. Keaton transforms from a foppish college dandy into a mechanical genius with a Rube Goldberg bent while battling the elements in the funniest hurricane scene ever put to film.  The series moves to the Film Center for the final three days. Full schedule at SIFF Cinema here.


Apart from The Dark Knight Rises, which apparently is such a sacred text that negative reviews are treated as offenses against the faith by some, a couple of festival films return for a regular run.

Trishna, featured at SIFF 2012, is Michael Winterbottom’s take on “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” relocated to India, with Frida Pinto in the title role. John Hartl at The Seattle Times: “Winterbottom has taken a boldly feminist approach to the story of a tragic heroine whose inherent intelligence and sense of fate is misunderstood.” Opens at the Harvard Exit.

And The Well-Digger’s Daughter, which played the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series in March, is Daniel Auteuil’s adaptation of Marcel Pagnol’s novel, and a return of sorts to the author who helped kick off his career via the films Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring. Richard Jameson reviewed the film back in March for Straight Shooting: “The tale is both elemental and rich, and in addition to giving a masterclass in screen acting as a patriarch at most one generation removed from peasantry, Auteuil is generous with opportunities for his fellow players….” Opens at the Varsity in the U-District.

Visit the film review pages at The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases.

Roman Novarro in the 1925 ‘Ben-Hur: A Story of the Christ’


The 1925 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the epic that almost bankrupted MGM, the plays Monday, July 16 at The Paramount as part of the summer “Silent Movie Mondays” series. If you were disappointed by the DVD substitution at last week’s L’Argent, I’ve been assured that the next two films will be screened on 35mm and should look quite beautiful. The substitution was a last minute compromise when a print with English translations proved unavailable. Which I understand, but I’m still disappointed that they didn’t inform the audience of the substitution ahead of time.

Blake Edwards made his reputation on comedy but he was quite good at crime cinema (and TV, for that matter) as both screenwriter and director. Experiment in Terror (1962) is a smart little thriller with Glenn Ford as an old-school cop up against a would-be criminal genius, with a teenage girl’s life on the line. A 35mm print plays for a week at Grand Illusion.

The Seattle Art Museum’s “Queen of Screwball: The Films of Jean Arthur” summer series continues with a screening of 1942 comedy The Talk of the Town on Thursday, July 26. All screenings are, of course, in 35mm.

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

Schedules and Showtimes

View complete screening schedules through IMDb, MSN, Yahoo, or Fandango, pick the interface of your choice.

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