Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Seattle Screens

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.