Weekend Film Agenda November 20

SIFF Cinema concludes their New Italian Cinema series with a quartet of films. Friday night see Pa-ra-da, the based-on-a-real story tale of a French street clown who heads to Bucharest to provide some comic relief to local orphanages and ends up teaching his trade to street kids, and Fortàpasc, a thriller that tells of the final months in the life of an idealistic journalist assassinated by the mob for discovering far more than they want anyone to know about them. Saturday features another based on real life story – The Sicilian Girl in which a young woman dares to openly cross the mob to vindicate the deaths of her father and brother. The series concludes Saturday night with Ex, a comedy that follows five different couples and their complicated love affairs.

Sunday at SIFF is A Single Man, based on a Christopher Isherwood novel about a closeted gay college professor in the 1960s whose grief from the loss of his love and frustration at having to stay “invisible” leads him to consider suicide until his best girlfriend and a charming young man make him think twice.

Cory McAbee is the writer, director and lead actor of The American Astronaut and he’s followed that well received film with another for which he’s the writer, director and lead actor. Stingray Sam makes its Seattle debut at NW Film Forum with McAbee in person for the Friday night screenings of his six episode musical western mini-series that takes place in outer space.

Also screening Friday night at NWFF and playing through the week: Ingmar Bergman’s The Passion of Anna, the tale of two men and two women struggling with their own troubled selves and their complicated relationships with each other on the small Swedish island of Fårö.

Saturday night at NWFF: Silence is Golden. NWFF has a quarterly film challenge for local filmmakers; this fall’s was to come up with a five-minute short devoid of dialogue. Participants are allowed to use music to drive a story, but not one single spoken word. Sunday night at NWFF: Money Driven Medicine: “a behind-the-scenes look at how our 2.6 trillion dollar a year healthcare system went so terribly wrong and what it will take to fix it.”

Love 80s movies? Head to Central Cinema Friday night for the 80s movies anthem singalong with the themes from such “classic” flicks as “The Goonies” and “Ghostbuster”, featuring songs by Madonna, Prince, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Phil Collins, The Ramones, Kenny Loggins, Peter Gabriel, the Go-Gos, Huey Lewis & the News, and many more. Starting Saturday, Central Cinema screens Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game through November 25. Coincidentally, I just happened to rent this movie myself so I can attest to the merits of this 1939 satire of upper-class French society just before the start of WWII. Condemned by the Parisian crowd who saw its original debut–probably because it hit just a little too close to home–and later banned by the French government, this film has since rightly become known as one of the best films made.

The Grand Illusion hosts the Burning Fuse Film Festival. Six provocative documentaries examine topics including environment deregulation under President Bush, a stripper’s conversion to evangelical Christianity, conscientious objector soldiers, surfers in war-torn Liberia, vooting booth conspiracies tied to the 2004 national elections, and the story of Fauborg Treme, the section of New Orleans that is probably the oldest black neighborhood in America and is the birthplace of the civil rights movement as well as the home of jazz.

Somewhat–no, very much less serious is Grand Illusion’s late night weekend feature Gums, a 1976 Jaws parody featuring a fellatio-mad mermaid intent on terrorizing the seaside.

Besides turning out a very long list of chart-topping albums and singles and inspiring musicians for generations even now still to come, The Beatles managed to make a few good films. The Fab Four were never more charming than in Richard Lester’s adorable A Hard Day’s Night, a comedy that takes a clever look at the madness surrounding what was then the world’s biggest band. A fun movie filled with some of The Beatles’ best songs and definitely worth a watch.

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