Weekend Film Agenda: Happy New Year

Starting Saturday the Second at NW Film Forum is the Seattle premiere of The Vanished Empire, prolific Russian director Karen Shakhnazarov’s coming of age film about a bunch of Russian college kids in the 1970s Soviet Union through a lens that suggests the USSR’s eventual fall came about not from politics but from pop culture.

The Young Victoria continues this weekend at the Meridian, Metro, and Lincoln Square. [josh]: Emily Blunt, far more attractive than the wikipedia suggests she should be for the role, portrays the young queen whose long reign defined a century; Rupert Friend arrives as the dashing suitor whose name came to co-adorn a very nice decorative arts museum in London. It’s well acted, lightly but capably crafted, will teach or refresh some history, and provides no shortage of eye candy in terms of performers and settings.  True to its title, the film avoids sweeping historical epic and covers an early slice of Victoria’s life, glancing past her childhood to her resistance of a regency-hungry comptroller (always lurking menacingly in palaces), ascent to the throne, political maneuverings, and budding relationship with Prince Albert. The latter bits consume the majority of the picture, with political intrigue holding court with cross-continental courtship. The leads are compelling enough that their meaningful glances, longing letters, and quiet conversations conjure enough heat to make the marriage between cousins downright romantic, their passion believable, and the arrangement of royal furnishings monumentally heartwarming.

Of course Grand Illusion is kicking off the New Year by completing their annual run of It’s a Wonderful Life, but no less exciting is the week long run of Island of Lost Souls, the 1932 horror classic directed by Erle C. Kenton and starring the charismatic Charles Laughton as the champion creeper Dr. Moreau, obsessed with his obscene experiments at creating monstrous human/other animal hybrids. Also features the fantastic Bela Lugosi and “The Panther Woman”. This is a classic horror film that is rarely screened and Grand Illusion has it in an archival 35mm print. Totally worth seeing.

Every week when I type the phrase “Midnight at Egyptian, I find the old Maria Muldaur song “Midnight at the Oasis” running through my head, a random bit of exceptionally trivial trivia I’m sharing just because I honestly can’t think of a thing to say about Army of Darkness that hasn’t been said before and it’s this week’s Egyptian Theater midnight film.

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