Archive for the ‘film’ Category

Upcoming at SIFF – The Films of Alan Rudolph

It’s just about time for the Seattle International Film Festival where you can see nearly countless films over the course of three weeks. But did you know that SIFF Cinema offers unique film experiences throughout the year? Well, yes, you probably did, but hey, wasn’t that a semi-catchy intro?

This coming weekend, April 23-25th, SIFF Cinema is showing the films of Alan Rudolph, including the Seattle-filmed picture Trouble in Mind. Alan will be in Seattle to introduce the first film in the series personally. More details after the jump.

Weekend Film Agenda April 16

If you’ve ever looked at one of those “Free Tibet” bumperstickers and wondered what that was all about, filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have some answers for you in The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom, playing at SIFF Cinema. Fifty years ago, China took over Tibet. The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, has spent most of his life in exile from Tibet and has been trying to find a peaceful method to restore Tibet’s autonomy if not its freedom. Many young Tibetans now question his strategy, seeking a more active solution, one that calls for true independence. The filmmakers followed the Dalai Lama for a year to examine these issues up close, presenting a variety of experiences including protests, marches, the Olympics in Beijing and the breakdown of talks with the Chinese government. Sarin and Sonam will be on hand for discussion after screenings on the 16th, 17th and 18th.

NW Film Forum carries over Werner Herzog’s My Son, My Son, What Have You Done?, based on a real life case of a man who took an acting role way too far by murdering his mother and presents the Seattle premiere of Barking Water, a film by Native American filmmaker Sterlin Harjo in which Frankie and Irene visit the history of their long years together as they travel down Oklahoma roads to reveal their relationship in all of its important ways. An official Sundance selection in 2009, Barking Water also won the Worldfest Bronze Remi Award for Creative Excellence.

Also at NWFF:

April 17 see the first US screening in 20 years of Madchen in Uniform, the 1958 film in which the incomparable Romy Schneider plays a boarding school teenager who falls for her teacher (Lilli Palmer), touching off a passionate affair that leads to tragedy. 7:00 pm

Also on April 17: The DVD release of The Mountain Goats: Life of the World to Come, a documentary about Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle’s return to Pomona College to perform selections from his concept album as a solo artist and a part of a duet. To celebrate <a href=""World Record Store Day, the DVD will be for sale on April 17 only. As a bonus, door prizes being raffled off at the screening include a poster and a copy of the DVD, both signed by John Darnielle. 9:30 pm

April 18: The Sunday Masters series at NWFF continues with Meeting Andrei Tarkovsky: a documentary about the enduring influence and importance of Tarkovsky’s contributions to the medium of film. Director Dmitry Trakovsky will be in attendance for further discussion.

The Grand Illusion continues their tribute to the Swinging Sixties with Michaelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up, a spectacular suspense in which David Hemmings plays a photographer named Thomas who encounters a mysterious woman named Jane (Vanessa Redgrave) in a park. Later as he is developing his photos from the park, he sees what looks like a murder taking place in the background of his shots. As he blows up the negatives, he discovers more and more pieces of the puzzle. Called a “Mod masterpiece” by critic Andrew Sarris, Blow Up stands on its own merits as a movie but has some extra appeal to trivia buffs: The Yardbirds (with both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page) perform “Stroll On” in one scene and Michael Palin of Monty Python can be spotted in a nightclub scene.

Central Cinema presents a FREE SCREENING (limited to the first 120 people only, so even though the film starts at 10:00 you’ll want to be there when doors open at 9:30) of Animal House, still as funny as ever and with live R&B music by The Witness.

Saturday at Central Cinema: Demolition Man the amazingly entertaining (for a film that doesn’t really make sense) movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock. Enliven your evening by discussing with your friends whether this is the worst movie choice these actors each made or if their other films are even worse. 7:00 pm.

At 10 pm on Saturday (and at 9:30 on, uh, 4/20), see the comic duo’s first joint film in a quarter of a century: Cheech and Chong’s Hey Watch This.

Midnight at the Egyptian: Oldboy, winner of 5 South Korean Academy Awards and the 2004 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize. A man is released after 15 years of imprisonment to discover his wife has been murdered and the police are searching for him. As if that’s not enough, he also gets a call from a mysterious stranger who demands that he determine the stranger’s identity or be killed.

2010 Langston Hughes Film Festival opens April 17

One of my favorite films at last year’s SIFF was Nurse. Fighter. Boy, a movie which I think deserved a lot more attention than it got. I’m thrilled that it’s getting another screening in front of Seattle audiences – this time as the opening night film at the 2010 Langston Hughes African American Film Festival. The festival is partnering with the Northwest Sickle Cell Collaborative and their Metropolitan Seattle Sickle Cell Task Force to present this movie, and donating $5 of each Opening Night ticket sold to the task force.

Nurse.Fighter.Boy at Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

Nurse.Fighter.Boy is a story of love and hope that breaks your heart and mends it all at once. The nurse of the title is Jude, a single mother who is struggling with Sickle Cell Anemia. The boy is her son Ciel who spins dreams from music to support his mother. Silence is a boxer past his prime fighting illegally to survive; when a late night brawl sends him to the hospital, his life becomes tightly tied to Jude and Ciel. With outstanding cinematography, excellent acting by the cast, an engrossing story and one of the best movie soundtracks ever recorded, Nurse. Fighter. Boy is not to be missed. Filmmaker Charles Officer will attend the screening.

The closing night film on April 25 is Still Bill, a documentary about Bill Withers (“Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Lean on Me”, “Lovely Day”, “Just the Two of Us”) whose soulful delivery and warm, charismatic nature have made him a soul legend.

In between the two, the festival screens a variety of films from around the world; see the website for scheduled screenings, locations, and advance tickets.

Weekend Film Agenda April 9

When a movie has Werner Herzog as a director and David Lynch as an executive producer, you know it’s going to be more than a little odd. In My Son, My Son, What Have You Done, the weirdness is only just getting started as a San Diego police officer (William DaFoe) is called to the scene after an actor (Michael Shannon) takes his role in Sophocles’ Oresteia a bit too seriously and murders his mother with a sword. Chloë Sevigny and Udo Kier have supporting roles. At NW Film Forum .

Friday only at NWFF: A retrospective of works by German painter and filmmaker Oskar Fischinger whose abstract animations made from the 1920s through the 1940s has had a lingering effect on the motion graphics of film. Optical Poetry features a series of Fischinger’s works and a 5mm cinemscope composite film recreating Fischinger’s multiple-projection performances, R-1, A Form-Play.

Saturday at NWFF: Seeing Sound: The Films of Mary Ellen Blute. Blute made a series of films that translated music into choreographed shapes, lights, shadows and forms.

Sunday at NWFF: The Magnificent Tati, a documentary about Jacques Tati, French comic film master.

SIFF Cinema spends the weekend celebrating Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle. Filmed out of order (chronologically it’s 4, 1, 5, 2, and 3) over the period of nine years, the films are a five part art system too complicated to truly capture in capsule form. I recommend reading the Wikipedia article for an overview as this sort of advanced experimental filmmaking really isn’t for everyone.

The Grand Illusion goes back to the Sixties with 1965’s Bunny Lake Is Missing. In Otto Preminger’s psychological thriller, Ann Lake (Carol Lynley) is an unmarried American woman living in London whose four year old daughter goes missing from nursery school. When Police Inspector Newhouse (Laurence Olivier) arrives to investigate, the mystery becomes not just where is Bunny, but does Bunny even exist?

Late night at the Grand Illusion: Riot on the Sunset Strip, a 1967 teen exploitation flick in which the LAPD chief goes to war with those dirty hippies.

Midnight at the Egyptian: Everyone talks about David Bowie, but I’ve always thought Jennifer Connelly deserved more credit for her performance in Labyrinth. Sarah’s a mopey, self-absorbed teenager with a chip on her shoulder, but Connelly makes you like her even when she’s whining, “it’s not faaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir”.

Weekend Film Agenda April 2

Christina is an isolated young woman so desperate to meet people that she pretends to be devoutly religious for the opportunity to travel with religious groups in Lourdes, makes its Seattle premiere at NW Film Forum.

Friday only at NWFF: Ukranian Time Machine, a collection of personal, experimental and non-fiction stories captured on film by Naomi Uman who returned to the tiny village her family fled 100 years earlier.

Saturday only at NWFF: Innocence Lost, a 1970 film unavailable on DVD in which a cute young inmate learns the hard way what it takes to survive prison.

At SIFF Cinema, 1947’s Brighton Rock, a thriller based on a Graham Greene novel that proves that noir exists even on a sunny beach as Fred Hale heads to a seaside resort town for a newspaper promo campaign with a sociopathic gangster on his trail.

Some films simply entertain and there’s nothing wrong with that but some films change the world. When it’s for the better, it’s worth respecting. Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives is one of those films that fits that latter category; originally released in 1978, Word is Out was groundbreaking. Twenty-six people, ranging from 18 to 77, from all over the US and living in all sorts of circumstances speak openly of their experiences as gay people when simply admitting to being gay was an act of courage. At the Grand Illusion.

Central Cinema pays tribute to the late Corey Haim with his best-known film, the incomparable Lost Boys. You know how sometimes you’ll watch some movie that seemed like the Best Movie Ever years earlier when you first saw it and find yourself wondering how you could’ve ever liked something so horrible? This will not happen to you with Lost Boys Okay, yeah, there are some dated pop culture references in it, but, hey, that happens. Joel Schumacher was smart enough to make the Molly Ringwald poster in Corey Haim’s bedroom a minor prop and, really, you didn’t like this movie for the fashions and hairstyles. Lost Boys remains a fine example of how comedy-horror can be done right and Haim does a great job here. At 7 pm nightly through the 7th.

Also at Central Cinema, 9:30 nightly through the 7th: the inexplicably popular Donnie Darko. You either love DD or you don’t; of course, you’ll never know which camp you fit into if you don’t ever see it.

Midnight at the Egyptian: SIFF Golden Space Needle winning Black Dynamite, an affectionate spoof of 70s Blaxploitation films.

Weekend Film Agenda March 26

Save the Date now for NW Film Forum‘s Annual Gala, taking place this year on May 6.

In the meantime, head over to NWFF this weekend for too, “an ecstatic interplay of live and recorded movement by dancers Amy O’Neal and Ellie Sandstrom”. choreographed and directed by O’Neal. The two interact with strangers, friends, acquaintances, and family in a work that explores the challenge of human contact in this complicated modern technological age. Friday and Saturday.

Sunday at NWFF begins a five day celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pere Portabella’s Warsaw Bridge, a loosely plotted and beautifully filmed movie with an exquisitely surreal touch as delightful to the senses as it is challenging to the intellect.

Veit Harlan’s name is not as well known today as Leni Riefenstahl’s, but his career stands as a testament to the power of film – after World War II he became the only artist from the Nazi era to be charged with war crimes for his anti-Semetic propaganda. German director Felix Moeller uses archival footage, film excerpts and home movies to examine World War II film history and Harlan’s notorious role in it, particularly the creation of his infamous work “Jew Süss” made on behalf of the Nazi regime meant to fan the flames of hatred and oppression. Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Süss also examines how Harlan’s family has been affected over the years by his notoriety. At SIFF Cinema in association with the Seattle Jewish Film Festival.

One of Marlon Brando’s best known–and perhaps best–roles is Paul, an American roaming the streets of Paris while he comes to terms with his wife’s suicide in Last Tango in Paris, at the Grand Illusion. He begins a strange affair with a woman (Maria Schneider) he meets one day while apartment hunting; when Paul decides he wants more from their encounters than anonymous trysts, tragedy ensues. The Grand Illusion is screening director Bernardo Bertolucci’s X-rated uncut version.

Late night at the Grand Illusion: Gone with the Pope in which four ex-cons travel to Rome to kidnap the Pope and hold him for ransom for a dollar from every Catholic in the world. Director Duke Mitchell died before the film was complete and it was lost to time until Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski of Grindhouse Releasing discovered the forgotten footage and spent 15 years piecing it together to complete the film.

The truth about Purple Rain is that it’s an awful movie, really. This semi-autobiographical vanity piece about “The Kid”, a Minneapolis musician played by the artist who at the time had only ever been known as Prince is a mess that might’ve fallen through the cracks of time to be nothing more than a bit of rock historical trivia if it weren’t for the one thing about it that is genuinely valuable – the music. Twenty-six years later, “When Doves Cry” is still as fresh and exciting as it was when it was first released and the rest of the soundtrack is so good it elevates Purple Rain into a fascinating slice of the times. Starts Friday at Central Cinema, concluding Thursday, April with a sing-a-long screening.

Fans of The Dude get excited: The Big Lebowski is The Egyptian Theater‘s Midnight Movie this weekend.

It doesn’t open wide until April 9th but Seattle deservedly gets an early shot at The Runaways biopic, on screen at the Regal Meridian, the Guild 45th, Lincoln Square Cinema, Regal Thornton Place, and AMC Southcenter.

Silent Movie Monday: Tabu

Having just spent a whole day watching movies doesn’t mean I don’t want to see more, especially when it’s time for another Silent Movie Monday at the Paramount.

This Monday’s film is F.W. Murnau’s final work, Tabu: A Story of the South Seas, filmed in collaboration with pioneering documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty.

The romantic tale of the love of “a sun-bronzed Tahitian fisherman for a young woman whose body has been consecrated to the gods, rendering her tabu for mortal men”, Tabu depicts young lovers Matahi and Reri as they fall in love, are tested by Reri’s selection as maid to the god (it is death to even look at her in lust), and escape the island by canoe only to meet further trouble and woe as they attempt to live in “civilization”.

I survived 13 hours at SIFF

Officially, it was the 12 Hour Movie Marathon, but since I’m constitutionally incapable of turning down a free meal, I was at SIFF Cinema at 9:00 am sharp to enjoy a delicious breakfast courtesy of Seasonal Goods Catering. After tasty scrambled eggs, the best scones I’ve had in a long, long time, fresh fruit and fruit juice, I got up to get an equally tasty latte from Magna Cum Latte and mock SIFF Programming Manager Beth Barrett for showing up with an overnight bag with comfy shoes, a pillow and a blanket. Movie fans are familiar with the concept of foreshadowing, so you won’t be surprised that later on I found myself thinking, “You know, I should’ve brought a pillow and a blanket myself.”

That I didn’t is my sole regret about the Movie Marathon which was otherwise such an excellent time that I’m already planning to be there next year.

When I told people that I was going to the marathon, they all had the same two questions: “How are you going to keep your butt from going numb?” and “How are you ever going to sit through 12 hours of film?”

The first one was answered by simply getting up and walking around during the breaks between movies. As for the second, well, it’s not entirely unknown for me to spend half a day watching movies, I just don’t usually do it all in a row. Well, except during the festival when I spend hours and hours watching movies…but even then it’s not 12 hours in a row. I decided to keep notes on how the day went so I could report back afterwards. Times are approximate because I kept forgetting to check.

10:00 am Director and SIFF co-founder Dan Ireland greets the audience and introduces the first film of the day, which happens to be his first film, The Whole Wide World. Considering my long-standing irrational dislike of Renee Zellwegger, of all the films on the day’s schedule, this was the one I was least looking forward to seeing. As it happened, this was the one I most enjoyed. Zellwegger puts in a pitch-perfect performance as Novalyne Price Ellis, a schoolteacher and aspiring writer who falls in love with pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard (played wonderfully by Vincent D’Onofrio), the creator of Conan the Barbarian. It was a perfect film to start the day, an engaging story of love and what it takes to find one’s voice.

Noon: Lunch boxes are brought out. I’d actually contemplated not buying the pre-paid meals by Madres Kitchen and simply subsisting on snacks from the concession stand but it was nice to have a real meal to accompany the second movie, Gus Van Sant’s To Die For, a movie I hadn’t seen at the time of its 1995 release because at the time I had an irrational dislike of Nicole Kidman whom I’ve grown to admire quite a bit. (Maybe the same will happen with Zellwegger). A black comedy with a serious streak, To Die For adapts a novel inspired by the real life Pamela Smart case into a clever look at just how far some people will go to pursue their dreams, no matter how unhealthy they are.

2:00 pm Is anyone getting bored yet? I’m not. I look around and no one else seems to be. It’s good to have some variety in programming and what could be more different from the first two films than The Road Warrior, the second of the “Mad Max” movies that made Mel Gibson a household name long before the public ever came to suspect that he might not just be crazy on film. Gibson is serviceable in a not particularly challenging anti-hero role in the post-apocalypse dystopia so popular in 80s films, but the movie which once seemed SO COOL to me hasn’t aged well and is now merely an entertaining trifle. It does make for a nice little break, though, as next up is another heavy movie.

4:00 pm Blood Simple, the Coen Brothers debut, stars the always charismatic Frances McDormand as the cheating wife of an oily Texas bar owner who hires a slimy private eye to spy on her and the bartender with whom she’s been cheating, setting off a tangled web of double crosses, triple crosses, mayhem and murder.

6:00 pm Even more twisted is Paul Verhoeven’s The Fourth Man in which a novelist begins an affair with a bewitching woman he eventually comes to believe is a witch, or at least a black widow, having married and murdered three previous husbands and now on the look out for the fourth. At this point I wish both that I had a blanket and that this wasn’t the fifth of six movies. I’d seen Road Warrior years ago but none of the others. I might’ve never seen them otherwise but I’ve enjoyed them all so much. That’s the great thing about movie festivals, after all; you get a chance to discover movies you’d otherwise maybe never see.

8:00 pm The final film of the day brings us back to Seattle with Trouble in Mind, a 1985 neo-noir filmed in Seattle–called “Rain City” in the film–starring Kris Kristofferson, Keith Carradine, Lori Singer and Genevieve Bujold. Writer/director Alan Randolph graciously stopped by to introduce the film. Ex-con and ex-cop Kristofferson gets out of jail and heads to “Rain City” to hook up with ex-girlfriend Bujold, who has taken a semi-maternal interest in Singer, new in town along with her low-rent hood boyfriend Carradine. As Carradine becomes involved in a local jewelry theft ring which eventually gets him in trouble with local crime lord Divine (in a rare non-drag performance), Kristofferson becomes involved with Singer and a series of sub-plots twist and turn into they all become one.

It’s interesting to leave Queen Anne and head downtown after being reminded of how it looked 25 years ago.

Last year’s marathon was 24 hours long and some of this year’s audience members hoped that next year’s would return to that length. I’m torn. I could’ve gone for another film or two, but I’m not sure I could stay awake for 24 hours and having fallen asleep in movie seats before, I know that they don’t make the greatest bed. Anyway, it’s always better to leave ’em wanting more than to give them too much and now I’m even more excited for the upcoming festival than ever.

Weekend Film Agenda March 19

Support great films by seeing great films: the SIFF 12 hour movie marathon happens this Sunday, March 21 from 10 am to 10 pm. Ticket prices start at $100 for the catered breakfast plus film package and increase in price for special deals that include such luxuries as your own assigned seat, lunch and dinner, pillows and more. The six films in the marathon are The Whole Wide World, To Die For, The Road Warrior, Blood Simple, The Fourth Man and Trouble in Mind. SIFF co-founder Dan Ireland will be on hand to introduce the exclusive directors cut of his film The Whole Wide World and Alan Randolph will be there to present his Seattle-based film Trouble in Mind. Complimentary Top Pot Donuts and espresso service by Magna Cum Latte add to the experience and you’ll be able to purchase premium concessions, fruits and a variety of beverages while you take in hours and hours of film in the company of people who love movies just as much as you do.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been a popular tale ever since its release in 1865 and in the many years since then, a substantial number of writers and other artists have used the story Carroll originally created to entertain three little girls out for a boat ride as a source of inspiration for their own imagination. There have been a number of film adaptations of the novel – Tim Burton’s new version is filling cineplex screens all around the world even as I type – but one of the most interesting of them all is Czech surrealist Jan Švankmajer’s 1988 film called Alice (Neco z Alenky). Svankmajer masterfully succeeds at staying true both to Carroll’s vision and his own. Using a blend of live action and stop-motion animation, he presents the key events of the novel, plus a few wholly original scenes, in a manner that is sometimes disturbing and often disorienting. Is any of this really happening? Did Alice’s stuffed rabbit really come to life and lead her to a fantastic place where death and decay are the starting points for new creations (this is not Walt Disney’s Alice) or is this all the grotesque dream of an overly imaginative child? Alice (Neco z Alenky) starts Friday at The Grand Illusion.

Late night at the Grand Illusion: Bud Townsend’s 1976 twisting of the same story: Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Fantasy. Previously released in “R”, “X” and “XXX” versions, it’s being shown here in the triple X cut so no one under 18 will be admitted. Like a lot of the “adult” movies of its day, Alice‘s action will seem more quaint than shocking to generations who cut their teeth on the home video market or the internet, but it’s still a fun film. Here, Alice is a friendly librarian whose more than a little bit prudish, at least until a rabbit shows her the way to Wonderland where the locals show her the way to wonderland, if you know what I mean. Friday and Saturday night at 11.

Winner of the 2009 SILVERDOCS Grand Jury Prize for best US Documentary Feature, October Country is the debut film by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher whose beautifully shot documentary about the Mosher family in upstate New York invites the audience into lives that are anything but beautiful as they struggle with worries about money, worries about jobs, and worries that as each generation repeats the same mistakes of the previous, none of them will be able to transcend the abuse and trauma that mark their timeo n earth. Starts Friday Northwest Film Forum.

Saturday night at NWFF: Let’s Do It, a program of short films made by sex workers around the world to benefit sex workers around the world. Film presentations are followed by a panel discussion featuring Miss Indigo Blue (Academy of Burlesque), billie rain (dual power infamy) Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (Author of So Many Ways To Sleep Badly), local writer and sex worker Sophia J. Russel, Annie Oakley and other special guests.

Central Cinema pays tribute to Alfred Hitchcock with two of his best films: The Hitchcock O’s are Vertigo and Psycho.

Midnight at The Egyptian: One of the most beloved (and most misquotes) movie romances of all time, Casablanca</em..

Thursday Night 2 for 1 at the SJFF

The Seattle Jewish Film Festival continues this week with a bunch of great films. Three of them screen Thursday night and to encourage you to come out, the SJFF is offering you a 2 for 1 deal. Just call the ticket hotline at 206.324.9996 or go to the box office (open 30 minutes prior to all screenings) and say “Get Reel, Is-reel” and you’ll be able to buy two tickets for the price of one.

It’s an excellent deal and you have three excellent movie choices:

Against the Tide, directed by Richard M. Trank and narrated by Dustin Hoffman, is called “a scathing indictment of US indifference to the Holocaust”. Through a never before seen 1977 interview, Peter Bergson, who challenged the isolationism of the Roosevelt administration and American Jewish organizations, provides a first-hand account of his success in attracting the support of non-Jewish congressmen and Hollywood personalities to his cause while establishment leaders resisted action against the Nazis. (3:30 pm)

Michael Verhoeven will be on hand at the screening of his Human Failure to receive SJFF’s 1st Reel Difference Award. Human Failure is an examination of the Third Reich’s tax officials’ expropriation of assets and property – everything from bank accounts to the shirts off their backs – of Jewish citizens who were then expelled or sent to their deaths. (5:30 pm)

Rabbi Firer: A Reason to Question, directed by Amit Goren, is a look at Rabbi Elimelech Firer, “a 54-year-old Orthodox Jew self-educated in medicine” who helps patients “navigate their way through the tangled web of treatment.” Such is his influence that he can “change a patient’s care with a single phone call, often to world-renowned experts in their fields.” (7:00 pm)

All three films play at Cinerama; check out the SJFF site for more details.

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