March 7th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
You know I’m not going to resist a titular pun, but maybe you didn’t see that one coming? I’m back, after letting you loose with Woody Allen for a while. You certainly didn’t need me to tell you to go see films from his most verdant and broadest ranging decade. And in 35mm no less!
I really want to talk to you about COUSIN JULES. What an absolutely exquisite gem of a film. A day in the life of a French backsmith and his wife. While watching the film, I was reminded of the children’s story of City Mouse and Country Mouse. The film doesn’t hit you over the head with the thematic virtues of the quiet peasant’s life like that old fable. Instead, it gives you a quiet ode to rural living, filmed in the aftermath of the French New Wave and the anti-materialist late 60s films of Jean-Luc Goddard.
This film is so exquisitely shot, it furthers my belief that whatever they were doing with the photochemical process in the 70s still makes it the greatest decade for cinema. This pastoral poem has all the fly-on-the-wall, day-in-the-life authenticity of the best cinema verite. With hardly a word uttered the whole film, to make a clumsy analogue to today’s post-modern filmmaking, this is OG mumblecore. There is no conflict or plot, besides the most rudimentary theme of man vs. nature, or going about your daily business to survive.
From the title, I was expecting something along the lines of the 70s Quebecois gem MON ONCLE ANTOINE, which just so happens to have come out the same year (1971). I don’t think that Cousin Jules from the title is meant to be someone specific’s cousin diagetic to the film, but an everyman. He’s your Cousin Jules too, and somewhere in the French countryside he’s still pulling away at his billows and carving another slice of bread.
Thank you, Cinema Guild, for distributing this missing treasure at last.
—cousin jules, he’s no fool, dan
February 1st, 2014 § Leave a Comment
My gosh my goodness, what a well-told story of someone’s life. The ultimate of tragedies. This film is a must see documentary, not just from a music interest or gay interest standpoint, but because it is one of the most full-fledged stories of “before their time” genius I have ever seen.
Jobriath was a genius of a composer and performer. I especially liked the Cole Berlin persona of his later years, deftly tickling the ivories with the quaintest and most delightful of tunes. I think he could have been a great Broadway musical writer. So sad.
His dismissal at the time of being wrapped up and delivered as a star feels so ironic living in a post-American Idol America, though some of the same dances with being too outwardly gay still factor today (even on that show). Though again, this film transcends just being a story about the first openly gay rock star, which it could have easily been in the hands of a less talented filmmaker. The film has just the right amount of reveals, plot twists, and act breaks you would expect if it was a narrative film instead of a documentary.
And the film’s even got a print version Stranger Suggests this week! See it Saturday night and I’ll be the one projecting it for your edification.
—go Hawks, dan
January 25th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
You can do yourself a favor and see TOKYO WAKA this week. Seriously. It’s a damn fine picture and I don’t mind telling you why.
In a happy trend, documentaries are returning more to their cinema verite roots. Why tell when you can show? Isn’t the true cinematic power of film its ability to show 24 pictures a second, pictures being worth a thousand words? This film focuses on crows, of course, but it happens to capture the essence of Tokyo at the same time. The reverence shown to crows by Japanese people is explored through religious symbolism and cultural signifiers, and is elegantly and eloquently paced throughout the film. There is the same repetition and reprisal of themes spaced so as to truly create a poem of a movie. A fine film to watch while the dry, grey winter air makes one melancholy in our own city.
In stark contrast to the quiet stoicism of TOKYO WAKA stands RAZE, weekend late night and around for the full week. Fans of the classic grindhouse, Roger Corman-era “women in prison” movies and the new school horror, Eli Roth-era “torture porn” movies will be happy to see the two married together for bare-knuckled fights to the death. Speaking of GRINDHOUSE, in its recent Tarantino incarnation, Zoe Bell from DEATH PROOF is the star of the film. One of my personal favorite female genre stars, Rachel Nichols, co-headlines the bill.
We’ve added some more tasty treats to the calendar, be sure you scroll the whole main page!
—WAKA WAKA WAKA, Fozzie Bear, dan
January 18th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
I wish I could have seen Evangelion last week. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to watch it ahead of time: so no blog.
However, I was able to get my grubby mitts on BEYOND OUTRAGE, a remarkable film directed by and featuring Takeshi Kitano, whom I recognized as being the teacher from BATTLE ROYALE. But of course, he’s so much more than that to the right person. GI volunteer Edwin told me he’s an respected auteur in Japanese cinema, so I’m sure we’ll have some stalwart fans out for this one.
As to the film itself: though it was a sequel, I didn’t feel lost or left behind by not having seen the first one. It felt like a very natural place to start a yakuza film, with an absolutely great opening shot. Handled with a pacing more in line with the Godfather films, this film is a refreshing throwback to old school gangster films, discarding the hyperkinectic editing and twists and turns of so many films of late. Sparsely scored, this film lets ambient sound and dialogue take center stage, sonically speaking. It helps create a gritty atmosphere, perfectly suited to the exquisitely framed shots.
We’ve got so many other great Japanese films on this calendar, it’s crazy! Another dose of anime with ANOHANA THE MOVIE and a poetic documentary about crows, TOKYO WAKA.
And don’t forget, Friday and Saturday nights we’ve got special screenings of one of the best music docs of 2013, THE PUNK SINGER. Perfect storytelling and incredibly intimate, THE PUNK SINGER hits you hard and fast as one of BIKINI KILL’s seminal songs. A must see, especially for PNW natives.
—next week, Zoe Bell, dan
January 4th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
Welcome to 2014. I’m back after December off. Didn’t really have any new thoughts to share on IAWL and I was knee deep in some other stuff. But guess what? I’m here now, and we’ve got two very GI-worthy films to ring in the new year.
First off, the sequel in spirit (or at the very least, titularly similar) to last year’s GI hit WRONG. That’s right, none other than WRONG COPS. Not since RENO 911 have cops been painted in such a selfish, boneheaded, and hilarious way by an ensemble cast of funnymen (including my boy Eric Wareheim!). It’s not the laugh-a-minute fast-paced antics of that crew, but a motley crew slightly more corrupt and even less concerned with the need to perform as proper officers of the law. Not as surreal as WRONG or RUBBER, Quentin Dupieux’s latest film is simultaneously weirder and more relatable. And just when you were feeling down about Steve Little going away with EASTBOUND AND DOWN now off the air, here he pops back up to make you love him all over again! At least, I love him! He and Eric Judor from WRONG both feature in this film. Perhaps the greatest pleasure is Marilyn Manson’s sublime supporting role.
Comin’ on up in the late night slot for the next two weeks: the film HERE COMES THE DEVIL. I didn’t see it when it was in SIFF 2013, but I’m sure as hell glad I saw it now. Another one of the great 70s horror/thriller homages I’ve seen come out in recent years, fans of Ti West’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL will find a lot to like here. The film has some aesthetic touches that link it firmly in a 70s milieu, such as sudden zooms on key revealing details (making me think of horror/thrillers like those of Argento or perhaps Roeg’s DON’T LOOK NOW). Not full of gotcha twists or jump scares, this is how I like my horror. I just you could go see the new PARANORMAL ACTIVITY sequel, but if you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a more acquired taste than that.
Sorry we don’t have THE THIN MAN this week, blame that crazy winter they’ve got going on on the east coast right now. Hard to imagine with that sunny day we just had. I’ll be seeing you next week with EVANGELION 3.0, I loved the first two and I’m stoked!
—sunny day, chasing the clouds away, dan
November 23rd, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Again, another fast and quick week. You don’t need me to tell you you have to see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, especially since we’ve got a new 35mm print.
Let me just tell you a little story about when I saw this director’s cut as a young boy: it was scary. Remember, the blockbuster film that put Spielberg on the map right before this film? JAWS. He doesn’t lose it with this film, and I still remember his 2005 WAR OF THE WORLDS as being pretty damn good (as far as I was concerned, minus a little too much screeching from Miss Fanning). Spielberg has long been giving us incredible sci-fi, and it all started here. Can’t have those incredible dramatic tensions in WORLDS without the lights outside and the whole house shaking in ENCOUNTERS. And it was just plain weird, making the Devil’s Tower in mashed potatoes. That was something a kid could relate to!
I think JAWS is incredible (and the little seen DUEL even better), but ENCOUNTERS is the film where Spielberg really starts to show himself as an auteur and preludes his criminally underappreciated sci-fi films of the last decade (A.I., WAR OF THE WORLDS, MINORITY REPORT). Yes, his immediate sci-fi success following ENCOUNTERS is E.T., and his sci-fi legacy is undoubted, but there is something very compelling about ENCOUNTERS. I need to see it again…guess I will, I’m slinging reels tomorrow night!
—ready for Malick, dan
November 15th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I don’t have to really say much here, do I? We had some John Waters flicks a couple years back on 35mm, and that’s when I discovered the magic of Divine. Talk about a truly magnetic screen personality! There’s lots to love and enjoy here, this superb doc having just won here in town at SLGFF. If you didn’t catch it, please do!
I’m sorry, been a bit ill of late and don’t have the energy to go crazy here. Luckily Divine is all the crazy you need and deserve, and we got it at the GI this week. Plus, FEMALE TROUBLE in 35mm! Wonderful!
—I’ve divined your future, it’s got Divine, dan
November 9th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Goddamn what a beautiful movie! This film transcends what could be a very typical little indie film. Two brothers looking out for each other against the world. A hit and run that leaves a young boy dead, and our protagonists are on the lam. Heard this story before? Sure, I have too. But the Polsky brothers have wrought such an exquisite little rendering of the tale that this indie gem deserves to be treasured. Two reasons this film not only breaks away from the pack but laps them: 1) Mike Smith’s extraordinary charcoal style rendering of Emile’s made up stories, 2) the performances so masterfully subdued and subtle, they stand out for all these actors.
First, the animation. Mike Smith has wrought some of the best animation I have seen in recent years, and its nestled inside a longer live action film where I’m sure it is rarely the focal point. Getting Smith on board turned out to be a coup for the Polsky brothers, because I can see the animated sequences being very jarring and distracting in the wrong hands. The charcoal style perfectly encapsulates the feeling of all the grey, grey skies filmed in this movie. And part of the time those grey skies are filtering through the curtains of the titular motels, furthering the thematic and chromatic similarities between the two.
Second, the performances. Hirsch and Dorff are so damn good I was tearing up by the end of the film. The archetypical response is to liken them to Lennie and George from OF MICE AND MEN, but I have to mention them because the comparison rings very true to me as I sit here reflecting on the film. I first really noticed Dorff as star of Sofia Coppola’s SOMEWHERE, and I wasn’t impressed with that film or that performance. A complete 180 here for me with Dorff! We already know Hirsch is a great actor, but his chemistry with the entire ensemble is crazy. Dakota Fanning as an adult here (Dorff was her younger’s sis Elle’s dad in SOMEWHERE) has come back around to being a great actress again, turning the acting dial back down from where it was set a few years back when she was in her tweens (the Amy Poehler SNL skit days) and coming into her own. And throw in a great few minutes from Kris Kristofferson and you’ve got yourself a helluva flick!
THE VISITOR continues for more craziness unearthed by our friends at Drafthouse films.
—getting ready for more Divine, dan
November 1st, 2013 § Leave a Comment
We seem to have music documentaries coming out of left field so often perhaps we should just shift the whole field. I don’t know if that visual metaphor worked for anyone, I’m still working through the ramifications myself. What we the new left of field be? And why is nothing every right of field?
Anywho, another film about someone you’ve probably never heard of (and I hadn’t heard of) but you need to know about. I’m sure anyone with half a brain realizes that popular music is often not written by those performing it, but it is often hard to know who is the person behind the music. And when you think about some of the biggest hits of the 50s and 60s being sung by a whole slew of different performers you’d probably not make the jump that the same person wrote “This Magic Moment,” “Teenager In Love,” and “Save The Last Dance For Me.” Well, he did. Him being the eponymous Doc Pomus nee Jerome Felder.
The bigger and more human story the film tells is about all the musicians’ lives he touched and songwriters he mentored (including the recently departed Lou Reed, who appears in the film). It’s obvious that everyone interviewed in the film loved the man, and where documentary credit sequences usually feature something funny, this film opts to tug at your heartstrings with little bits of everyone singing their favorite songs he wrote. It’s hard to get through the story of who “Save The Last Dance For Me” came about without getting a little misty eyed. What a romantic!
Speaking of left field, there’s another moldy goldie that Drafthouse Films has dusted off and is giving the ol’ restoration and distribution treatment: THE VISITOR. This is a strange film, but it’s not the laugh-out-loud-so-bad-it’s-good of MIAMI CONNECTION. It’s a bizarre hodgepodge of creepy children with mystical powers and destinies (think THE OMEN) and aliens among us who look human and have secret agendas (think THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH). The strangest thing is, it’s not a empirically bad film: just really, really odd. It’s like the filmmakers just wanted to combine all their favorite types of movies and, not stopping at that, put their favorite directors in it as well (John Huston and Sam Peckinpah). A film that truly has to be seen to be believed.
—stay the course faithful film geeks, dan
October 25th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Oh boy oh boy, Goblin was a hell of a good show. I saw GI folks, Scarecrow folks, SIFF folks, all breeds of the Seattle cinephile cognoscenti. And we were there to witness as the greatest of Italian synth proggers visited Seattle for the first time ever. But it was not the first time Goblin’s blend of the beautiful and the eerie graced the eardrums of the rabid horror and film buffs present one week ago, and it won’t be the last.
How do I mean? Why at the very least we have not one but two nights of 35mm Goblin and Argento goodness with DEEP RED, playing Mon the 28th and Tue the 29th here at the GI. More fortuitous timing I can’t imagine, and all y’all who were there with me at Neumos last Friday best come in and keep the Goblin goodness pelting your ears while Argento’s crimson pelts your eyes.
But of course, it’s not all roses. The egg that got cracked to make this omelet was the loss of MANIAC COP 1 + 2, and a sorrowful loss it is. I’m considering drowning my sorrow in Bruce this evening at the Cinerama.
What else is playing this week(end)? Only one of my favorite horror movies of all time, with my favorite resurrection scene of all time. If you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, my god see HELLRAISER now! 35mm, whatever better time to try. And if you enjoy, watch NIGHTBREED, another film by Clive Barker from around the same time that I am also quite fond of. It stars David Cronenberg for goodness sake!
Enough about NIGHTBREED, more about HELLRAISER. This film belongs in a very particular canon of incredible 80s horror, looking to other horror fiction written by British writers (particularly in comic books). I would place HELLRAISER among the Swamp Thing run of Alan Moore and Sandman by Neil Gaiman as touching something just outside of the normal everyday modern world. In fact, Alan Moore’s John Constantine (first appearing in Swamp Thing) character’s long-running HELLBLAZER serious shares not a dissimilar title, no?
Anyway, we’ve got two incredible prints to show you this week. And you’ve got two days a piece to watch them. So do it now! These are two of the greats.
If you need something more comedic, THE VCR THAT DRIPPED BLOOD II on Wed the 30th promises to great time. I loved it last year. The Monster Show, The Monster Show!
—playing The Walking Dead game series, great way to spend October, dan