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July 28th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Not too long very long ago (by any stretch of the imagination) we showed “Dogtooth” at the Grand Illusion, and it was fabulous. I loved it beyond mere normal terms to reach near Herculean levels of Greek admiration. Disheartened and dismayed that it did not win the Oscar it was nominated for, I knew it’s director would have more greatness in store for us, accolades from the Academy be damned.

It begins and ends with a gymnast’s floor routine, just in time for London 2012! See the movie if you’ve got a patriotic bone in your body!

Fast forward to this year (that’s 2012, folks), and he’s at it again, this time with a slightly less in-your-face film, but one that packs more of a deep-rooted yet accessible dose of humanity layered just beneath its surreal surface. Its lesson of people always looking to replace loved ones with someone else with people literally pantomiming that very action gives a simultaneous layering of reality and surreality. While not as shocking or wildly inventive as “Dogtooth,” this film is in many ways a natural evolution for a filmmaker more mature and steady-handed it his delivery of truth in art. It in many ways reminds me of Lars von Trier’s middle period (later in his Dogme 95 period, I.E. “The Idiots” and “Dancer in the Dark”), showing a director growing up fast but also leaving behind some things that may leave hardcore “Dogtooth” fans wanting. But as a “Dogtooth” fan, I’m happy he didn’t retread the same territory.

—no late nights, get some rest, dan

Come With Me Now, On A Journey Through Time And Space

July 20th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Yes, 50 years back we go to San Francisco.

Now, I’ve been reeling from Christopher Nolan’s incredible end to his Batman trilogy (yes, it is better than 2008’s “Dark Knight,” and anyone caring to argue in opposition I will be ready and willing to defend my stance), though 50 years ago another man drenched himself in darkness.

Granted, he’s the villain, not the hero. But he’s still drenched in darkness! You can feel the inky blackness!

In classic form, the killer/extortionist’s face is hidden and slowly revealed over the course of the film. But the open and pleasant face of leading man Glenn Ford inspires the trust and confidence of all in the film (and you as the viewer!). Not the brooding, revenge-obsessed cop taking the law into his owns hands of “The Big Heat,” this “G” man plays his role as an FBI agent with precision. The film is part thriller/part police procedural, and reminds me of some of Fincher’s best thrillers.

Another parallel that couldn’t be helped for me is “Magnum Force.” Crook versus cop in a San Francisco sports stadium? But this was first, and no comparisons are meant to slight any of the aforementioned films as “Experiment did it first,” hell this film came nearly thirty years after Hitchcock was mastering the suspense/thriller in “The 39 Steps” and “The Lady Vanishes.” However, the atmosphere of sexual danger is still a bit shocking in this film, made before the end of the Hays Code and the New Hollywood. There is a lot to look at here that was groundbreaking for its time, if still fully-obsessed with Hitchcock and the noir police and criminal dramas that influenced the film to its very core.

Now, this film can’t match the thrill ride of Nolan’s modern masterpiece, but it is still a beautiful homage to noir while stylistically predicting the future of thrillers. And as Nolan is one of today’s noir masters, perhaps you can sneak this film in this week, just at the GI.

—yes that was a Boosh reference, dan

GILDAMN Rita Hayworth is a Stone Cold Fox!

July 13th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

You heard it here first! Or maybe last, sometimes I just don’t believe all the hype surrounding certain screen goddesses until you see them in the real deal. Stills and publicity shots don’t do Ms. Hayworth justice, her sultry glances made me wonder if I hadn’t been born a generation or two late. Yowza!

Now I know where this song is from, and how it got so famous!

Rita’s inordinate sex appeal aside, I found this a wonderful film, simmering with the expatriate WWII era spirit of the “old lovers meet again” trope a-la “Casablanca,” and the comparison is meant with absolute pleasure and admiration. Glenn Ford may not be Humphrey Bogart, but the cast of humorous supporting characters matches near line-for-line the comic relief timing of the classic Moroccan based film, though here set a few years later post-war and on the other side of the Atlantic. Words fail to fully describe the beat for beat simplicity and understatement of this film, a slow boiler compared to “Casablanca’s” somewhat larger scale and temperament.

I shouldn’t just sit here comparing classics, remember this is only Glenn Ford week 2 of 3. Though he doesn’t steal the show in “Gilda” as much as in “The Big Heat” (he is only one of the “little friends,” after all), there are plenty of perfect line deliveries from our duty-torn hero. Tune in next week as well to see a decidedly more thrilling picture, “Experiment in Terror.”

You don’t have to wait until next week for compelling terror, however. Speaking of slow boilers, give late night feature “The Pact” a shot. Deftly combining horror and thriller, this film comprised of simpler special effect techniques and use of modern technology (without it being the “hit you over the head” use as a major plot device) make for a constantly unnerving film. Not rewriting the book on any major horror and thriller tropes, this film uses those tools and conventions with a knowing and steady hand to craft solid scares and an intriguing mystery. Sure, you can figure out the reveals before they happen, but in a post-Shyamalan world, we know how “gotcha!” twists can get out of control. Hell, the “Saw” movies made a franchise out of it! For those appreciating the more subtle, atmospheric approach (me!), watch “The Pact” for chrissakes!

Are there flickering flashlights? Then it’s a horror flick! Plus: Johnny Rico!

Oh, and as an added bonus this weekend, we bring you “Star Wars: Uncut,” projected for your viewing pleasure. One of many such weekend wonders in the next month or two, to be followed by another Scarecrow presented VHS special and the Alamo Drafthouse event I’m most looking forward to, “Computer Error: The Worst CGI in Movie History.” After you watch “The Dark Knight Rises,” summer movie season is over. Come to the Grand Illusion where the fun never ends!

—thunderstorms, whaaaaa? dan

The Big Heat Is On The Way (FINALLY!)

July 6th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

As summer seems to finally be kicking off in Seattle (about two weeks after the OFFICIAL announcement *ahem* solstice). At least we don’t have the heat waves of the rest of the country, things are still growing here. What’s growing? Apart from our verdant foliage, I’m taking about your love for the GI!

Remember last summer when when had a string of 35mm loveliness in the form of mostly 50s movies? Our run is slightly smaller this summer, but hey we’ve got a brand new print of Fritz Lang’s “The Big Heat!” This tasty little number features the early work of Lee Marvin as a crook so big (literally) he’s got the cops of his fair burg eating out of his hand, and even the big time mob boss is a bit afraid of him too. But not Glenn Ford! His performance is the true centerpiece of this film, as he goes from loving and devoted husband/father to an ex-cop taking the law into his own hands. This movie’s got simmering performances all over the place, from Gloria Grahame (Violet Bick to you “Wonderful Life” regulars) to Marlon Brando’s older sister Jocelyn. This noir masterpiece has got cops, criminals, dolls and dames. And it’s a new 35mm print! What are you waiting for, an invitation? You got it Mac!

Oh yeah, and Lee Marvin doesn’t play a nice guy, did I mention that?

If you love leading man Glenn Ford, we’ve got two more weeks of him coming up after this with “Gilda” and “Experiment in Terror.” Check out these 35mm prints and love us!

For differing fare, we’ve got friend of the GI and Stranger Genius Award Nominee Shaun Scott back with us for his new film “100% Off,” playing at 9pm Friday-Tuesday with in person appearances Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday.

And don’t forget late night holdover new cult classic “Beyond the Black Rainbow,” sure to tide over Cronenberg fans until he stops making biopics and gritty gangster dramas (I still love you David!).

—here but for the grace of dog, dan

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