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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


June 29th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I return to you now…

I believe I have said something to that effect before, but hey if Aaron Sorkin can recycle his words to great effect and acclaim, so can I. And don’t you dare say I’m already taking from Ian McKellen as Gandalf, because that would be tantamount to libel, dear internet reader!

Nevermind all the whys and hows (little things like SIFF 2012) as to my absence from this blog, but I know that hasn’t stopped y’all from dropping in on the good ol’ G of I these pasts few weeks. I may have not been able to touch fingers to keys but I was surely threading some incredible films of late. We’re talking 35mm prints of nearly lost 80s films (“Possession”) and new films that feel like rediscovered cult classics (“Beyond the Black Rainbow”). Where else are you going to see risky programming and classic noir all throughout the year than at Seattle’s longest continually running movie house?

As wonderful as the films of Studio Ghibli are playing across town at the Uptown, maybe it’s time to give a switch from trans-Pacific to trans-Atlantic classic animation with our presentation of “Fantastic Planet.” I recently discovered Messr. Rene Laloux a few years ago, and tracked down all the rare copies of his films that I could find (some of which you can only find at Scarecrow!). He directed only three features, all of which are astounding pieces of work that are some of the finest pieces of European animation of all time. Speaking of time, “Time Masters” is my favorite, a film touched by the great and recently departed Moebius, who provided design work and helped with the story for the film.

But that’s “Time Masters,” and this is “Fantastic Planet.” As a Czech co-production during the 70s, this film has all sorts of social and political themes boiling beneath the surface, as human-like beings are playthings and chattel for the giant blue beings (no, not “Avatar”). Beyond the riveting, Swiftian, Gulliveresque allegorical satire, this film is a wonderful head trip of innovative and near-psychedelic science fiction. Reminds me of Frank Herbert’s non-Dune works and some of Piers Anthony’s fictions. Truly a product of it’s era, there is literally no other animated film like it. I love “Fantastic Planet,” and so will you. Give Miyazaki a break and see some pre-cursor landmark animation today, on 35mm no less!

Some of the beautifully surreal yet nightmarish imagery. Just a taste!

For our late night fare, were are going trans-Pacific with a minor little John Woo classic, “The Killer.” You got me, it’s not minor! This is the film that made Chow Yun-Fat an international superstar. This melodrama with bullet-time action and blind girls getting in the way of serious bromance set the bar for John Woo’s career (white doves!) and set the stage for slow mo extremism a decade later with “The Matrix.” Come see where the slow mo gunplay sub genre of action movies kicked off, this weekend only on 35mm!

—back and none too soon, dan

Cary Grant: Leader of the 99%!

May 20th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

A month or more or two or less ago, we here at Seattle’s greatest theatre brought you a brand-spanking-new print of the greatest screwball comedies of all time, starring two of the all time greatiest greats, Grant (not Ulysses S.) and Hepburn (yes Katherine). That film was “Bringing Up Baby,” and we promised you one more film to complete our mini-Grant fest. Well, after a short reprieve, we offer a reprieve from SIFF overload with another brand new Cary and Katherine print of “Holiday,” another great comedy of the same year (1938!).

Which sister is the right romantic choice? (hint: which sister is given top billing?)

Now, why does this film resonate for me (apart from my unwavering love for the two?), especially nearly 80 years on? It’s because the film espouses the ethos for our main character that money is not all there is, and that though you may love someone for the right reasons initially that familial pressures may and will push you toward the most monetarily beneficial of careers. A battle of the classes ensues in this film, and not so much that one is particularly right or wrong (though the pursuit of money is thought of as the only “American” mindset by the daughter’s father), but that happiness is independent and ultimately up to the individual as to the best way to live your life. The expectations of the father and the unspoken expectations of the daughter will of course lead our romantic hero to decide his best due course. This film, shot near the end of the Great Depression but not at all inclined to Hollywood’s proclivity to further the ideal life of leisure and luxury, feels altogether timeless and poignant in today’s Not-So-Great Depression. Bravo.

—barely-scraping-by-and-loving-every-second, dan

Steve Jobs: Absolutely Absorbing

May 14th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I only got time to drop a quick line about this film, but suffice it to say, this is a NOT TO BE MISSED FILM!

Let me break it down for you, you know how all those VHS events at Grand Illusion (curated by our good friends at Scarecrow Video) have a warmth and vibrancy and immediacy that sucks you right into your overplush velvet seats in the cozy womb of our theatre? Now couple that with the fireside chat of the late Steve Jobs from a rescued VHS tape of an interview that took place shortly before his return to Apple and you have yourself an incredible experience that reminds you why you love every Apple product you own. The reason? The man’s unwavering enthusiasm to building the best products that create the best personal computing experience for the greatest number of people.

Thanks for the 21st century Steve

Normally the lack of edits and often static framing would drive you batty, but you don’t notice as the man’s words and thoughts enrapture and enthrall you. Come on, I know you have at least owned an iPod. This is the best interview with Steve I’ve ever seen, Apple fans and even those just interested in hearing one of the brightest minds of the 20th century be picked for your pleasure will find a lot to take away from this film.

yours truly, blogy-blog-guy, dan

More Than Just The White Stripes

April 28th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

You might think the GI is banging on the same drum of late, but it is a drum that is firmly and purposefully sounded because there is a wealth of wonderful music documentaries that no other movie theatre in town has the cojones to show!

This week we got another doc about a music scene, this time about the new Detroit music scene, kicked off in the 80s by the Gories. You’ll hear a lot of great music in this documentary, most of it not coming from the White Stripes. Of course for legal (and probably financial) reasons, the White Stripes themselves don’t make an appearance in this film, nor does any of their songs that you probably know. But you don’t even notice their absence in the interview chair as the whiz bang pow of talent keeps you rocking and entertained as there is not a single weak band in the whole movie. One of the best “scene” music docs I’ve ever seen.

Jack White's influence is felt all over this film...

And this Saturday night, the film starts off its week-long run with a one-two punch of director Q+A and live music provided by own very own Mike Puljung! His band Hausfrau fits in right along with the balls out garage rock showcased in the film. 7:30, you know you wanna be there!

And of course the return of late night GI classic “Gums,” the movie I’ve consistently missed and will have to miss again as I’m one sick man right now. But please, see it for me and then rub it in my face because I so want to see this moooooovie!’

I’m stoked that our WordPress formatting is back to normal!

—blogging it again for real style, dan

We’re impaired, plus blog hacked!

April 26th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Sorry to report our blog was hacked with some bogus redirect doodad! I’ll try to bring old posts back eventually. For now, get ready for The Sprocket Society’s show IMPAIRED, this Friday at 8pm. Here’s what they have to say about it:

Poster by Spencer Sundell.

Booze, dope, and a little sex — what’s not to like? Pull up a stool for this thoroughly smashed program of over a dozen short films, a red-eyed trip through 70 years of intoxicated cinema.

Crazy cartoons, silent-era oddities, musical soundies and more have been carefully de-seeded and distilled for your wanton overindulgence. High-lights include Georges Méliès on opium, Douglas Fairbanks on coke, pot-crazed cowboys, lysergic patriotism, bombed Betty Boop, a rare 1920s porno cartoon, and much more!