Seattle Cinema Almanac: February 8-14

Oscar season is in full swing, with the Oscar nominated short films screening at theaters across the region and more of the nominees finding their way into Seattle Cinemas. Plus, there are some outstanding repertory screenings – including Wings of Desire and Cries and Whispers.

* Recommended Film

Children’s Film Festival Seattle

The Children’s Film Festival Seattle comes to a close this week with a selection of short film from around the world and a final screening of Gordon and Paddy, a beautifully hand-drawn feature about a mouse and a toad trying to discover who has been stealing all of the nuts.

Northwest Film Forum
FULL FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

New Features

2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animation *
It’s a really solid year for the Oscar Nominated Short Animated films. They’re all pretty good – with two absolutely stunning films (Late Afternoon and Weekend). The Pixar entry is genuinely moving and the other two nominees are fine entries. Like most screenings of the nominees for short animation, this will feature two addition shorts that look quite compelling.

Olympia Film Society
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Rose Theatre
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SIFF Cinema Uptown
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2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts: Documentary *
The nominees for short documentary are also incredibly strong – in fact, there isn’t a bad short in this bunch. The films are troubling, poetic and haunting, emotionally moving, and genuinely inspirational. I would highly recommend checking these out if you have the chance.

Rose Theatre
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2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action *
The nominees for Best Live Action Short were the only ones I haven’t been able to see, so I’m very excited that this collection of films is coming to theaters this week. Short films can be hit or miss with me, but these all look to be compelling entries. I can’t wait.

Dragonfly Cinema
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Olympia Film Society
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Rose Theatre
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SIFF Cinema Uptown
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Capernaum *
One of the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film, Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum has been receiving solid reviews since its Cannes premiere. It’s the story of a young boy who sues his parents for bringing him into this world and neglecting him. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s the film premiering this week that I’m most eager to see.

SIFF Cinema Uptown
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Moulin Rouge! *
Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! is an overwhelming musical extravaganza that is meant to be experienced on the big screen. Soak in the hyper-kinetic joy this week at Central Cinema.

Central Cinema
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Natural Born Killers *
All the controversy surrounding Natural Born Killers during its initial release failed to point out that the film is a sharp and pointed satire of the media and our country’s glorification of violence and celebrity. It’s not a perfect film, but it is one of those films that feels oddly prescient.

Central Cinema
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Continuing Features

Ben is Back
The second drug-addicted teen drama to be released this year, Ben is Back is getting slightly better reviews, mainly for Julia Roberts’s performance. It isn’t one that really grabbed my attention, but if you’re looking for a tearjerker to tug on those heartstrings, this may be a good one to see.

Dragonfly Cinema
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Can You Ever Forgive Me? *
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a delightfully dark and caustic comedy that I found surprisingly moving. Melissa McCarthy is outstanding and the film deserves all of its Oscar nominations.

Crest Cinema Center
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Cold War *
Poland’s entry for Best Foreign Language film is a beautiful and haunting work of quiet desperation. It’s a difficult film, but a powerful and honest exploration of the self-destructive tendencies that arise in toxic relationships.

Rose Theatre
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SIFF Cinema Egyptian
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The Favourite *
Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, this does remain one of my favorites of 2018. It’s a biting and vicious satire about power and self-preservation, and none of the film’s characters (played with brilliant ferocity by the three leading actresses) emerge without making the most bitter and horrifying compromises.

The Grand Cinema
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SIFF Cinema Uptown
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Free Solo
Free Solo was nominated for an Academy Award and follows a free solo mountain climber scaling Yosemite’s El Capitan. It’s a technical marvel, but I wish the film had dug more into the subject’s obsessions and detachment from others.

Crest Cinema Center
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Green Book
The more Green Book gets nominated, the more frustrated I get. It’s one of those well-crafted, crowd-pleasing films about racism that’s designed to make white people feel good about themselves without actually confronting the reality of racism today. That said, it is definitely a film that audiences seem to enjoy.

The Grand Cinema
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Rose Theatre
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If Beale Street Could Talk *
It’s such an incredible film, and I am so sad that it didn’t get more nominations this year. More a tone poem than high narrative drama, Barry Jenkins crafts an exquisite and heartbreaking love story that explores race and poverty in a way that never lets us dismiss the film’s injustices as relics of the past.

The Grand Cinema
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Mirai *
This time-bending animated feature is nominated for an Oscar and is directed by Mamoru Hosoda, the filmmaker behind The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Wolf Children. It’s a sweet film about a young boy learning to love and accept his baby sister, as well as finding his place in the history of his family.

The Grand Illusion Cinema
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On the Basis of Sex
It looks to be a fairly standard biopic – and completely unnecessary, especially with the outstanding documentary RBG out earlier this year. Still, I won’t write it off completely before I have a chance to see it. If you like your inspirational biopic, this is probably for you.

The Grand Cinema
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Rose Theatre
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Roma
I’m really glad Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is still showing on the big screen, because this is really quite a technical accomplishment. I do wish the point-of-view would have been tighter, and I think the technique overwhelms the narrative too frequently, but in spite of its flaws, I do hope this is a movie more people see. And, it’s just been nominated for 10 Academy Awards.

Crest Cinema Center
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Shoplifters *
Another of my favorite films of the year, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest film is a powerful and moving film about poverty, family, and trauma. It left me emotionally shattered – in all of the best ways. I can’t recommend this enough. Please make sure you see it before it leaves the area.

Crest Cinema Center
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Stan & Ollie
This is another film that hasn’t really grabbed my attention or interest. The trailer looks pleasant enough, but it smacks of those middle-brow biopics that flood theaters during Oscar season. Since it didn’t receive any Oscar nominations, I may hold off until it comes to one of my streaming platforms.

Dragonfly Cinema
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The Grand Cinema
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A Star is Born
A Star is Born is a really solid “rise-to-fame” story, and even though I wasn’t the film’s biggest fan, it does have some great performances from Bradley Cooper and Sam Elliott. I’ll be interested to see where Cooper goes next as a director.

Crest Cinema Center
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Vice
I may not have loved Vice, but it’s still a really captivating portrait of power. Director Adam McKay uses all the cinematic gimmickry he can muster, which threatens to overwhelm the narrative, but he certainly knows how to explain complicated geopolitical issues for your average viewer.

SIFF Cinema Uptown
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Limited Engagements

2018 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour *
Northwest Film Forum will be screening a series of seven short films from the 2018 Sundance Film Festival toward the end of next week. I’ve only seen one short from the series, The Burden (pictured above), which is brilliant and strange and charming. So I can only imagine how captivating the rest of the program will be.

Northwest Film Forum
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Audition *
Takashi Miike’s Audition is a film of slow-building dread and ever-rising disgust. It’s absolutely horrifying, and it’s also one of Miike’s best films. A dark and twisted film about the effects of female objectification – once it shifts into high gear, it never lets up. And of course Northwest Film Forum is screening it for Valentine’s Day.

Northwest Film Forum
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Pedicab Driver
A late-’80s/early-’90s martial arts film that looks really charming and delightful, Pedicab Driver is about two pedicab drivers who want to free their girlfriends from tyrannical bosses. I did a quick sampling of the film, and it does look like it will be a lot of fun.

The Grand Illusion Cinema
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Police Story *
Jackie Chan’s Police Story is the film that made him into an international star. And, if you’ve seen any Jackie Chan movies, you know you’re getting some of the most delightful and ingeniously choreographed action sequences on screen.

SIFF Film Center
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Police Story 2 *
If you’re heading out to see the first Police Story, you might as well make it a double-feature and see the sequel. With even more death-defying stunts and outrageous action, getting a double-dose of Jackie Chan will be a great way to spend the weekend.

SIFF Film Center
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To Sleep with Anger *
Charles Burnett is one of the great African-American filmmakers who has never really received his due. His third film, To Sleep with Anger is about a stranger whose presence brings to the surface years of smoldering tension. It’s described as a piece of modern-day myth making and is one that I am eager to see.

Northwest Film Forum
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Wings of Desire *
If you only get out to see one film this week, make sure to go see Wim Wenders’s masterpiece, Wings of Desire, playing in a limited engagement at Northwest Film Forum. It’s a beautiful, poetic, and haunting film about love and what it means to be human.

Northwest Film Forum
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One-Day Screenings

Before Sunrise *
The films in the Before Trilogy are among my favorites of all time. Smart and funny, touching and romantic, the series explores time and the phases of life in a way that I find utterly compelling and deeply moving. The Grand Cinema is showing the first film in this series for Valentine’s Day – a perfect date for serious romantics.

The Grand Cinema
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The Barefoot Artist
This documentary about Lily Yeh looks like a really beautiful and touching film about an artist who has devoted herself to community art projects in some of the most troubled corners of the world.

Rose Theatre
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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
It may not have aged particularly well, but Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was another of those films that I watched over and over again as a kid. It’s a charming adventure, and seeing it with a crowd on the big screen is sure to be a treat.

Olympia Film Society
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Cartoon Happy Hour
Central Cinema presents two hours of classic cartoons along with food and drink specials for this all-ages early evening treat.

Central Cinema
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Cries and Whispers *
Cries and Whispers was one of my first Bergman films, and though I really appreciated it, it wasn’t until rewatching it a few years ago that I really fell in love with this masterpiece. The story of sisters gathered around a dying sibling, it’s one of Bergman’s best – dancing between symbol and dream, memory and regret.

Seattle Art Museum
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Funny Fellows: Laurel & Hardy Comed Shorts, 1924-1930
I’ve never been a huge Laurel & Hardy fan, but as I explore more silent comedy, this is definitely a blind spot that I need to fill. Plus, many of these classic shorts were directed by the great Leo McCarey, so it will be a treat to see some of his early work.

The Grand Illusion Cinema
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Hale County This Morning, This Evening *
I really believe that this is going to be one of the most important films to come out in 2018. It’s a collage of moments in the lives of two young African American men and a poetic exploration of race and identity. I cannot recommend this film highly enough. Please go see it when it returns for one day of screenings at The Grand Cinema.

The Grand Cinema
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The Room
I know there are those who will swear by it, but I just can’t bring myself to watch The Room. Still, if you want to see one of the “best” worst movies ever made, it’s playing for one night at The Grand Cinema.

The Grand Cinema
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