Tonight in Seattle:  

film

Solomon Kane

{Solomon Kane opens in Seattle on Friday, 9/28, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle}

Of course I’m going to volunteer to see a period piece (kind of) starring James “smoldering eyes” Purefoy as a swashbuckling, demon-fighting hero. Of. Course.

Based on a popular pulp character from Weird Tales magazine in the 20s, Solomon Kane is dude whose sole purpose is to wipe out the evil that is constantly trying to take over the world and ruin everybody’s good, pure time by eating people and causing general mayhem and destruction.

Solomon Kane is set up as his origin story, and is clearly meant to kickoff a series of Kane films. Unfortunately, during some marauding, Solomon pisses off a bunch of mirror demons and in the chaos, his soul is promised to the devil. Naturally, he gives up his life of violence for religion and peace—until he befriends an innocent family and f’s things up be bringing down some demon vengeance, resulting in death of their son and the kidnapping of their virginal daughter.

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Recommended Viewing: 3D Burton Double Feature at SIFF Cinema Uptown {10/2}

What better way to kick off October than with a double feature of animated Burton-y goodness? Look, I know the guy has made some mistakes lately (I can't even talk to you about Dark Shadows … it's just. I ... macrame?!?!?! yeah), but he sure does know how to create some beautiful animated films that fill my former teenage Goth girl heart with much barely beating, deep black love.  

One of those animated masterpieces is The Nightmare Before Christmas, which I am admittedly a bit obsessed with. I don't trust anyone who doesn't smile at the antics of the confused Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington, and his misguided attempt to take over another holiday. 

The second, which I have been highly anticipating, is the animated remake of Burton's beloved 1984 live-action short Frankenweenie. I recently unearthed my prized Frankenweenie cutout from my video store days, and just looking at it and thinking about the awesomeness of the new film makes me all squee-happy, wild-eyed, and jumpy. With an official opening date of 10/5, that means this is a sneak peek! yayyyyyyyyyyyy! 

You guys, I am an addict, and my drug is Tim Burton stop-motion animation. 

Anyway! For only $15, you can seat yourself at SIFF Cinema Uptown on Tuesday, October 2, and see these two features back-to-back in 3D -- with a special appearance by award-winning animation producer Allison Abbate (who has worked on all of Burton's animated films). I'm in. How 'bout you? 

{Tim Burton 3 Animated Double Feature | SIFF Cinema Uptown | October 2, showtime 6:30pm | No late seating | $15 GA, $10 for SIFF Members }

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Pay attention to the soul-shaking ideas of Simone Weil at the Northwest Film Forum {9/24-27}

{The Seattle premiere of An Encounter with Simone Weil is at The Northwest Film Forum Monday, 9/24, and it screens through Thursday, 9/27. The Thursday showing includes a special introduciton by The Stranger editor Chrisopher Frizelle.} 

Totally intense philosopher, political agent, and spiritual worker Simone Weil was sort of the Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, and Dave Bazan of the 20th century revolutionary world. Born in 1909 and raised in a standard French bourgeois home, she was obsessed with the plight of the suffering, and the mechanics of oppression. All over the world, on every level of human existence. The way that a lot of artists and musicians are, or want to be seen as if they are. But when it comes to revolution, her drive was actualized in her own habitual writing, union organizing, mystical visions, and eventual death in 1943.

Some might think of it all as a neuotic waste, but a lot of others (including cultural maven Susan Sontag) found deep inspiration from even its most pathological extremes. 

Weil's tornado of doubt-infused living is solemnly and seriously documented by historical and activist filmmaker Julia Haslett in An Encounter with Simone Weil, who approaches the material with the ferocious focus required.

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Bill W.: A fascinating doc about the A.A. founder

"Bill W." was a synthesizer. A human synthesizer, that is, someone who took an analogue expression and somehow craftily made something needed out of it for the world in a pinch. Something that was there before, but not easily accessible without a lot of training or experience on the part of the person who wanted in. He put together ideas about how we need so desperately to talk to each other, to earnestly fellowship in equality, to have secret societies where he can be utterly humble and deeply admit our weakness.

Like his fellow 20th century replicant of addiction-prophecy, "Wild Bill" Burroughs, their raspy, patrician voices start off in bomb-bursts of declaration ("laying it all outh there, no matter what you think of me") then likewise trail off into momentary flickers between naked universal connection and alien observation. As if they're both astronauts floating in a glass bowl spaceship above time, growing sadder and sadder at humanity (their own and in general) by the minute. They both made many mistakes, they both owned up to most. But the ideas they put together -- these are inside everything you are, make, and do now. Bill W., however, dove from the limelight, and would never have endorsed anything resembling celebrity. He also deeply changed a large chunk of humanity, more than just expressing ideas about it. 

William S. Burroughs has nothing to do with this documentary about the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, don't be deluded. But this is about the past, and the future, and seems like science fiction, which Burroughs wrote. What's even more astonishing is that the Bill we're actually talking about created a utopia, which serves citizens kindly to this day -- not a bitter-land of ancient impulses repeated into madness and murder. Bill W. is about William G. Wilson, who put together a movement in post-Depression era American based on the mathematics and manipulations he learned whilst a stockbroker before the big crash of '29, and oh yeah, his tragically driven desire to get well. 

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Latest comment by: Northwest Film Forum: "We're bringing BILL W back to our screens on October 6 & 7: http://www.nwfilmforum.org/live/page/calendar/2321"

[Rec] 3: Genesis

{Rec 3: Genesis screens at the Grand Illusion Cinema 9/13 at 9pm, and again 9/14 at 11pm}

Sometimes when filmmakers continue their horror film franchises, it doesn’t work out so well (I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity). But while [Rec] 3: Genesis is admittedly the campiest film in Director Paco Plaza’s zombie trilogy, it’s still a nice follow-up to his previous creations, and he manages to keep changing it up enough that it doesn't feel tired. 

Also, I love camp—especially when it involves a bride running around with a chainsaw.

Yup, Genesis takes place at a wedding reception, with an unsuspecting uncle nursing a dog bite that eventually turns him feral and starts a chain reaction of guests biting guests, with massive blood splatters, screaming, and lots of torn dresses and ripped tuxedo jackets.

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Robot & Frank

Robot & Frank

{Robot & Frank opens at The Egyptian today, Friday 8/31, through Thursday, 9/6}

The near future, as imagined by Jake Schrier in his feature film debut Robot & Frank, forgoes silver jumpsuits and flying cars in favor of a refreshingly plausible iteration, where the main observable difference (besides the run-down Prius with fading paint) is that the adults are named Madison and Hunter and Ava and Jake.  Susan Sarandon plays a Susan-Sarandon-aged character named Jennifer, which carbon dates her to around 1975.

The other notable advancement is that helper robots are around to cook and clean for, say, crotchety ex-cat-burglars like Frank Langella’s Frank, whose declining memory and the legacy of his lousy parenting skills make him an ideal candidate for robotic assistance. No one, even his own children, could reasonably be expected to put up with him for long. If he weren’t Frank Langella, who’s totally awesome as always, he’d be an insufferable pain in the ass.

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Side by Side

{Side by Side screens at Grand Illusion Cinema from August 31- September 6}

If you can get past the halting way in which Keanu Reeves narrates this thing, Side by Side is a really enjoyable trip through the history of filmmaking with a lot of different filmmakers offering diverse opinions on film vs. digital, visual effects, to 3D or not to 3D, and the importance of archiving.

And so it goes: James Cameron goes on about how awesome digital and 3D is (as if you didn’t see that coming), George Lucas takes credit for making everything look better, Martin Scorsese wrestles with the differences between the two mediums, David Lynch declares he’ll never go back to film, Christopher Nolan swears digital can’t ever replicate how cool film is, Robert Rodriguez says he couldn’t have made Sin City without digital, David Fincher loves how portable digital is, Andy & Lana Wachowski are sold on the digital revolution (shocking), Danny Boyle admits it would have been harder to make both 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire with clunky film cameras, Joel Schumacher says something-something, Steven Soderbergh has a lot of opinions, and Lars Von Trier is—Lars Von Trier’ian.

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Lawless

{Lawless opens in Seattle today, 8/29, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle, AMC Loews Oak Tree, and Regal Meridian 16}

Lawless is basically a tale of Badass Vs. Badass, with some additional Badasses thrown in for good measure. There are a lot of fists meeting faces, shooting, stabbings, blowing things up, and other assorted violence—complete with old-timey car chases (which are kind of hilarious because cars just didn’t move that fast in the 1930s). 

The story centers on the “true” tale of the Bondurant Brothers, who bootlegged moonshine in rural Virginia during the Depression. The two oldest are the badasses, with Tom Hardy as Forrest being the BIGGEST (and handsomest-RAWR) Badass, brother Howard (Jason Clarke) coming in at a close second, and wee baby-faced Jack (Shia LeBeouf)…well, as a badass, he fails. miserably. 

Sadly, even though Forrest is the strongest character, the film starts and ends from Jack’s perspective -- and includes some probably unnecessary narration. Moonshine-ing is going just dandy for the brothers until two pivotal things happen:

1) ultra-creepy Special Agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce. You look weird without eyebrows. Seriously. Weird) shows up and tries to shake them down
2) in one of his stupider moments, Jack decides he wants to be just like slick gangster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman in a token Badass appearance) which leads to a lot more problems than the Bondurants previously had

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Bumbershoot 2012 picks: A few more things you shouldn’t miss

Flatstock at the Armory
11am-8pm, all three days

I say this EVERY year, but you absolutely have to take some time out of your music-watchin’ day to browse the aisles at Flatstock and see tons of amazing poster art. Seriously. Go. I’m not kidding.

Record Store
Visual Arts Exhibits at the Seattle Center Pavilion
11am-8pm, all three days

Ok, it’s not really a “store” in that you can’t buy the vinyl contained within, but! But but but. They put together a HUGE collection of records that you can browse through and choose to play—either for everyone inside, or just for yourself—and generally just marvel over how awesome records still are. Step inside this exhibit for sweet listening party bliss.

Read It and Weep (A Celebration of Nicolas Cage)
The Vera Project
Saturday 1:15pm-2:15pm

Three podcast guys dissect and review some of the worst of the worst Nic Cage movies, including Wicker Man, Ghost Rider and … CITY OF ANGELS. Dude. This is going to be hilarious!

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Searching for Sugar Man: An Imaginary Interview with Rodriguez

{Searching for Sugar Man opens in Seattle on Friday, 8/24 and is screening at the Landmark Harvard Exit}

I’m in a meeting room at the W and it takes me more than a few minutes to process the fact that I am sitting across from an. actual. legend. A guy who was at one time as big as Elvis and the Stones. A guy who fans say is “better than Bob Dylan”.

A guy who, depending on who you ask, either burned himself to death on stage during his last public appearance, or shot himself in the head. 

But the guy—Rodriguez—is less than 5 feet in front of me, alive and well. And learned in 1998 that virtually all of South Africa thought of him as one of the greatest singer/songwriters ever.

Rodriguez released 2 albums in the 1970s in the U.S. on Sussex Records, both of which flopped miserably, even though everyone making them was sure they were amazing. Whether it was due to poor marketing or just the fact that music listeners in the states didn’t like what they heard, no one knows. And when they flopped, he disappeared from the public eye. 

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Latest comment by: John in Ballard: "

Yeah that's a great album and I'm sure worth having on vinyl. The only downside though, is that I don't think Light in the Attic vinyls come with the digital download code that most other vinyl comes with. At least for Weedle's Groove it ...