Find a complete list of film events in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar, or check out our other picks for the best things to do in Seattle this winter from Seattle Art and Performance.
It's a Wonderful Life
Shortly after It's a Wonderful Life's 1946 release, James Agee, the most astute and eloquent American film critic of all time, noted the film's grueling aspect. "Often," he wrote, "in its pile-driving emotional exuberance, it outrages, insults, or at least accosts without introduction, the cooler and more responsible parts of the mind." These aesthetic cautions are followed, however, by a telling addendum: "It is nevertheless recommended," Agee allowed, "and will be reviewed at length as soon as the paralyzing joys of the season permit." Paralyzing joys are the very heart of George Bailey's dilemma; they are, to borrow words from George's father, "deep in the race." The sacrifices George makes for being "the richest man in town" resonate bitterly even as they lead to the finale's effusive payoff. Those sacrifices are what make It's a Wonderful Life, in all its "Capraesque" glory, endure. SEAN NELSON
The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet Christmas Carol isn't the single best Muppet movie or the best Christmas Carol film adaptation, but it's up there in the top three of both categories, with great performances from Michael Caine (as Scrooge) and Kermit the Frog (perfectly cast as Bob Cratchit). PAUL CONSTANT
The Eyes of My Mother
The daughter of a surgeon suffers a brutal attack in her family home. Drawing on what she's learned both from her surgeon mother and from her attacker, she begins enacting violence herself in this truly gruesome-sounding horror film.
Northwest Film Forum
Peter and the Farm
This is the Seattle premiere of a simultaneously funny and depressing documentary about Peter Dunning, a drinker, loner, and artist who (by himself) keeps his 187-acre Vermont farm running.
Northwest Film Forum
DEC 15 & FEB 10
Clyde Petersen's debut feature film, clocking in at a rich hour, is about being a trans kid with a schizophrenic mom, but it's also about being able to survive by making connections. Torrey Pines is a masterful use of incredibly simple and friendly materials (which is politically important), paper cutouts and Post-Its, symbols and icons, a visual shorthand that becomes open but never, never loses its distinctive self. When Petersen makes art, it becomes believable that the tools of artmaking are not alienated from the experiences of life itself. That's what makes me feel good, I think. That, and Petersen's honesty. His hard-won and still-risky honesty. JEN GRAVES
Henry Art Gallery (Dec 15); Northwest Film Forum (Feb 10)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I was seven, spending the summer in Seattle (from DC), and expending a large amount of mental energy in the doomed project of removing the African accent from my developing American English. I was tired of classmates making fun of it, and wanted to return to school that fall sounding just like Flip Wilson, my hero at the time. For complicated reasons—busy parents, culture shock, lack of friends outside of the family circle—I had reached the age of seven without seeing a single movie. The whole business was a mystery to me. What is it people saw in those big boxes?
Because everyone was talking about Star Wars that summer, I begged my Maiguru Sana (Auntie Sana, my mother’s big sister) to take me to a screening of it in Wallingford. She agreed. She too had never seen a movie in her life—she was 33. Because her husband’s time was completely occupied by a PhD dissertation, she had the free time to watch this Star Wars with me. We went to Wallingford, we entered the theater, we sat near the front row. The screen opened, the spectacle began, the spectacle ran, the spectacle ended, and I was totally transformed. (My aunt, on the other hand, slept during the whole movie—even the loud space battle couldn’t wake her up.)
Now to explain the meaning and cause of the great transformation. I went into Star Wars a Christian and walked out of it an atheist. Before seeing the movie, I understood the war of Good against Evil to be an entirely Christian one: God vs. Satan. The war happened on the ground, in the sky above, and the immense dark space beyond the moon. The universe was ordered by heaven and hell. So imagine the shock of seeing on the screen a whole different order, a whole different war between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil; a war, furthermore, that made no mention of Jesus, or Lucifer, or the star of Bethlehem, the Romans, the beasts in “The Book of Revelations,” the Last Supper. Yet, in the absolute absence of this Christian moral order, I still sided with those who were good and was against those who were bad in a galaxy far, far away.
In the bright afternoon light of that day, I realized that God was limited, and what was infinite was the Good itself, and that the Good could take on different shapes (Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi, John, Luke Skywalker, Jesus, Princess Leia, Mary). In the bus back to the University District, my head was on fire. It was like seeing the world for the first time. I was born again.
All of that said. I suspect that the second Star Wars film in the current sequence, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will not be as good as the first, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The first sequences, as we know, was not like this. Its first film, Star Wars, was much weaker than the second, The Empire Strikes Back. CHARLES MUDEDE
The greatest black American playwright, August Wilson, lived in Seattle but wrote about a black neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Hill District. (He died in 2005.) In fact, he spent a lot of time at the Capitol Hill bar Canterbury, slowly drinking whiskey. I saw him a number of times there, saw him writing and thinking in the Canterbury, and my mind would be tossed this way and that by the fact that one of black English's most brilliant artists was here, in a very white bar in a very white neighborhood. Real writers are always in exile. A real writer is never home, but constantly dreams of it. One of this dreamer's plays is Fences. It's about a professional baseball player who returns home with his own problems and deals with his family's problems. This play has been made into a movie by Denzel Washington, a Hollywood star who has been making a lot of garbage lately. It will be great to see Washington doing something meaningful. We are tired of him shooting people. CHARLES MUDEDE
The Last Straighter
In this 1984 sci-fi movie with newfangled computer-generated effects, a video game whiz (Lance Guest) ascends to the heavens to fight aliens.
Labyrinth Quote-Along and David Bowie Birthday Party
Celebrate the late David Bowie's birthday with an interactive screening of his goofy, trippy 1986 adventure/fantasy film about getting what you wish for. There will be subtitles, Whoopee Cushions for the Bog of Eternal Stench, a sock puppet creation station, and a pre-movie music video sing-along.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
The three great science-fiction works of the first half of the 1980s are Blade Runner by Ridley Scott (1982), "Clear" by Cybotron (1983), and Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984). With these three we get the images of the urban future. Los Angeles is the city in the movie, Detroit is the city in the music, and Tokyo is the city at the center of the book. All of these works have withstood the test of time, and so reward frequent visits. We still have so much to learn from the sounds, words, and cinema of the post-humanist world. Blade Runner is also packed with amazing urban details: the sushi bar, the hotel room, the nightclub. I could live here forever. CHARLES MUDEDE
A John Carpenter horror flick about the worst dog ever.
Showgirls with David Schmader
David Schmader's legendary screening with commentary of the acclaimed Vegas disaster film Showgirls is back for one night only, as a benefit for Planned Parenthood.
Howl's Moving Castle
Set within a timeless village replete with steamboats and fluttering airships, the story follows a workaholic teen yearning for something different. After being transformed into an elderly lady by a jealous witch's spell, she falls in with a handsome, vain wizard who roams the countryside inside a clanking RV of a castle. This is all well and good from a fantasy standpoint, but it dovetails a little too neatly with the filmmaker's previous explorations of nature duking it out with society. Thankfully, the small details prove more than capable of overcoming any narrative rut. ANDREW WRIGHT
In 1979's The Jerk, Mr. Bringing Down the House plays Navin R. Johnson, a huge moron who was "born a poor black child." Only he's white—incredibly so. It's dead-on hilarious slapstick, social commentary, and—most of all—shows Steve Martin's comic skills chopping like a damn Ginsu knife. Just lava-hot funny. ADAM GNADE
The Royal Tenenbaums
Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray (rocking a Professor Barnacle beard) are an extended family of neurotic geniuses whose bastard of a patriarch (Hackman) wants to bring them closer together. Too bad they hate his guts. The film is hilariously funny, dryly tender, and impeccably designed. SEAN NELSON
Two months after 9/11, Amélie opened at the Egyptian Theatre. It ran for nearly five months, inspiring half of all women living on Capitol Hill to cut their hair into Audrey Tautou–style bobs and cheering the hearts of Seattle filmgoers at a time when America was simultaneously grieving and marching to war. Now, Central Cinema is giving us the chance to relive the joyous Frenchness of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's delightful confectionary masterpiece of cinematic escapism. PAUL CONSTANT
If you love cinema, then you must love film noir. And if you love film noir, then you must love the Noir City festival, which will feature a number of known and less known movies in this genre that has lots of spiderlike women, lots of long knives, lots of rooms with dark curtains, lots of faces of the fallen, and lots of existential twists and turns. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Whereas the previous Michel Gondry/Charlie Kaufman collaboration, Human Nature, eventually crumbled under its own quirkiness, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind finds director and scribe fitting perfectly together. This is a film that travels far beyond most of our imaginations. It is also one of the most beautifully assembled romances you will ever see. BRADLEY STEINBACHER