Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rodrigues & Guerra da Mata's "The Last Time I Saw Macao" | Abdellatif Kechiche's "Blue is the Warmest Color", Ashim Ahluwalia's "Miss Lovely", Ulrich Seidle's "Paradise: Hope", Paolo Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty" | Steve McQueen's "Twelve Years A Slave" at Northwest Film Forum, SIFF Cinema & Landmark Theatres: Oct 24 - Dec 26

Abundance of quality cinema in the coming week(s) scattered across the calendars of Northwest Film Forum, SIFF and Landmark Theatres! Including one of the more confounding discoveries of last year, Joaõ Pedro Rodrigues & Joaõ Rui Guerra da Mata's post-Colonial Portuguese/Chinese, "The Last Time I Saw Macao". As much about the hidden life of the city as it's inhabitants, (Macao being one of China's 'Special Administrative Regions' along with Hong Kong) it's hybrid in-between-ness as neither a drama nor a genuine documentary described in Jonathan Romney's review for Film Comment and Manohla Dargis' "In a Cultural and Sexual Netherland, Gaudy and Unsettling". With an even deeper exploration in the pages of Cinema Scope as Aaron Cutler hosts an interview with it's directors.

That same weekend SIFF begins their second-annual contemporary Francophone cinema series, French Cinema Now. The highlight of which being Abdellatif Kechiche's, Cannes Palme d'Or winning "Blue is the Warmest Color" (aka "The Life of Adèle: Chapters 1 & 2") with a theatrical run following at Landmark Theatres in November. Lauded for it's cinematography, unglamorized physical intimacy and emotional rawness, the film has been equally critically chastised for the inherent sexuality it depicts. Film Comment rated it amongst Cannes best offerings with the source of the controversy surrounding the film's concerns decoded in Eric Hynes "Explorations in Identity and Pleasure" for the New York Times.  There's also the preposterous matter of firstly the MPAA's rating given to the film, and second, the Parents Television Council's response to IFC's choice in screening it documented in Sarah-Jane Stratford's "Conservative Americans are More Terrified of Sex than Violence" and a critical response to the claims of the depictions of corporeal intimacy verging on the pornographic in Peter Bradshaw's "Blue Is the Warmest Colour is Too Moving to be Porn" for the Guardian UK. And then there's the dissenting opinion offered by Manohla Dargis, who at the time of the Cannes screening wrote some 400 critical words on the subject, arguing  that "It isn't Sex that Makes Blue Is the Warmest Color Problematic: it's the Patriarchal Anxieties about Sex, Female Appetite and Maternity". Other highlights of the series include Mahamat-Saleh Haroun newest drama set within post-Colonial Africa, "Gris Gris", Jean-Christophe Dessaint's lushly animated, "Day of the Crows" and Bruno Dumont's telling of the life story of "Camille Claudel". This past month the Seattle South Asian Film Festival also took up residence at SIFF, delivering a real stunner in the form of the genre, musical, horror, gender, cultural commentary drama mashup that was Ashim Ahluwalia's excellent "Miss Lovely". SIFF also continues to host Ulrich Seidle's Paradise Trilogy, easily a personal highlight of this year's festival, it's conflicting humanism and scathing critique Nicolas Rapold described in the New York Times as "Messy Humanity, Warts, Dreams and All", the trilogy returns this month with it's final installment, "Paradise: Hope".

SIFF's next big series the following month, Cinema Italian Style, features another notable entry from this year's Cannes that of Paolo Sorrentino's (director of "The Consequences of Love" & "Il Divo"), "The Great Beauty" (again, with a theatrical run to follow at Landmark Theatres). Sorrentino's vision of modern Italian culture Rachel Donadio equates with a full-blooded "La Dolce Vita Gone Sour (and This Time in Color)", interpreted with a bit more generous sensibility for it's darkly romantic core, in Manohla Dargis' "The Glory of Rome, the Sweetness of Life" and considered a metaphor for Italy as a whole in the post-Silvio Berlusconi era, the growing divide between traditions of decadence and the age of austerity, Rome's surreal paradoxes posited as a encapsulation of the European Crisis in Roger Cohen's excellent editorial, "The Great Desperation". Other notables in the series include Bernardo Bertolucci's return after a nine year hiatus, "Me & You" and a new print of Luchino Visconti's 1965 classic, "Sandra". And coming to both SIFF and Landmark Theatres the newest from Steve McQueen, (director of the outstanding political drama debut, "Hunger" and it's psychological/sexual follow-up, "Shame"), returns with his unflinching gaze turned on race and America's history of slavery, with "Twelve Years A Slave". Graham Fuller's cover feature in the September/October issue of Film Comment and extensive interviews with the film's director in the pages of the Guardian UK and the New York Times who also featured a larger A.O. Scott piece on a half-century of race in cinema, "Never-Ending Story: 'Conversation About Race' Has Not Brought Cultural Consensus".