[Psychotronic Cinema]

One of the unexpected bonuses of SIFF taking over the Uptown is that it gave them space to run more cult movie fare. Dubbed Psychotronic Cinema, the series is sponsored by Scarecrow Video & features are often preceded by short films selected by MIFFF, which is a treat. I love short film & don’t get to see it nearly enough.

Features I have caught so far include:

* Stunt Rock is the touching story of an Australian stunt man who takes his big dreams to Hollywood. He works on a TV series, he advises a rock band (who seem much more interested in their Merlin vs Prince of Darkness stage show than their music), & along the way he’s interviewed by a magazine writer (which provides him with a great excuse to flash back to his previous stunt work). That’s it. And it is amazing. Terrible, but amazing. You should take two minutes out of your day to watch the trailer

* Norwegian Ninja reminded me a lot of TrollHunter, in that on a very basic level it’s a deadpan Norwegian government bureaucracy movie. If you only have time for one, TrollHunter is better, but Norwegian Ninja is also fun, part propaganda, part newsreel about how a team of ninjas saved Norway during the Cold War. I am pretty sure it is trufax.

* Finally, The FP is a truly terrible movie about gangs that battle out their turf wars via Dance Dance Revolution. I mean, Beat Beat Revelation. It’s mindblowingly sexist, but it also features such a deep commitment to worldbuilding that you have to think…this is not set decoration happening here. This is just where these guys live. I don’t know if I can recommend it, but I am glad I saw it if only for the obligatory training montage.

In fact, I don’t know that I can recommend any of them, but I can definitely recommend the series. Here’s the thing: these are not going to be movies that you seek out to watch on your own, but late at night, with a cult film audience? They make for a great, weird time out at the movies.

[Pickups: March revival]

* In the Mood for Love. Yes, this is the second time this year. It was scheduled as the start of this Metro Classics sequence, and my toes curl at the words “shown on 35 mm”. It was a gift to be able to see it that way, particularly since the digital projection in January had so many issues. Films like ItMfL make me consider doing a best beloved films feature here from time to time.

* The Cutting Edge is a ridiculous movie, obviously. Ridiculously entertaining. Central Cinema showed it as the March Pajama Party, and for that it is pretty much perfect. Toe pick!

* I have never seen The Terminator before. Shocking but true. Luckily, Central Cinema is there to help me correct these grievous errors. Sarah Conner is totally my kind of action hero. She wears shoes she can run in! She gets to keep on all of her clothes! Pretty great overall, except for the full frontal Arnold. That’s what we get for sitting in the front row.

* Finally, the best TV dinner ever: Pride & Prejudice! Shown over two Wednesdays at (do we detect a pattern?) Central Cinema, Pride & Prejudice was just a fabulous, hilarious, satisfying experience. Sold out, full of fangirls of all ages, puddles of estrogen everywhere. You should all be jealous.

[Pickups: February. Revival edition.]

* The Little Princess screened as part of the Children’s Film Festival. This was the 1917 adaptation starring Mary Pickford, and the Film Forum got me in with the magic words “live score”. Performed by Leslie McMichael on three harps, it was a perfect match to a great hour of classic silent melodrama.

Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Children’s Film Festival audience was one of the best behaved I have ever experienced. Adults would do well to take a lesson from them. (Especially, ironically, paying audiences. Free screening audiences know to put the damn phones away.)

* As a tie-in with the SciFi and Fantasy Short Films, SIFF Cinema again ran a series of SciFi on Blu-ray. (Yes, film would be better. But Blu-ray in a theater is still light years ahead of my TV. Plus, audience! And leaving the house! Anyway.) Last year I made it out for 2001: A Space Odyssey (which put me to sleep every damn time I tried to watch it on video, but in the theater? It is just as brilliant as everyone says. If you have the opportunity, take it.)

This year was a change of pace from that, with a double feature of Time Bandits and Galaxy Quest. The former I had never seen before & found utterly charming, and the latter I have long adored, even though I have never seen any Star Trek at all. It still totally works, and it was a treat to see them both on the big screen.

* Earth Girls Are Easy is an 80s classic, terrible and also awesome, and quite formative in my, uh, perception of Jeff Goldblum. In other news, it’s for the best that I don’t live closer to Central Cinema, or I would be there every damn night.

* I saw the American cut of John Woo’s historical epic Red Cliff when it was released in 2009, and was unimpressed. I did think it was unfair to judge on half of the film (especially considering what a fan I am of the talent it had both in front of and behind the camera), so I was delighted when SIFF Cinema programmed the complete version. All 16 reels of it! (insert dreamy sigh).

It truly was a totally different feature, and though there were melodramatic and overly sentimental moments, they felt better earned this time around. The sex scene was still boring, though. Sad but true. The action was epic, dramatic, and absolutely clear, which is not always a given; the cinematography was beautiful; and I can’t imagine seeing it anywhere but on the big screen.

…also, can we take a moment to scan that list of films and giggle about the fact that they are all technically revival? A silent film, scifi/fantasy cheese, and a Chinese epic. Awesome.

[That will be my first day]

Wings of Desire played this weekend as part of the Moisture Festival, a celebration of vaudeville & burlesque whose name gives me the heebie-jeebies. Apparently they named it that because they thought it was funny. It mostly reminds me of that scene in The Impostors where Campbell Scott leers at Lili Taylor, saying, “The danger of the chase has made you perspire. It has made me also… moist.” Ewwww.

But anyway, the practical effect of the partnership was that the screening was prefaced by an acrobatic performance by two members of Circus Contraption, and that was very cool.

The film itself I’d never seen on the big screen before, and, I am not sure if you’ve noticed, but I am a big fan of seeing things in the theater. For meditative films like this, it focuses and intensifies the experience, and of course there’s nothing like those gorgeous visuals — aerial shots of Berlin, the library, the circus, the concerts — up large. Also, more so than a lot of other films, it made me wish I knew the original language. I read fast enough that subtitles aren’t a hindrance, but with some works (this, probably everything by Wong Kar-wai, for example) I particularly feel that I’m losing things in translation. (Often that fear is justified.)

Now perhaps I will check out the sequel.

[July, July. More or less.]

As soon as I hit post on my last in-theater entry, I remembered that I had forgotten to include Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. It’s the first of three Miyazaki films that the Northwest Film Forum is showing this summer. I had intended to see them all (the other two are My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, both of which I own), now I think probably not, as they appear to be showing them all dubbed.

Sigh.

The voice cast for Nausicaa included Edward James Olmos, which had the effect of compelling one to declare “so say we all” after half of his lines. Which is unfair to the movie. It was a bit slow-moving for me at times, but the character of Nausicaa herself is basically the most kick-ass heroine ever, so it didn’t matter.

This weekend Several weekends ago I finally caught up with the rest of the world and saw Iron Man. It was a huge amount of fun. I don’t know anything about the Iron Man mythology, but I do know that staying through the credits is worth it.

Next up, the highly anticipated My Winnipeg. It’s allegedly a documentary. It is definitely one of my favorite movies of the year. It did not actually teach me anything about Winnipeg. I am okay with this.

Then this week, like the rest of the world more or less, I saw The Dark Knight, which I have a whole laundry list of issues with, but I can say that the experience of seeing it in IMAX was pretty freakin’ amazing. (Dear lord. It’s currently ranked #1 on IMDb. That is such crap I don’t even know where to start.)

Finally, last night I went to a midnight of The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Because I am crazy. It was … not good. But I will admit that I was totally into it, even though the plot made absolutely no sense, and that I was utterly delighted by the sheer quantity of Callum Keith Rennie in it. Scruffy! Evil! Speaking Russian! He was pure win.

Aside from Callum, it’s strangely off. It has weird issues of sexuality & Catholicism. We’re supposed to believe it’s set in Virginia, but the BCness of it is overwhelming. And let’s not even talk about the final shot, FOR THE LOVE.

But, big-screen Callum. Yay.