On Screen: Downton Abbey, Ad Astra, Paris is Burning, Get Out, Local Sightings, Thrash Metal, Kiarostami, and the Incredible Melting Man

At opposite ends of the historical spectrum, this week brings two promising multiplex releases: go back to jolly old England to catch up with the Crawleys for the Downton Abbey feature film (it is an utter delight, providing only the most immaculate fan service with millions of schemes, plots, barbs, and quips — I hope they make these for the next hundred years) or rocket into space with Brad Pitt in near-future sci-fi drama Ad Astra (playing all over town, including galactic-sized IMAX screenings at Pacific Science Center).

Presented in collaboration with the Seattle Queer Film Festival, SIFF is showing a revival of landmark drag ball documentary Paris is Burning. Made over seven years, Paris Is Burning is like the original POSE with real life portraits of rival fashion “houses”, fierce contests, and house mothers nurturing their charges in an era of homophobia, transphobia, racism, AIDS, and poverty. Sure, you could fire it up on Netflix, but why not watch with a crowd? (SIFF Uptown, Friday-Sunday).

Also on the docket, a chance to revisit Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning horror (which he described as a documentary, tongue-only-partially-in-cheek) Get Out through SIFF’s Cinema DNA programming. This installment “Get Out and the Black Perspective” includes a discussion of the film and those that inspired it. (SIFF Film Center, Sunday)

Also of note (and fodder for a separate post): Northwest Film Forum’s Local Sightings Film Festival kicks off on Saturday. Among the highlights: Puget Soundtracks, “late-night naughties” featuring a documentary about Showgirls, and a closing night with generations of African-American freedom-fighters sharing their stories (Sep. 20–29, NWFF)

Tony recommends:

  • Murder in the Front Row: The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story:  Seek & Destroy, KEXP’s popular metal show, co-presents this Brian Posehn-hosted doc about the rise of SF’s underground thrash-metal scene. It should be fascinating: This particular sub-genre helped kick hair-metal out of cultural ubiquity; spawned Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer (to name a few); and helped indirectly usher in that bastard child of punk and metal known by non-locals as Grunge. (Grand Illusion Cinema, Sept. 20 – 22, 24, 26).
  • Taste of Cherry: No less than four local indie theaters (Northwest Film Forum, SIFF Film Center, The Grand Illusion, and The Beacon) are joining forces to present an impressive lineup of films by Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. This 1997 Kiarostami effort is a divisive film that simultaneously took home the Cannes Palme d’Or and spurred the undisguised hatred of many North American critics upon its release (Sept. 20 – 22, SIFF Film Center).
  • The Incredible Melting Man: This gloriously nasty, tacky, absurd 1977 schlock horror epic plays more like a mentally-deranged, accidental horror parody than a straight horror film. An astronaut returns from orbit around Saturn, infected by a virus that turns him into a super-strong melting cannibal. Featuring makeup effects by future Oscar-winner Rick Baker, gratuitous gore and nudity, rib-tickling dialogue, and future Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme (spoiler alert!) in a porn-star moustache getting devoured by the gloppy antihero. You’re doing the Lord’s work screening this, Beacon. (Sept. 23, The Beacon)