On Screen: Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Parasite, and Robert Forster

This week’s two major multiplex openings are both Yes-They-Really-Made-Another-One-of-Those: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil finds Angelina Jolie back in Dark Faerie Gothmother gear and swooping back into Princess Elle Fanning’s life; Zombieland: Double Tap improbably reunites the aren’t-they-all-too-famous-for-this gang of Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Emma Stone for a ten year reunion of their original (admittedly hilarious) survival among an undeadpocalypse.

The weekend also brings “sneak previews” of two of the year’s best films:

  • Parasite Legendary Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s new films are always a cause for a trip to the cinema (though his most recent movie, Okja can be found on Netflix). His newest thriller Parasite is getting exceptional reviews. I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard from those that have to avoid watching the trailer and reading the reviews and let all of the surprises unfold. It goes wider the following week, but for now here’s a chance to see it before everyone else. (CB)
    [Josh pops in to say: I’ve seen it and agree wholeheartedly. The only thing this film might have going against it is impossibly inflated expectations. Go in fresh and early and enjoy the ride.] (Saturday, 9:30 PM; SIFF Egyptian) 
  • The Seattle Queer Film Festival closes on Sunday with Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The sensuous historical romance won the Queer Palm and the Best Screenplay prizes at Cannes this spring and was a highlight of my Labor Day weekend at the Telluride. The drama begins with an artist arriving by sea at a nearly-abandoned estate where she is commissioned to paint a portrait of a reluctant bride-to-be. Intertwined stories of women each claiming a role as subject instead of object unfurl with a sensuous study of faces and glances: curious, evasive, indelible, and yes, eventually incendiary. It might be a while before it returns to local screens for a regular release, so see it early with what’s sure to be a receptive crowd. Your ticket also includes two drinks at queer/bar, for post-film debriefing. (Sunday, 7:00 PM, SIFF Egyptian)

Jackie Brown and Vigilante. Actor Robert Forster passed away last week at 78. In tribute, the Beacon Theater is showing a double feature of two of his most-known performances: 1982’s Vigilante and 1997’s Jackie Brown. Quentin Tarantino gets a lot of credit for finding a role for Forster as bondsman Max Cherry, which is a wonderfully understated performance. There’s no bad reason to revisit Forster’s work, even if I wish it was under happier circumstances. (CB) (Saturday, 9:00 PM, Beacon Theater)