If there is one currently working director whose work has been most codified into a sort of brand, there is no question that it is David Lynch. Indeed, the term Lynchian, an epithet usually reserved for the most iconic and stylistically bold auteurs (Hitchcockian, Ozuesque, Bergmanesque, etc.), has been applied to bizarre and surreal films the world over, for the most part incorrectly. There are many reasons for this of course; if you had to ask the average cinephile who their favorite cult director was, it would likely be Lynch, such is the nature of his success creatively (Eraserhead is one of the great midnight movies and movies in general, and Mulholland Drive is the most acclaimed film of the century). Coupled with this notoriety, his frequent use of confusing stories and evocatively surreal imagery seems to speak for itself.
by John S.
Scarecrow’s crosscut theme this month is “The Last Time.” When it comes to cinematic tropes, the two most common ones under this category are “One Last Party” and “One Last Score.” Examples of the former include Bachelor Party, Can’t Hardly Wait, American Graffiti, and Take Me Home Tonight, all stories wherein young folk engage in one last Bacchanalian orgy of fun and booze and shenanigans before, I guess, growing up and becoming boring.
Movies that fall under the latter category, however, are usually centered on a heist or other illegal activity which the protagonist is pulling off “one last time” before walking off into the sunset. Except it hardly ever pans out so simply. A prime example of the “One Last Score” sub-genre is Heat, which pairs screen legends Al Pacino and Robert De Niro and allows them to share scenes (however few) for the first time. Pacino and De Niro had been in The Godfather 2 but their characters never interacted. In Heat, however, they are very much on each other’s minds and eventually intersect. It’s basically Sleepless in Seattle. But in Los Angeles. With two heavily armed men.
by Nathaniel Cowper
The Wild Bunch has one of the most appropriate opening sequences in film history. It frames the entire movie. It’s the gallery wall on which the action of the movie hangs. Within the first 5 minutes we get a crucial metaphor in the form of some kids and a breakneck action sequence in the form of a bank shootout. We’ll get to this in a minute.
If you could pick one movie to show a young person so that they would fall in love with cinema, what would you choose?
One of the best film events in the city is coming right up, and with it will come dozens of opportunities for the next generation to fall in love with the movies. The Children’s Film Festival Seattle takes place January 26-February 11 at Northwest Film Forum. You can see the full lineup of feature films, amazing animation, special events that involve pancakes, guests from around the world, and much more here.
We asked members of the Children’s Film Festival Seattle jury to share their favorite movies for young people. Here’s what they chose (all available to rent from Scarecrow, of course!).
One of my personal favorite movies (one of many!!) is Song of the Sea. It’s an Irish film about a 4 year old girl names Saoirse, who is a selkie and since birth has been mute. (Let me take a moment to say that the type of animation used captures me every time!) Ben, 10, is Saoirse’s older brother. Because Bronagh, the mother, died giving birth, Ben ignores everything his sister does to get his attention.
Bronagh is secretly a selkie, too, and Saoirse must speak before it is too late. Now, I know the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but the seals are so cute!! My cousin introduced me to this film, and the adventure includes choices, legends, and hilarious moments! I can’t say enough about the story, while I cried and laughed and smiled. In the end, it comes to Saoirse. It’s her decision: be a selkie with her mom, or human with her family. If I kept telling you all I love about this movie, I would end up saying a whole summary! So, if you already haven’t, go and watch this gem of a film!
–Lily Moskowitz (age 10)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is my favorite movie, probably because I read the book when I was five years old and know it inside out. This movie however, matches the book perfectly, almost like a ballet where one person mirrors the other. Instead of adding things that don’t relate to the book they take away original ideas ensuring that the movie has a normal time span, but tells the complete story. So basically, Harry finds out he’s a wizard and is accepted at a school for magic, where he also finds out he’s famous for defeating a dark wizard that is now looking for revenge.
Having watched lots of behind the scenes clips I am very much acquainted with the cheats and tricks they used. For instance: Harry’s owl Hedwig, and half of the other owls on screen, are real, with trainers on ladders on either side of the set.
The quidditch match was really fake, with suspended brooms and a green screen behind them. I like the fact that Harry is about the same age as me, making the movie much more realistic. Now, I can imagine that this could be me in the scene. The idea that this could be real still lingers in my brain as J. K. Rowling (author) seamlessly intertwines the world of magic to the world of muggles (us).
–Lukas Horvat (age 12)
The Iron Giant has always loomed large in my mind as one of the most profound movies I have ever seen. I will never forget the first time I watched it when I was seven years old. The emotions behind the plot were almost enough to make me want to close my eyes, and shut out the morals it conveys. But, now that I am older and more adjusted to how prejudice, hate, and fear affect our world, I see The Iron Giant as a film that could prove therapeutic and to everyone, not just kids.
–Isaac Hughes, jury coordinator (age 17)
Even though it is so hard to choose, I’d have to say my favorite movie is Moana. Why this one stands out from the others is because of its great message and heartwarming scenes. Moana is a story about a girl who wants to venture beyond her island’s reef, though her father forbids it because of his terrifying first experience. But once the girl, Moana, learns more about their island’s past and the threatening future, she decides to go beyond the distance allowed. Moana meets friends and enemies she will never forget, eventually coming home to her family and saving seemingly the entire world from danger.
Another reason I adored this movie so much was because of the wonderful idea that for once, a female should be the hero, not the male. Moana actually does meet a demi-god named Maui, who boasts he will save all of the islands from certain doom. But Moana soon faces the truth that actually it was Maui in the first place to shake everything up. This movie made me cry and laugh, feel fear and joy. I understood what the characters were feeling like, and I do not believe this movie could have been any better. It is actually quite new, still in the theaters, but I knew from the beginning that this story was going to melt my heart and become a favorite, and it did! Having all the qualities I wanted it to have, Moana was a tale I really do believe could become anyone’s favorite. It certainly became mine! 😉
–Charlotte Moskowitz (age 10)
I can think of so many amazing children’s films I have grown up with (I could recommend anything by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli) but if I had to pick a singular film to recommend, it would have to be Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Anderson is one of my favorite directors – if not my absolute favorite, and his knacks for aesthetic details like color palette, camerawork, and soundtrack are as present in this animated kid’s tale as in all his other films. Based on the book by Roald Dahl, this film uses beautiful stop-motion animation and an all-star cast headed by George Clooney and Meryl Streep to tell a heartwarming story of family, adventure, and the environment. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” has something to enjoy for every age and I would highly recommend it as a family film and a children’s film – especially if you are a Wes Anderson nut like myself.
–Viv Daniel, jury coordinator (age 17)
The Princess Bride is not only one of the only movies in the world that I have seen about a billion times, but one that I could see and enjoy a billion times more. Packed with adventure, romance, laughs, campy late-80s special effects, and classic one-liners, it just never gets old. To me, it is the best children’s film largely because it isn’t really even a children’s film. The Princess Bride is timeless, and people of all ages can be highly entertained by it. I am certain that even after I enter adulthood, I will continue to watch it at least once a year — still grinning throughout, still laughing at the same old jokes, and, of course, still clapping after Mandy Patinkin says “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
–Ellie Hughes, jury coordinator (age 17)
Coraline was just like any other kid moving into a new and unfamiliar place. The entire apartment building had mysteries all over it and was a mystery itself. She wanted to know if Mr. Bobinski’s mouse circus was all in his head. She wanted to know why her world, in her opinion, was soooo boring and dull. But most of all she wanted to know what was really behind the little door in the wall. It was papered over but she could still see it.
If you haven’t seen the movie, you’re probably wondering if she did go through the little door. And she did. Her first impression was that she had traveled into another world. A better, in her opinion, almost perfect world. There was a woman there who said she was her other mother. She said she’d made it especially for Coraline. And she did. But it wasn’t a paradise. It was a trap.
Coraline, who had help from a somewhat “friendly” cat, and she was able to free the spirits of the children who the Beldom, her so called other mother, who was really a spider like creature who brought children into her world so that she could sew buttons into their eyes and take their souls. Coraline was also able to free her parents, who the Beldom had captured to lure her back there.
I chose to write about this movie because of how much I like it and my personal attachment to it. When the movie first came out I was terrified to watch it because the trailer freaked me out. But a few years later I was reintroduced to it by my third grade teacher, who read the book to our class and thought that when we were finished we could watch the movie with some of the other classes. I was so scared to watch the movie that my teacher and I made a deal, I’d only have to stay for the first fifteen minutes. If I didn’t like it I could leave, but I loved it, so I stayed.
— Beezus Murphy (age 12)
by John S
This month marks the release on home video of The Girl On The Train, the adaptation of the bestseller that was positioned as “The New Gone Girl.” Let’s take a look at the history of the suspense sub-genre that Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train both belong to: “Oh, My God – I’m Banging a PSYCHO!!!” Thrillers. Or just OMG-IBAP!!! Thrillers, for short. OMG-IBAP!!! Thrillers are marked by four elements: a protagonist who is (1) in an intimate relationship with (2) someone who seems normal but is actually (3) bat-shit crazy which eventually makes the protagonist realize: (4) “Oh My God – I’m Banging a PSYCHO!!!” Read More
by John S
Movie Postmortem is a monthly series that reviews certain films which showed promise but misfired (critically and/or commercially) upon initial release. Join us in our attempt to find out exactly what the hell happened.
The Casualty: Licence To Kill
The Case History: Summer 1985. James Bond is doing well at the box office, despite practically being of retirement age. A View To A Kill, the 14th entry in the durable series, stars Roger Moore in his 7th outing as 007. Moore half-jokes that he needs to step down because, at 57, he is actually older than his latest Bond Girl’s mother. Everyone, including him, knows he’s right.