Robert Horton is a Scarecrow board member and a longtime film critic. He will be contributing a series of “critic’s notes” to the Scarecrow blog—a chance to highlight worthy films playing locally and connecting them to the riches of Scarecrow’s collection.
In ye olden days of my career in writing about film in Seattle, I used to review everything. I mean everything: If it had an arthouse run for a week, I tried to get it in the paper.
Given the economic state of newspapering these days, that is no longer possible, so lots of movies open that I don’t have a chance to see ahead of time, let alone review. This is frustrating. It’s also part of the reason I try to highlight smaller openings in this Scarecrow blog series, even if I haven’t had a chance to preview the movie.
For instance, this weekend, March 29th, 2019. I can mention four local happenings without even being exhaustive. At the SIFF Cinema Uptown, there’s a local run for Sergei Bondarchuk’s mega-production War and Peace (1966), a seven-hour-plus opus which will be screened in separate parts. Kind of amazingly, this showed on American TV in the 1970s, and I watched it then, although it surely lost a lot on the small screen. But it looked pretty cool at the time.
SIFF also has a run of Benedikt Erlingsson’s Woman at War, an Icelandic film about a seemingly mild-mannered woman (heroic performance by Halldóra Geirharõsdóttir) who secretly wages environmental war against local exploiters. An expertly well-crafted film with a potent political charge, this is the kind of title that, in a different era, would have hung around a Seattle arthouse theater for months. I hope it gets noticed now. (I saw it last year at a film festival in Ukraine, which is another story.)
The Northwest Film Forum hosts director Patrick Wang and his heralded two-part film A Bread Factory for screenings this weekend. Its fans are passionate. Midweek, the NWFF brings back a restored version of Christopher Munch’s superb 1992 (one-hour) film The Hours and Times, a speculation on what happened between John Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein during a holiday in Barcelona (Ian Hart and David Angus are sublime in their roles). Here’s where I would reprint my Film Comment interview with Munch, but it’s in a box somewhere in storage—the movie itself will reveal a uniquely thoughtful directorial sensibility, anyway.
Finally, the Grand Illusion has a run for Joel Potrykus’s new film Relaxer. I haven’t seen it, but it sounds every bit as distinctive and peculiar as his 2014 indie Buzzard, an authentic crackpot original. Here’s my review of that one.
See you at the arthouse?
Robert Horton, the longtime reviewer for the Daily Herald and Seattle Weekly, is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.