Brian Millers Fall Favorites
Sweet and Sour
Born in the remnants of the Austro- Hungarian Empire in 1906, he fled the Nazis to the United States, taught himself idiomatic American English, and somehow became one of the great writer- directors of the studio eraamassing six Oscars and 21 nominations over 27 years. But after hits like The Apartment and Some Like It Hot, along with misses like One, Two, Three and The Big Carnival (aka Ace in the Hole)all four of which will be shown in this three-week retrospective at the GIBilly Wilder abruptly lost his touch. What was once louche seemed lurid, the acerbic antic, the startling stale. Basically, the baby boom generation didnt get Wilder, and he had no interest in getting them. Today, Cameron Crowe and other Hollywood boomers champion this artifact of their childhood. As the master himself said: The Wilder message is dont boredont bore people. No danger of that here. Grand Illusion, 206-523-3935. Sept. 12Oct. 2.
Now in its third year, the 1st Person Cinema festival is growing on me with its consistently interesting oddball titlesand its gaining some major sponsors. Microsoft and Vulcan are ponying up to underwrite this falls celebration of eccentric and sometimes downright demented docs, including How to Draw a Bunny, a profile of outsider artist Ray Johnson. The Same River Twice drew strong notices at Sundance for its meanderingly elegiac examination of lost 70s idealism (that, plus lots of nudity). Other subjects include demolition derby drivers, female wrestlers, televangelism, Cuban exiles, the Holocaust, and Andy Warhols Factory screen tests, in which luminaries (Lou Reed, Susan Sontag) and losers tested their supposed talent against his unstinting lens. Little Theatre, 206-675-2055. Sept. 26Oct. 5.
Everythings Dark Again
SAMs smashingly successful, annual Thursday night film noir series trots out the usual suspects: Alan Ladds tarnished smile; Dan Duryeas demented cackle; Humphrey Bogarts weary heroism; and Orson Welles fetid corruption. In perhaps the retrospectives most obscure title, 1948s To the Ends of the Earth, a U.S. Treasury agent (former Warner Bros. 30s child star Dick Powell) pursues nefarious opium smugglers who blithely dump 100 Chinese stowaways to their watery death to avoid Coast Guard detection. Series tickets nearly always sell out, so make your investment ($48$55 for 10 films) early. Seattle Art Museum, 206-654-3121. Oct. 2Dec. 11.
Lets Wonk Italian
Not only is the museum screening eight essential Fellini titles, its also going to exhibit some of those great vintage Italian postwar movie posters. (Too bad the museum isnt selling full-size reproductionswho wouldnt want an 8-foot-tall Claudia Cardinale peering down on their cubicle?) A Halloween dinner, concert, and various lectures are also on the schedule of this UW program titled Felliniana. Seattle Art Museum, 206-654-3121. Oct. 1227.
Love Among the Old Folks
Given how much more vital and interesting the documentary form has been lately compared to the Hollywood mainstream, we can expect good things from the weeklong InFact Theatrical Showcase (formerly called DOCtoberthat is so rock!). The idea is to highlight short and feature-length docs that need a theatrical run to qualify for Oscar consideration (in the past, this rule has killed the chances of superior titles like Hoop Dreams). Expected to be in the lineup are Bus 174 about a media-sensation busjacking in Rio de Janeiro, and Breakfast With Hunter, a much-praised profile of the famous gonzo journalist. Among the shorts, I like the sound of the octogenarian romance Love in an Elevator, which takes place in a nursing home. You cant get that from Hollywood. Varsity, 206-632-3131 (also see www. documentary.org). Nov. 713.