Notes From The Program Director | Week of February 10th

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Notes From The Program Director

Week of February 10, 2023

Melissa Tamminga

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Hello, friends!

Our Oscar-nominated films extravaganza continues this week, with renewed screenings for the vibrant Everything Everywhere All at Once and the life-affirming tear-jerker Living, and we’re adding two new Oscar-nominated films to our line-up: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, nominated for Best Documentary, and RRR, nominated for Best Song.

Directed by Laura Poitras (who won an Oscar for 2014’s Citzenfour), All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is an example of when the Academy gets their nominations right: it's one of the best films of 2022. The enthralling documentary swirls around the life of brilliant artist-photographer Nan Goldin, whose provocative, intimate, deeply personal art-- eventually featured in galleries like the Met in NYC and the Tate in London--challenged ideas about what art could be or should be and what kind of photography might be considered "artistic." The examination and celebration of her art, alone, would be enough for a full, complex film. But Poitras also beautifully weaves in Goldin's eventual work as an activist, when she took on the immensely wealthy Sackler family, whose donations to the art world earned them names on the most prestigious art galleries in the world but whose wealth was built on an investment in and false claims about opioids and, as such, rests on the deaths and destruction of countless lives. Goldin's own opioid addiction and the fact that her work hung in the galleries of those who were benefiting from what almost killed her, drove her to her passionate activism. The resulting film, intertwining stories about the grotesque effects of capitalism in America and about deeply personal art, is electrifying and extraordinary.

And back for a triumphant return and limited engagement is Pickford favorite from S. S. Rajamouli, Rise, Roar, Revolt, RRR, the epic Indian Telugu-language action film that in 2022 had audiences everywhere, including here in Bellingham, cheering from their seats. I’ve never been in a theater where an audience cheers and claps, full of excitement and praise, at an intermission, and then also cheers and claps at the end of the film, too, but that is exactly what happened last time we played the film here. Rajamouli combines enthralling, gorgeously conceived action set-pieces with a riveting, nail-biting story, and beautifully developed characters, two heroes that are simply pure joy to celebrate (and villains so dastardly that they are equally delightful to hate). RRR is a film that it’s certainly possible to stream, but not only is the streaming version of the film dubbed and in the wrong language, but it’s simply a film that just isn’t the same on the small screen. It was tailor-made for the big screen and for the collective delight of a crowd, and truthfully, I’ve had the film’s irrepressible Oscar-nominated song “Naatu Naatu” dancing in my head ever since I saw the film last year. What a delight to bring it back to our screens again! We’ve got only four screenings of it before it leaves again, so be sure to mark your calendars: Friday, Feb. 10, 7:30 pm; Saturday, Feb. 11, 4:10 pm; Sunday, Feb. 12, 1:30 pm; and Wednesday, Feb. 15, 7:00 pm (“Western Wednesdays,” where all Whatcom county students are eligible for a free popcorn at the Pickford.)

In addition to our Oscar-nominated films, we also have a couple of very special events, with a film for our Rocket Sci Fi series and for our Black History Month series.

Revenge of the Creature, playing Sunday, February 12, 1:45 pm, is the second film in the line-up of the reboot of our Rocket Sci Fi series, curated and introduced by our longtime wonderful projectionist Steve Meyers. Revenge of the Creature is a sequel to the first film, Creature From the Black Lagoon, and follows the creature, “the Gill-man,” who has been captured and has been sent off for study and observation, but the creature has some ideas of his own. Tickets for Rocket Sci Fi films are only $5, so come on out for the rare opportunity to see the film in its big screen glory!

Our Black History Month series also continues on Thursday, Feb. 16 with Gordon Parks’s buoyant film Shaft (1971), which was beautifully introduced for us earlier this month in Elvis Mitchell’s Is That Black Enough for You?!? documentary.  Shaft is a particularly interesting film within the so-called Blaxploitation era in part because it was, arguably, the most successful film of the genre, and it was also the first studio film ever with a Black lead, a first that sadly tells us a great deal about Hollywood’s history. And while Blaxploitation films are often known for their provocative qualities, Parks himself was not merely a provocateur but an artist, as not only Shaft but his humane and beautiful work as a still photographer and his lyrical first film, the semi-autobiographical The Learning Tree, indicate. While Parks’s photo essays for Life magazine captured a deeply complex humanity and Shaft, on the other hand, has an epic, larger than life quality made for blockbuster cinema, Shaft retains Parks’s deep devotion to humanistic artistry, and the film, notably, inverts racial stereotypes and challenges racialized pathologies. Richard Roundtree, in the lead as John Shaft, is exhilarating to watch, both in terms of how the character is written and how Roundtree embodies him, a figure recalling Bogart in the best noir films -- a suave, super cool, unflappable detective, who navigates the complicated world between police and criminals with ease -- but making it wholly his own role. The film also boasts one of the all-time best movie soundtracks and scores, rightly winning an Oscar for Best Song, and it’s simply impossible not to sing while exiting the theater: “Shaft!”

It’s a great week for cinema. See you at the movies, friends!


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We open 30 minutes before the first showtime of the day.
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Pickford Film Center

1318 Bay St
Bellingham, WA 98225

Office | 360.647.1300
Movie line | 360.738.0735

Mailing Address
PO Box 2521
Bellingham, WA 98227