Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Best of SIFF 2010


SIFF 2010 is over, and TVOR had a great time. She saw a lot of movies, and enjoyed most of them. But before she moves on to other subjects, there’s one more very important thing to comment on, and that’s The Best of SIFF 2010, happening at SIFF Cinema from June 18-20. This is a chance to catch some of the top films of this year’s SIFF. Maybe you missed them during the festival, or maybe you were intimidated by the whole idea of a festival. Now you have a pre-screened collection of winners and popular favorites. You really can’t lose. TVOR has seen most of the films, and will give her two cents on them. They’re listed in order of when they’re playing.

Friday June 18, 2010
2:00 PM

The Reverse
(Winner Best New Director - SIFF 2010 Grand Jury Prize)
TVOR really liked this film, a darkly comic story of three generations of Polish women and what happens when the youngest of them meets a man. It’s quite a ride, with great visuals and wonderful use of music, especially at the end. See it if you can.

Friday June 18, 2010
4:30 PM

Castaway on the Moon
One of TVOR’s favorites of SIFF 2010, this film is sweet and funny and charming. Sometimes a suicide attempt gone wrong can turn out so right. SEE THIS FILM.

Friday June 18, 2010
7:00 PM

The Hedgehog
(Winner Best Film - SIFF 2010 Golden Space Needle Audience Awards)
TVOR fell asleep during this film due to severe jet lag and has no opinion. Obviously much of the non-sleeping audience loved it, as it won SIFF’s audience award.

Friday June 18, 2010
9:30 PM

Leaves of Grass
Edward Norton plays identical twins and does it brilliantly in this strange combination of pot comedy and crime drama. TVOR liked it.

Saturday June 19, 2010
11:00 AM

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girl
(Winner Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision, presented by Women in Film/Seattle)
A documentary about lesbian identical twin yodeling singer-songwriter-social activist-performance artist-sketch comediennes from New Zealand. What’s not to like about that? Answer: there’s nothing not to like about that. Go see this film.

Saturday June 19, 2010
1:00 PM

Ginny Ruffner: A Not So Still Life
(Winner Best Documentary (Tie) - SIFF 2010 Golden Space Needle Audience Awards)
TVOR missed this documentary about Seattle artist Ginny Ruffner, but plans to be in the audience on Saturday.

Saturday June 19, 2010
3:30 PM
This Russian musical is another one you have to see, even if you think you don’t like musicals. In mid-1950’s Moscow, the young and the hip are bumping up against the drabness of the Soviet system. The visuals are amazing, the music is fun, and the story and characters are engaging.

Saturday June 19, 2010
6:30 PM
Nowhere Boy
The story of John Lennon’s teenage years, his relationship with his mother and the aunt who raised him, and his early music career. Very good, with wonderful performances, especially by Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff.

Saturday June 19, 2010
9:00 PM

Cell 211
(Winner Best Actor, Luis Tosar - SIFF 2010 Golden Space Needle Audience Awards)
A Spanish prison riot drama that won loads of Goya Awards (the Spanish version of the Oscars) including Best Film, this movie will have you on the edge of your seat. It’s a good one.

Sunday June 20, 2010
11:00 AM

Best of SIFF Shorts
A selection of both Audience and Jury favorite short films from SIFF 2010. When shorts are good, they’re very very good, and these are likely to be good. TVOR plans to be watching.

Sunday June 20, 2010
1:00 PM
Waste Land
(Winner Best Documentary (Tie) - SIFF 2010 Golden Space Needle Audience Awards)
From SIFF’s description: “Photographer Vik Muniz returns to his Brazilian homeland to develop an art project in the world's largest garbage dump. An audience award-winner at both Sundance and Berlin.” TVOR heard very good things about this documentary, but missed it. Now is a chance to see it.

Sunday June 20, 2010
3:30 PM
The Concert
A lot of people loved this French film (which is about Russians and largely takes place in Russia), but TVOR was not one of them. It’s the story of a former Bolshoi orchestra conductor who gets a bunch of his buddies to masquerade as the current Bolshoi orchestra for a concert in Paris. She found the plot so preposterous that she couldn't get into it at all. One can only suspend disbelief so much. If you like uplifting films, you might like it a lot. TVOR doesn’t really like uplifting films as a rule.

Sunday June 20, 2010
6:00 PM
Mao's Last Dancer
Another film quite a few people liked—but not TVOR. In addition to not liking uplifting films (see above), TVOR doesn’t much care for inspirational ones, and Mao’s Last Dancer fits into the latter category. At least the plot doesn’t strain credibility (see above again)--it’s the true story of a young boy taken from his village in 1970’s China and trained by the state as a dancer. After traveling to U.S. through an exchange program to dance with the Houston Ballet, he decides he doesn’t want to return to China. This decision does not go down well with the Chinese authorities. It’s unfortunate when a fact-based film feels artificial, but that was the case with this one.

Sunday June 20, 2010
8:30 PM

(Winner Best Documentary - SIFF 2010 Grand Jury Prize)
TVOR really liked this documentary about a man, who after surviving a brutal beating that left him severely brain-damaged and without his memories, devotes himself to a project that becomes his art and his therapy and his life. Fascinating. Definitely one to see.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Heading into SIFF's last week


TVOR is way behind on her SIFF updates, but to be fair, she has been tweeting. Here are some slightly longer blurbs. Most of these films have more screenings to come, so there's still time!

Cell 211--a gripping prison riot drama--definitely one to see. There are not nice people doing not nice things to one another, but the characters are interesting and it's totally worth it.

Run If You Can--German film about a guy in a wheelchair, the guy who is his assistant, and a woman they're both interested in. This sounds like it could be pretty bad, but it's actually quite good.

Reykjavik-Rotterdam--very entertaining Icelandic crime flick. Will the ex-con try to pull off one more job? And if he does, will he succeed? A U.S. remake is unfortunately in the works.

Gordos--the title means 'fat people' in Spanish, and it's about a group of them, the weight loss counselor who's helping them get thinner, and their families and the people around them. It's a strange movie, but if you're willing to go along for the ride, you may like it quite a bit. TVOR did. The ending is wild.

The Dancer and the Thief--TVOR liked this film a lot. Taking place in Santiago, Chile, it tells the story of two men who get out of prison on the same day, and weaves in some of the fallout of the Pinochet era.

For the Good of Others--pretty interesting Spanish film about a doctor who has a particular gift for healing.

Bride Flight--a fairly entertaining soap opera about a group of young women who emigrate from the Netherlands to New Zealand in the early 1950's, a hunky fellow passenger on their flight, and the directions their lives take in the following years.

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel--an interesting film about an interesting guy, this documentary focuses on the social changes in the 50+ years since the magazine was founded, and Hefner's involvement in them. And then there's the naked women. And the mansion. And the clubs.

Tsar--Russian biopic about Ivan the Terrible being really, really terrible. Religious fervor plus absolute power plus craziness does not make for good government. The visuals are great.

Patagonia--a very pretty film (it takes place in some particularly scenic areas of Patagonia and Wales) but ultimately a tough slog for TVOR. A yuppie Welsh couple go to Patagonia and act in an irritating manner, and an old Patagonian woman and a young man go to Wales, and are much less irritating. The Welsh people really needed to be told to shape up but unfortunately no one did.

Agora--did you know that in 4th century Alexandria, they spoke British English? Neither did TVOR. Everything seemed hunky-dory as long as the pagans were running things (well, there was that pesky slavery, but a lot of the masters seemed really nice to their slaves, except for when they weren't). Then there were the Christians--and the Jews, but mostly the Christians. They got riled up and then everything went awry. It turns out that sometimes religious leaders incite their followers to violence against people of other faiths. And that women have trouble getting respect for their abilities and achievements, other than those of caring for families. Hmmm, TVOR wonders if there are any modern parallels. There's nothing like being hit over the head with a 2x4 by a filmmaker trying to make a point. TVOR wonders about the possibility of much success for a film (in the West, anyway) in which the Christians are the bad guys. In addition to the fact that the film isn't very good.

Meet Monica Velour--actually, don't meet her. TVOR met her so you wouldn't have to. The film has some decent actors (Kim Cattrall does a nice job in the title role) but the lead character is an unappealing idiot and the story is ridiculous.

Blessed--this is a well-made film that TVOR really wanted to like a lot more. It takes place in one day in Melbourne, Australia. The first part tells the stories of several children, and the second covers their mothers. It would probably not reveal too much to say that life is not a bowl of cherries for any of these people. It may be that TVOR is just to shallow to fully appreciate this film.

Garbo: The Spy--fascinating and entertaining documentary about a double agent during World War II. The filmmaker adds a lot of clips from old movies and archival footage to balance out the requisite talking heads. (The guy was a spy, it's not like they could get a lot of film of him at work.)

Leaves of Grass--sort of a pot comedy, sort of an acting exercise for Ed Norton (he plays two roles), and sort of a why you should not get involved with criminals movie. Amazingly, it works pretty well, and Norton does a great job.

All That I Love--a nice little Polish Solidarity-era coming of age, punk rock film.

Double Take--an interesting film that's really more video art than film (TVOR saw it in a Chelsea art gallery last year) but plays well on the big screen. It's about doppelgangers, Hitchcock, and the cold war.

American Faust--Condi Rice sells her soul to you-know-who. If you're on board with that view of the world, you'll probably enjoy this film.

One more week of movies in SIFF 2010!