Thursday, June 12, 2014

Best of SIFF

June 12, 2014

The Seattle International Film Festival’s 2014 edition has come to an end, which means that TVOR’s brain is filled with images from the many films she saw at the festival.  Fortunately, a few of these films will be showing up on screens soon.

First up for Seattleites is Best of SIFF, when audience favorites and award winners from the festival get an extra showing. They'll only have only one screening each at Best of SIFF, so act soon if you’re interested. Here are a few that TVOR has seen and can recommend.

In Order of Disappearance:  This was one of TVOR’s favorites of the festival, and she wasn’t the only only one.  Stellan Skarsgard is the avenging father in this Norwegian crime thriller, which is both bloody and hilarious.

Boyhood:  Richard Linklater’s latest is an amazing work, filmed over a twelve-year period, which tracks the life of a boy from first grade through high school in moments both big and small.

Borgman: Evil creatures vs. suburbia, and it’s basically no contest.  Funny, dark, and creepy, with some social satire mixed in.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared: Very entertaining and absurd story about an old guy who really gets around.

Dior and I: Knowledge of or interest in fashion is not necessary to enjoy this documentary about a new designer’s first collection as the head of the House of Dior.

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story: He’s Oscar the Grouch too, and if you like Sesame Street, you need to see this documentary.

Keep on Keepin’ On: A valentine to jazz great Clark Terry, who has mentored musicians from a young Quincy Jones to Miles Davis to his current protegee, a subject of this documentary.

And there are more movies playing at Best of SIFF, ones TVOR hasn’t seen yet, so she’ll be there, in her seat in the audience.  Please turn off your cell phone and don’t talk during the movie.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

SIFF 2014

May 21, 2014

TVOR really did intend to do some blog postings from time to time during the past year--really!  It just didn’t happen.  So she’s sorry and all that, but she’s moving on.  Go see The Grand Budapest Hotel and Only Lovers Left Alive, if you haven’t yet.  And do see them on the big screen, as they’re lovely to look at.  See Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in as big and multi-dimensional a format as you can manage.  And see Million Dollar Arm, a family/baseball movie that isn't stupid.  TVOR has other plans for the next few weeks.

Her focus has switched from the regular movie marketplace to the Seattle International Film Festival.  It’s the 40th (more or less) of these monsters, and there’s much to see and celebrate over the next 25 days if you happen to be in Seattle.

Here are some recommendations on what to see, based on TVOR’s movie viewing at other film festivals earlier this year, and so far at SIFF:

In Order of Disappearance--a very funny, very bloody Norwegian crime drama, one of the highlights of the festival so far, in TVOR’s opinion.  Stellan Skarsgard channels his inner Liam Neeson as an avenging father in an increasingly absurd world.  

Hellion--a widower and his two sons try to deal with the death of a wife and mother.  Excellent kid acting in this one.

Obvious Child--a comedy about a young woman dealing with some serious stuff (getting dumped, pregnancy, financial insecurity) that manages to be very funny without trivializing the woman or her life.
Last of the Unjust--Claude Lanzmann’s follow-up to Shoah.

Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus--a well-done documentary about a political theater group in Belarus, the last dictatorship in Europe.

Class Enemy--a new teacher at a Slovenian high school is unpopular with his students, and things go south from there.

Of Horses and Men--weird Icelandic humor (TVOR means this in a good way)

Borgman--dark Dutch comedy about evil.  

The Internet’s Own Boy--very well-done documentary about Aaron Swartz, programmer extraordinaire and Reddit founder who committed suicide last year.

Living is Easy With Eyes Closed--lovely Spanish road trip movie about an English teacher obsessed with the Beatles.

The Keeper of Lost Causes--well-done Danish police drama

Dior and I--a fashion documentary you don’t have to care about fashion to find entertaining, this tells the story of new artistic director Raf Simons’ first collection at Dior.

Ballet 422--a documentary about a young choreographer making a new dance for the New York City Ballet.

Night Moves--very well-done drama about three eco-terrorists who target a dam in Oregon.

Frank--very weird movie, which TVOR thinks ultimately works, about a band whose leader always wears a giant papier-mache head. Funny and affecting.

#ChicagoGirl--The Social Network Takes on a Dictator--a documentary about a young Syrian-American girl who uses social media to help organize the revolution and Syria.  It shows the power, as well as the inadequacies, of Twitter, Facebook, and more.

Still Life--Eddie Marsan is wonderful in this lovely little film about a quiet bureaucrat who takes some tentative steps to break out of his shell.  TVOR has some quibbles with the ending, but it’s still worth the journey.

Lucky Them--TVOR saw a rough cut of this about a year ago, and liked it--the finished film should be lots of fun. Toni Collette plays a rock journalist and Thomas Hayden Church is a doofus documentarian in Megan Griffiths’ latest film.

Mystery Road--a murder mystery taking place in the Australian outback, with lots of interesting characters with complicated lives.

Big in Japan--an entertaining little fish-out-of-water road trip movie about a Seattle band who decide to tour Japan in an attempt to jump start their career.

Burkholder--in Taylor Guterson’s follow up to his first feature Old Goats, he uses much of the same cast in a story about trying to hold onto independence while aging.  Sweet, funny, and affecting.

Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang: well-done Spanish family movie about a group of misfits at a strict summer boarding school.

And here are a few movies to skip:

Words and Pictures--you might think, “How bad could a movie starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, directed by Fred Shepisi, be?”  Well, the answer is that it could be very, very bad.  These are all talented people and this film is a horrible aberration.  TVOR blames the exceedingly lame script.

The Signal--cheesy indie sci fi.  Some of the costuming involved electrical tape.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter--an interesting concept, and nicely shot, but TVOR found the main character, a woman obsessed by the movie Fargo, to be seriously disturbed, with no one to help her.  The whole exercise became a mixture of tragic and pathetic.

Mood Indigo--Michel Gondry’s latest is beautiful to look at and very imaginative, but the script doesn’t hold up. Even Romain Duris and Audrey Tatou can’t save this one.  The first fifteen minutes are pretty great, though.

The Congress--another good director, Ari Folman, strikes out with this surreal film.  Again, talented people (the cast includes Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, and Paul Giamatti) and great visuals are undone by a bad script.

So, if you’re in or near Seattle, make your SIFF plans.  And if you’re not, don’t worry.
Some of these films will be released in movie theaters over the next few months, or available to stream or watch on TV or DVD.  Others may show up at your local film festivals.  Support them!