Tonight in Seattle:  

SIFF Take: 1,000 Times Good Night

1,000 Times Good Night might be described as “the SIFF’iest movie ever.” Juliette Binoche plays Rebecca, a photojournalist who specializes in shining the light on the world’s conflict zones, and who can’t seem to reconcile her home life and her job life—even after a life-threatening accident that occurs by putting herself in the line of fire.

In the achingly beautiful and horrific opening sequence, Rebecca is photographing a female suicide bomber when it’s detonated earlier than expected and ends up fracturing her rib. Even terrified and in pain, she picks herself up and clicks the shutter, capturing the aftermath before passing out and waking up in the hospital. Shell-shocked, Rebecca returns home to two daughters she barely knows because of all the time she spends away and a husband (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) weary of waiting for news of her death.

Director Erik Poppe fills the screen with haunting imagery and relies more on Binoche’s incredible ability to emote than dialog, which fits the mood of the film perfectly. And although at times the story seemed unsurprising, the end really packs a punch. There are lots of layers to unfold here, both personal and political.

{1,000 Times Good Night screens at SIFF on 5/23, 7pm at The Harvard Exit, and again 5/25, 4:15pm at AMC Pacific Place}

Latest comment by: imaginary amie: "She definitely elevated what could have been a typical indie movie into something with MUCH more impact. The middle seemed very typical, and easy to figure out -- but the beginning and end, coupled with her amazing performance make this one worth your time. "

SIFF Take: Lucky Them

The complete opposite of the devastating Eden (SIFF, 2012), Lucky Them is a part comedy, part “eesh, I can identify with that” romance, but not exactly in the traditional sense of the word. Toni Collette completely kills it (like she does every. single. time. Yes, even in Hostages) as Ellie Klug, a Seattle music journalist employed at fictional magazine STAX, whose editor demands she find out what happened to her missing rock-God ex-boyfriend as the anniversary of his influential album approaches. As a reluctant Ellie starts her assignment, she runs into two men that complicate the task: Lucas Stone (Ryan Eggold): a talented, and uh, very good looking, young musician, and Charlie (Thomas Hayden-Church), a rich acquaintance who offers to finance her search in exchange for filming it.

Side note: how much would I love it if Oliver Platt actually ran a music magazine in this city? The answer is SO MUCH. So, so, so much.

While I admit imaginary embracey’s comments about some of the details of her job being fantasy-based are correct, it didn’t bug me much because of my instant connection to the character. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not trying to claim that I have anywhere near the level of journalistic fame or skill that Ellie does in the film, I’m just saying: a female writer who hooks up with all the wrong people and pines after a long-lost love to the point where it sabotages her current relationships? That hits close (probably a little too close) to home. Also adding to the authenticity: I feel like I’ve met every single character in this movie multiple times. The first thing that occurred to me when Charlie appears on screen was, “Oh man. I meet that guy at every SIFF Opening Night party, every single year.”

Short story: I love this one as much as I love The Off Hours and Eden. It’s a completely different kind of love, but it’s still love. My heart is yours once again, Ms. Griffiths.

{Lucky Them screens at SIFF on 5/22, 7pm at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center for Renton Opening Night, and again on 5/23, 9:15pm at The Egyptian. Director Megan Griffiths & Writer Emily Wachtel are scheduled to attend both screenings} 

SIFF Review: We Are the Best!

If you’re free for some SIFFIng at 4:30 today, I’ve got one to recommend highly. We Are the Best! follows 3 teenage girls through roughly a school year in 1982 Stockholm. Despite the age of its protagonists—13, all—and the fact that instruments are involved, it’s not really about Growing Up, or Finding Your Voice, or even Putting On The Best Show Ever. It’s not there to judge teens (“Whatever happened to respect, young lady?”) or deify them (Bueller? Bueller?) or hold them up as adorably limited or precocious mini-humans so we can all be glad we’re past that. Director Lukas Moodysson (Lilya 4-ever) treats teenagers are interesting on their own terms, as characters who needn’t be conscripted as metaphors. It’s a poignant and insightful movie. With 13-year-old girls.

Bobo and Klara are best friends. Bobo is more inwardly drawn than Klara. She likes punk music—it makes her feel better—but she still has elephant-covered pillow cases. 

more...

A very imaginary 2014 Sasquatch! schedule

{Damien Jurado + Band / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Another year, and another weekend at the Gorge is upon us! That's right -- this weekend brings with it our favorite northwest festival season opener, Sasquatch!. Running this year from Friday through Sunday (and thus avoiding the whole, "I really should have taken Tuesday off from work!" mess), the 2014 lineup is no slouch, with a little something each day for everyone. So, without further ado, here are our cream-of-the-crop picks for each day of the fest:

Friday, May 23rd

The day starts off with a bang from the barrier in front of the Yeti Stage, where you can catch Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller noodle through classic favorites and hopefully a spin through the new record the band is touring behind. (KEXP has been spinning "Most Messed Up," the title track from the most recent Old 97s album, and We. Are. Loving. It.) After a dip by the mainstage and a few comedy acts, the night runs back-to-back with killer sets from Phosphorescent, Foals, Phantogram, and Damien Jurado -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Check out the day's schedule here, and our recommended stops below:

1:00pm // Yeti Stage: Modern Kin
2:00pm // Yeti Stage: Rhett Miller
3:10pm // Sasquatch Stage: De La Soul
4:45pm // El Chupacabra Stage: Eugene Mirman
6:00pm // El Chupacabra Stage: Princess feat. Maya Rudolph
6:35pm // Bigfoot Stage: Phosphorescent
7:15pm // Sasquatch Stage: Foals
8:00pm // Bigfoot Stage: Phantogram
9:15pm // Yeti Stage: Damien Jurado
10:40pm // Sasquatch Stage: Outkast

Saturday, May 24th

Day two out at the Gorge gets rolling with one of our favorite east-coast-turned-Seattle bands, Pela We are Augustines Augustines down on the mainstage. They'll bleed nicely into vibes from First Aid Kit to warm up the afternoon, followed by what we're sure will be the sleeper hit of the weekend, Jonathan Wilson (who is up the hill on the Yeti Stage at 4:10pm). Wilson's "Can We Really Party Today" has been a mixtape staple since Fanfare's release last year, and we can't wait to get a taste of what depths he can go to live! We'll be spending most of the rest of the night on the genre-rollercoaster down on the mainstage, with sets from Violent Femmes, Neko Case, and the National, among others.

Saturday's full schedule is here, and our can't-miss sets of the day are as follows:

more...

SIFF double take: Muse of Fire and The Search for General Tso

Examine, if you will, two documentaries very similar in tone and structure: upbeat, pleasant, and curious. One asks a very large question: How do you make Shakespeare relevant to contemporary audiences? The other asks a small one: Where did General Tso’s chicken come from? One is populated with some of the most talented actors of our time. The other, with restaurant owners, fortune cookie manufacturers, and one dedicated menu collector. Both had impressive animated interstitials and charming interviewees. The crowd loved, loved both of them. But only one was an effective documentary. The Search for General Tso, directed by Ian Cheney (King Corn), was unwaveringly fascinating and unexpectedly suspenseful from titles to curtain. What a great question: who did create this bizarrely ubiquitous dish? The surprisingly satisfying answer is unveiled after first exploring things like who the historical General Tso was and what he was famous for, the history of the American immigration policy towards China, regional variations between American Chinese menus, and what it looks like to manufacture take-out boxes.

There was no suspense and far less revelation in Muse of Fire, directed by and starring struggling actors Dan Poole and Giles Terera. Poole and Terera are funny and winning, but the film is at least as much about how hard it was to make the film as it is about Shakespeare, relevant or otherwise. 

more...

Latest comment by: imaginary rich: "Yep - Search for General Tso was really satisfying. Frankly I was sort of shocked by how interesting I found it - hope lots of folks take your advice and discover it during the fest or later. "