Tonight in Seattle:  

SIFF Take: The Games Maker

Here's a super quickie review in case you’re deciding whether or not to take the kiddos to see The Games Maker today at Lincoln Square at 1:00. My kids (5 and 8) loved it enthusiastically and were shocked, shocked! that I didn't give it a 5. Me, I thought it was a terrific premise solidly in need of a tighter script and better editing. But look, I'm being a spoil-sport. We get to follow our hero Ivan Drago (no evident relation to Rocky's nemesis) to an entire town built entirely by game designers (let's all move there immediately!). When he's sent to an oppressive boarding school that maintains strict, grey-tinted discipline despite having quite literally sunk a story or two underground over the decades, he meets a girl with an extraordinary talent for going unnoticed and a clever array of gadgets and schemata. Fascist game designer Morodian (Joseph Fiennes, who steals the show) wears satin pants and rolls with Evil Genius classics (shark tank!). Director Juan Pablo Buscarini's obvious love for the book it's based on infuses everything with a bit of extra brightness. Though (spoil-sport alert!) I have a suspicion, having never read the book, that some of the movie's less successful parts may stem from excessive fidelity to the source material. It's evidently a massively popular book in Argentina, but it hasn't been translated into English yet. And I am now realizing that I am so much That Guy that I speculate the book is better than the movie even though I not only haven't I read it, I can't read it. Dear readers, any Spanish speakers who can confirm or deny my theory?

In summary. Kids: 5. Me: not 5 but totally worth it.

{The Games Maker screens at SIFF 5/25, 1:00 pm at Lincoln Square Cinemas. Director Daniel Juan Pablo Buscarini is scheduled to attend.}

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SIFF 2015: Week Two Highlights

Blind

A twisty Norwegian drama, a charming lesson in Euro-male anatomy, and the year's quietest superhero movie are three great options during SIFF's second week (5/22 - 5/28).

DON'T MISS:

Blind  
{5/26 3:30p Uptown}
This directorial debut from the writer of 2012 festival favorite Oslo, August 31 is a twisty, tricky drama about an imaginative, recently-blind aspiring novelist and the worlds she creates. And the worlds we all create, really, around what our loved ones are up to when our eyes aren't on them. The film gets progressively more delightful each time the narrative rug is pulled out from under the characters and the viewer. (Key word: viewer.)

Short Skin
{5/25 6p Lincoln Square, 5/31 7p Pacific Place, 6/1 4p Uptown}
Poking up out of the glut of coming-of-age stories at SIFF this year, here's one with a very interesting, um, entry point. It's set in Pisa and follows Edo, a sensitive teen who loves books -- he's even wearing a Powell's t-shirt at one point -- and who, goaded by his lout of a best friend, feels the need to lose his virginity by the end of the summer. But that'll be difficult, not for any shortage of eager females, but due to his titular issue: he suffers from phimosis, which means even masturbation is painful. That's right, this is a dick movie, and it's unbelievably frank about anatomy, (hetero)sexuality, and gender myths. Expect approximately half of the viewing audience to visibly shudder at multiple moments.

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SIFF Take: Being Evel

I wasn’t quite born yet when daredevil motorcyclist Evel Knievel did his most famous jumps, but I do remember watching them on reruns of Wide World of Sports and learning later that he inspired Fonzie’s “shark jump” on Happy Days (worst decision ever), so I went into this documentary with very little knowledge about the man inside the white leather jumpsuit.

Being Evel is the portrait of a man who built himself up into an American Hero by sheer ambition. One of my favorite moments in the film is how he convinced the owner of Caesar’s Palace to book his own jump over the fountain by impersonating several different people in the press and creating hype—a jump, by the way, that he didn’t make, and that you get to see replayed over and over in the (literally) bone-crushing TV footage.

After that, he kept concocting crazier and crazier stunts that earned him more and more money; money which he spent on cars, flashy jewelry, women, and some of the most fantastic 70s-era suits I’ve ever seen. As you can imagine, suddenly having millions of dollars and fame can warp a person’s perspective and by the time he made his Snake River Canyon rocket jump, he had morphed into kind of a monster.

I don’t want to spoil what, exactly, caused him to completely fall out of favor with the public—but man oh man. It’s quite a story.

{Being Evel screens at SIFF 5/28, 6:30pm at SIFF Cinema Egyptian, and again 5/30, 2:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Director Daniel Junge scheduled to attend both screenings}

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SIFF Take: Valley of the Sasquatch

Valley of the Sasquatch

Forced out of their home and with very little savings left, Roger and his son Michael end up trying to make a home in a rustic—and completely trashed by some kind of wild animal—family cabin. But what’s supposed to be the beginning of a new life turns into a weekend of partying when dad’s abrasive BFF Sergio shows up, along with Michael’s Uncle Will.

After Sergio swears he sees something “huge and hairy” lumbering in the woods, tales swirl around the campfire about Bigfoot … and it’s not long before he makes an appearance again and tries to reclaim his land from the human interlopers.

Valley of the Sasquatch is pretty much exactly what I expected: a retro-feeling-stuck-out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere monster flick that could run on SyFY—except instead of CGI’ing the heck out of everything, it relies on some pretty boss practical effects. Just a note: it takes a really, really, really, REALLY long time to get where it’s going, but at least you get to take in some gorgeous WA forest scenery while it’s getting there.

{Valley of the Sasquatch screens 5/24, 8pm & 5/26, 4pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Director John Portanova & Producers Jeremy Berg & Matt Medisch scheduled to attend both screenings}

Sasquatch 2015 Picks: Courtney Barnett, Kendrick Lamar, Run The Jewels, S, Tame Impala, THEE Satisfaction {Monday, May 25}

Thee Satisfaction - Credit: Brady Harvey

{THEE Satisfaction - Credit: Brady Harvey}

Of all the stacked daily lineups at this year’s Sasquatch, Monday is probably my favorite. Just looking at this schedule makes me exhausted! Aside from being maybe the best day for music of the whole weekend, it’s also the best day for hip-hop, jam packed with local acts and some of the best talent running right now.

On the Bigfoot stage at 1:20 are local hip-hop R&B duo Thee Satisfaction. This is not hip-hop for jumping up and yelling too, this is smooth hip-hop to groove and sway too.

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