Tonight in Seattle:  

Maleficent

{Maleficent opens in Seattle on Friday, 5/30, and is screening at AMC Pacific Place, Pacific Science Center IMAX®, Ark Lodge Cinemas, the Varsity Theatre, and Majestic Bay}

My mom took me to see Disney’s Sleeping Beauty when I was a small child, and the character of Maleficent scared and thrilled me so much that she quickly became (and has remained) my favorite Disney villain, ever. I mean, how can you not love a glamorous dark fairy with a pet raven and a penchant for casting really twisted spells? In the 1959 adaptation of the fairy tale, in addition to cursing the innocent Princess Aurora, Maleficent also kidnaps Prince Phillip, aka: Aurora’s one true love, intending to keep him her dungeon for 100 years and THEN release him to go kiss the sleeping beauty and awaken her. Damn, girl. That’s just extra cruel.

The shiny new version of Maleficent does a fine job reimagining its main character as a fairy whose evilness stems from being betrayed by the one she loves, and Angelina Jolie does a fine job playing her. She injects her performance with traits from the classic animated character, including chilling evil laughter, haughty line delivery, an arched eyebrow, and some fiery glances

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Latest comment by: Cathy Simon: "Amie is right, I did like this movie very much. The only stupid parts were when the 3 fairies (who were given the task of raising Aurora) were on the screen. Thankfully they disappeared for most of the movie. I may be biased, but the rest of Amie' s review is ...

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SIFF 2014: Week Three Highlights

Boyhood

SIFF 2014 is lurching along into its final week, and there's still time to catch up on your cinema (over)consumption if you've yet to partake. I can't protect you from the well-meaning but terrible pre-film bumpers imposed on audiences at each screening -- the membership and Egyptian ones are particularly egregious, more so when viewed more than one time -- but I can help steer you in good directions for feature presentation choices.

Here are some hits, misses, and in-betweens coming up in the fest's final ten days (May 30 - June 8).

DON'T MISS:

Boyhood
{screens May 31 at 5pm at the Egyptian, and June 1 at 8pm at the Harvard}
Boyhood is a quiet triumph, though you may not fully realize it for a while. In tracking the evolution of a young man named Mason and his family -- shot over 12 years, using the same cast throughout -- Richard Linklater has achieved something quite unlike anything I've ever seen in cinema. It consists of 164 minutes that don't necessarily fly by: like life, it's sometimes boring and imperfect, and change can reveal itself so gradually that you only notice it in aggregate.

Seeds of Time
{screens June 1 at noon and June 2 at 6pm at the Uptown}
It should come as no surprise that global food production in its current state is unsustainable, and that a decrease in crop diversity is a key factor. Seed banks around the world preserve long-uncultivated plant varieties in an effort to ensure food security for future generations; the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Arctic Norway is the most unique and perhaps the most important. It's the brainchild of conservationist Cary Fowler, and both creator and creation are explored in this nicely-done doc, which is good for foodie types and enviro-types alike as it reveals some very inconvenient truths about the disintegration of the world's food supply.

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Latest comment by: imaginary amie: "

"I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Kathleen Quinlan in the frame at any given moment."

I love you so much, embracey. :) 

"

Sasquatch 2014, Day 1

This year's Sasquatch! Music Festival, taking place at the beautiful Gorge Amphitheater, was originally scheduled to be split between two separate weekends the second incarnation slated to take place over 4th of July). While that never ended up materializing, we were still left with a fantastic three days of music -- the weather stayed nice for most of Memorial Day weekend, with only a little bit of wind and a light drizzle momentarily interrupting what was, overall, an excellent festival. 

Here's a few of the bands I managed to catch over the first day (Friday):

Modern Kin: The Portland outfit kicked off Sasquatch 2014 with a 1:00pm set at the Yeti stage, and did a good job of getting the crowd warmed up. All three members of the band contribute vocally, and the live show is a communal effort of sorts. Modern Kin is essentially Drew Grow and the Pastor’s Wives cut down to three members, picking up where the Pastor’s Wives left off, channeling their live energy into catchy tunes; at times loosely reminiscent of The New Pornographers. The rhythm section was pretty on point as well.

The Physics: Over on the larger Bigfoot stage, the Seattle hip-hop trio got the crowd grooving, bringing in a lot of passers-by just making their way into the venue. The best crowd reaction was for maybe their best summer-time jam “Coronas on Madrona”, from their fantastic 2011 album Love is a Business. The young crowd -- still fresh and ready to start the weekend -- was more than willing to dance along with them.

Kithkin: This local quartet wasted no time getting down to business on the small and entirely local Narwhal Stage. The band jumped, kicked, thrashed and shouted their way through songs off of their recent debut LP. Some bands confuse energy with quality, but luckily, Kithkin are blessed with both. Lead singer and bassist Kelton Sears spent most of the set yelling so hard you could see the muscles and veins in his neck, and also spent a good amount of the show in the crowd, holding his bass over the heads of their raucous crowd and attempting to crowd surf on top of them. It's clear why they put mics in front of all four members of the band -- someone on stage would probably feel left out if they didn’t get to scream along.

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SIFF Take: Born to Fly

Born to Fly at SIFF 2014

If Evel Knievel had been into dance, a bit LESS risk averse, and had a borderline cult-like following then Born to Fly would be about him. Instead, it's about Elizabeth Streb, the founder of "pop action" dance: a mash-up of stunt work, acrobatics, dance, and general disregard for the laws of physics and good sense. Oh, sometimes with giant mechanical apparatuses thrown in for good measure.

The dance is truly something to behold onscreen as company members throw themselves at walls, dodge rotating I-beams, and generally make dance look more suicidal (or at least more masochistic) than I'm used to seeing. The picture alternates between Streb's history, performances, and interviews with her dancers. It's hard not to note the bordering on deity worship that has the young men and women literally risking life and limb to aspire to Streb's punishing esthetic ideals while barely making ends meet. But then again, they seem to be having a hell of a lot of fun with their extreme take on motion arts. I just wouldn't want to foot the bill for their post career medical coverage.

It's hard to believe I'm enthusiastically recommending a dance documentary outside the Step-Up* series - yet here I am. This is an interesting documentary both somewhat about why people do irrational things and the wow of watching them. I hope people will notice it amongst the multitude of other options during the festival this year.

* No - I'm not interested in being told those aren't documentaries. They just seem so reasonable and realistic all the way through.

{Born to Fly screens at SIFF 5/26, 5:30pm and again 6/6, 1 pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, and 5/28, 4:30pm at AMC Pacific Place}

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SIFF Take: Why Don't You Play in Hell

Equal parts Yakuza drama, slavish love story to classic cinema shot on film, romantic comedy and over the top bloodbath, the Venn diagram intersection of those genres makes it feel as if Why Don't You Play in Hell was specifically created for midnight film audiences. The wacky gonzo feel was incredibly appealing especially once I decided that logical consistency had no place in evaluating the film.

It's hard to comprehensively explain the tangled plot and motivations of all the characters. Thankfully I don't especially want to say anything that would take away from deconstructing the tangled bits yourself. There are three groups interacting over the course of a ten year period. A group of gonzo (and supremely un-talented) filmmakers also known as the "Fuck Bombers," two gangs of feuding Yakuza - one of whom dress only in kimono, and finally a budding potential romance between the former child actress daughter of a Yakuza boss and a random guy she meets on the street while trying to run away. Ultimately all these groups are pulled violently together to make a film. Yep ... that's seriously the plot.

Mixed in there's plenty of references to specific films and cinema in general. What's not to like?

Why Don't You Play in Hell is an ultraviolet genre film that likely will appeal to the sort of folks who like to see films about film - assuming they can look past all the blood. And I'm talking little child sliding across a floor covered in the stuff two inches deep levels of blood. I know for many readers I had you at two inches of blood. But even if it doesn't sound awesome I'd suggest a broader group give it a chance - you might surprise yourself.

{Why Don't You Play in Hell? screens at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival on 5/24 at the Egyptian Theater and again 5/26 at Lincoln Square Cinemas}

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