Tonight in Seattle:  

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:

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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. 

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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. "

SIFF Review: Mirage Men

You may want to believe - but in what exactly? That aliens are among us and engineered the creation of our species through DNA experiments on early primates? Or maybe that the government has been running a focused disinformation campaign to spread stories of UFO's to distract the public, flummox the Soviets, cover up advanced technology programs, or perhaps just to goose Hollywood box office numbers? And don't forget about the possibility that these government coverups are muddying the waters - hiding our dealings with the aliens by spreading half truths about aliens. 

Yep - if you thought the final years of the X-Files was all over the place, brace yourself for Mirage Men. This documentary delivers access to the players - from UFO researchers telling tales of good men turned mad by the NSA, to the OSI agents who told the lies.

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SIFF Review: Monsoon Shootout

"The law is what it is. If you can't use it to get justice then you're the ass!" - Rookie officer Adi addressing his superior.

Monsoon Shootout from director Amit Kumar is a tight and satisfying take on first day on the job dramas such as Training Day, while layering in a metaphysical treatment of the power of choices we make each moment of our lives. Clocking in at a fast 88 minutes, a lot gets packed into this one.

The film kick offs with Adi's first day on the job as a cop. He's teamed with Khan, a beyond pragmatic lawman who believes in justice but not upholding all the details of the law. That's made pretty clear when within minutes of reporting for duty Khan executes a group of suspects in the extortion murder of a real estate developer. Adi's asked to crash their car to cover up the "escape" attempt, and his moral dilemmas begin. Before long he's making choices that are all over the shades of grey spectrum as they try to put away Shiva (aka the "Ax killer"), who's just the tip of the bloody spear wielded by local gangster "the Slum Lord." In the meantime, corruption is all around in what could just as easily serve as a scathing indictment of Indian society as it could a hard-nosed police thriller.

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SIFF 2014: Week One Highlights

40 Days of Silence

Our local month-long movie megathon struck again Thursday with Jimi: All Is By My Side, a Jimi Hendrix biopic devoid of Jimi Hendrix music. But even if you missed the opening night soiree there's plenty more to feast your eyes and ears and emotions on before the cinematic smorgasbord unspools its final reel projects its last digital file on June 8.

The TIG SIFF staff will be here for the duration to help you make sense of the typically mammoth schedule, and as in years past I'll bring you a roundup of brief capsule previews for films to be screened the coming festival week. I'm happy to report that, so far, the joy-free staleness of Jimi isn't at all the deal for upcoming offerings. (Many of them, anyway.) In fact, of the SIFF 2014 films I've seen to date, the shining gems far outnumber the out-and-out stinkers.

Here are ten features to queue up for, one to avoid outright (yes, only one so far!), and six to be cautiously optimistic/pessimistic about, all screening at some point during the festival's first week (May 16-22). You're welcome.

DON'T MISS:

The Case Against 8
{screens May 16 at 6:30pm at the Harvard, and May 17 at 11:30am at the Uptown}
A moving and highly entertaining documentary following the six-year battle between California's same-sex marriage ban (2008) and the Supreme Court declaration of its unconstitutionality (2013). The film makes its revelations beautifully, peppering usual doc elements with legal intrigue and turning tides. I knew very little about the counsel team (led by Republican Theodore Olson and Democrat David Boies, who had been opponents in the Bush v. Gore recount case in 2000), and even less about the plaintiff couples (Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo), but was very happy to spend time with them all. Sure, the film preaches to the choir -- but what a beautiful sermon it is.

Difret
{screens May 17 at 6pm at the Uptown, May 18 at 3:30pm at Pacific Place, and May 24 at 3pm in Renton}
After being abducted and raped, a rural 14-year-old Ethopian girl (Tizita Hagere) shoots and kills her attacker in an act of self-defense, pitting herself and a tenacious human-rights attorney (dazzling Meron Getnet) against long-standing tribal traditions. Writer-director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari's debut feature is a compelling and devastating adaptation of an extraordinary true story. Wonderfully naturalistic performances (by mostly non-pro actors) lead viewers into the characters' worlds, and into the tense legal drama that grows from it.

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