Tonight in Seattle:  

Festivals

SIFF 2015: Week Three Highlights

Beti and Amare

A harrowing Korean sea thriller, a sultry sapphic summer romance from Lithuania, and a gorgeous Ethiopian genre mashup are among your best bets during SIFF 2015's final (!) week and weekend (5/29 - 6/7).

DON'T MISS:

Beti and Amare
{5/29 1:45p Uptown}
Intriguing 1930s-set genre pastiche about a young Ethopian woman trying to live a normal life while avoiding Mussolini's troops and local thugs. It's a supernatural romance, existential drama, and revenge thriller all in one. It's also dreamy in the best possible way, with a visual style that frequently stuns.

Haemoo
{5/29 8:30p Lincoln Square}
Horrifying, often punishingly intense sea thriller co-written and produced by innovative Korean genre genius Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer, Mother). Even when the psychosis-tinged narrative develops a nasty case of sea-sickness -- and boy, does it ever -- Haemoo sinks spectacularly. Bring the Dramamine.

Mr. Holmes
{5/29 7p Uptown, 5/31 4p Pacific Place}
Ian McKellen plays an elderly Sherlock Holmes in the late 1940s (and, in many time-toggling flashbacks, as early as the late 1910s), living a quiet countryside life with his housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her inquisitive young son. In revisiting an unsolved case he worked on toward the end of his investigative glory days, Mr. Holmes confronts the difficulties of aging, of his roles in various fictions, and of (not always) remembering. Entertaining throughout, even when the performances teeter into hammy territory.

more...

Latest comment by: imaginary amie: "oh man. I wanna see Haemoo sooo bad! Love your wrap-ups, as ALWAYS, dear embracey. "

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.

more...

SIFF 2015: Week One Highlights

Guidance

Our beloved movie gorge-a-thon kicks off tonight with Spy, an amusing Paul Feig / Melissa McCarthy collaboration that spoofs and reveres great spy thrillers. It's big and boisterous, and will play very well to the back of the (very large) house at McCaw Hall.

Many cinematic experiences will follow over the subsequent 24 days, and they'll often prove more insightful, intimate and/or impactful than the opening-night comedy blockbuster. Others will be rowdier and more fun. If there's one good thing our festival's big bloated schedule offers, it's the pure variety of the filmic wonders. And TIG's intrepid SIFFers are here to help you peruse and choose.

So off we go on SIFF 2015's first week (5/15 - 5/21), which serves up a profoundly romantic Samurai flick, food documentaries of wildly varying quality, and the funniest downward-spiral movie you'll see all year.

DON'T MISS:

Corn Island
{5/17 12p Uptown, 5/18 7p Harvard Exit, 5/19 3:30p Lincoln Square}
Patient viewers of this mostly dialogue-free festival-circuit darling will be rewarded handsomely. A farmer and his teenage granddaughter build a hut and sow corn on a no-man's land island that forms each spring in the Inguri River between Georgia and Abkhazia (and smack in the middle of those nations' conflicts). The haunting, brilliantly crafted circle-of-life drama that ensues -- it feels like a fable, really -- is a thrill to behold.

Flowers
{5/15 4p Uptown, 5/16 6:30p Uptown, 5/20 6p Lincoln Square}
Emotional and compassionate Basque-language Spanish drama about an unfulfilled middle-aged woman whose life gets a mysterious lift when she begins receiving regular flower deliveries from an unknown admirer. Quiet suspense grips the viewer ever so gently, and the film's emotional payoff is as lovely and delicate as a fresh bouquet.

Guidance
{5/15 9:30p Harvard Exit, 5/16 3:30p Uptown}
Downward-spiral movies don't get more charming than this. An aging former child star (writer/director Pat Mills, who was actually a cast member on You Can't Do That on Television back in the day) with a penchant for booze and bad decisions somehow gets away with successfully masquerading as a high school guidance counselor. Horrific, hilarious shit ensues -- conservative viewers will be absolutely appalled -- but every time the film threatens to fall apart completely it somehow gets even better. Mills has created a role and a world that exists far outside reality, but his commitment to it is absolutely beguiling. And oh, so funny.

more...

Bumbershoot 2014 music picks: Monday music loungin’

Monday is my day for lining up at Bumbershoot to try and get a seat in the sweet air-conditioned KEXP Music Lounge. There are a few things I’d like to hit Saturday and Sunday, but I’m planning to spend almost all day Monday in there, seeing: 

Hurray for the Riff Raff
1:15PM

The Reverend Horton Heat
2:30PM

Nada Surf
3:45PM

Rose Windows
5:30PM

 

more...

Bumbershoot 2014 music picks: Sunday’s cloud 9 list

Sunday at Bumbershoot means catching some longtime favorites, as well as some bands I've heard about but haven't yet seen live! The problem I'm having is that it's all SOCLOSE together! Still, everything should work out just fine ... as long as I can either figure out a) how to be in three places at once, or, b) how to get a jet pack by this weekend.

Here are my must-sees for Sunday:

Manatee Commune
12:15pm
Pavilion Stage

This kid. I just. I MEAN. Full disclosure: I saw him compete in my workplace’s Sound Off! competition earlier this year and was just COMPLTELY MINDBLOWN AWAY by his amazing melodies.

more...

Bumbershoot 2014 music picks: Saturday’s dream(weaver) list

Now it is time for me to plan my ultimate list of musical goodness for this year's Bumbershoot! I'm a planner by nature, so I HAVE to make a list, but I like to refer to it as a "dream list" because inevitably I will get distracted by something shiny and forget which stage I've planned to go to next. SO.

Here's what I'd see on Saturday, 8/30 in a perfect, focused world: 

Fly Moon Royalty
11:45am
Fisher Green Stage

Adra Boo’s voice is a symphony of amazingness, and every time I listen to her I simultaneously want to dance my ass off and cry because it’s so fucking beautiful.

more...

Bumbershoot 2014 picks: Comedy, Theater, Film, and Visual Arts

More love for the non-musical things at Bumbershoot! Yes, there are a lot of bands I wants to see. BUT there are also a lot of other things too, so I always try to make a point to squeeze in a few things that don’t involve trying to avoid a contact high or getting kicked in the face by enthusiastic stage divers.

Here’s what I’m planning to take in from the Comedy, Theater, Film, and Visual Arts goings-on this year:

COMEDY

Janeane Garafolo

Comedy at the Playhouse
Saturday 8/30 at 1pm
Sunday 8/31 at 2:45pm
Monday 9/1 at 4:30pm

Janeane was HILARIOUS when I saw her do comedy at The Neptune not too long ago, so I would love, love, LOVE to see her again … also, maybe I can “bump” into her around the Center just so I can tell her that I would have picked her over Uma right at the beginning, no contest. Ben Chaplin is DUMB.

more...

Bumbershoot 2014 picks: Words & Ideas

Bumbershoot 2014 music and arts festival, Seattle

How in the hell is it time for Bumbershoot again? {And I mean that in the best way possible, OBVIOUSLY!} In just a little over a week, Seattle Center is going to be filled with people enjoying music, art, theater, and more – including my precious favorite Words & Ideas programming. This year, the Words & Ideas stage is in the Charlotte Martin Theatre

Here’s a list of my must-sees for Bumbershoot’s 2014 Words & Ideas happening:

SATURDAY 8/30

Town Hall Presents – Arts & Culture
3:30pm

Oh hi, Stephin Merrit. How you doin’? Oh, you wanna sit down and talk to me about your new book, in which you tell me all about the smallest words admissible in the Scrabble dictionary? SOUNDS AMAZING I WILL BE IN THE FRONT ROW.

more...

Timber! Music Festival Recap

at Tote-McDonald Park

In case you missed out, here’s a recap of all the great happenings from this year’s Timber! Outdoor Music Festival:

First, a bit about the setting. The festival took place in Tote-Mcdonald Park over in Carnation, which is just the right size for this festival. There were a good amount of attendees there, but it never felt packed or crowded -- and the park is set right on a river, so if you get a little hot, you can just walk down to the water and cool off. The atmosphere here is more laid back than the larger festivals as well; there’s less security between the crowd and the stage, and members of the performing bands were seen walking around with the audience, talking and enjoying some drinks after their shows.

There was only one show going on at all times, so there were no multi-stage conflicts, which is pretty nice. I was only able to attend the third and final day of the festival, but I still managed to experience tons of great moments! In a live setting, Cumulus rocked a little harder live than they do on record, and their nice, sunny harmonies fit well in the middle of a festival lineup. The Physics are a Seattle hip-hop institution at this point, and they had the crowd swaying and rapping along to their late afternoon set. They brought a full band along, including a keyboard player, guitar player, trumpet player, and two back-up singers, sounding full and energetic.

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires closed out the main stage with style, captivating the crowd with both his voice and his moves -- he even took the time to make two different outfit changes during his show! The highlight of his set was during the slow jam “Lovin’ You, Baby” when he pulled a couple onstage and serenaded them while the sun set. During his encore, he made his way down to the crowd and hugged as many members of the audience as he could.

more...

Latest comment by: imaginary amie: "Great wrap-up, John! I was there Thursday for a bit, and I LOVED it. Definitely planning a longer visit next year. These guys really know how to put on a great festival. "

Timber! Outdoor Music Festival is happening this weekend!

{Timber! Outdoor Music Festival poster}

Looking to get out of town this weekend and check out some great music while you’re at it? We’ve got just the festival to suit your needs. The same lovely folks from Artist Home who brought us Doe Bay Fest and Slackfest (among other events) introduced The Timber! Outdoor Music Festival last summer and have come back this year with an equally exciting lineup of fantastic established and emerging artists. Headlining this year’s festival are local singer songwriters Rocky Votolato and Damien Jurado, indie guitar legend and founding member of Dinosaur Jr. J Mascis, and one of soul music’s best live performers, the impossible-not-to-love Charles Bradley.

The festival covers three days, starting this Thursday, July 24th and going through Saturday, July 26th. It all goes down over on the east side at Tolt-McDonald Park in Carnation. It’s far enough to still be out of the city, but close enough that you don’t have to fill up your gas tank just to get there.

The lineup features tons of great local talent, from recently emerging acts like The Comettes, to other indie favorites that are gaining a lot of traction in the local scene like Hounds of the Wild Hunt, Cumulus, and Smokey Brights. There are also some great acts making their way up from Portland, like The Shivas and the softer, folk-based Horse Feathers, who should sound just about perfect in the outdoor, intimate setting. Fans of hip-hop won’t feel left out either; the self professed “king of Ballard” Grynch will be there, as will one of Seattle’s finest hip hop groups The Physics. The Seattle Rock Orchestra is even going to be performing the legendary Beach Boys album Pet Sounds, and you know that’s going to sound amazing. Did I mention that kids under 12 get in free, because they do.

more...