Tonight in Seattle:  

Festivals

Monsters University: A dual review by Imaginary Amie and Roxie Rider

{Monsters University opens in Seattle on Friday 6/21 is playing at the Majestic Bay, AMC Pacific Place, Sundance Cinemas Seattle, and Oak Tree Cinemas}

Usually we stick to the usual around here with movie reviews: one person per movie, but since we break that mold a little with SIFF, we decided to throw it out the window for Pixar's Monsters University (a prequel to Monsters, Inc.), because two of our film-loving writers both adored it equally. If you need a bit of background on the plot: Monsters U is about Mike Wazowski attending Monster college to learn the ways of being a top Scarer. He meets Sully there, but their friendship is not instant. Mike has to battle distractions against studying, a doubting Dean, Sully's ego, and a bullying jock (voiced by Nathan Fillion, naturally) and figure out how to turn his sad nerd frat into winners so he can get the education and degree he needs to work at Monsters, Inc. 

Here's a transcript of what both Imaginary Amie and Roxie Rider thought about it! (Warning: MILD spoilers ahead, but we tried not to go into too much detail)

Amie: Let's talk about that beautiful short at the beginning of the film The Blue Umbrella! What were your impressions? Did your kids like it? There was a little girl in back of us saying "Oh no oh no oh no" during a tense moment. So much emotional pull packed into a little short. I loved it! 

Roxie: I liked it very much too. I thought the story was very sweet, but I was more impressed by the extraordinary realism. Pixar movies and shorts have always have a really cartoon-y look, which is smart—it sidesteps the whole uncanny valley question neatly. But it honestly took me well into the short to figure out that it wasn’t a mixture of live-action and animation. Can you think of another digital movie that seemed so realistic?

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Imaginary Interview: talking about peer pressure, excess, and music with The Bling Ring's Katie Chang and Israel Broussard

{The Bling Ring opens in Seattle on Friday, 6/21, and is screening at SIFF Cinema Uptown, The Guild 45th, AMC Pacific Place, and Oak Tree Cinemas} 

Sofia Coppola's new film, The Bling Ring, screened at SIFF for this year's Closing Night gala. The film is about the real life "Bling Ring": a group of teens who robbed celebrity houses and then flaunted their scores all over the Hollywood club scene and Facebook. It's a story steeped in excess, and Coppola based the screenplay heavily on a Vanity Fair article called "The Suspects Wore Loubitons" by Nancy Jo Sales, and footage from the E! reality show Pretty Wild, which featured two of the ring members, Alexis Neiers (played in the film with eerie attention to detail by Emma Watson) and Tess Taylor. 

I was lucky enough to get an early peek at the Director's take on what happens when a group of spoiled rich kids takes their love of celeb culture and designer duds to a new level, and even luckier to get to sit down with the film's stunning leads,Katie Chang (Rebecca) and Israel Broussard (Marc) to chat about teen peer pressure, the culture shock of L.A., and working with Sofia. 

The two young (goodlord does spending time with an 18 and 19-year-old make me feel like an OLD lady!) actors were remarkably composed, polite, and accommodating. They even indulged my request for a Bling Ring-style selfie at the end of the interview! Hey, Katie and Israel? I LIKE YOU. And I hope I get to see you in more stuff soon. 

TIG: First off, I was curious if you two grew up like the characters you play in this film. Or, if not, did you know kids like that? Basically, how familiar were you with that world? 

Katie Chang: Well, I grew up in a pretty affluent part of Northern Illinois, right north of Chicago. So the way that I grew up was very much mid-western small town, but you go a couple minutes East and you're on the lake, and I knew a lot of kids on the lake. So I wasn't unfamiliar with kids who were both rich and bored. 

Israel Broussard: No, I grew up about a block from the trailer park in Mississippi, so I was not at all familiar with it until I first got to L.A. 

Katie: NOTHING can prepare you for L.A. 

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"Best" of SIFF 2013 series begins Today {6/12} at the Uptown

Populaire

So unless you've been hiding under a giant rock for the past month, missing the TIG SIFF team's extensive coverage, overlooking the 'round-the-block queues at some of our fine local movie houses, and/or oblivious to the palpable cinematic energy felt throughout the 206 area code, you've been at least vaguely aware that SIFF was going on. It kicked off May 16 and ran through this past Sunday, and it featured over 447 films from 85 countries. A total of over 700 screenings. Whoa.

Well, today through 6/20, SIFF Cinema Uptown presents a 'best-of' program that whittles down that gargantuan, overstuffed lineup to 19 programs (18 features and a shorts package) of festival award winners and audience favorites. Perfect opportunity to see what all the ado was about if you missed out on SIFFing altogether for some reason, or if the insane schedule made you miss something else you really wanted to see, or if the SIFFatigue got to you early and just caused you to give up. Or maybe none of those scenarios applies and you're just interested in checking out some good films. In any case, you're in luck.

Some of my personal favorites (Wolf Children, Our Nixon, Populaire, 7 Boxes) are making well-deserved repeat appearances, while others (Una Noche, Stories We Tell, The Spectacular Now, Die Welt, The Fruit Hunters) are conspicuously absent. And, IMHO, there are some that probably don't belong at all (C.O.G.? Seriously?). But I can almost guarantee you'll find something to appreciate. After the jump you'll find the schedule in screening order, with the TIG staff's thoughts on the films we covered, other reviewers' takes on the ones we didn't, and/or my own humble opinions of the films I saw too late to include in my weekly preview roundups.

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Latest comment by: imaginary embracey: "

Also note: a few SIFF 2013 films have begun theatrical runs and can be seen elsewhere around town --

The East - opens Friday 6/14 at Sundance Cinemas

Frances Ha - now playing at the Meridian and Sundance Cinemas

The Kings of ...

SIFF Interview: Teddy Bears (part 2) - Cast Members David Krumholtz, Melanie Lynskey, Gillian Jacobs, & Zachary Knighton

{Teddy Bears screened at the Seattle International Film Festival on 6/1 and 6/2 -- and will hopefully get a wide release soon! I was super lucky to get to sit down and talk with the cast and crew. This is part 2 of my interview with Cast Members Melanie Lynskey, David Krumholtz, Zachary Knight, and Gillian Jacobs. You can find part 1 with Directors Thomas Beatty and Rebecca Fishman here

Oh man. You guys. DREAMS DO COME TRUE! I can't believe that I not only got to spend a long time talking to the Directors of Teddy Bears (Thomas Beatty and Rebecca Fishman), but I also got to sit down and talk with the cast -- which includes some of my favorite actors, ever. 

As you can imagine, having four awesome people in one room was HILARIOUS, and made it hard to stick just talking about the movie. We did manage to get there … eventually, [SPOILER ALERT! Just FYI] but we started out talking about Vine videos, specifically one that David Krumholtz made about a surprising "cheese" discovery that morning. (PS: There's even a little shout-out for Scarecrow Video near the end!) 

Zachary Knighton: Did you make a Vine last night? 

David Krumholtz: I deleted one where I have my shirt off. But … I did one this morning. I got that cheese that I bought on my shirt. 

Gillian Jacobs: What cheese? 

David: Last night, when I came in with bread, I had a chunk of cheese too. I had goat gouda. Which is THE BEST.

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Latest comment by: imaginary embracey: "

What a fun interview. I hope the film gets a release, too - I've heard some wildly mixed opinions and wanna see for myself.

And yes, agreed, it'd be great to see the Duplasses' Togetherness pilot go to series.

"

Photo Essay: SIFF Closing Night - Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring

One last red carpet hurrah from Imaginary Rich with the stars of Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, which screened at the Cinerama for SIFF's Closing Night! And if you missed the film on Sunday, The Bling Ring screens at SIFF Cinema Uptown starting on Friday, 6/21. YAY! We also have an interview with Israel Broussard and Katie Chang coming soon! 

We can't wait to do it all again next year, but until then - that's a wrap on the 39th Seattle International Film Festival. Check out our SIFF 2013 coverage -- with a few more interviews and posts trickling in this week. 

We ♥ you, SIFF!!!!

Israel Broussard, Mary Bacarella, Carl Spence, and Katie Chang

{more photos after the jump} 

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SIFF Take: Cockneys Vs. Zombies

Cockneys Vs. Zombies is about a zombie invasion that breaks out in East London, which starts when a couple of construction workers accidentally break open a sealed tomb. The film focuses on two groups of people have to fight their way out of the middle of the flesh-eating infected. 

The younger group is made up of two brothers and their misguided friends who attempt to rob a bank in order to save their granddad's retirement home from being sold to a huge developer. They end up bungling the job, but a zombie attack happens just as they're about to confront the waiting cops, and they escape (with a couple of hostages). 

The older group is made up of the aforementioned granddad's retirement home (including Honor Blackman and Alan Ford!), but don't worry -- they know how to take care of themselves. Er, well, some of them do. Just in case, though, the younger crew starts making their way across the city to save them, and, of course, both groups suffer more than a few casualties along the way. 

There's plenty of good Zombie-genre jokes in the script -- for instance, the fact that an old person using a walker can outrun the slow-moving undead -- plus lots, and lots, and LOTS of splatter (and entrails. and decapitated heads. and bitten-off body parts). SO yeah, obviously I loved it. It's a hell of a lot of fun, and a perfect choice for SIFF's Midnight Adrenaline

{Cockneys Vs. Zombies screens at the 39th Seattle International Film Festival on Saturday 6/8, midnight, at The Egyptian Theatre, and again on Sunday, 6/9, 8:30pm at the Kirkland Performance Center. Director Mathias Hoene is scheduled to attend both screenings} 

SIFF Take: Wish You Were Here

A married couple, the wife's sister, and the sister's handsome new boyfriend head to South East Asia for fun party times on the beach. But sometime during the revelry, the boyfriend goes missing and as the search for him continues, all kinds of dirty little secrets are revealed. 

I mostly agree with what Embracey said about Wish You Were Here in his Closing Weekend Highlights post, but I want to add that though the flashbacks do get a little grating and the reveal about what really went down could have been handled more smoothly, the strong performances more than make up for that (I completely disintegrated into sobs more than a few times).  

Overall, it's a solid thriller with great acting and direction -- which is a pretty good way to spend a few hours of your weekend. Also, I have absolutely no problem staring at Joel Edgerton for 89 minutes. NO ONE should. 

{Wish You Were Here screens at the 39th Seattle International Film Festival on Friday, 6/7, 09:30pm at the Egyptian Theatre, and again on Sunday, 6/9, 3pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown} 

SIFF 2013: Closing Weekend Highlights

Last Flight to Abujah

The last few days of the festival are upon us, and if you've slacked on your SIFFage, there's still time to do something about it. Judging by what I've seen in advance, the programmers have saved some of the best for last: Closing weekend (6/7 - 6/9) has at least five sure-fire hits that I personally guarantee will provide you some major cinematic enjoyment. So get to SIFFin'!

DON'T MISS:

The Bling Ring
{screening as part of the SIFF 2013 Closing Night Gala, June 9 at 6:30pm at the Cinerama}
Following up 2010's dour Chateau Marmont-set drama Somewhere, Sophia Coppola stays in L.A. and this time serves up some grade-A good trash. There's already been a Lifetime movie dramatizing the real-life subjects portrayed here: a group of fame- and celeb-obsessed teens who in 2008-2009 habitually waltzed right into celebrities' vacant (often unlocked!) homes, promptly helping themselves to clothes and jewelry and cash -- sometimes carrying the loot off the premises in (also stolen) designer handbags. The Bling Ring doesn't really have as much to say as a Lost in Translation, or even a Marie Antoinette, but it's slick and fun... and occasionally horrifying. (Imaginary Amie and I saw this together, and I reckon her review will be similarly positive.)

Die Welt
{screens June 7 at 3pm at the Uptown}
An unaccountably captivating fiction/documentary hybrid set in contemporary urban Tunisia. Told in four distinct chapters, the loose narrative begins with 23-year-old DVD salesman Abdallah attempting to convince one of his customers not to purchase Transformers 2 -- his lengthy, thoughtful, very funny diatribe conveys a beautifully region-specific POV. We continue to follow Abdallah through a series of gorgeously-shot daily-life sequences, each with its own little stories and yearnings, all of which ultimately support his vivid conceptions of a better life in Europe. A wonderful film that would've made an excellent double-feature with its thematic cousin Una Noche.

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SIFF Take: Putzel

Walter Himmelstein, aka "Putzel" (Jack Carpenter, who could not be MORE perfect for this role), has grown up in a small section of the Upper West Side his entire life and has never left it. Waiting to take over his family's smoked fish deli, Putzel seems like he's constantly on the verge of a breakdown; exhibiting nervous scratching ticks, second-guessing everything he does, and in serious denial about the cumbling state of his marriage. But he's still determined to take hold of the business and make it a success. 

And then two things happen that throw a wrench into Putzel's carefully composed "40-year plan": his Uncle Sid (John Pankow, who I love watching on Episodes), decides to sell the deli and move to Arizona, and an enchanting bartender/dancer named Sally (Melanie Lynskey, please just marry me already) waltzes into the deli one day, managing to capture the heart of both Sid and Putzel. 

There's plenty of hilarious moments in this film, including the most-awkward dirty talk-sex scene I've ever seen, and the best cameo from Fran Kranz EVER (Hello, my name is Salmon). It's an adorable romantic comedy with adorable leads set in an adorable part of New York, and yes, even Director Jason Chaet is adorable (and very, very funny). It's a great film to laugh yourself silly through. 

{Putzel screens at the 39th Seattle International Film Festival one more time on Friday, 6/7, 1pm at AMC Pacific Place} 

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Latest comment by: Peggy James: "It's AN lovable romantic comedy with lovable leads set in AN lovable a part of the big apple A lot of aussie gamblers are finding unwell and drained with pubs and land based on line betting site and so are constructing the changeover to dark knight pokies. ...

SIFF Take: 9 Full Moons

In 9 Full Moons, Frankie (Amy Seimetz, I sure do like seeing you in everything!) is so broken, that she drinks herself into oblivion hourly and even brushes off getting raped with a vague indifference and an admission that it was probably her fault for not fighting back. And Lev (Bret Roberts) is so broken that he barely registers any emotions and is so closed off that it would be impossible to ever know who he is. Hell, he probably doesn't even know.  

Frankie wants to be a traveling gypsy. Lev wants to break into the music biz ... and neither one of them know how to be happy. It's a match made in heaven, right? I'm being snarky, but it's kind of true. These broken people are so broken that only they could even begin to understand how broken the other one is. And you really, really want them to make it -- but you know they're probably just going to end up even more broken in the end. 

This film is gritty and dark and depressing as hell. But the screenplay is solid, the acting is fucking brilliant, and Donal Logue and Dale Dickey (again! man, I love that woman) are in it too. Definitely one you shouldn't pass up. 

{9 Full Moons is premiering at the 39th Seattle International Film Festival on Thursday, 6/6, 7pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown. There will be a red carpet arrival with cast & crew, and a Q&A afterwards! It's also screening again on Saturday, 6/8, 1:45pm at The Harvard Exit. Director Tomer Almagor is scheduled to attend both screenings} 

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