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Film

SIFF 2015 Recommendation: ALL THE KEVIN BACON THINGS

Footloose 1984

In case it’s not obvious, I am a huge fan of Kevin Bacon. A large part of this is because of Footloose, sure, because that movie came out right when I discovered dancing was the thing I loved to do the most—and HELLO: Ren McCormack was/is a stone cold fox. Plus: BEST SOUNDTRACK EVER. So good that I wore out my cassette tape in 1984… not once, but twice. But nevermind my Ren-obsession: Bacon is straight-up one of the best actors out there, and I never miss a chance to see him do his thing on screen. 

If you feel the same way I do, you can’t miss the double-feature of 80's classics screening this Tuesday, May 26 at SIFF Cinema Egyptian: Diner & Footloose. The next night (Weds May 27) is An Evening with Kevin Bacon, including a screening of his latest film: Cop Car.

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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.}

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}

SIFF 2015 Preview: NW Connections

You know I always have to run through the Northwest Connections program for SIFF! This year’s offerings include a lot of documentaries and a fair amount of my favorite movie genre: HORROR.  

First up: I’m stupidly excited for The Primary Instinct because Stephen Tobolowsky is THE BEST EVER and I love listening to The Tobolowsky Files on NPR more than anything else—and I’ve never gotten to see any of his live shows. {Screens 5/29, 9:45pm & 5/30, 12pm at SIFF Cinema Egyptian; Director David Chen & subject Stephen Tobolowsky scheduled to attend both screenings}

I’m not sure I even understand what’s happening in the preview of The Hollow One, but my splatter-loving heart was all-in the second they panned to a close-up of the girl with blood dripping off of her face. Plus, setting the action out in the middle of nowhere on an abandoned farm means I’ll be genuinely scared. This one looks like (creepy, horrific) fun! {Screens 5/27, 9pm & 5/28, 3:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Director Nathan Hendrickson & Producer Sherry Floyd scheduled to attend both screenings} 

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SIFF Take: Goodnight Mommy

Goodnight Mommy

Two angelic 9-year-old twin boys arrive home to find their mother in the hallway with a face all wrapped up in plastic surgery bandages. Mommy needs her rest in order to recover—never mind that she lurks around in her bedroom poking at her bloodshot eyes or pretends to be sleeping when she’s really having a snack.

After awhile, mommy’s strange behavior convinces the boys that maybe she’s not their mommy at all and that’s when the games begin. Don’t worry! They’re just little boys … who keep an entire glass aquarium filled with cockroaches in their room. Totally normal, right?

I’ve seen too many horror movies with twins to be surprised at the ending of this one, but it was still pretty horrifying. Here’s a hint: you’ll never be able to look a tube of superglue quite the same way again.

{Goodnight Mommy screens one more time 5/18, 9pm at SIFF Cinema Egyptian} 

SIFF 2015 Preview: Face the Music

Forgive me for chiming in a little late on ALL THE SIFF THINGS, but [I could insert many, many excuses here – but let’s just chalk it up to go old procrastination] better late than never, right?! This year’s Seattle International Film Festival kicked off Thursday night and I wanted make sure y’all had a chance to mark your calendars up with some choice Face the Music programming.

First up: The much-anticipated Marco Collins documentary The Glamour & the Squalor is finally getting its release at SIFF! I remember making mixed tapes solely from Marco’s 107.7 shows when I was a teen, trying desperately to catch his eye when THE END did broadcasts from my community college parking lot a few years later, and then just trying to keep it cool when I met him not too long ago at a friend’s birthday party. Needless to say, I’m a fan and I’m super excited to see this.

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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.

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IT FOLLOWS

Maika Monroe in IT FOLLOWS
Maika Monroe in IT FOLLOWS

{It Follows opens in Seattle on Friday, 3/20 at SIFF Cinema Egyptian}

“It’s slow, but it’s not dumb.” ~ Hugh, IT FOLLOWS

Imagine going on a date with someone you really, really like, enjoying a romantic lakeside talk, cozying up in the car for some hot sex—then having that person drag you out into the middle of nowhere, tie you to a chair, and explain that by having sex they’ve infected you with something that will FOLLOW you. And you have to keep running from it, because it won’t stop until it catches up to you and kills you.

After her dream date turned nightmare, Jay (Maika Monroe) struggles to make sense of what happened, and while she’s recovering she starts to see things no one else can: an old woman shuffling towards her in school, a threatening tall man banging on her bedroom door, someone who looks lot like her friend trailing behind her—IT is following her, and it will get her unless she passes it on to someone else … although even that doesn’t mean she’ll be safe forever.

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