Tonight in Seattle:  

Film

Bask in VHS nostalgia this week at Scarecrow Video and Grand Illusion Cinema!

Guys, I'm an idiot for not telling you about a few things earlier:

1) August is VHS MONTH at Scarecrow video!
2) Scarecrow Video now has a screening room
3) VHSpresso (located within Scarecrow) now sells BEER to the over-21 crowd
4) Grand Illusion Cinema is showing VHSentric documentaries

YES. You too can relive the pain of having to actually rewind your favorite movies before watching them again! And the stress of denting your collector's clamshell packaging, removing a stuck tape from the player without tearing it ... plus the excruciating, sometimes years-long, wait for a film to move from "rental price" to "sell-through" so you can buy it without forking out over $100!!! 

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Imaginary Interview: Cockneys Vs Zombies director Matthias Hoene

Cockneys Vs Zombies Directed by Matthias Hoene

One of the most fun films I saw at SIFF this year was the Adventure/Horror film Cockneys Vs. Zombies, and I got to sit down and talk to Director Matthias Hoene (my people!) about the making of the film, which was REALLY AWESOME. Really, really, really awesome. Like, I could talk to this guy all day about horror films awesome. Why don't you live here, Matthias? SERIOUSLY. 

Anyway, Cockneys Vs. Zombies was released on VOD August 2, so you can still find it there -- and Matthias said he "hopes" the DVD will be out by Halloween. Fingers crossed! 

TIG: Let's get into your inspiration for the film! Did you grow up loving zombie films? 

Matthias Hoene: Well, my love of zombie movies started when I was given a grubby old VHS tape, which only had "Dead Alive" written on it … 

TIG: YES!!!! 

Matthias: ... And it was a film at the time that was sort-of banned, so I watched it "illegally" in my living room after my parents had gone to bed. And I was just so blown away by how gory, yet funny, it was. And I really loved the film! 

And of course, Evil Dead 2 was one of my big influences. I loved all the Sam Raimi films -- even Army of Darkness, I thought was great. So I think it was those films that inspired me and made me really want to do a zombie film. So those were my early influences, and then later on I really loved films like Terminator and Aliens, and Delicatessen … which had sort of this quirky meets big blockbustery thing. But when it came to making this film, I was more thinking about the Dead Alive and Evil Dead-type movies. 

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Latest comment by: Blissette: "The zombies are going to be good. That is just the thing that makes it better. - Lindsay Rosenwald "

Hannah Arendt: A film about love and the deep cost of civil courage

{Hannah Arendt opened in Seattle on Friday, 7/19, and is screeing at the Landmark Seven Gables Theatre}

"Philosophers can't meet deadlines," one editor says to another at The New Yorker, as the other assigns philosopher Hannah Arendt to covering the Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in 1961. "I was just following orders," Eichmann says at the trial before he is hanged for his distant but deeply deleterious Nazi war crimes. These are two sharp lines in a movie that is sliced through with them, the award-winning Hannah Arendt, shrewdly directed by Margarethe von Trotta (Vision, Rosa Luxemburg) and featuring an astonishing biopic performance by Barbara Sukowa. 

I first heard about Hannah Arendt, I think, when I read Greil Marcus's book Lipstick Traces in the late 80s. I might have read about her before then, but don't remember it. Marcus was using her phrase "the banality of evil" to discuss some really horrible things that have happened in history just because people followed orders, refusing to be "persons." Like Dostoyevsky's image of the baby tossed up and stuck on the tip of a soldier's bayonette during wartime in The Brothers Karamazov, Marcus illustrated his time-map of senseless human cruelty by describing human face masks in Central America -- enemies (victims) whose faces were carved from their heads and worn or put on posts by U.S.-backed military juntas.

Reading this while the arms for the Contras scandal played out, the passion and rage and damage of timeless punk (from Dada to the Sex Pistols) seemed quaint but still necessary. For sanity, to continue on in the face of oppression, daily ontological revolt against sadistic social and military "business as usual" is imperative. Nothing describes what compassionate people kick against more than what has itself become to many a banal phrase, "the banality of evil."

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The Conjuring

{The Conjuring opens in Seattle on Friday, 7/19, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle, AMC Oak Tree, and AMC Pacific Place} 

Well, it seems like James Wan has found his official ghost movie shooting style, because other than the presence of paranormal/demonology experts Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, I feel like this film is almost indistinguishable from Insidious

Along with hundreds of other supernatural mysteries, The Warrens are the famous real-life husband and wife team who investigated The Amityville Horror, and The Conjuring is based on one of their most disturbing cases, The Harrisville Haunting: about a family named The Perrons who move into a creepy old farmhouse and discover some not-so-nice spirits there. 

The film starts with the story of one of Ed and Lorraine's other cases, a possessed doll called Annabelle, which the Warrens now keep locked up in their household museum of psychic curiosities (WHICH I AM DYING TO VISIT!). 

Herein lies my first problem: Wan's manipulation of the doll in his adaptation is comically over-the-top. The real Annabelle doll is a giant Raggedy Ann which is actually CREEPY AS SHIT, but the doll in this movie is constructed to look so creepy, there's no way you'd ever believe anyone would bring it into their house. Too much, Wan! Too much. 

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Maniac (2012)

{Maniac is screening at the Grand Illusion Cinema July 12-18 - and you can pull off a horrific double-feature this weekend too, since V/H/S/2 is screening on Friday and Saturday at 11pm!}

I didn't think there was any way Elijah Wood would ever be able to creep me out more than he did as Kevin in Sin City, but I stand corrected. Don't be fooled by Wood's usual Hobbit-y, childish demeanor; in the remake of the classic 1980 horror film Maniac, Wood is a scary-stalky-scalping monster. 

Wood plays Frank, a shy mannequin store owner who targets young women with lush manes of gorgeous hair, kills them, then brings their scalps home to place on top of mannequins so he can pretend they're his girlfriends -- all while having imaginary conversations with his dead, abusive mother. 

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Pacific Rim

{Pacific Rim opens in Seattle on Thursday, 7/11, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Thornton Place, Pacific Science Center IMAX, the Cinerama, and AMC Pacific Place} 

There's quite a bit of exposition in the opening scenes of Pacific Rim, but even though narration usually bugs me, I didn't mind it here one bit, because: giant robots! and giant monsters! and giant robots and giant monsters fighting! and yay

Anyway. If you haven't been anticipating Guillermo Del Toro's Transformers/Godzilla/Independence Day mash-up FOREVER AND EVER like I have, Pacific Rim is a sci-fi/action movie about a world in which "Kaiju" (aka: the giant monsters) have started invading the earth from a fissure in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean that's actually an alien portal. 

To combat these destructive interlopers, the government creates "Jaegers", which are equally giant combat-ready robots with all kinds of fancy weapons. The robots require two human pilots who have to mind-meld with each other in order to handle the "neural load" required to control the 'bots, which means your partner better be able to handle whatever baggage you carry with you. The pilots take Kaiju names and kick ass without chewing any bubblegum, and all of them get elevated to rock-star status fame. 

But the glory days don't last long.

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DEAL ALERT: Imaginaries can save $3 on music films at SIFF!

Dearest Imaginaries, 

We are super-pleased to announce that we've just partnered with SIFF to get a not-so-imaginary discount for our readers on music-related films!

SIFF Cinema Uptown is screening the rockumentary about 70's band Death, A Band Called Deathon 6/28, 6/29, and 6/30, and a special one night only presentation of the Low Movie (How to Quit Smoking) on 7/17 -- and you can save $3 on tickets for each film with our super easy to remember code: 3IMAGINARY. Just use the code when purchasing tix over the phone, at the box office, or on siff.net.

Pro tip: the Mecca has $4 well drinks during Happy Hour (4-7pm). AND IT IS RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. Saving $3 on tix means you get a drink for $1. Amirite? (but + tip, because, don't be cheap.)

Anyways, we love you! And SIFF loves you! So go love them back.

PS: Our own Chris Estey saw A Band Called Death during this year's festival, and had a lot of praise for it over at KEXP.

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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Imaginary Interview: Much Ado about Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg

{Much Ado About Nothing officially opens in Seattle this Friday, 6/21, and is playing at various theaters around town, including The Harvard Exit}

You guys remember how excited I was when SIFF announced that Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing would be the Opening Night film, right?!?! RIGHT?!?!?!! Okay, well. Imagine how much I was flipping out when I found out I got to actually SIT IN A ROOM with and TALK TO Whedonverse faves Nathan Fillion* (who plays Dogberry) and Clark Gregg (who plays Leonato) about the film.

I gotta say that both of them were the funniest, kindest, and most charming guys ever. And yes, for those wondering, Fillion IS that handsome in person. I'm not sure how I survived, but I credit the ladies with me in the round table interivew (Taylor Johnson from The Happy Girl Experiment and Allie Hanley from Geekscape) with helping me stay upright. Some of their questions are intermixed with mine, below.

Taylor Johnson: So, we heard about Joss Whedon's legendary Shakespeare brunches. How does that work? You get a call "Let's have some French Toast, let's read a little Shakespeare. . ."

Nathan Fillion: It's an email that says "We're doing it again. Who can make it?" and then everybody starts replying all and you get to read everyone's smart comments. From that we get a cast list and this is the play we are doing, this is the version we are doing. These two characters are going to be one character, this one character is going to be a girl instead of a guy. Brunch starts at 11..."

Clark Gregg: Don't tell Clark. 

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Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "Oh! You are so right. I am changing this right now, Anon. Thanks for the correction! "