Tonight in Seattle:  

Film

The Smurfs

{The Smurfs opened in Seattle area theaters on Friday 7/29}

I suspect most readers will have at least basic familiarity with the Smurfs, a Belgian "cultural" import that appeared on US television in the early 80s. You know - the show featuring small blue creatures who live in mushrooms and are constantly plagued by an amusingly incompetent wizard and his slightly smarter feline companion. No, that wasn't a drug induced haze from your youth - that really was a TV show.

A theory of the time believed the cartoon series to be an elaborate plot to destroy America's competitiveness by reducing our children's vocabulary to the word "smurf." Although in the present day, it seems equally likely to me that NBC just decided to save some money by not bothering to translate 25% of the words from French, replacing them instead with "smurf" or "smurfing". Which apparently meant something else entirely from what it does today...nevermind - I looked it up - the non-specific constant use of the word "Smurf" was already a mainstay of the original.

I missed the full-on Smurf love foisted on my generation by a hair, resulting in a reasonable but incomplete familiarity with the little blue peoples' mythology. So I appreciated the backstory provided in the film's beginning - first by a traditional voiceover narration, and then by evil wizard Gargamel as he puts on a little puppet show at home for his cat Azrael. Via his voicing of smurf patriarch Papa Smurf, we learn the elder of the tribe lives in an enchanted forest with 99 sons and one female - no, nothing weird about that at all (those are Gargamel's words, not mine).

 

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

{Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opened in Seattle on Friday, July 14 and is playing at the Majestic Bay, the Pacific Science Center IMAX®, the Cinerama, and other area theaters}

THE END of Harry Potter is here. And as I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan. But Amie! You’re nerdy. And you love supernatural things. And you heart the crap out of reading. All this is true, but the first 5 HP books (won from a work contest many years ago) sit dust-covered and untouched on my bookshelf.

See, Harry Potter is one of those things where every single person and their brother’s brother said some variation of this to me, “OMFG they are so amazing you will totally love them read them all right now whatiswrongwithyou?” - which is the best way to make sure I NEVER do something. So instead of reading, I just went ahead and cheated by seeing all the films. And while there were a few moments I appreciated, they kind of all blended together and I just wasn’t that impressed.

So I wasn’t really expecting to be blown away by this, but I joined in the hype just because it was fun. And on the day of the press screening for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I had to go ahead and post this smartass tweet:

HP Tweet

Which naturally totally screwed me, because I ended up pouring out some serious waterworks over the course of 2 hours and 5 minutes. So I’ll just say it: this movie surprised me.

 

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Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "

I think you will LOVE it, Liz! And the Cinerama is the best place to see it.

"

Weekend Film Pick: Heeere's Johnny at the Cinerama {7/8}

Dudes. The Shining is playing at The Cinerama today/tonight! I'm sad I missed the chance to see Kubrick's Lolita on the big screen (it played Weds), but you know I love me some bleak horror films with loads o'splatter.

Jack Nicholson has never been scarier than he is as Jack Torrance, slowly losing his mind in a deserted hotel in the middle of nowhere during a crazy snowstorm (aka Colorado). And of course, there's the twins (aiiieeeee!), the blood-filled elevator, the soul-sucking bartender - and the sheer awesomeness of seeing Scatman Crothers 70s-motif apartment in all its glory (best paintings ever). If you've only seen the clips, you're totally missing out. Go see the whole thing! Trust me. It's fantastic and absolutely worth your $8.

You can skip out of work a little early today and see it at 3:30, or wait 'til later and catch the 10:15 showing...I guess I should probably mention that A Clockwork Orange is also showing at 12:15 and 7 - that one's a bit too rapey for my enjoyment, but I know lots of people love it.

REDRUM   REDRUM   REDRUM

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Larry Crowne

{Larry Crowne opened in Seattle on Friday July 1 at the Metro, the Meridian, the Majestic Bay, and Thornton Place}

 

When I first saw the trailer for Larry Crowne, I was overjoyed.  I'll admit taken on its own, it looked like the sort of over-the-top annoying saccharine nonsense that gets made when a big star writes, directs, produces and stars in his own romantic comedy. But then I realized that it must be the "what if they met years later?" mashup of Forest Gump and Pretty Woman I've been waiting forever for Hollywood to wise up and make. It was a heavy blow indeed when I realized that wasn't the storyline at all! Probably akin with what my friends described to me a few years back when they realized the characters in Sweeney Todd weren't going to stop singing anytime soon. Though at least presumably that situation had a bloody catharsis thing going on providing some sort of release..

In terms of likely box-office success Larry Crowne definitely has three things going for it - Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and an unchallenging plot. Unfortunately, to be a really great film that's not going to be enough. In short: it's a basic romantic comedy that had me seriously groaning by the end.  Actually pretty close to the beginning, though I was laughed enough that I was distracted for a bit from how treacle stuffed the entire enterprise was.  If you love, love, love Hanks and/or Roberts I don't think there's anything here that's gonna change your mind.  So don't be too scared of seeing it.  It's not like either of these folks is turning in a performance likely to shock or offend their core constituencies (Jim Carrey inThe Cable Guy this is not). Lots of folks are going to dig this film, don't worry - I won't judge you if you're one of them. But for me I'd have to suggest seeing last week's Bad Teacher first - at least they were reaching for something.

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Latest comment by: Imaginary Rich: "

Was there really?  ha - I totally missed that. Well, I'll certainly give them credit for smart marketing ;-)

"

Imaginary Watch This: Tennis Pro is BIG in Japan

BIG IN JAPAN Teaser 06.13.11 from John Jeffcoat on Vimeo.

Kon'nichiwa! (sorry, that was cheesy). Hey! Does everyone have their Tennis Pro tix for tonight's CD Release at Chop Suey? Ok then. I thought y'all might also want to know that there's a movie about these guys in progress called Big in Japan, and the trailer was just released, and I just watched it and was all "Shuthefrontdoor. That looks AWESOME!!!" (yes, to myself). No seriously, it does look awesome. Right?


Bad Teacher

 

{Bad Teacher opens in Seattle on Friday 6/24 at the Landmark Metro Cinemas, the Regal Meridian, Crossorads, Thornton Place, and Lincoln Square Cinemas}

I've got to admit I was super excited when I sat down to see Bad Teacher with a crowd full of people Wednesday night. While I knew there was a risk that all funny bits were in the trailer, the combination of Cameron Diaz playing an teacher with what appeared to be an "all children left behind" policy and the likable Jason Segel made me uncharacteristically optimistic. Completing what I can only assume to be the conclusion of a trilogy of films started with Bad Santa and Bad Lieutenant focused on people failing in their chosen profession, Bad Teacher applies that formula to our education system.

It's a watchable comedy that provides a decent number of laughs and a good number of smiles. What it didn't do for me is deliver the steady stream of deep belly laughs that a great comedy can/should. It's possible (OK likely) that if I'd gone in without having seen any prior clips from it I might have had a much better time. My suspicion is that this will become one of those things that you watch a piece of with nostalgic fondness when it's on TV - not quite an Animal House or Old School, but perhaps somewhere in the Dodgeball range.

 

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Green Lantern

Green Lantern

{Green Lantern opens in Seattle on Friday, June 17 and is playing at the Metro, AMC Pacific Place, the Cinerama and Oak Tree Cinemas}

Even though I have a comic-nerdian background, I’m only slightly familiar with this particular superhero's lore, and thus probably not qualified to judge whether Green Lantern does it justice or totally ruins it—that said, I found it to be pretty damn entertaining.

The whole thing reminded me of vintage Superman (as in Richard Donner’s 1978 version), with a lot of exposition at the beginning explaining the origin of the Green Lantern Corps, and a ton of space exploration with prettily colored stars and crystalline spaceships. With uh, much more advanced special effects and some pretty damn fantastic alien makeup.

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Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "

Doh! Moviefone failed me this AM. Adding Cinerama! Thanks, Rich. :)

"

Best of SIFF 2011 Weekend {6/17-6/19}

Gandu

{Best of SIFF 2011 screenings take place June 17-19 at SIFF Cinema.}

You may have noticed we've hushed up about SIFF these last couple of days. That's because SIFF 2011 is a thing of the past. Did you miss out, despite our daily urgings to see this Alaskan crime thriller or that Spanish period drama? Are you kicking yourself for foregoing Seattle's month-long megalomaniac cinemathon yet again?

Well, you have a few chances for redemption. That's right, just when you thought it was safe to go back to Seattle Center, an action-packed three-day Best of SIFF 2011 program invades SIFF Cinema at McCaw Hall this weekend (6/17 - 6/19), and will feature a mix of (mostly very deservingly-honored) Jury Award winners, Golden Space Needle Audience Award winners and fest favorites. So, you can partake of films you missed the first time 'round (shame on you) or revisit your SIFF favorites one more time (on the big screen instead of Netflix).

The full lineup, along with the intrepid TIG SIFF team's takes on the selections we reviewed, after the jump.

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Latest comment by: Josh: "I saw Gandu today, I loved it and hated it. A real button pusher. And I decidedly did not find it "hot." But I admired it's nerve and I'm glad I went. Also I hadn't heard much from the Asian Dub Foundation lately and found it interesting that they were involved."

SIFF 2011 Wrap-Up: 10 Favorites

We Are the Night
Well, it's OVER once again! SIFF 2011 was a whirlwind of great films, Q&As, gabbing with other film nerds, happy hours, and parties. I'm sad it's over, but like most SIFF fans, I probably need a break before it starts all over again next year. In total, I saw 26 films (which honestly pales in comparison to say, Imaginary Rich, who is probably somewhere near 80), but there was so much goodness that I was able to pick ten favorites.

Watch for these to get locally-released, on demanded, or DVDd: 

A Cat in Paris: An awesome kitty cat named Dino lives a double life on the rooftops of Paris traveling between two houses: one, a police officer and her daughter, and other a crafty cat burglar. Beautiful animation, a swingy retro jazz soundtrack, and a funny/moving story. LOVED, loved, loved this.

Beginners: (this one is playing right NOW at The Harvard Exit!) Both quirky romance and a love letter to family, this one manages to be touching without being cloying. McGregor, Laurent, and Plummer all rock it - and the dog adds just the right touch of cute. 

Late Autumn:
A woman let out of prison for 48 hours to attend her mother's funeral and a gigolo who's on the run from a customer's angry husband connect when they run into each on the bus. Depressing? Sure. But lovely all the same, plus lots of great Seattle scenery.

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SIFF Take: Poupoupidou (Nobody Else but You)

Poupoudiou (Nobody Else but You)
I have to admit I was skeptical about this based on the description as it could have easily been cheesy and cliche, but Poupouidou (Nobody Else but You) turned out to be an atmospheric French thriller with some pretty fantastic performances.

Detective novelist David Roussea (Jean-Paul Rove) travels to the snowy town of Mouthe for a will reading when the murder of local cheese model/weather girl Candice Lecouer sparks an idea for his next book. It seems Candice believed she was the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe (and her path to fame and death certainly mimics the tragic star's own story).

While reading Lecouer's diaries, Roussea starts to fall for her and becomes determined to solve her murder - which proves problematic when the killer starts targeting him as well. Beautiful scenery, and I'm not gonna lie - a beautiful actress (Sophie Quinton is fantastic) - completely suck you into this film, and even though you think you know where the story's going, you're in for a few surprises.

{Poupoupidou screens at SIFF one more time, Sunday 6/12, 1:30pm at the Neptune}

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