Tonight in Seattle:  

Film

A very imaginary “best of” 2013 movie list

It is time once again for me to dig into the vault of my ever-failing memory and pull up a list of the best movie things I saw in 2013. (Thankgod for Letterboxd...) 

Best acting job I’ve ever seen Leo do: The Wolf of Wall Street
I completely forgot that was Leonardo DiCaprio up there on the screen while I was watching him reenact Jordan Belfort’s insane life … which is really unusual. And while I’m saying for the second time how much I loved this film and can’t wait to see it again, I’ll just throw in that I am not in the camp that thinks this movie glorifies Belfort’s behavior. It’s not about the victims, because that would be a different movie. It’s about excess and greed and hookers and drinking and drugs and money. You know, typical Scorcese stuff. And it’s great. It’s really, really, really GREAT.

Best film about a guy you probably shouldn’t care about, but do anyway: Inside Llewyn Davis
I’m still not sure how I feel about all that folk music, but I do know how I feel about the Coen Brothers. I like those guys an awful lot. Llewyn Davis is kind of a dick, but he’s also kind of not. And you end up rooting for him, even if he isn’t rooting for himself. Confused? I might be too, but it’s a good film anyway … and I sure do like that orange cat.

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The Wolf of Wall Street

{The Wolf of Wall Street opens in Seattle on December 25, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Thornton Place, and the Regal Meridian}

At one point last eve, amidst the rum balls and hot buttered rum and glasses of cava, I declared that I had to write this review and my love suggested that I could just claim my drunken state was “research” into the excess shown in The Wolf of Wall Street. Brilliant, right? And then, I totally forgot and fell asleep.

Brushing the sleep out of my eyes early this morning instead, I’m here to tell you that Wolf is my favorite Scorsese movie since Goodfellas. It’s funny, no, I mean, REALLY funny, and Leo. Mygod. I didn’t even notice it was Leonardo DiCaprio up there on the screen. It WAS Jordan Belfort.

The “wolf”, if you don’t know, is a guy who started on Wall Street as a stockbroker’s intern, got laid off on Black Friday, and then lucked into selling penny stocks and got really great at it, opened his own boiler room turned firm, and proceeded to screw his clients while making millions and millions and millions of dollars for himself ... but of course you can only do that for so long before someone catches you. 

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DVD captures Lemolo's Beautiful Night

When local dream pop duo Lemolo sold out two nights at the Columbia Theatre for the release of their debut album Kaleidoscope, no one was more surprised than the artists themselves. Fortunately, their surprise didn’t stop them from thinking ahead, and they worked with local production company Creative Differences to record both shows for a DVD called Beautiful Night: Lemolo Live at the Columbia City Theatre.

The DVD includes songs from both performances interspersed with backstage moments and shots of the audience. Despite the occasionally jarring effect of switching back and forth between the two nights, the pristine sound and sharp visuals do capture the energy of the shows – especially when the crowd sings along to “Whale Song.”

No one who was there for either of those two nights in June 2012 is likely to forget it. At those shows and many more that followed over the next year, Meagan Grandall and Kendra Cox gave performances that layered impressive power and energy on top of the dreamy melodies from the album. Both played their instruments with intense physicality, and the two seemed to share a telepathic connection on stage.

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Latest comment by: Mark: "I've been following Lemolo since their early show @ the High Dive. I've thought their break up in August was a loss. Kendra gave so much power to the duo. Their live shows were waves of sound rushing over you. I couldn't give out Kaleidoscope, it lacked the same ...

Inside Llewyn Davis

{Inside Llewyn Davis opens in Seattle on Friday, 12/20 and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle and The Harvard Exit}

Greenwich Village. 1961. Folk Music. These are things which I know little about, and also things in which I am only mildly interested. What I am interested in is the Coen Brothers and their ability to tell so many different kinds of stories so goddamn well.

Joel & Ethan made their own special brand of magic happen again with Inside Llewyn Davis (that’s Lew-N, in case you’re wondering); the story of a folk musician who’s trying REAL hard to make it on his own.

In the course of a week, Llewyn (Oscar Davis—man, this guy is good) has to deal with losing a generous friend’s cat, an unexpected pregnancy with near-constant verbal assault from the expectant mother, an unsympathetic agent, a lecherous club owner, a heroin-addicted jazz player, and a best friend whose success is imminent, because he’s clearly “selling out.”

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Celebrate 25 Years of Scarecrow Video this weekend {12/6-12/8}

My favorite Seattle institution, Scarecrow Video, is celebrating TWENTY-FIVE FREAKING YEARS this weekend with all kinds of specials and things and stuff and stuff and things.

Look, y’all, I can’t say this enough: Scarecrow is awesome. Scarecrow opened its doors on December 9, 1988 and started with an inventory of 600 titles. Now, it has something like 120,000 (blink blink). There is nothing like stepping into a video store and really LOOKING around, discovering new films, re-disovering old favorites, getting suggestions from the people who work there, and striking up conversations with fellow film-lovers. If there was ever a time for you to either go in for the first time, or return there after a long absence, THIS is it. This is the time. Now. 

Anyway. About the stuff and things: 

Friday, December 6 through Sunday, December 8, Scarecrow is going to have a ton of special things happening, including ONE FREE RENTAL per customer, and an ultra-cool amnesty on late fees (got an old late fee and haven't been in for awhile? update your account and rent something, and they will wip the slate clean -- unless you never returned the movie at all -- there are limits, people!), plus:

50% off all used titles
$1 VHS and Laserdiscs
$3 off Criterion titles (this is an ongoing sale)
Markdowns  on select box sets and out of print titles
Packs of 10 pre-paid rentals for only $25 (that's a $15 savings!) 
Raffles & giveaways
Favorite movies screening all weekend 
A scavenger hunt
You can also buy a copy of their amazing limited-edition 25th Anniversary poster by Marc Palm: $25 each (25" x36" - shown above) 

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Sunlight Jr.

{Sunlight Jr. opens in Seattle on Friday, 11/15, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle}

Director and writer Laurie Collyer’s latest, Sunlight Jr., is an unflinching portrait of poverty.  The two lead characters struggle against a tide of horrible circumstances which test their strength and love for each other, and the little hope they experience is quickly eroded by insurmountable obstacles. 

Melissa (Naomi Watts, who is just frankly amazing in everything, but particularly in this film) lives in a shitty motel with her boyfriend, Richie (Matt Dillon) and works a shitty minimum wage job with a shitty boss in a shitty part of town called Sunlight, Jr.

She also has a shitty, abusive ex-boyfriend named Justin (Norman Reedus. I can’t. I mean. Can you just be Daryl Dixon forever instead of this guy?) that stalks her at work, and also rents a house out to Melissa’s alcoholic momma, who has a passel of neglected foster kids.

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All Is Lost

{All Is Lost opened Friday at the Regal Meridian 16, Cinemark Lincoln Squares Cinema, and the Landmark Seven Gables}

A man alone with himself sometimes has only one's mind to fear. Though sometimes the risk of drowning at sea, cut off from all communication with the rest of humanity enters into it as well, even if there's not a giant CGI tiger to make things extra complicated.

Robert Redford is such a man: adrift, alone with solely himself to rely on, as the open ocean and fates toss him about as a plaything. Little background about him is given as the audience is taken along for the ride, with his attempts to survive his yacht being struck by a loose shipping container.

In a nearly dialog free picture, Redford delivers a deeply engaging performance, truly becoming a seasoned and calm mariner pushed to the breaking point. All is Lost is a worthy challenger to Gravity in this Oscar season's category of "mankind against the elements" pictures. It manages to to thrill and educate while presenting an intensely human portrait of a man running out of options and bearing almost all of it with the patience and determination of Job.

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Show your love for Seattle's Scarecrow Video at Independent Video Store Day this Saturday {10/19}!!

Well, really what I want to say (and what I say every year) is to show your love for Scarecrow Video more than just this one day of the year -- although if you haven't been in for awhile, this Saturday is as good a time as any to start! 

Scarecrow is honestly one of the greatest places on earth, and I swear I'm not exaggerating. I've been going there for years, and every single time I've ever been looking for ANYTHING, even the most obscure thing, Scarecrow has had it in stock. Granted, I spend most of my time in the Psychotronic room or browsing the Director sections, but man-oh-man. All the other sections and rooms rule too! They are simply THE GREATEST. 

This Saturday, they've got a ton of awesome things going on for International Independent Video Store Day, and I really encourage you to go check it out. Stop in and for all the happenings, including: 

50% off used movies for sale on Saturday AND Sunday
$3 off new Blu-rays and DVDs for sale
10 rentals for $35 (a $10 savings)
Grumpy Hour Specials all day long at VHSpresso!  

And chances to win prizes!!! Enter to win: 

A year-long pass to SIFF Cinema Uptown & SIFF Film Center
A theater rental from the Grand Illusion Cinema (!!!) 
Passes for the NWFF
Passes for Landmark Theatres
Passes to the EMP Museum

Also, filmmakers Megan Griffiths and Lacey Leavitt curated a bunch of films from the height of the VHS-era just for Scarecrow customers! So cool.

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Carrie (2013)

{Carrie opens in Seattle on Friday, 10/18, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Oak Tree Cinemas, and Regal Meridian 16. Imaginary Amie also talked to Director Kimberly Peirce about making the film! Read her interview here.}

After the lackluster 2002 remake by David Carson (meant to launch a Carrie TV show, which THANKFULLY did not happen), I was worried about anyone else taking on such an iconic horror story for the screen since Brian DePalma did such an amazing job of it in 1976. 

Also, remakes are tricky! Especially for a story that has invaded pop culture as deep as Stephen King's Carrie has. Even if you're not a horror fan or you haven't seen any other version, chances are you already KNOW what happens at the end. And of course, DePalma has his own distinctive filmmaking style. But that isn't copied here. Instead, Pierce returned to the book for some additional material and added some slick updates, infusing her own voice into the story expertly. And yes, the prom scene in this one is still really bad-ass.  

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Imaginary Interview with Kimberly Peirce, Director of Carrie {2013}


Kimberly Peirce, Chloë Moretz, and Julianne Moore on the set of Carrie

As a horror fan, I was worried that the recent "re-imagining" of Carrie on screen would either be a regurgitation of DePalma's film, or completely disappointing like the 2002 television movie. But with Kimberly Peirce in the Director's seat, this vision of Carrie turned out to be pretty damn entertaining. Peirce, who also wrote and directed both Boys Don't Cry and Stop-Loss, stays true to the heart of Stephen King's story while infusing it with her own voice. I sat down with Kimberly last week and talked with her about storytelling and the powerful symbolism of Carietta White. 

{FYI: there are a few spoilers below in the questions and answers} 

TIG: Was re-telling the story of Carrie White something you've always wanted to do? 

Kimberly Peirce: I probably always wanted to do it, and I didn't know it. I was approached, and I was amazed at the opportunity. I had read Carrie as a kid, and I loved it! And I am always looking for great American fiction that was entertaining. I love The Godfather, I love Jaws -- I mean, I love this kind of classic pulp fiction. Nowadays, I'm desperate for good stories. If you can just give me a good story, I'm in heaven … and you run dry on that. 

So, they [MGM] came to me and they said, 'how would you like to re-imagine Carrie?' And at first, I was like, "Oh, let me think about that." because I love the Brian DePalma original; I think it's fantastic. I'm not necessarily for or against remakes -- I love the original Scarface from '33, and I love the new one. I love Imitation of Life; the two different versions. I don't have a prejudice about it. My feeling is: take great source material, do something great with it, make it as many times as you want as long as you do something good. 

When they came to me … I just had to look more deeply into the material and when I did, I was actually astounded at how much more I loved it than what I remembered. I think it's timely, timeless, and more relevant today that it was then. 

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