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Film

SIFF Preview: Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure

Shut Up Little Man!

{Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure plays the Seattle International Film Festival Saturday, May 28, at 10:00 PM at the Neptune; and Monday, May 30, at 9:00 PM at the Egyptian.}

Usually "outsider art" begins consensually. Sometimes people find a certain enjoyable quality about something crafted by people a bit off the grid, perhaps in a variety of ways. The desire to experience extremely altered points of view vicariously can have many reasons, one of them being identification with either the creator or the subject of the work. In this case,  it could mean moving into very affordable housing, being thankful but perhaps confused for the low rent, and then realizing you're paying so little for your new abode after hearing your neighbors for the first time. If you can more than sympathize with such a plight, this pitch-black humor wince-fest documentary may be for you.

Shut Up Little Man! is a cottage industry based on overhearing a wallowed-in Schadenfreude. It begins in 1987, when two art-punks move to San Francisco and into the horrid-pink "Pepto Bismal Palace," where they find they have to sort of make artwork out of the damage that's being done to them, to stay sane. Listening to Peter and Raymond, their alcoholic neighbors, fight in the most horrible way every night. It may not sound like entertainment, but these inebriated, sexually deviated co-dependents really know how to charge up each other (and everyone within the vicinity having to listen to them). They're the kind of fellow tenants you hide from when you take your garbage out, for fear they'll either scream at you too or that you will punch them for the hell they're making of your life. Thus, empowerment by poor people with a tape recorder who helped create the idea of the human meme in the shitty 80s.

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SIFF Take: Karate-Robo Zaborgar

{Karate-Robo Zaborgar screens at SIFF on May 27th, 11:59 pm at the Egyptian Theater, on May 30th, 8:30pm at the Admiral Theater, and once more on June 1st, 9:30 pm at the Neptune}

In the case of the latest film from the director of Mutant Girls Squad and RoboGeisha, the description from the SIFF guide is quite accurate:

Police officer Yutaka Daimon and his motorcycle-transforming karate robot partner Zaborgar fight the evil super-crime organization Sigma. But when Daimon meets Miss Borg, a sexy cybernetic agent, their love affair threatens not only his partnership with Zaborgar, but the entire free world as well.

I haven't seen any of his earlier films so I can't really compare this to those. This one did feature the cheesy visuals and ridiculousness I expected having seen the trailer from RoboGeisha last year - but what surprised me at times was the over-the-top soap opera melodrama at work. While I laughed at some of the characters (I'm looking at you Diarrhea Robot) and got into some of the action, I also felt suitably outraged at the gender discrimination face by Miss Borg.

 

 

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L’amour fou

L'amour Fou
{L’amour fou opens in Seattle Friday, 5/27, and is playing exclusively at the Landmark Seven Gables}

Fashion junkies rejoice: L’amour fou covers every bit of master couture designer Yves Saint Laurent’s life as a trendsetter and style-making icon.

Told through still images and handheld camera footage from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s—including tours of their grand houses (an art-filled apartment on the Left Bank in Paris, a lush mansion in Marrakesh, and a beautiful house in Normandy)—this film should satisfy both history buffs and people longing for a glimpse inside an elite and glamorous world. From runways to discos, each frame of this thorough documentary resonates with impact.

 

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Recommended SIFF: Treatment (aka: Sean Nelson directs!) {5/26 & 5/28}

Sean Nelson & Joshua Leonard in Treatment

Sean Nelson fans, you may have been asking yourself - what the hell has that guy been up to lately? Well, here's your answer. Mr. Nelson co-directed a movie (with Humpday Producer Steven Schardt) that's getting all kinds of good buzz. It's about an LA filmmaker (played by Joshua Leonard) whose schemes lead him to faking a drug addiction in order to check himself into a fancy rehab clinic, befriend a sought-after actor there, and convince him to star in a movie - thus, of course, making  millions. Nelson plays his friend, so I'm not sure how big his part is since I haven't had a chance to see it yet, but hey! A co-directing credit is kind of a big deal, you know?

Anyway, throw in a soundtrack by Robyn Hitchcock, and duh. I am SO there. Nelson, Schardt, and some cast are scehduled to be at tonight's (!!!) screening, so you can give them all a big round of applause after it's over. Who's with me?

{Treatment screens at SIFF Thursday, 5/26, 9:30pm at the Egyptian, and again on Saturday 5/28, 11am at the Neptune}

*He also had a bit part in The Off Hours

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Latest comment by: imaginary liz: "I can't wait to see this movie and I'm so extremely sad that I can't make it to either SIFF showing {holiday weekend / out of town stuff!}. Fingers crossed there will be another Seattle showing in the near future? This is a total must-see for anyone who's in ...

SIFF Take: Paper Birds

During my first few times through the SIFF program catalog I'd missed the fact that I'd actually seen this Paper Birds. It played in Palm Springs and I dearly wish at this point I'd captured my thoughts on the film at the time so as to better relate them now. I do remember I didn't really love it and my core issue, though perhaps not the nuanced details, around the why.

The film is set in post-civil war Spain and follows a troupe of performers who are harassed to varying degrees by agents of the Franco government.  It's a hard, hard life and these people try to make the best of it through their virtual family of performers. Dark as it is, that part of the film would have a lot to recommend it.  Including also the impressive visual look and art direction of the film. But something about the intense melodrama kept me from truly being pulled into the film's world. Part of that, perhaps a large part of that is the overwhelming music that seemed ever-present informing me how to feel.  From the introduction in Palm Springs I recall mention that the music was composed by the director.  That's certainly an impressive accomplishment, but I think in this case less would be more. The melodrama continues right through to the penultimate scene which I may have chortled a bit at (that is - I'm fairly sure - not the reaction being sought). Plenty of people I met really dug this film, and I want to be clear that I didn't hate it either. So your mileage may vary.

{Paper Birds screens at SIFF on May 26th, 8:30pm at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center, and on May 28th, 6:30pm and May 29th, 12:30pm at Pacific Place}

Read more about Imaginary Rich's SIFF-goings and recs over on his blog of cinematic goodness: A Random Walk Through Film.

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SIFF Take: Trigger

Molly Parker & Tracy Wright in Trigger
True confession: I will see absolutely anything with Molly Parker in it because I think she is one of the most amazing and underrated actresses on the entire planet - and she proves it once again in Bruce MacDonald's Trigger.

This talky, play-like film follows one night in the lives of two women from a popular 90s band (reminiscent of Hole) as they reunite in Toronto for a Women in Rock conference. As rich, successful music producer Kat (Parker) and still-struggling-to-make-ends-meet Vic (the late Tracy Wright, in one of her last performances) reconnect, they hash out old grievances, relive past mistakes, and battle their personal addictions.

Even with a few fantastical moments like fire-breathing hallucinations and seeing a double of themselves in alleyways, the film feels authentically real - you totally buy that these women have a history together and they've both been through some heavy, heavy shit. I LOVED it, and recommend it highly to everyone. In addition to a great script and exceptional performances, the soundtracks rocks it out with music (and some stage time) by Canadian Indie bands Lioness, The Ghost is Dancing, Foxfire, and tons more.

{Trigger screens at SIFF on May 24, 9:30pm and again on May 25, 4:30pm at the Harvard Exit}

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Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "

I so NEED to see Hit So Hard! Might try to make the screening this weekend. :)

"

SIFF Take: Beginners

Beginners: Melanie Laurent & Ewan McGregor

Truth: I could watch Ewan McGregor and Mélanie Laurent do anything on screen forever and be happy about it. That said, my enjoyment while watching Beginners may have been enhanced by this gorgeous duo, but a solid script involving a very personal story (Director Mike Mills based the idea on his real-life dad's own journey), and a unique way of telling that story sold me hook, line, and sinker.

The narrative flips back and forth between broody graphic designer Oliver's (McGregor) interactions with recently out 75-year-old dad (excellently played by Christopher Plummer), and a new relationship forming with eccentric actress Anna (Laurent). The result is a ton of laughter, tears, a surprising out-of-character performance by Goran Visnjic as Plummer's boyfriend, and an adorable canine with more personality that most people. WELL worth your time and money, Beginners may very well be my favorite film so far this year (and I'm not just sayin' that because I watched it as part of the Ewan McGregor tribute and got to ogle him from the top balcony of the Egyptian while I melted into a puddle of goo listening to his accented banter).

Don't miss this very well done cinematic treat! Beginners is playing one more time at SIFF Tuesday, 5/24, 4:30 at the Neptune.

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Latest comment by: Charlie J: "Mike Mills wrote a truly original script here and if SIFF had a Best Supporting Actor category, then Christopher Plummer would be a shoo-in."

SIFF 2011: Week One Highlights

Ewan McGregor in Perfect Sense

A quirky Southern road-trip comedy delight, a harrowing political thriller, and a haunting sci-fi disaster flick (featuring a nude Ewan McGregor!) are among five gotta-see films, eight fair-to-ok offerings, and six must-avoid duds unspooling at SIFF through May 29.

DON'T MISS:

An African Election
{screens May 26 at 7pm and May 27 at 4:30pm at the Harvard Exit}
This gripping, well-crafted and fast-paced documentary offers an unprecedented view into the political and social forces at play in Ghana's 2008 presidential election. The west-African nation is often viewed as the continent's barometer of democracy -- it was the first sub-Saharan nation to achieve independence -- and director Jarreth Merz provides unique insight into its people and processes. Two leading political parties, the conservative NPP and the more leftist NDC, battle out a very tight race with the threat of violent protest looming (the NDC's chief proponent is take-it-by-force military commander and former president Jerry Rawlings), with a very narrow outcome in doubt until the nerve-jangling final moments. A fantastic documentary, and a fine political thriller.

Bicycle, Spoon, Apple
{North American Premiere. Screens  May 26 at 4:30pm at SIFF Cinema and May 28 at 10am at the Harvard Exit}
Charismatic former Barcelona mayor and Catalonia president Pasqual Maragall was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2007. This touching and informative film documents his decision to go public with his condition, his steadfast determination to beat the disease, and the strength and support of his awesome family over a fateful two-year span. The title comes from three words used to test patients' recall ability; the film provides glimpses of treatments in other parts of the world -- Holland, India, USA -- where the cues vary but the therapeutic principles are remarkably similar. Like many documentaries this could have been a bit tighter, but the Maragalls make it worth the while.

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Latest comment by: imaginary embracey: "

And all the credit for that glorious quote goes to Kim! Oh how I wish it were my own...

"

Recommended SIFF: Proof that sci-fi and emotional drama are NOT mutually exclusive

For whatever reason, this year has had some great films that use a science-fiction premise to tell a story mainly about the human experience. Think Moon, but with even smaller budgets. Thankfully two of them are playing at SIFF! Between May 21st and 24th, I’d strongly suggest trying to put together a double feature of Another Earth and Womb. You'd be investing time on some of the best low budget dramas with sci-fi themes in a while.  Plus, you’d get a chance to spend some time watching Brit Marling onscreen. The breakout star of this year’s Sundance (also staring in the amazing Sound of My Voice, which unfortunately is not at SIFF this year but will get a theatrical release) is quite simply amazing. Even without knowing she co-wrote both Another Earth and Sound of My Voice, she’s truly one to watch.

Womb - Solid execution of a marvelously fucked up premise. Girl meets a boy - then girl moves away in a heartbreaking fashion. Years later, she returns and the soulmates resume - this time with a physical relationship. Then he dies, so she clones him...and gives birth to him. Yep, as you would imagine everything goes totally fine. No, not exactly... Beautiful backdrops, limited dialog, and a story told without smashing your face into things. Womb screens at SIFF on May 22nd, 8:30 pm at the Admiral Theater and again on May 24th, 7pm at the Egyptian Theater.

Another Earth - One night brings the discovery of a parallel earth in our solar system and a horrific traffic accident. The “reality” of this mirror-image planet is revealed as the driver works to make amends. Does this new world pose a second chance for her or the father who survived the event? This fantastical device is used to explore bigger issues in what’s really a small, personal story. An extremely well executed one. Don’t miss it. Another Earth screens at SIFF on May 21st, 6:30pm at the Egyptian theater and again on May 23rd, 4:30pm at the Neptune.

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Latest comment by: imaginary embracey: "

I was disapointed in Another Earth -- mainly due to the expectations set by the film's marketing, which sold me on something that the film never delivers. A nice story and a strong execution, but I really wish I'd gone in blind; I'm sure ...

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

On Stranger Tides

{Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opened in Seattle on Friday, 5/20, and is playing at the Majestic Bay, the Metro, the Meridian, and the Cinerama}

Well thank god Disney for a swashbuckling return to form after the last two abysmally long and confusing PotC movies. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has cast off the dead weight of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly's complicated romance in favor of focusing solely on the star of the show: the scruffy, drunken, and hilariously awesome Captain Jack Sparrow (obvs. played by Johnny Depp).

After seriously botching an attempt to break first mate Gibbs out of jail, Sparrow discovers the nefarious Barbossa (Geoffery Rush - now one-legged) has joined sides with the royal guard, and is now seeking legendary Fountain of Youth--which only Sparrow knows the way to.

What follows is a kick-ass adventure involving a very sultry Penélope Cruz as Angelica, the former scorned lover of Sparrow, and the recently reunited daughter of the evil and ruthless Blackbeard--played by Deadwood's Ian McShane with heaps of Al Swearengen swagger, if Swearengen had a foofier outfit, a magic sword, voodoo dolls, and the power to raise the dead that is.

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Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "

Thanks Chris! I really enjoyed it. So much fun!

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