Tonight in Seattle:  


Phil Ochs: Why Neil Young, Ben Barnett & other great musicians love him (& why you should see his doc at NWFF!)

Phil Ochs

{Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune opens Friday, 3/14 at the NWFF and plays through Sunday, 3/16}

Phil Ochs was a protest singer in the early 60s folk scene that also spawned Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and others. But I rarely listen to his early stuff; even though it enervates with left-wing patriotic spirit and lacerates society's bullies (the anti-union wealthy, racists, religious bigots) with vicious satire.

This opening segment of the new music movie playing at the NWFF, There But For Fortune (screening Friday, March 11-13) does an inspiring job of getting you involved at the beginning of his career. These were the years Ochs hung out with Stephin Merritt's heroine, art-pop chanteuse Judy Henske; sparred conversationally and artistically with Dylan over the meaning of politics and aesthetics; partied in his NYC apartment with those two and everyone from writers to activists to those in the middle like The Fugs' Ed Sanders (if you think you're a punk and that doesn't ring any bells, take back your Green Day CDs to Everyday Music, kiddo).

Ochs was singing songs like "Here's To The State of Mississippi," in which he threatens to beat down the state personally for flagrantly murdering blacks and white civil rights activists; "Love Me I'm A Liberal" where he makes fun of weak-bellied Democrats for fearing Malcolm X; and "Cops Of The World," the folk song equivalent of throwing water balloons full of piss at the riot troops in downtown Seattle during the WTO riots (though it's more about Vietnam than cop-riling).


Latest comment by: Chris Estey: "

Wow, thanks, Michael. I've never seen that movie (and thus missed that scene) but I love Paul Simon and have been meaning to. Thanks for prompting me to check it out -- to hear him say that, and for a variety of other (musical-goodness) reasons. BTW, ...

Imaginary Weekend Film Recs - Some Unusual and Unusually Rich Choices

If there's one film you see this weekend, please make it Cold Weather at the Northwest Film Forum. If there are two films you see this weekend, I'm gonna have to suggest seeing Cold Weather twice. Seeing three, first let me say, "Good for you!" If you're looking to pull off a cinematic hat trick, my parents would strongly suggest Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune (also at the Northwest Film Forum). Huge fans of Mr. Ochs, they saw the film during its brief stop in NYC and couldn't speak more highly of it. Unfortunately I'm off to SXSW this weekend, so I won't get a chance to see the Phil Ochs film until it hits video.

Speaking of SXSW - in addition to the music its most famous for, there's also a tremendous amount of film. Last year was my first trip out there and it was quite the experience. I saw a lot of great stuff - with one of the highlights being Cold Weather.  I almost saw it again in Vancouver at their festival.  Couldn't quite make it work, but I did attend a meet the filmmaker series session with the Portland-based director. This is a film that defies easy characterization - except that it's really, really good. It's a fairly unique (the only other example I can think of is Monogamy) mash-up of a chatty relationship slice-of-life drama centered around twenty-something characters, shot in a natural style with a whodunnit mystery. Yet it's not really fully either, and the sum is greater than the individual parts.

A lazy description would be a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys adventure for the mumblecore crowd. Especially worth a theater viewing, as on top of everything else the cinematography deserves to be seen on a large screen - particularly one breathtaking shot at an Oregon waterfall (you can see this shot briefly in the trailer below in my full review). Yep, I super dug it. Hope you will too.


Latest comment by: Grand Illusion: "Don't forget DOGTOOTH at the Grand Illusion!"

Imaginary DVD Picks: zombies on TV & a mystery graffiti artist

The Walking Dead, Season One: Even if you don't like the characters (I admit, some are little too whiny), the awesomeness - and the sheer amount - of bloody, gory special F/X in this AMC show makes it something special. Cranking up the level of hopelessness with every episode combined with piles o'blood & guts make this high on the list of my favorite TV shows ever (psst: HURRY UP WITH SEASON TWO ALREADY).


Latest comment by: Imaginary Rich: "

Yeah - you truly need to see Exit Through the Gift Shop if you haven't.  It's interesting and a lot of fun.


Recommended Viewing: The Feminine Wiles of Catherine Deneuve @SIFF Cinema {3/11-3/12}

8 Women

{The Feminine Wiles of Catherine Deneuve runs from Friday, 3/11 thru Saturday, 3/12 at SIFF Cinema}

I know I'm not the only one who developed an instant crush on Catherine Deneuve the instant that I saw her slink onto the screen in The Hunger, but just in case you're not aware of the glory of this gorgeous French force of nature, you should get yourself over to SIFF Cinema this weekend to view her unforgettable on screen presence. They've put together an impressive package of four films (sadly, the goth culture mainstay mentioned above isn't one of them) that showcase a range of her awesomeness from 1967 to 2010.

8 Women is one of my favorites - a comedy/musical centered around a patriarch’s murder, with a cast of so many fabulous French women it's almost hard for Catherine to stand out - except, you know, she's Catherine Deneuve. Belle de Jour is a simply fantastic and heartbreaking portrait of a lost woman, and Dancer in the Dark is so good - and so depressing - it will almost kill you. The only one I haven't seen yet is Potiche, but with François Ozon directing (he also helmed 8 Women), I'm 100% positive it will rule.

Tix are $10 ($5 for SIFF Members) each for Dancer in the Dark & Potiche, and $12 ($7 SIFF Members) for an 8 Women/Belle de Jour double feature. The price is WELL worth it for the opportunity to watch Ms. Deneuve tear up the screen.


Recommended Viewing: Carbon Nation @SIFF Cinema {3/4-3/10}

Carbon Nation{Carbon Nation screens at SIFF Cinema from 3/4-3/10}

It's a tricky business getting people to sit down and watch a movie about climate change - it sounds boring right? Or maybe you don't believe in global warming, or care about the price of oil, or whatever. Carbon Nation strives to change all that by billing itself as "a climate change solutions movie [that doesn't care if you believe in climate change]". Basically:

"So, you don't give a damn about the environment - do it because you're a greedy bastard, and you want cheap power."

Based on the tagline, you might think this film is full of quirky, hipster-esque references to being an environmentally responsible person, but actually it's way cooler than that. Director Peter Byck interviewed a variety of colorful characters that suck you into their way of living to show you that even the littlest things can make a difference - mostly for YOU, but hey, guess what? They might change the world too.

It's worth a watch just for the sheer entertainment value. Head over to SIFF Cinema this Friday {3/4} through next Thursday {3.10} and see if you learn anything new. $5 for SIFF Members, $10 General admission, with screenings @7:30pm (+ a 2pm matinee on Saturday & Sunday for $7).


Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "You are heartily welcome! "

Imaginary DVD Picks: over-the-chop cheese, squirm-worthy arm cutting, and naked trysting

Burlesque: I don't know how anyone can watch the trailer and not laugh all the way through it, because SERIOUSLY. So why am I recommending it? I'm imagining that it's so terrible, that like Showgirls (which its drawn frequent comparison to), it would be a lot of fun watching with a ton of friends and a few (hundred) bottles of vodka. Plus, you know, it's got Cher!





{Kaboom opened in Seattle on Friday, 2/25 and plays through 3/3 at Northwest Film Forum.}

I advise you to be under the influence of something fun if you elect to see Gregg Araki's frisky, silly, candy-colored mess Kaboom. Just give your brain a holiday, enjoy the inane goings-on and the pretty pictures of hot young bodies, and put away any typical expectations of a satisfying movie experience. You could end up having a blast. (Pun intended.)

Like many Araki films (with the exception of Mysterious Skin, a quality anomaly in his campy canon and one of 2005's best films), Kaboom is absurd, bargain-basement, stilted, stylistically cuckoo, genre- and gender-bending, kinda bad, and undeniably entertaining. And, of course, gay, in many senses of the word.

The lead character, Smith (Thomas Dekker), needs only one name because he is that special. He puts many moments and much energy into reacting to things, because everything is about him and he clearly has all the time in the world. (But does the world have much time left? Oooh.)


Latest comment by: Vancouver: "I saw this at Sundance and enjoyed it, though Gregg Araki is def not for tight-arses"

Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today

{Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today opens at the Landmark Varsity Theater on 2/25.}Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today (Nurnberg und siene Lehre) isn't really a movie I feel I can "review" in the way I normally think about such things. Far more a historical artifact, it as much belongs in a museum as in your local theater.

If you have an interest in the Nuremberg trials as a touchstone point in international justice, the Nazis and their reign of terror, or archival footage of the era, it's certainly something you might want to catch. Those seeking a deep analysis of the trial likely should look elsewhere, but I'd imagine anyone looking for such would fall into one of the categories of folks who would want to see this previously unavailable film.


Recommended Viewing: Mommie Dearest Quote Along @SIFF Cinema w/free wire hangers {2.26}

Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest

Another movie I probably saw WAY too much of - 1981's Mommie Dearest, is the definition of a serious drama gone wrong, as in "total cheese" and "full of over-the-top actors" wrong, but also as in "so bad it's good" wrong. Faye Dunaway takes the infamous Joan Crawford to all new levels of raised eyebrow expressions while she pouts, sobs, and screams at adopted daughter Christina for everything from not eating her whole steak to the oft-quoted "No! More!!! WIRE! HANNNNGGGERSS!" scene. 

Since I find myself quoting it on a weekly basis, it only seems natural that I should be excited about the Mommie Dearest Quote Along this weekend at SIFF Cinema - especially because SIFF is giving everyone their own wire hangers just for the screening. There'll also be subtitles on screen for key lines, and a pre-show Joan Crawford drama queen costume contest with prizes.

Put on your best Crawford-esque dress, draw on some eyebrows, and head to SIFF Cinema Saturday, 2/26. Showtime's at 7:30pm, and tix are $12 each/$7 for SIFF Members. (You can buy tickets online here)


Imaginary Interview: Eric Zala & Chris Strompolos (AKA: The Raiders Guys)

Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos & Jayson Lamb in Raiders of The Lost Ark: The Adaptation{Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation screens at SIFF Cinema February 18-20, as a double feature with the original Raiders}

As I mentioned before, Raiders had a huge impact on me and was one of the things that cemented my future as a film-obsessed writer chick. After seeing the film, three 12-year-old boys in Mississippi were inspired to create a tribute film: Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation—which I think is the most awesome thing of ALL awesome things. Thus, I was both excited and nervous to interview two of the guys (Eric Zala & Chris Strompolos)—what if they didn’t think I was a big enough Raiders fan? What if I made some terrible film nerd faux-pas? What if (OMG WHAT IF) I screwed up an easy-to-remember quote from the film???

I needn’t have worried. They’re both amazingly nice guys who made me feel right at home from the second we sat down and started talking about all things Raiders, from the passion to get it finished to actually meeting Steven Spielberg, and caressing the original Ark of the Covenant prop at Skywalker Ranch.

TIG: So how many times did you guys see Raiders of the Lost Ark before you decided to get started on The Adaptation?

Eric Zala: Well, not as much you might think. Because, as you know, it wasn’t available—I mean it was re-released in theaters in 1982 (ed. note: orginal Raiders of the Lost Ark release was 1981) and Chris had roped me into this crazy project then, and so we watched it in the theater and tried to commit as much to memory as possible.