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SIFF Cinema

Deep SIFF: 3 Minute Masterpieces

3 Minute Masterpieces

Every year the Seattle Times sponsors a competition for SIFF called “3 Minute Masterpieces,” challenging people to create their own films that run 3 minutes or less. This year they required submissions to be shot on cell phones, a provision I didn’t know about until after I saw the films, and one I wouldn’t have suspected if I hadn’t been told. I’m not entirely sure what that limitation accomplishes, to be honest, because the film quality was pretty darn good for a lot of them. I’d be curious to learn whether the filmmakers themselves approached filming differently than they otherwise would have, but from my point of view it didn’t register.


SIFF Take: Double Take

Double Take

You wouldn’t think that someone could make almost an entire movie from archival footage and still have it be interesting, but that’s exactly what Director Johan Grimonprez has done with Double Take.

Weaving footage of Alfred Hitchcock with commercials, previews, movie spots, and interviews, the film casts Hitchcock as a man who encounters his older doppelganger (old & new footage of professional Hitchcock double Ron Burrage who shares the SAME birthday as AH) in 1962 and again in 1980.

Hitchcock’s narration (actually an actor imitating him) is juxtaposed with footage of Nixon, Kennedy and Khrushchev, intertwining the paranoia of meeting your double with the paranoia of the Cold War.  Of course there are times when the “plot” seems disjointed – not all of the clips run smoothly (the repeating Folgers coffee commercials from the 60s particularly pulled me away from the story), but in the end it all works.

All I know is, I couldn’t stop watching, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened. Definitely recommended.

{Double Take screens at SIFF June 4 at the Harvard Exit, 9:30pm and again June 6 at SIFF Cinema, 11am}


Latest comment by: imaginary embracey: "

I cannot WAIT for this one!


SIFF Take: Stigmata


Based on the graphic novel Stigmate, Stigmata is a gritty black & white film that focuses on Bruno: a sad giant of a man struggling with his demons.

When he develops mysterious wounds in his hands that can’t be explained, a doctor recommends psychiatric treatment, but a nun takes in Bruno and soon people begin to believe him a saint and a healer. Soon the pressure becomes too much, and he flees and joins a circus.

Bruno finds friendship and love, and starts to live happily, but trouble finds him again when its discovered a profit can be made from his "healing powers", and his past catches up with him in a violent act of revenge.

Quietly haunting with beautifully shot dream sequences, Stigmata is a gorgeous story that will leave you thinking about it long after the last shot.

{Stigmata screens at SIFF June 1, 9:30pm at SIFF Cinema and again June 3, 4:30pm at Pacific Place}


SIFF Take: Ride, Rise, Roar

Ride, Rise, Roar

I’m not really a modern dance fan, so I admit: I was wary of watching Ride, Rise, Roar – a documentary/concert film that blends together images of The Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno tour and short interviews with the dancers and musicians.

That said; it somehow worked. Watching those dancers move to the beat of songs I’ve always loved while Byrne sang and moved with them was entertaining, fascinating, and at times emotional, and also caused me to dance along in my seat.

Director David Hillman Curtis does an excellent job of pacing on-stage action with personal interviews, creating a complete picture of the tour. A must-see for Talking Heads fans, for sure.

The only question I have is this: how does David Byrne stay so cool, even when he’s bouncing around the stage in a tutu? 

{Ride, Rise Roar screens at SIFF May 28, 9:30pm, and May 29, 1:30pm at SIFF Cinema, and again June 3, 9:15pm at the Everett Performing Arts Center}


SIFF Take: The Reverse

The Reverse

The Reverse is a sharp-witted dark comedy that centers on three generations of women living in a small apartment in communist Poland during the 1950s. 

Shy book editor Sabina is approaching "Old Maid" age and her mother and grandmother seemed obsessed with finding her the ideal mate. A chance encounter with a handsome stranger leads to a passionate romance, but the circumstances surrounding his arrival are shrouded in mystery. Once revealed, they result in drastic measures that catapult the three women down a dangerous path. 

Flashing forward to the future (shot in color to contrast the period black & white pieces), an elderly Sabina is shown waiting at a station for a visitor to arrive and more pieces of the puzzle are revealed.

The fantastic acting, costumes, sets and keen humor of this flick kept me interested, but the past sequences definitely had more impact. That said, the fun of viewing this one lies in piecing the events of past and future together. 

{The Reverse screens at SIFF May 24, 9:15pm, June 8, 7pm and again June 9, 4:30 pm at SIFF Cinema}


SIFF Take: Disco and Atomic War

Estonia was once part of the Soviet Republic, when such a thing existed. Its location in Northeastern Europe gave Estonian leaders a big problem during the Cold War: their people were able to access television programming from the western world (from neighbor Finland). Disco and Atomic War is a fascinating documentary about the Estonian and Soviet governments efforts to keep out western television out of Estonia – and equally great lengths the Estonian people go through to keep it in.

The film ends (spoiler!) with the collapse of the Soviet Union and while it would be a stretch to say it failed specifically because of the Moscow’s attempt to keep western television out, but the point remains: organizations that try to suppress basic human desires through force won’t win in the long run.

{Disco and Atomic War screens at SIFF on Thursday, June 3 at 7pm at SIFF Cinema, Monday, June 7 at 9:30pm at the Egyptian and Wednesday, June 9 at 7pm at the Kirkland Performance Center.}


Three Imaginary Films to see: SIFF Edition

This is kind of cheating, since there’s obviously more than 3 films I think you should see at the Film Festival this weekend – but I thought I’d hit you with these and then recommend some more via SIFF Takes for full-on movie madness!

Off Season: SIFF Shorts Package Pandemonium Boulevard

Shorts Package: Pandemonium Boulevard: My favorite shorts collection this year, because it focuses on the spooky, creepy and just plain bizarre. The standouts: I was surprised and PLEASED to see Wil Wheaton in the twisted comedy In the Dark, about a man planning the perfect murder who forgets the most important part, and Off Season, about a burglar who steals from lake houses during the winter and stumbles upon a terrible secret in one of the cabins. SUPER creepy with a great haunting ending.

{Pandemonium Boulevard screens only once at SIFF Cinema, 5/22, 9:30pm}


Weekend Must-See: The Films of Alan Rudolph at SIFF Cinema

Trouble in Mind

This weekend is double-feature goodness at SIFF Cinema during the Next Stop Rain City, The Films of Alan Rudolph. $10 gets you into 2 films per night ($8 for SIFF Members) - so it's a pretty awesome deal.

The impressive list of 6 films includes Trouble in Mind, a trippy 1985 neo-noir set in Seattle (called Rain City in the film). Starring Kris Kristoferson, Lori Singer and Keith Carradine and with music by Marianne Faithful, this is one you definitely shouldn't miss.

Also of note: Alan Rudolph will be personally introducing Remember My Name on Friday, April 23rd.

Click here to check the full schedule and buy tickets!


Latest comment by: Amie Simon: "I haven't seen it for WAYYY too long, and I checked, it's not on DVD (altho I'm sure Scarecrow probably has a copy somehow...). I vaguely remember comparing this to the 1984 film Streets of Fire, but only because I was obsessed with Michael Pare and saw that one ...

Three Imaginary Films to see: the battle behind the Sonics leaving, best rock musical ever, and furry cuteness + scaly chaos

Sonicsgate @SIFF Cinema {12/11 to 12/17}: True, I’m not a big sports fan – but I did go to many a Sonics game when I was wee with my dad, so Seattle Basketball is wrapped in a big ball of fun nostalgia for me, and of course I was sad when our team left us. This documentary investigates the truth behind the heated 2008 legal battle for our SuperSonics, including interviews with NBA stars, media, attorneys, and Save Our Sonics co-founders Brian Robinson & Steven Pyeatt.

Bonus: Slick Watts is scheduled to attend the Saturday screening, and the film’s producers are giving out FREE DVD copies to each person who attends a screening – all week long!

Hedwig & the Angry Inch @Central Cinema {12/11 to 12/16}: If you’ve never seen this film, it’s a MUST. John Cameron Mitchell created a stunning rock musical with a heartbreaking story and one of the most complex, interesting leads I’ve ever seen. It’s the kind of film you can watch over and over and never get tired of – plus it’s got a fantastic soundtrack. Head over to CC and check it out this weekend.


Three (plus) Imaginary films to see: Hitchcock masterpieces, a nightmare-inducing ghost story, and The Coen Bros. latest

Hitchcock Weekend @ SIFF Cinema: ohmanohman. Six films from one of my favorite directors? SIX! FILMS! And not just any six (although I might argue that every single Hitchcock film ever made is amazing and you should see them all), six really extra-amazing ones: Rear Window, Vertigo, Dial M for Murder, Strangers on a Train, The 39 Steps, and Shadow of a Doubt.

And now that I think about it – who’s creepier: Joseph Cotton as Uncle Charlie in SoaT, or Jimmy Stewart’s love-obsessed "Scottie" in Vertigo? You decide. The Master of Suspense rules SIFF Cinema Saturday through Monday – click here for the schedule.

A Serious Man @ The Harvard Exit: Although it appears that this was released last week – it either didn’t open in Seattle or I just completely missed it. Not surprising, since I haven’t been seeing a lot of PR about this one. It could be the lack of recognizable actors, but I’m kinda amazed – this is a Coen brothers film, PEOPLE. Where’s the love?  While I admit that I wasn’t a fan of Burn After Reading, this looks bleak and hilarious – and right up my alley. I’ll definitely check it out.


Latest comment by: Amie Simon: "Awesome! Glad you liked it, Chris. :) "