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SIFF Take: Valley of the Sasquatch

Valley of the Sasquatch

Forced out of their home and with very little savings left, Roger and his son Michael end up trying to make a home in a rustic—and completely trashed by some kind of wild animal—family cabin. But what’s supposed to be the beginning of a new life turns into a weekend of partying when dad’s abrasive BFF Sergio shows up, along with Michael’s Uncle Will.

After Sergio swears he sees something “huge and hairy” lumbering in the woods, tales swirl around the campfire about Bigfoot … and it’s not long before he makes an appearance again and tries to reclaim his land from the human interlopers.

Valley of the Sasquatch is pretty much exactly what I expected: a retro-feeling-stuck-out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere monster flick that could run on SyFY—except instead of CGI’ing the heck out of everything, it relies on some pretty boss practical effects. Just a note: it takes a really, really, really, REALLY long time to get where it’s going, but at least you get to take in some gorgeous WA forest scenery while it’s getting there.

{Valley of the Sasquatch screens 5/24, 8pm & 5/26, 4pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Director John Portanova & Producers Jeremy Berg & Matt Medisch scheduled to attend both screenings}

SIFF 2015 Preview: NW Connections

You know I always have to run through the Northwest Connections program for SIFF! This year’s offerings include a lot of documentaries and a fair amount of my favorite movie genre: HORROR.  

First up: I’m stupidly excited for The Primary Instinct because Stephen Tobolowsky is THE BEST EVER and I love listening to The Tobolowsky Files on NPR more than anything else—and I’ve never gotten to see any of his live shows. {Screens 5/29, 9:45pm & 5/30, 12pm at SIFF Cinema Egyptian; Director David Chen & subject Stephen Tobolowsky scheduled to attend both screenings}

I’m not sure I even understand what’s happening in the preview of The Hollow One, but my splatter-loving heart was all-in the second they panned to a close-up of the girl with blood dripping off of her face. Plus, setting the action out in the middle of nowhere on an abandoned farm means I’ll be genuinely scared. This one looks like (creepy, horrific) fun! {Screens 5/27, 9pm & 5/28, 3:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Director Nathan Hendrickson & Producer Sherry Floyd scheduled to attend both screenings} 

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SIFF Take: Goodnight Mommy

Goodnight Mommy

Two angelic 9-year-old twin boys arrive home to find their mother in the hallway with a face all wrapped up in plastic surgery bandages. Mommy needs her rest in order to recover—never mind that she lurks around in her bedroom poking at her bloodshot eyes or pretends to be sleeping when she’s really having a snack.

After awhile, mommy’s strange behavior convinces the boys that maybe she’s not their mommy at all and that’s when the games begin. Don’t worry! They’re just little boys … who keep an entire glass aquarium filled with cockroaches in their room. Totally normal, right?

I’ve seen too many horror movies with twins to be surprised at the ending of this one, but it was still pretty horrifying. Here’s a hint: you’ll never be able to look a tube of superglue quite the same way again.

{Goodnight Mommy screens one more time 5/18, 9pm at SIFF Cinema Egyptian} 

SIFF 2015 Preview: Face the Music

Forgive me for chiming in a little late on ALL THE SIFF THINGS, but [I could insert many, many excuses here – but let’s just chalk it up to go old procrastination] better late than never, right?! This year’s Seattle International Film Festival kicked off Thursday night and I wanted make sure y’all had a chance to mark your calendars up with some choice Face the Music programming.

First up: The much-anticipated Marco Collins documentary The Glamour & the Squalor is finally getting its release at SIFF! I remember making mixed tapes solely from Marco’s 107.7 shows when I was a teen, trying desperately to catch his eye when THE END did broadcasts from my community college parking lot a few years later, and then just trying to keep it cool when I met him not too long ago at a friend’s birthday party. Needless to say, I’m a fan and I’m super excited to see this.

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SIFF 2015: Week One Highlights

Guidance

Our beloved movie gorge-a-thon kicks off tonight with Spy, an amusing Paul Feig / Melissa McCarthy collaboration that spoofs and reveres great spy thrillers. It's big and boisterous, and will play very well to the back of the (very large) house at McCaw Hall.

Many cinematic experiences will follow over the subsequent 24 days, and they'll often prove more insightful, intimate and/or impactful than the opening-night comedy blockbuster. Others will be rowdier and more fun. If there's one good thing our festival's big bloated schedule offers, it's the pure variety of the filmic wonders. And TIG's intrepid SIFFers are here to help you peruse and choose.

So off we go on SIFF 2015's first week (5/15 - 5/21), which serves up a profoundly romantic Samurai flick, food documentaries of wildly varying quality, and the funniest downward-spiral movie you'll see all year.

DON'T MISS:

Corn Island
{5/17 12p Uptown, 5/18 7p Harvard Exit, 5/19 3:30p Lincoln Square}
Patient viewers of this mostly dialogue-free festival-circuit darling will be rewarded handsomely. A farmer and his teenage granddaughter build a hut and sow corn on a no-man's land island that forms each spring in the Inguri River between Georgia and Abkhazia (and smack in the middle of those nations' conflicts). The haunting, brilliantly crafted circle-of-life drama that ensues -- it feels like a fable, really -- is a thrill to behold.

Flowers
{5/15 4p Uptown, 5/16 6:30p Uptown, 5/20 6p Lincoln Square}
Emotional and compassionate Basque-language Spanish drama about an unfulfilled middle-aged woman whose life gets a mysterious lift when she begins receiving regular flower deliveries from an unknown admirer. Quiet suspense grips the viewer ever so gently, and the film's emotional payoff is as lovely and delicate as a fresh bouquet.

Guidance
{5/15 9:30p Harvard Exit, 5/16 3:30p Uptown}
Downward-spiral movies don't get more charming than this. An aging former child star (writer/director Pat Mills, who was actually a cast member on You Can't Do That on Television back in the day) with a penchant for booze and bad decisions somehow gets away with successfully masquerading as a high school guidance counselor. Horrific, hilarious shit ensues -- conservative viewers will be absolutely appalled -- but every time the film threatens to fall apart completely it somehow gets even better. Mills has created a role and a world that exists far outside reality, but his commitment to it is absolutely beguiling. And oh, so funny.

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IT FOLLOWS

Maika Monroe in IT FOLLOWS
Maika Monroe in IT FOLLOWS

{It Follows opens in Seattle on Friday, 3/20 at SIFF Cinema Egyptian}

“It’s slow, but it’s not dumb.” ~ Hugh, IT FOLLOWS

Imagine going on a date with someone you really, really like, enjoying a romantic lakeside talk, cozying up in the car for some hot sex—then having that person drag you out into the middle of nowhere, tie you to a chair, and explain that by having sex they’ve infected you with something that will FOLLOW you. And you have to keep running from it, because it won’t stop until it catches up to you and kills you.

After her dream date turned nightmare, Jay (Maika Monroe) struggles to make sense of what happened, and while she’s recovering she starts to see things no one else can: an old woman shuffling towards her in school, a threatening tall man banging on her bedroom door, someone who looks lot like her friend trailing behind her—IT is following her, and it will get her unless she passes it on to someone else … although even that doesn’t mean she’ll be safe forever.

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Tusk

Michael Parks as Howard Howe in Kevin Smith's Tusk

{TUSK officially opens in Seattle on Friday, 9/19 – but there are some Thursday night showings starting at 8pm! Screening at Regal Meridian 16 and Oak Tree Cinemas}

A horror movie from Kevin Smith? Based on one of his smodcasts? About a guy who lures unsuspecting victims to his home in order to turn them into … walruses? 

Yup. Tusk is all of those things. And while the premise IS ridiculous, the first two-thirds are actually pretty terrifying, and then it all falls apart thanks to a cameo by a high-profile star who really, really, really loves to wear fake noses and adopt funny accents.

At the start, we meet podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long). Wallace is kind of a douche; his “Not-see Party” podcasts are built around making fun of unfortunate souls on the internet—like a boy who cuts his own leg off with a sword—in which he travels to meet them in person and then comes back home, describing his adventures to his podcasting buddy, Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment).

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Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas

{Happy Christmas starts an exclusive screening engagement on Friday, August 08th at the Landmark Varsity Theatre}

I’m not sure if Director Joe Swanberg intended for Happy Christmas to pass The Bechdel Test, but I’m happy to report that Happy Christmas DOES, indeed, have two women in it (that have actual names) who talk to each other, about something other than a man.

This is yet another Swanberg film that is essentially about nothing; not that nothing happens, but—there are no huge traumas or obstacles to overcome. It’s just about … life -- which is honestly refreshing, and makes me grateful that directors like him exist. It is SO nice to watch a film about a couple that is just dealing with every day stuff: no cheating, no big fights, no earth-shattering revelations. Just regular, every day, figuring things out, stuff.

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Beyond the Fest: SIFF films that will (hopefully) open soon

The Babadook

With over 400 films playing the 40th Seattle International Film Festival, there was NO WAY I was going to be able to watch and write about what got me into those theater seats before the festival was over—or, more importantly, before they screened for the last time during it.

Here’s a quick list of films that I recommend tracking down for viewing. Fingers crossed they will ALL show up at Seattle theaters soon! 

The Babadook {tentative release date: October 2014}
Holycrap, you guys. HOLYCRAP. I was not prepared for how awesome this Australian horror film would be. I mean, how scary can another spin on The Boogeyman actually be, right? The answer, though, is REALLY F’ING SCARY. The basics: grieving mom, out-of-control son, creepy book, unleashed creature, possession, and some really amazing imagery. The Babadook is a non-stop ball of tension from beginning to end, the acting is freaking amazing, the creature F/X are great. I can’t even express how surprised I was by this movie, and how utterly terrified I was while watching it. Bonus: The Babadook pop-up book featured in the film is so goddamn cool! I hear the filmmakers are considering a kickstarter to produce it for real, and I am prepared to throw my money at them as soon as they do.

Fight Church
Bryan Storkel brings us another tale of the secret lives of Christians, but instead of showing us pastors who gamble, this film dives into pastors who moonlight on the mixed martial arts/cage fighting circuit. Wait, what? Let’s just say it’s a lot scary than Holy Rollers—particularly when you realize these guys are teaching their beliefs about beating the crap out of other guys being a “spiritual” thing to their kids, and even moreso when it extends beyond the arena to the gun range.

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Best of SIFF 2014 series {6/12-6/19}

Dior & I

If for some reason over the past month you’ve missed the TIG SIFF team's extensive coverage, overlooked the 'round-the-block queues at some of our fine local movie houses, and/or remained oblivious to the palpable cinematic energy felt throughout the 206 and surrounding area codes, you've been at least vaguely aware that our local cinema megathon was going on at some point between opening night mid-May and closing night Sunday.

On Thursday SIFF Cinema kicks off a ‘best-of’ series that whittles down the gargantuan festival lineup to 18 programs (17 features and a shorts package) of festival award winners and audience favorites, all screening at the Uptown and Film Center through Sunday, with a few multi-screening engagements through next week. Perfect opportunity to see what all the buzz was about if you missed out on SIFFing altogether for some reason, or if the insane schedule made you pick a certain film over something else you really wanted to see, or if the #SIFForty SIFFatigue got to you early and just caused you to give up.

Or maybe none of those scenarios applies and you're just interested in checking out some good films. In any case, you're in luck, because there are some genuinely fine cinema experiences to be had. Here’s the lowdown on the lineup.

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