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More Bumbershoot 2012 picks: Words & Ideas

Hayyyy Imaginaries! Now’s the time of year where I remind you that in addition to Bumbershoot’s awesome musical acts, our local festival is also packed with films and performing arts, and my favorite: people talking about stuff that gets you thinking about stuff. Here are a few things in the Words & Ideas program that are thrilling me:

Saturday, September 1

Why Fairy Tales? Why War on Women? Why Now?
Leo K Theatre, Words & Ideas Stage
5:15pm-6:15pm

Lindy West is actually going to be a couple of places for Bumbershoot this year, but I’m most interested in seeing what she has to say (hilariously, I’m sure) about how women are represented in pop culture and politics, so if you have to choose, I think you should be at this one. West joins a bunch of other rad ladies on stage, and I’m sure it’s going to be one of those laugh/cry/throw-up-because-you’re-so-overwhelmed kind of talks.

John Waters – This Filthy World: Filthier & Dirtier
Bagley Wright Theatre
8:30pm-9:45pm

You guys. JOHN FREAKING WATERS is going to be at Bumbershoot! I can’t even. I’m hyperventilating because I’m so excited about this. Watching Waters perform This Filthy World: Filthier & Dirtier and talk about all the things is likely going to be one of the best parts of the weekend. Trust me on this. (and if you’ve never seen a John Waters film, for the love of all that is holy, head over to Scarecrow and rent at least three of them)

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Sleepless Night (Nuit blanche)

{Sleepless Night is screening in Seattle at The Grand Illusion from 8/17 through 8/23}

I hate to use words like "high-octane thrill ride" but there's probably no better way to describe Sleepless Night. Not that I can think of anyway, because my mind is blown from all the shooting and blood and car chases and chaos. 

Handsome cop Vincent (a broody & drool-worthy Tomer Sisley) also happens to be a drug dealer. Unfortunately, he's not a very good thief, and so he gets caught stealing a bag of expensive blow from a rough-looking baddie who takes his teenage son for collateral.

Seems like it would be simple enough to exchange the drugs for the kid, except that there are many complications. Some in the form of "clean" cops tailing Vincent to catch him in the act, and even more in the form of other interested parties who want the stash of coke for themselves.

All this turmoil leads to frantic pursuits, men beating the hell out of each other, bloody stabbings, smashed cars, and enough shooting to rival the massacre in Scarface. All of which means that I found it SUPER ENJOYABLE AND TOTALLY LOVED IT.

Director Frederic Jardin chose to have this action thriller take place over the course of a single night, and shot most of the scenes inside a packed nightclub using music to underscore the action. One of my favorite scenes occurs near the beginning with "Another One Bites the Dust" (apparently line dancing to Queen songs is the hip thing to do in French nightclubs. What). Something about watching Vincent's face reveal how fucked he knows he is juxtaposed with young party people getting down with some synchonized boogie is endlessly, fantastically amusing.

Recommended for people who love non-stop action, and definitely worth your $8.

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The Imposter

{The Imposter screens at SIFF Cinema Uptown starting today, Friday, 8/10, through Thursday, 8/16}

By all accounts, Direct Bart Layton's documentary The Imposter is so crazy, you have to see it to believe it. And those accounts aren't wrong. I agree, with enthusiasm, that this is possibly the craziest documentary I've ever seen.

A 13-year-old boy disappears from San Antonio, TX, and just a little over 3 years later, he's found in Spain. Sounds too good to be true, right? Of course. But somehow, a 23-year-old French-Algerian con man named Frederic Bourdin convinces the parents, the police, the judge assigned to his case, and everyone else who comes in contact with him that he's an American-born 16-year-old boy who's been kidnapped and held for three years as a sex slave. He escaped, and he's ready to come home.

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Latest comment by: John in Ballard: "

This sounds reeeeeaaallly interesting. Sad I didn't read this in time to see it. I'll have to keep an eye out for future showings. Thanks Amie!

"

Dark Horse

{Dark Horse opens in Seattle on Friday, 8/3, and is screening at the Landmark Varsity Theatre}

Admittedly light for a Todd Solondz film, Dark Horse still employs the director’s gift of peeling back the layers of life, giving you a glimpse into all things unpleasant—whether you want to see them or not.

Abe (Jordan Gelber, who deserves an award for making a completely abysmal character somehow sympathetic) meets pretty, subdued Miranda (Selma Blair) at a wedding (man, you gotta hand it to Solondz for capturing everything that makes weddings terrible via all the drunken bump-and-grinds on the dance floor. that is a beautifully accurate opening sequence), and quickly asserts himself as the man who’s perfect for her—since she appears to be an easy target.

As he speeds away with her number in his phone, we get a glimpse of his (obviously over-compensating) giant bright yellow Humvee, and an immediate sense of how his behavior is all short-lived bravado. Particularly when it’s revealed that the 30-something Abe still lives with his parents (brilliantly played by Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken), and chooses to spend all the money he earns from working at his dad’s real estate office on action figures and film memorabilia. Abe is an id-ridden man-child headed for disaster.

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Farewell, My Queen (Les adieux a la reine)

Farewell, My Queen

{Farewell, My Queen opens in Seattle on Friday, 7/27, and is screening at the Landmark Seven Gables Theatre}

Hey! It’s a French movie about Marie Antoinette! And her hot lesbian lover! And another chick that’s in love with her! Who doesn’t love that?

Okay, maybe I’m being a little bit of a brat. But come on, this fictional account of MA seems like a pretty obvious one, non? I’m a big fan of period dramas for many reasons—but while Farewell, My Queen had some absolutely breathtaking scenes, beautiful costumes and sets, and some pretty goddamn good acting, the love story part was missing … something.

The story hinges on Sidonie, a servant tasks with reading to the Queen. She’s kind of in love with her, but kind of not. Behind the admiration that shows in her eyes for Antoinette, there’s a bit of contempt—as well as some obvious jealous/envy directed at the relationship between the Queen and her favorite “companion,” The Duchess of Polignac.

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Alps

{Alps opens at the Grand Illusion Theater Friday, July 27, and screens through August 2}

Anyone whose seen Dogtooth would likely agree that writer/director Giorgos Lanthimos has a distinctive style. A crazy, strange, and compelling one that resulted in that film being nominated for the foreign language academy award. His latest work Alps follows on that tradition with a marginally lighter and more accessible result, while still maintaining serious uniqueness. Alps may not be the bizarre kick to the head represented by Dogtooth but it's certainly still worth one's time.
 
Four key characters are introduced in attention grabbing ways in the film's first scenes. The crew is offbeat to say the least: a rhythmic gymnastics practitioner whose only desire seems to be good enough to be allowed to perform to pop music (as opposed to heavy handed classics), her stern and bizarrely overbearing coach, a hospital employee, and a paramedic. It's unclear what their commonality is. Except for a penchant of asking personal likes/dislikes questions of the mortally wounded. Why the paramedic needs to know that an accident victim's favorite actor is (improbably) Jude Law will only reveal itself later on. Or if you read any of the picture's marketing material, which to me contains a significant spoiler I'll work to avoid.

The group goes by the name Alps - which is purposefully chosen to provide no clue as to their line of business. Which I will respect as I attempt to describe why you should give the film a whirl.

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Latest comment by: imaginary embracey: "

I love Lanthimos and what's being referred to as 'new Greek cinema' in general. This film is a fun little puzzle and I left it wondering if some form of this type of 'business' really exists. (Because as time passes Dogtooth's ...

Crazy Eyes

{Crazy Eyes is screening in Seattle at SIFF Cinema Uptown from Friday, 7/30 through Wednesday, 7/25}

“I think that I have to tell you that my story is a lie. But in reality, every bit of this happened exactly as you are about to see it. Los Angeles. Every night feels the same in Los Angeles. If you are one in a million in this city, there are still seven more just like you. We’re all just duplications of copies of Xeroxes. Each of us living proof that there’s no one and nothing here.”

Crazy Eyes starts with this quote, and I liked it. I liked it enough to continue watching, even though by the end I wasn’t really sure what the point was.

Basically Zach (Lukas Haas, who, I’m sorry, will ALWAYS be that little boy in Witness to me)’s home life is unsatisfying. He’s a hard-partying super-rich LA dude who’s not used to taking no for an answer. Oh, and he has a kid. And a volatile ex-wife. And a stable of hook-ups that he calls endlessly until he finds one that will meet him to ... hook up. 

So he meets “Crazy Eyes.” And let me stop here for a moment. The very fact that he can’t even call this girl by her name (Rebecca) is pretty insulting, non?

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Lovely Molly

{Lovely Molly opens in Seattle on Friday, 7/20 and is screening at SIFF Cinema Uptown through 7/26}

Opening with a “found footage” sequence (expected by Director Eduardo Sanchez, one-half of the writing and directing team that brought us The Blair Witch Project) packed with intense emotion, Lovely Molly then backtracks to start at the beginning.

Scraping together money to start their new life together, young married couple Molly and Tim Reynolds move back into her parent’s home: a spooky out-in-the-middle of nowhere 18th century house that Molly will be spending a LOT of time alone in while her husband works long hour trucking across the country.

It isn’t long before Molly starts being terrorized by sounds of footsteps, slamming doors, and an eerily haunting singsong voice that she believes is her dead father. As Molly slips deeper into depression and despair, the details of her tortured childhood are slowly revealed: horrible physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father that led her to retreat into heavy drug use and destructive behavior, which she is repeating again with an even faster—and scarier—descent.

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I Want My Name Back

{I Want My Name Back plays at the Northwest Film Forum on 7/18 and 7/19}

There are times where it's hard to believe that the old school recording industry wasn't designed for the sole purpose of keeping artists from the money they'd earned. We've all heard stories of musicians battling to claim royalties or taking their "managers" to court to break free of one-sided contracts. After a few of these tales, one wonders if a film about groundbreaking musicians with a life of woe can tread new ground. And then one watches I Want My Name Back, which hits one upside the head with the truism "it can always get worse."

I Want My Name Back follows the Job like travails of The Sugar Hill Gang from 1979 to the present in what has got to be one of the craziest stories I've ever heard of the business. As a documentary, there are some significant flaws. But at a video based WTF? there's a fair amount to take away from the film. And for that I think it's worth taking a look -- or at least researching the story on one's own.

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The Pact

{The Pact screens at The Grand Illusion Cinema on 7/20 & 7/21 at 11pm – tickets are $8 | $5 for members | $6 seniors & students}

While I think overall The Pact is a solid thriller, it’s also one of those movies that’s way better if you don’t know too much about it.

Sisters Nichole and Annie don’t exactly agree on how to handle their mother’s death—but when Nichole goes missing, Annie (Caity Lotz – who had a memorable role in Mad Men as Anna Draper’s niece, Stephanie) returns to their childhood home to find out what happened. After a few spooky encounters, a local detective (holycrap. that. is. Casper Van Dien.) starts looking for the truth. And that’s when shit gets all kinds of crazy.

Horror, mystery, murders, secrets, and mediums—it all gets mixed up with some very effective storytelling that unfolds in a quietly unsettling way. And that’s really what I enjoyed most about this film: it doesn’t over explain things, and a lot of the narrative is left up to visual clues, and the viewers interpretations of what’s happening on screen.

I meant to have this up last weekend when it opened at The Grand Illusion, but it’s playing again this Friday and Saturday as their late-night showing. Recommended for some good, atmospheric scares. 

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