Tonight in Seattle:  

film

SIFF 2014 Preview: NW Connections

I honestly feel like the SIFF NW Connections programming gets better every single year! The 40th Seattle International Film Festival has an impressive roster of documentaries and features with local directors, actors, writers, and locations. ALL of this makes me incredibly happy! Let’s take a look at what’s happening this year.

My first thought when I spied the new Megan Griffiths film in this year’s line-up was, “AWESOME!”  And awesome it is. Lucky Them stars Toni Collette as a Seattle music journalist (for fictional magazine STAX) who’s never quite gotten over her famous and handsome musician beau’s disappearance. It’s packed with great acting from Collette and her co-stars, lots of recognizable Seattle scenery, and more introspection than you usually get from a “dramedy.” GO SEE IT! It’s great. {Screens 5/22, 7pm at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center, and again 5/23, 9:15pm at The Egyptian}

Raging grannies seems like a thing I’d like, so I’m planning to check out Two Raging Grannies, a documentary about Seattle residents and best friends Shirley & Hinda, who ride around on their scooters with megaphones shouting suggestions about solving the global economic crisis. I LOVE IT. {Screens 5/28, 7pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 5/29, 4pm at Lincoln Square Cinemas, and again 5/30, 1:30pm at AMC Pacific Place}

And this one should be ... funny? Maybe? Local director Brett Fetzer’s first feature My Last Year with the Nuns involves Seattle monologist Matt Smith’s 8th-grade coming-of-age story set in 1966 … with Smith playing ALL the roles. Whoa. {Screens 5/21, 6:30pm and 6/26, 11am at The Egyptian}

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SIFF 2014 Preview: Face the Music

Hello, Imaginaries! I can’t believe that the 40th Seattle International Film Festival starts THIS THURSDAY! (what. the. what.) Anyway, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the Face the Music line-up this year, let me moonwalk you through it, because there’s a lot of really rad stuff I don’t want you to miss!

First up, let’s take a look Keep On Keepin’ On, a tribute to jazz legend Clark Terry, who taught Quincy Jones and Miles Davis, and who helped blind pianist Justin Kauflin realize his dream. There are two special events happening around this spectacular documentary: An Evening with Quincy Jones, in which the Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Jones at the premiere screening of the film, and The Justin Kauflin Trio is playing at The Triple Door as a companion performance with a special introduction by Quincy Jones. Sounds like a 3-day jazz-lovers extended dream date! {An Evening with Quincy Jones Special Presentation Screening & Tribute 6/4, 7:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Keep On Keepin’ On screens again 6/6, 4pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Companion show with The Justin Kauflin Trio, June 5 at The Triple Door, 7pm}

And of course, Opening Night is the premeire of Jimi: All is By My Side, a story about Jimi Hendrix before he was Jimi Hendrix. Sure. Okay. Why not? Outkast's André Benjamin stars as Jimi, a rising musician caught in a sticky love triangle between Linda Keith and Kathy Etchingham. SCANDALOUS. {Screens on SIFF Opening Night, 5/15, 7pm at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall} 

Nick Cave fans, check it: get a peek into the enigmatic musician & writer’s everyday life—sort of—with a fiction-mentary by Directors Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard. 20,000 Days on Earth is described as “blending fact, fiction, and fantasy” and the trailer looks AMAZING. Can’t wait to see this one. {Screens 5/16, 10pm at Lincoln Square Cinemas, and again 5/21, 9:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown}

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Better Living Through Chemistry

{Better Living Through Chemistry opens in Seattle on Friday, 3/14, and is screening at SIFF Cinema Uptown and Sundance Cinemas Seattle}

The title says it all, even though it’s kind of messed up: take drugs, let loose, and your life will vastly improve … okay, it’s not exactly like that, but Better Living Through Chemistry does feature a protagonist that experiences a (mostly) positive life change after taking a crap-load of drugs.

Douglas Varney (Sam Rockwell) is a meek pharmacist who’s just taken over his father-in-law’s business in a small, picturesque town. Varney is clearly dissatisfied with his home life. His wife treats him like shit, his son prefers to call him by his first name, and his FIL can’t be bothered to change the name of the pharmacy from Bishop’s to Varney’s—even though Douglas is now the legal owner.

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Wes Anderson Fans: Download FREE passes to The Grand Budapest Hotel!!! {3/12}

It's not like I even need to encourage all of you Wes Anderson-philes to go see his new flick, but just in case I do -- how about some FREE passes to encourage your movie night pick next week?

In case you haven't been paying attention, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film "set in alternate-history 1920s Europe in a country called the Republic of Zubrowka, where a famed hotel concierge by the name of Gustave H. is bequeathed a painting called Boy with Apple after his one night stand, Madame D, is killed. Madame D's son, Dmitri, vows revenge on Gustave by framing him for Madame D's murder. Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy, and his love interest, Agatha, help Gustave hide Boy with Apple from Dmitri and the authorities." So, typical Wes stuff, yeah? SOUNDS AWESOME. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel opens in Seattle 3/14, but there's a preview screening next Wednesday (3/12) at SIFF Uptown, and we've got a download link just for Imaginaries! CLICK HERE to get your passes, and do it quick! I predict they'll go very, very, very fast. 

Screening Info:
Wednesday 3/12
SIFF Cinema Uptown
7:00 PM

**Seating is first come, first served, and is not guaranteed**

Recommended event and game: MovieCat is awesome! {1/21}

You guys, I've been wanting to tell you for awhile that MovieCat is AWESOME. And I’m not just saying this because my team, Requiem for a Dream Team, has won a round of MovieCat trivia at Central Cinema before (and come close to winning a second time).

MovieCat is so many things, but primarily it’s a movie trivia game for your smartphone and a fun live event that happens about once a month at Central Cinema. The local creators (and hosts) of this super-cute cat-themed movie game, Jessica Aceti and Brian Kirk, just launched a sequel to their first game, MovieCat 2, which has some added features including new categories that make it even more boss than the original game, and the ability to have 2 players for a trivia battle. And it’s not easy! (although you can set the difficulty level to easy, or medium, or hard, depending on how confident you are with your movie trivia knowledge). These guys KNOW their stuff, and there are some questions in there that even my most hardcore film-loving friends don’t know the answer to.

The next Central Cinema event actually happens tomorrow night, Tuesday 1/21, at 7pm, and tickets are $6. The prizes range from MovieCat prints to delicious cheesecakes, and always include an amusingly “authentic” movie prop. That rug that my friend Andrew won one time really ties his room together.

Tickets to the trivia night are $6, and I recommend you get there early because it's popular! Plus, arriving before 6:30 means you get a good seat AND happy hour pricing on food and drinks. Don’t forget to download the game for only $1.99 to prep beforehand.

A very imaginary “best of” 2013 movie list

It is time once again for me to dig into the vault of my ever-failing memory and pull up a list of the best movie things I saw in 2013. (Thankgod for Letterboxd...) 

Best acting job I’ve ever seen Leo do: The Wolf of Wall Street
I completely forgot that was Leonardo DiCaprio up there on the screen while I was watching him reenact Jordan Belfort’s insane life … which is really unusual. And while I’m saying for the second time how much I loved this film and can’t wait to see it again, I’ll just throw in that I am not in the camp that thinks this movie glorifies Belfort’s behavior. It’s not about the victims, because that would be a different movie. It’s about excess and greed and hookers and drinking and drugs and money. You know, typical Scorcese stuff. And it’s great. It’s really, really, really GREAT.

Best film about a guy you probably shouldn’t care about, but do anyway: Inside Llewyn Davis
I’m still not sure how I feel about all that folk music, but I do know how I feel about the Coen Brothers. I like those guys an awful lot. Llewyn Davis is kind of a dick, but he’s also kind of not. And you end up rooting for him, even if he isn’t rooting for himself. Confused? I might be too, but it’s a good film anyway … and I sure do like that orange cat.

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The Wolf of Wall Street

{The Wolf of Wall Street opens in Seattle on December 25, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Thornton Place, and the Regal Meridian}

At one point last eve, amidst the rum balls and hot buttered rum and glasses of cava, I declared that I had to write this review and my love suggested that I could just claim my drunken state was “research” into the excess shown in The Wolf of Wall Street. Brilliant, right? And then, I totally forgot and fell asleep.

Brushing the sleep out of my eyes early this morning instead, I’m here to tell you that Wolf is my favorite Scorsese movie since Goodfellas. It’s funny, no, I mean, REALLY funny, and Leo. Mygod. I didn’t even notice it was Leonardo DiCaprio up there on the screen. It WAS Jordan Belfort.

The “wolf”, if you don’t know, is a guy who started on Wall Street as a stockbroker’s intern, got laid off on Black Friday, and then lucked into selling penny stocks and got really great at it, opened his own boiler room turned firm, and proceeded to screw his clients while making millions and millions and millions of dollars for himself ... but of course you can only do that for so long before someone catches you. 

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Inside Llewyn Davis

{Inside Llewyn Davis opens in Seattle on Friday, 12/20 and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle and The Harvard Exit}

Greenwich Village. 1961. Folk Music. These are things which I know little about, and also things in which I am only mildly interested. What I am interested in is the Coen Brothers and their ability to tell so many different kinds of stories so goddamn well.

Joel & Ethan made their own special brand of magic happen again with Inside Llewyn Davis (that’s Lew-N, in case you’re wondering); the story of a folk musician who’s trying REAL hard to make it on his own.

In the course of a week, Llewyn (Oscar Davis—man, this guy is good) has to deal with losing a generous friend’s cat, an unexpected pregnancy with near-constant verbal assault from the expectant mother, an unsympathetic agent, a lecherous club owner, a heroin-addicted jazz player, and a best friend whose success is imminent, because he’s clearly “selling out.”

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Celebrate 25 Years of Scarecrow Video this weekend {12/6-12/8}

My favorite Seattle institution, Scarecrow Video, is celebrating TWENTY-FIVE FREAKING YEARS this weekend with all kinds of specials and things and stuff and stuff and things.

Look, y’all, I can’t say this enough: Scarecrow is awesome. Scarecrow opened its doors on December 9, 1988 and started with an inventory of 600 titles. Now, it has something like 120,000 (blink blink). There is nothing like stepping into a video store and really LOOKING around, discovering new films, re-disovering old favorites, getting suggestions from the people who work there, and striking up conversations with fellow film-lovers. If there was ever a time for you to either go in for the first time, or return there after a long absence, THIS is it. This is the time. Now. 

Anyway. About the stuff and things: 

Friday, December 6 through Sunday, December 8, Scarecrow is going to have a ton of special things happening, including ONE FREE RENTAL per customer, and an ultra-cool amnesty on late fees (got an old late fee and haven't been in for awhile? update your account and rent something, and they will wip the slate clean -- unless you never returned the movie at all -- there are limits, people!), plus:

50% off all used titles
$1 VHS and Laserdiscs
$3 off Criterion titles (this is an ongoing sale)
Markdowns  on select box sets and out of print titles
Packs of 10 pre-paid rentals for only $25 (that's a $15 savings!) 
Raffles & giveaways
Favorite movies screening all weekend 
A scavenger hunt
You can also buy a copy of their amazing limited-edition 25th Anniversary poster by Marc Palm: $25 each (25" x36" - shown above) 

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All Is Lost

{All Is Lost opened Friday at the Regal Meridian 16, Cinemark Lincoln Squares Cinema, and the Landmark Seven Gables}

A man alone with himself sometimes has only one's mind to fear. Though sometimes the risk of drowning at sea, cut off from all communication with the rest of humanity enters into it as well, even if there's not a giant CGI tiger to make things extra complicated.

Robert Redford is such a man: adrift, alone with solely himself to rely on, as the open ocean and fates toss him about as a plaything. Little background about him is given as the audience is taken along for the ride, with his attempts to survive his yacht being struck by a loose shipping container.

In a nearly dialog free picture, Redford delivers a deeply engaging performance, truly becoming a seasoned and calm mariner pushed to the breaking point. All is Lost is a worthy challenger to Gravity in this Oscar season's category of "mankind against the elements" pictures. It manages to to thrill and educate while presenting an intensely human portrait of a man running out of options and bearing almost all of it with the patience and determination of Job.

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