Tonight in Seattle:  

film

SIFF Take: The Wedding Cake

The Wedding Cake movie

Each year the giddy joy of perusing the new SIFF roster gives way inevitably to a sense of fatigue at trying to differentiate, by 25-word blurbles, the hundreds of movies that begin to blend together into genres and tropes and overlapping plots. There are the family dramas where A Secret Is Revealed that Changes Everything, the coming-of-age tales, the coming-out tales, the ones where a lovely lady gets her groove back by sleeping with a strapping native fellow, tales of foreign oppression, heists gone bad, things with ninjas, and of course the family comedies where A Secret Is Revealed that Changes Everything.

The Wedding Cake is a lovely example of a how it really all comes down to execution. Weddings are so laden with symbolism and ripe for drama that it’s no wonder filmmakers are drawn to them, nor that so many of them ride right off the rails (Rachel Getting Married comes to mind). But here’s a movie with a fairly formulaic premise (it’s a family comedy, see, and a secret is revealed that changes everything) and even somewhat clichéd execution that’s sweet and charming and very satisfying.

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SIFF Take: Monogamy

Chris Messina & Rashida Jones in Monogamy

I feel like I’d be doing something wrong if I simply described Monogamy as "a descent into madness", because while that’s the heart of it, the film is really about so much more.

Theo (Chris Messina, who I love in every single thing I ever see him in, but especially in this), is a photographer engaged to his lovely musician girlfriend, Nat (Rashida Jones, equally at home in this film). Frustrated with his usual wedding photo jobs, he creates Gumshoot – wherein people can hire him to follow them with a camera and capture candid moments. A fine idea, until someone named "subgirl" contacts him to shoot her erotic adventures. As wedding pressures mount, Theo gets drawn further and further into subgirl’s world, confusing fantasy for reality and slowing destroying his relationship with Nat.

Mixing voyeuristic thrill with heartbreaking realism, Director Dana Adam Shapiro has turned out a fascinating exploration of what can happen when we make assumptions about the person we love and the relationships we’re in, and how easily we can destroy ourselves in the process. On top of that, every frame in this thing looks like an artistic photograph, and the soundtrack had me at Hello.

Side note: bring a box of tissues. If you’re anything like me, you’ll lose at least twice during Theo & Dana’s discussions.

{Monogamy screens at SIFF June 9, 7pm and again June 10, 4pm at SIFF Cinema}

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Latest comment by: Steve Louie: "

dammmm, i wanna see this movie......

"

SIFF Take: The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt

Since I was reminiscing a bit about the 1982 Tom Hanks masterpiece Mazes & Monters, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look a more modern take on LARP’ing by viewing The Wild Hunt.

LARP’ing, for those that aren’t total nerds (like myself), stands for Live Action Role Playing. Imagine you played a game like World or Warcraft. Now imagine you dressed up like the character you played in WoW and then went to some remote location wherein EVERYONE did the same thing and y’all talked like your character and acted like your character and then played the game with each other in real time….with lots of booze and (mostly) fake weapons. Basically like a more extreme Ren Fair…with elves and fairies and stuff.

Anyway, this movie endeavors to fully immerse you in the experience via Erik, his girlfriend Evelyn, and his berserker Viking brother Bjorn (I’m not being facetious btw, his brother’s character is actually a berserker Viking). Erik’s not in to playing, but Evelyn is apparently bored enough to ditch him for a weekend and shack up with some dude known as "The Shaman Murtagh". But you know, Evelyn’s hot, and I guess Erik loves her or something, because he drags himself up to the LARP location in order to win her back.

Once Erik arrives, Murtagh’s clan starts acting creepier and creepier, until the thin line between reality and the game gets blurred to the point where no one can tell what’s real anymore. I’ll admit this film moves a little slowly, but the ending is totally worth the wait. Make sure you stay through the credits too!

{The Wild Hunt screens at SIFF June 5 at the Egyptian, Midnight and again June 7 at The Neptune, 09:30pm}

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Three Imaginary Films to see: Seattle's True Independent Film Festival

Hey guys? I know most of y'all are wrapped up in SIFF, but I wanted to remind you that Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival starts today! I'm certainly not complaining that Seattle has TWO awesome film festivals at the same time, but of course it’s always a challenge to fit some STIFF films into an already packed SIFF schedule. However, this year, I’m determined to try.

Running from Friday, 6/4 through Sunday, June 13, STIFF packs in 160 shorts & features (many by local directors) at 4 venues - AND you can see all of them for the low All Access Pass price of $50! The lineup looks great this year, but of course I zeroed in on some the horror films.

The Book of Zombie: Mormon! Zombies!! Hell yes!!! Screens Monday, June 7, 1:30pm at The Rendevous (Jewelbox Theater), and again Friday, June 11, 9:15pm at the Northwest Film Forum.

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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}

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Latest comment by: imaginary embracey: "

I cannot WAIT for this one!

"

SIFF Take: Stigmata

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}

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SIFF Take: Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Contrary to its B-Movie title, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo is actually an engaging documentary about Japan’s fascination with all things insect.

Juxtaposing images of beetle hunters, cricket keepers, entomologists, insect markets and adorable squealing children who keep pets of the squirmy variety, Director Jessica Orek draws us into a culture where every living creature – even the tiniest one – is equally important.

I admit: some of the larvae close-ups gave me the wigs (don’t even get me started on the Ferrari-driving dude who supplements his sake with WASPS! And then drinks! IT!), but there’s also plenty of beauty to look at: dragonfly wings, fluttering butterflies, and crickets chirping happily.

I enjoyed it, even if it didn’t exactly convince me that I need to keep anything other than furry, four-legged creatures in my house.

{Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo screens at SIFF May 31, 1:30pm at Pacific Place and again on June 2, 9:15pm at The Harvard Exit}

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SIFF Take: Cairo Time

Cairo Time

I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to Cairo Time, given that it was billed as a “will they or won’t they” romantic comedy, but I left extremely satisfied.

Editor and journalist Juliet (played by the magnificent Patricia Clarkson) is in Cairo awaiting a vacation with her husband Mark, whose arrival is unfortunately delayed by political issues. Mark’s friend Tareq (a smolderingly handsome Alexander Siddig) arrives to pick Juliet up instead, soothing her disappointment and getting her settled in to her posh hotel.

Amidst Tareq rescuing Juliet from boredom and packs of men following her on the street, the two begin to form a strong bond. And while it’s true that they had amazing chemistry together and there was palatable tension between them, I felt like the film was more about Juliet’s journey and how her time in Cairo changes who she is.

There’s a definite Lost-in-Translation’y vibe to this, coupled with amazing shots of both the city and people of Cairo. Beautifully filmed and superbly acted; I’ll definitely see it again and will most likely buy it for keeps when the DVD is released.

{Cairo Time screens at SIFF May 30, 7pm and again May 31, 12:30pm at Uptown Cinemas}

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SIFF Take: Splice

Sarah Polley & Adrien Brody in Splice

If you’ve seen the previews for Vincent Natali’s sci-fi/horror mash-up Splice, then you know exactly what to expect: a cheesy plot that winds up being ridiculously enjoyable. 

Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) – notice the Bride of Frankenstein reference there? –  are a romantically involved duo of hotshot scientists who’ve created a completely new species using a hybrid of animal DNA. In addition to being kind of cute, the lumpy, mucous-y beings (named Fred & Ginger) create an enzyme that can be used to cure disease in livestock. Following that thought process; Elsa proposes they start combining human DNA into their experiments, which could lead to the possibility of the cure for cancer and other human illnesses.

Not surprisingly, the giant corporation that pays the bills says "No way – too controversial!" but Elsa has other ideas. She and Clive go ahead and crack the code on the human DNA problem and secretly grow a new thing named Dren. I’ll go ahead and say right now that the creature is nothing short of amazing. The Special F/X guys kinda killed it on this one, guys. I couldn’t stop looking at her.

Anyway - from that moment on, the pair continues to make the worst choices possible (and then some) resulting in disaster you can see coming from 10,000 miles away.

Bottom line: Splice asks you to suspend your disbelief to the extreme, but if you can, it’s a whole lot of fun. It’s also a perfect Midnight movie choice, as I was definitely laughing and enjoying myself through the whole thing.

{Splice screens at SIFF, May 30 at the Egyptian, Midnight and again May 31 at the Neptune, 9pm}

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Latest comment by: Amie Simon: "Hooray! So glad you liked it. "

SIFF Take: Hideaway (Le Refuge)

Hideaway (Le Refuge)

Director Francois Ozon is known for his up-close-and-personal take on emotions and relationships, and Hideaway (Le Refuge) is no exception.

Desperately in love couple Mousse and Louis are found unconscious in an apartment after overdosing on heroin. Mousse (Isabelle Carré, who is nothing short of amazing in this) awakens to find that Louis didn’t make it, and that she’s carrying his child.

Ignoring a cold request from Louis’s mama to "take care of it", she retreats to a beach hideaway and contemplates whether or not to raise the baby on her own. Louis’s brother, Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy, full of charm and adorableness), arrives to check on her. The two strike up an awkward friendship that sparks feelings of loneliness and loss in Mousse, but ultimately helps her find a way to move on.

Strikingly beautiful and surprisingly hopeful, Hideaway had me feeling like I knew the two characters personally, and I left wishing them the best.

{Hideaway screens at SIFF one more time: Today, May 29, 1:45pm at The Egyptian}

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Latest comment by: Amie Simon: "Yay! Glad you liked it. Swimming Pool is still my fave, but this was definitely one that made me think. "