Tonight in Seattle:  


The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

This weekend, SIFF Cinema Uptown is showing one of my favorites from SIFF 2014. It’s about… there’s this very old man, see? And he gets put in a home for being rather ornery—the kind of ornery that involves dynamite—about something invading his property. But he doesn't want to be in a home, so he climbs out the titular window. Then he ends up with a giant suitcase full of cash, and a hoodlum after him, and a gangster after the hoodlum, and a slightly-less-old-and-ornery sidekick, and then a nebbishy fellow, and an awesome artistic lady living on her own out on a farm for Good Reasons, and also an elephant, and we flash back to the old dude’s life when he wasn’t old, cavorting with a rather spry Stalin and learning how to blow stuff up real good, and quite a few people die but not in any way that spoils any of the fun whatsoever. It’s like watching a confident storyteller making shit up as he goes along.

{The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is screening at SIFF Cinema Uptown June 12 & 13}

SIFF Take: Shaun the Sheep

The Shaun the Sheep spirit survives intact in Shaun the Sheep Movie. Aardman’s signature wit and heart are in full flower, and all you need to know is conveyed through the action and the animal’s expressive eyes. It's considerably more exciting than a standard episode, and the stakes are higher. Typical farm shenanigans accidentally land the farmer in the Big City with his memory erased, and Bitzer and the sheep have to try and rescue him while evading an insecure and monomaniacal Animal Control officer. That’s a lot more intense than, say, a bunch of douche-y next-door pigs sabotaging a rube goldberg machine designed to get a kite out of a tree. 


SIFF Double-Feature: Jason Schwartzman in Two Closing Weekend Films

Jason and Arrow Schwartzman in 7 Chinese Brothers
Triple the adorableness! 

I’m psyched that SIFF had not one, but TWO amazing “An Evening with” programs lined up this year with actors that I adore. An Evening with Jason Schwartzman happens TOMORROW {Saturday, June 6} and I’m sure it will be just as entertaining as Kevin Bacon’s. I got my ticket long ago and the Evening is now on “standby,” but I have to have to have to talk about it anyway because …. reasons. One of them being Schwartzman’s adorable dog, Arrow, who co-stars with him in 7 Chinese Brothers, which screens during the Evening and again on Sunday (still tix available!).

Every Wes Anderson fan knows who Schwartzman is because he’s in pretty much every single one of his films, particularly Rushmore, which inspired a million people to continually quote this Max Fischer zinger (I swear to god I heard someone say this the last time I was at Linda's):

Max: I like your nurse's uniform, guy.
Dr. Flynn: These are O.R. scrubs.
Max Fischer: O, R they?


SIFF Take: Chatty Catties

Chatty Catties SIFF 2015

After watching Chatty Catties with me, my cat, Frankie, insisted on writing this review. He says that I can’t possibly understand the film’s real meaning since I’m a human and not an oppressed feline like the star, Leonard. So, friends—here we go. It's an imaginary cat takeover! 

Frankie’s Review (as dictated to imaginary amie):
What a masterpiece! I’ve never seen a film so succinctly sum up the struggles of our kind before. Sure, there’s been some talking cat movies, but nothing that even comes close to the truth of this. Watching the real desires and thoughts of cats realized on screen via amazing voice actors filled me with hope that our days of being misunderstood by humans might be coming to an end.

Chatty Catties is primarily the story of Leonard, a beautiful striped tabby who has THE WORST HUMAN EVER.


Latest comment by: Roxie Rider: "

Rock on, Frankie!



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).


Bumbershoot 2014 picks: Comedy, Theater, Film, and Visual Arts

More love for the non-musical things at Bumbershoot! Yes, there are a lot of bands I wants to see. BUT there are also a lot of other things too, so I always try to make a point to squeeze in a few things that don’t involve trying to avoid a contact high or getting kicked in the face by enthusiastic stage divers.

Here’s what I’m planning to take in from the Comedy, Theater, Film, and Visual Arts goings-on this year:


Janeane Garafolo

Comedy at the Playhouse
Saturday 8/30 at 1pm
Sunday 8/31 at 2:45pm
Monday 9/1 at 4:30pm

Janeane was HILARIOUS when I saw her do comedy at The Neptune not too long ago, so I would love, love, LOVE to see her again … also, maybe I can “bump” into her around the Center just so I can tell her that I would have picked her over Uma right at the beginning, no contest. Ben Chaplin is DUMB.


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.


Chinese Puzzle (Casse-tête chinois)

Chinese Puzzle

{Chinese Puzzle opens in Seattle on Friday, 5/30, and is screening at Landmark’s Seven Gables Theatre}

Cédric Klapisch continues his story of writer Xavier Rousseau—and the women that surround him—in Chinese Puzzle, the third film in a trilogy that started in 2002 with L'Auberge Espagnole and continued in 2005 with Russian Dolls.

Now 40, Xavier is a successful novelist married to Wendy (Kelly Reilly), with whom he has two kids. The couple has maintained a happy relationship for almost 10 years ... well, kind-of. Once Xavier’s friend Isabelle (Cecile de France) asks him to help her and her female partner have a baby, things that have been starting to unravel between them completely fall apart, and Wendy leaves Paris with their kids for a new life (and new man) in New York.

Unable to live so far away from his children, Xavier packs up and moves to New York too, where conveniently, the now-pregnant Isabelle and her girlfriedn Ju live, so he's able to snag a sweet apartment in Chinatown with their help while he continues to work on his latest book and navigate his divorce with the help (?) of a New York lawyer.


Is the comedy album dead?

Nope! The comedy album is not dead. It probably should be, as almost every comedian has a podcast or YouTube channel now, or is appearing on three podcasts and talk shows and in festival line-ups this very week.

But an album -- the format of audio-based long-playing something or other, usually music, but then allowing for a full set of comedy when the 50s went "LP" -- is a certain kind of thing. As I bought these comedy CDs below, I often asked myself why I was bothering. Can't we get our comedy from a bunch of other sources now, some not even involving pestered cats on the Book of Face; much of which is available on that other silver disc, the DVD? 

Yes, memes and sitcom and stand-up collections are taking up a lot of our time both at work and in the after-hours, as diversions and consumables. But your career comedian, your yuck-bucket soldier that can't just snap his fingers and get the Internet to PayPal a million into his personal account, they still need to crank out the equivalent of a 40-minute collection of new material the way bands do.

And like those bands, the albums tend to rotate a bit on a theme, and to highlight a bit or two that makes its way to the before-referenced YouTube or talk shows. These albums may not have the majestic allure of the original, mysterious masters of the format -- Redd Foxx, Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Albert Brooks -- but they are excellent live sets of the comedian's contemporary repertoire. Now will comedy albums ever get back to the conceptual hijinks of the Firesign Theatre or Monty Python? Maybe. Probably not. But it's kind of strange though.

Think about it this way: It's as if the pop music format hit the apex of Frampton Comes Alive in the 70s, and from then on, every musician was recording everything, everything since, through voice boxes on their guitars in front of a cheering, bong-loaded, Bic-waving mob of wing-hairs. That is, live set BOOM. Done deal. There are exceptions -- Norm MacDonald records studio comedy albums. (They're great, save for the homophobia. Ouch.) And there are always going to be They Might Be Giants-type bands as adept at yucks as they are rolling out the rock. But below are about as imaginative and cool and experientially fulfilling as comedy albums get these days, all of them recorded before a live audience, and all basing their artfulness on the direct appeal of their jokes'n'stories. So with that understood, let's hit 'em:


Bumbershoot 2013 picks: Words & Ideas

WHO IS EXCITED FOR BUMBERSHOOT THIS YEAR? Why, I yam. Glad you asked! As always, I'd like to remind our Imaginary Bumbershoot attendees that the festival has a ton of stuff going on in addition the music! Like film! And comedy! And my FAVORITE: The Words & Ideas programming. All these things take place at the Leo K. Theatre, which is in the Seattle Rep. 

Here's what's on my dream to-see list this year:

Saturday, 8/31

The Better Bombshell

Who would like to listen to a couple of ladies talk about ladies? I DO I DO. Charlotte Austin and Siolo Thompson put together an anthology about redefining the female role model. Yes, please. 

Why Froyo? Why YOLO? Why now?

I can't even. I'm going for the name alone, people. Also this: "Why is froyo so popular? Why are denizen, frozen-yogurt establishments eclipsed? Why is YOLO a reason to leave a comfort zone? Why not write "You Only Live Once" in cursive?"