Tonight in Seattle:  

comedy

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:

COMEDY

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.

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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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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.

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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:

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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
12pm-1pm

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?
2pm-3pm

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?"

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Bumbershoot 2013 picks: film, comedy, and theater

I know it's really really hard to fit in ALL of these things in addition to seeing the bands you want to see, but I urge y'all to check out the other stuff Bumbershoot 2013 has to offer! 

First off: the 1 Reel Film Festival at the SIFF Film Center, which gives you a chance to catch a lot of things you might have missed earlier this year. There are Films4Families, Music Videos, Award-Winners, Best of the Northwest … and really, SO many good programs I can't mention them all. Check out the full film schedule for more details. I'm definitely plan to make a few of these ... and here's the rest of what I'll be trying to cram in between band goodness: 

Saturday, 8/31

NERDprov
3:45pm-4:45pm
Theatre Puget Sound Stage 

What's that, you say? Improv made for people who loves shows, movies, comics, music, and games? LOOK FOR ME IN THE FRONT ROW. 

Patton Oswalt and Friends
6:30pm-7:30pm
Comedy at the Bagley

The only question you need to ask yourself about this one is, "How early do I need to line up to get in?" And the answer is: EARLY, my friends. Early. But it's totally worth it. Plus, he's performing again on Sunday and Monday, so you'll have 3 chances to laugh so hard your entire can of Bud Light Lime-A-Rita comes out of your nose. 

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Monsters University: A dual review by Imaginary Amie and Roxie Rider

{Monsters University opens in Seattle on Friday 6/21 is playing at the Majestic Bay, AMC Pacific Place, Sundance Cinemas Seattle, and Oak Tree Cinemas}

Usually we stick to the usual around here with movie reviews: one person per movie, but since we break that mold a little with SIFF, we decided to throw it out the window for Pixar's Monsters University (a prequel to Monsters, Inc.), because two of our film-loving writers both adored it equally. If you need a bit of background on the plot: Monsters U is about Mike Wazowski attending Monster college to learn the ways of being a top Scarer. He meets Sully there, but their friendship is not instant. Mike has to battle distractions against studying, a doubting Dean, Sully's ego, and a bullying jock (voiced by Nathan Fillion, naturally) and figure out how to turn his sad nerd frat into winners so he can get the education and degree he needs to work at Monsters, Inc. 

Here's a transcript of what both Imaginary Amie and Roxie Rider thought about it! (Warning: MILD spoilers ahead, but we tried not to go into too much detail)

Amie: Let's talk about that beautiful short at the beginning of the film The Blue Umbrella! What were your impressions? Did your kids like it? There was a little girl in back of us saying "Oh no oh no oh no" during a tense moment. So much emotional pull packed into a little short. I loved it! 

Roxie: I liked it very much too. I thought the story was very sweet, but I was more impressed by the extraordinary realism. Pixar movies and shorts have always have a really cartoon-y look, which is smart—it sidesteps the whole uncanny valley question neatly. But it honestly took me well into the short to figure out that it wasn’t a mixture of live-action and animation. Can you think of another digital movie that seemed so realistic?

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Imaginary Interview: talking about peer pressure, excess, and music with The Bling Ring's Katie Chang and Israel Broussard

{The Bling Ring opens in Seattle on Friday, 6/21, and is screening at SIFF Cinema Uptown, The Guild 45th, AMC Pacific Place, and Oak Tree Cinemas} 

Sofia Coppola's new film, The Bling Ring, screened at SIFF for this year's Closing Night gala. The film is about the real life "Bling Ring": a group of teens who robbed celebrity houses and then flaunted their scores all over the Hollywood club scene and Facebook. It's a story steeped in excess, and Coppola based the screenplay heavily on a Vanity Fair article called "The Suspects Wore Loubitons" by Nancy Jo Sales, and footage from the E! reality show Pretty Wild, which featured two of the ring members, Alexis Neiers (played in the film with eerie attention to detail by Emma Watson) and Tess Taylor. 

I was lucky enough to get an early peek at the Director's take on what happens when a group of spoiled rich kids takes their love of celeb culture and designer duds to a new level, and even luckier to get to sit down with the film's stunning leads,Katie Chang (Rebecca) and Israel Broussard (Marc) to chat about teen peer pressure, the culture shock of L.A., and working with Sofia. 

The two young (goodlord does spending time with an 18 and 19-year-old make me feel like an OLD lady!) actors were remarkably composed, polite, and accommodating. They even indulged my request for a Bling Ring-style selfie at the end of the interview! Hey, Katie and Israel? I LIKE YOU. And I hope I get to see you in more stuff soon. 

TIG: First off, I was curious if you two grew up like the characters you play in this film. Or, if not, did you know kids like that? Basically, how familiar were you with that world? 

Katie Chang: Well, I grew up in a pretty affluent part of Northern Illinois, right north of Chicago. So the way that I grew up was very much mid-western small town, but you go a couple minutes East and you're on the lake, and I knew a lot of kids on the lake. So I wasn't unfamiliar with kids who were both rich and bored. 

Israel Broussard: No, I grew up about a block from the trailer park in Mississippi, so I was not at all familiar with it until I first got to L.A. 

Katie: NOTHING can prepare you for L.A. 

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Imaginary film report: Antiviral and Mental open today in Seattle

Weekend movie time! There are a few Indies screening at The Grand Illusion and SIFF this weekend that I wanted to share with our imaginaries.

First up, Antiviral: screening at Grand Illusion Cinema , 4/19-4/25.

Antiviral is about an evolution in the way people view celebrity. Placed in a future bathed in clean white, the film centers on Syd, a salesman at a popular clinic where the commodity is live infections taken from celebs. A celeb gets infected or sick with something—herpes, the flu, etc.—and sells their virus to the clinic for a price, who in turn sells it back to super fans who want to be as close to that famous person as possible.

Gross, right? Imagine someone paying to get injected with Kim Kardashian's ... whatever.

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Recommended Show: Janeane Garofalo at The Neptune {4/11}

HOLD UP. Miss Janeane Garofalo is coming to The Neptune Thursday night and I didn't know until NOW? I am failing as a super-fan. 

I fell for Janeane in the 90s during her heyday -- loving her clever sarcasm to death right along with her blunt bangs, long dark hair, and quirky vintage style (best dance ever in Realty Bites. EVER). When Barbara Walters interviewed her, she said that Garofalo steals every movie scene she's in, and she's not lying. I own a copy of The Truth About Cats and Dogs, and I still maintain to this day that she was, is, and will always be hotter than Uma Thurman. But enough about my JG lust -- let's talk stand-up. 

This girl is funny. And I say that as someone who generally doesn't dig on stand-up. But I have a good feeling about this, you guys. Garofalo's got serious chops, and digging around on YouTube tells me she's just as awesome as ever. So I'll be blowing drinks out of my nose near the front of the stage this week. Come join me! 

{STG Presents Janeane Garofalo at The Neptune | Thursday, April 11 | Doors @ 7, Show @ 8 | All Ages, Bar w/I.D. | $22.50 adv, $25 day of}