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SIFF

Photo Essay: SIFF Opening Night! Whedonverse meets SIFFverse

WOW. Wow. wow. When we sent Imaginary Amie & Rich to the SIFF Opening Night Red Carpet last night, we didn't realize how AMAZING it would be. I mean, we had an idea -- but holycrap, you guys. It was AWESOME. So much Whedonverse & SIFFverse goodness together! 

Amie live-tweeted and recorded some Vine videos while Rich took on the photos (find his full set here), and both laughed and cheered along with the crowd as the Directors and Stars arrived. Below is a sampling of what we experienced! 

Alexis Denisof and Carl Spence

Seattle-based Director Lynn Shelton

{more photos after the jump}

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Latest comment by: Imaginary Rich: "

It was so much fun to shoot! Glad you enjoyed the coverage. :-)

"

SIFF 2013: Week One Highlights

Goltzius and the Pelican Company

SIFF's opening night film was, as I'm sure you've heard, Much Ado About Nothing -- a title which we're all hoping doesn't apply to the ever-varied lineup of this year's iteration of our beloved local cinema gorge-a-thon. Whether or not you were lucky enough to get tix to opening night's Whedonverse fantasia (or the following evening's 'secret' screening), there'll be plenty of filmic wonders for you to choose from this year -- and the TIG SIFF crew is here to help. Here are seven features to see, three to avoid, and four to be cautiously optimistic/pessimistic about, all screening at some point in the coming festival week (May 17-23).

DON'T MISS:

Frances Ha
{screens May 17 at 9:45pm and May 18 at 4pm at Pacific Place}
Imaginary Amie and I appear to be in agreement on this one. It's another delightful New York story from Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale), this time focusing on the post-college, aspiring-dancer title character (indie it-girl du jour Greta Gerwig) throughout a series of struggles after a best-friend breakup. The film does right by the cinematic institutions it so lovingly references -- Manhattan-era Woody Allen and the French New Wave among them -- and distinguishes itself with a sweet, melancholy charm all its own.

Goltzius and the Pelican Company
{screens May 17 at 6:30pm at the Egyptian, and May 19 at 4pm at the Uptown as part of An Afternoon with Peter Greenaway}
Consistently intriguing auteur Peter Greenaway's latest film follows a late 16th-century Dutch printer/engraver as he attempts to convince a powerful margrave to fund the production of a nekkid-illustrated Old Testament. When the margrave balks, Goltzius's employees (the Pelican Company part of the title) agree to entertain the court with six titillating (and, yes, dong-illating too) evenings of erotic biblical reenactments. Playful provocations -- of the characters and the audience -- ensue. Greenaway's unmatched visualism rarely fails to stun, and he utilizes it to great effect here in exploring the narrative's sacred-vs.-profane themes. Crazy, nasty fun.

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Latest comment by: sarah: "Great suggestions. I enjoyed Frances Ha and planning to see Una Noche this week."

SIFF Take: Frances Ha

This collaboration between Director Noah Baumbach and his now girlfriend Greta Gerwig (who also stars in the film) focuses on 27-year-old Frances, a woman struggling with direction in a crushingly co-dependent relationship with her best friend and roommate. Once her roommate announces she's moving out, Frances is left floundering for a place to live, then gets news that the dance company she's been interning at hasn't accepted her as part of their troupe -- and it just goes even MORE downhill from there. 

Shot in arty black and white, Frances Ha is a talky-somewhat-improvised-portait of a girl that probably isn't for everyone, but fans of both Baumbach & Gerwig will love it. And Gerwig is just so damn GOOD. Even though Frances' life experience was entirely different than mine, I felt connected to her while she was trying to figure things out; not seeing what's good right in front of her, unable to enjoy anything even a little bit, freaking out about her intended "career", and desperately, DESPERATELY trying to please everyone. (If you don't cringe several times during the dinner party scene, you are not human). Anyway! Gerwig's a natural at Baumach's dialog (duh), and the whole thing was just lovely. I'm excited to see what they do next. 

Bonus: Adam Driver (from GIRLS) appears as a charming rich playboy! I love that guy. 

{Frances Ha screens at the 39th Annual Seattle International Film Festival on Friday, 5/17, 9:45pm, and again on Saturday, 5/18, 4pm at AMC Pacific Place} 

Recommended SIFF + Ticket Giveaway: Mistaken for Strangers

I was skeptical of Mistaken for Strangers at first, because I'm not a fan of The National (when I told my friend this the other day she looked at me like she couldn't understand the words coming out of my mouth. It was seriously AWKWARD), but this documentary is actually less about the band itself, and more about Tom Berninger, the brother of lead singer Matt, who is both the Director and subject. 

The trailer has a lot of "whoa" moments,  including my favorite: listening to Matt Berninger talk about how his brother is a metalhead, and thinks "indie rock's pretentious bullshit". HAHA. Ha. (I hope you guys are laughing with me!) And the ouchy "The only reason you ARE here is because you're my brother"

Anyway! Watch the trailer. It looks cool, and we've got two tickets to each show for a very lucky Imaginary! The film screens on Monday 5/20, 7pm and again Tuesday 5/21, 4pm at The Egyptian. For a chance to win, email us at tig {at} threeimaginarygirls {dot} com with the subject line "Indie Rock is Bullshit" anytime between now and 3pm Friday 5/17. And make sure you tell us WHICH screening you want tickets to! We'll notify the winners Friday night. 

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SIFF 2013 Preview: NW Connections

Time to outline my favorite SIFF program: NW Connections! Anytime I see a bunch of local filmmakers, local locations, or really -- ANY KIND OF CONNECTION to my hometown I get a little excited, so give me a minute. Because I am hyperventilating over this first one: 

Lynn Shelton's new film (YAYYYYYYY!) Touchy Feely, stars Rosemarie DeWitt (DOUBLE YAYYYYYYY!!) as a massage therapist who suddenly gets the ooks about touching other people. Whoops. That sounds like a career killer. It also has Ellen Page (TRIPLE YAYYYYYY!!!). Anyway. It sounds awesome. OBVIOUSLY. It is LYNN SHELTON. My only real complaint is that I'll be out of town when it screens. *sob* {Screens 5/23, 7pm at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center, and again 5/25, 1:30pm at The Egyptian} 

And you know I am ALL OVER Dead Meat Walking - A Zombie Walk Documentary, because HELLO. Awesome. Close-ups of zombie makeup, hoards of crawling living dead coming at the camera, and interviews with Zombie enthusiasts, as well as Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon! I LOVE YOU), and special F/X maestro Tom Savini!!! YES. Side note: I hope someone tells us when the Zombie invasion of the Light Rail is, because I wanna be on it when it happens. (I have just given someone that idea for free. you're welcome). {Screens 5/24, 11:55pm at the Egyptian, and again on 5/25, 8:30pm at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center} 

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Revelatory doc on The Source Family at SIFF Cinema Film Center

{The Source Family opens Friday, May 3 at 9 PM at the SIFF Cinema at the Film Center in Seattle Center, 305 Harrison Street, and runs through May 9, 2013. Source Family members Makushla, Omne, and Rain Aquarian will be at the premier in person.}

For underground music fans of the god-jam variety (namely, psyche heads) the names Father Yod and Ya Ho Wa 13 can evoke mystical states of I want I want I want. Most fans of even just some of the hundreds of releases these often free-form musicians put out since the late 60s are aware there is a wild cultural backstory to their creation; and some of those LPs feature pivotal artists such as Sky Saxon of The Seeds, who converted to the unabashed cult which formed the bands which made their sounds. 

That's right, FY and YHW 13 are actual cult artists, the former once known as Jim Baker, a Judo master and Marine and miracle-magus who underwent a Yogic conversion in the 60s and charismatically collected together something called The Source Family at the height of the West Coast New Age wampum.

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SIFF 2013 Preview: Face the Music

Hello, Imaginaries! This year's Face the Music program at the Seattle International Film Festival contains some music documentaries I AM SUPER EXCITED ABOUT!!! You can buy passes to SIFF now, and inividual tickets go on sale this week on Thursday, 5/2. And so, let us (stage) dive in: 

First up: a few special events put together by Ms. Hannah Levin of KEXP! The Maldives are doing their thing at The Triple Door this year, performing music for The Wind, a 1928 Lillian Gish film. And the documentary Muscle Shoals will also have a tribute evening at The Triple Door, with music provided by Patterson and Dave Hood with Jeff Fielder and friends. {The Maldives & The Wind, June 7 at The Triple Door, two shows: 7pm & 9:30pm; A Muscle Shoals Tribute, May 30 at The Triple Door, 7pm}  

Speaking of Muscle Shoals, in case you didn't know, it's the studio where "legendary musicians including Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett gathered to create music that would later inspire the likes of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many more." I'm not gonna lie, the trailer makes me drool a little bit. {Screens 5/29, 7pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, and again 5/30, 7pm at the Egyptian} 

Power Pop fans rejoice! Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me is coming to SIFF!!! Promising never-before-seen footage, rousing musical tributes, and in-depth interviews with members of the band and the musicians they’ve inspired. Yes, yes, yes, and YES. I was hoping this would make it to SIFF. Hooray! {Screens 5/21, 9pm, and again 5/26, 8:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown} 

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Latest comment by: Gloria Kirby: "A few other things rounding out the 2013 programming: Harana, about classical guitarist Florante Aguilar exploring his Filipino roots {5/25 and 5/26 at the Uptown}; Wagering cannot be superior on this wager site as well as the speedy setting online gambling ...

A Very Imaginary “Best of” 2012 Movie List

I am terribly behind on this, I know! But it wouldn’t really feel like the start to a new year if I didn’t make some kind of list about the movies I fell in love with. It’s way too tough for me to make a traditional Top 10—so I’m going with the imaginary format I used last year. 

Best EVERYTHING: The Cabin in the Woods (Director: Drew Goddard)
I can’t even tell you how much I love this film. And sadly, I can’t even really tell you what this film is about without running it—short of saying that it’s about 5 college kids who go to a cabin for a weekend of fun only to have it turn into a screaming night of terror—which would be doing it an injustice. After watching this 5x (so far) and listening to the commentary twice, I’m convinced that the Whedon/Goddard pairing is a match made in horror heaven. I cannot wait to see what these guys do next! And I hope it’s soon. Really, really, really soon.

Best romantic comedy/drama that felt like it could really happen: Your Sister’s Sister (Director: Lynn Shelton)
Shelton’s finest film to date features a killer cast that folds you right into the story, with Mark Duplass working equal parts charm and stupidity, Emily Blunt emoting one-million different things with just her eyes, and Rosemarie Dewitt being as fabulous as she is in everything. Talking too much about the plot would give it away, so let’s just say it’s full of great surprises and sharp dialog. And I especially loved the completely unconventional ending.

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Elena

{Elena opens at the Landmark Varsity Theater on Friday July 13th}

Elena is a slow moving but extremely well made film that details the choices people can make for their family when their back is against the wall. Or maybe it's an allegory about post-communist Russia and how everything is just business, even marital relations. Perhaps simply an advanced exercise in producing an effective noir mood onscreen. It's one or many of those, but not an entirely satisfying experience. I saw all those pieces in play, each rendered precisely -- even memorably. But without a hook that truly engaged me in the experience, so I was left admiring the craft but not the overall film.

There are far, far, FAR worse film choices to be made out there. Surprisingly, in some ways, Elena simply didn't stand out as much as I would have hoped from the crime and (maybe) punishment type description I'd heard of the work.

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'Best' of SIFF 2012 series begins Friday at the Uptown

King Curling

A true 'best-of' SIFF 2012 program, IMHO, would include gritty French drama Polisse, Russian chiller Elena, Argentine road movie Las Acacias, French-Canadian melodrama Wetlands, Dutch sensuality experiment 170 Hz, and a number of exceptional documentaries (How to Survive a Plague, The Imposter, Wonder Women, and especially Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present).

And while I've never really claimed to be tuned to the collective frequency of the SIFFgoing public, it's still tough to fathom the dreary Any Day Now winning 2012's top audience award. But win it did, and it's among 18 features and one shorts package playing at SIFF Cinema's 'Best' of SIFF 2012 series unspooling this weekend. None of my personal favorites will be there, but some are indeed coming (again) soon to a theater near you.

Of SIFF's 'best of' films I've seen (75% of them, in fact, if you include the three which begin regular week-long runs at SIFF's cinemas on Friday), I only posted a solid-ish recommendation to one: Welcome to Doe Bay. But had I seen a few others earlier -- Extraterrestrial, King Curling, The Invader -- I'd've given them my version of a thumbs-up too and notified you about them before they screened. I'm glad I can give them some love now.

But I'm realistic about how much my opinion really counts for here, so proceed with cautious optimism as you leverage the opportunity to see some audience- and jury-award honorees (alongside a few non-winners that SIFF programmers apparently just saw fit to screen again), explore a few flicks the intrepid TIG film staff didn't make it to, and catch up on some of the general SIFFiness you may've missed out on over the past month. All screenings are at the Uptown unless otherwise noted.

DAILY, June 15-21; see siff.net listings for showtimes:

Extraterrestrial
{Runner-up: Best Director Golden Space Needle Award}
Julio wakes up in Julia's bed, after a night neither of them remembers very well; their awkward, hungover morning-after grows even stranger when they discover that colossal alien spaceships have appeared over Madrid. This is a quick and pleasant little romp by Timecrimes director Nacho Vigalondo, who did a charming and funny Q&A at the SIFF screening I attended. I can't promise Extraterrestrial will be quite as magical in his absence.

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Latest comment by: brandish: "Sliiiii-ip! Slip and Slide!"