siff decompresion: 35 is a very special number
As anyone who saw at least one film at this year’s festival will recall, thirty-five is a very special number (tetrahedral, number of green firms, average winter low, a film gauge, the number of years SIFF has been around … did I miss anything?). Entirely by coincidence, it also the number of feature-length films I watched. As an experiment in compactness and as a mental bookkeeping system, I posted mini-reviews to Twitter along the way. For a full list of my viewing habits, I’ve reposted them after the jump.
Overall, I think that the average of my torn ballot slips would have been somewhere just below the dotted line indicating a “4”, which means that I did well in deciding what to see or that the programmers did an exceptional job in stocking the theaters (probably a bit of each). Of the films I liked best (Lynn Shelton’s compassionate and credible Humpday ; Jamie Johnson’s joyful Sounds Like Teen Spirit ; Doug Pray’s surprisingly elevating Art & Copy) , several will be re-screened at this weekend’s “best of the fest” marathon [siff] or have distribution and are likely to be returning to Seattle in the very near future.
I’m a bit disappointed that Craig Johnson’s True Adolescents didn’t make it into the encore presentations, but I am holding out hope that it finds a distributor to bring it back to town. Across the board, the cast is stellar; the foul-mouthed script is funny and affecting; the direction generously takes on all sorts of comings of age, delayed and otherwise; and the pacific northwest setting looks great. Maybe it’s because I didn’t expect much from the potentially slapsticky premise of “aging indie rocker takes his teen nephew for a hike”, but the results were consistently surprising, a little suspenseful, and consistently believable. Keep your fingers crossed for it!
What’s on your distribution wishlist?
my SIFF in 4369 characters. (note that the first link goes to SIFF, the second to the twitter status update; note also that the first three were faked because I saw them ahead of the festival, before this questionable idea of tweeting my screenings occurred to me.)
- In the Loop : profane political farce hinging around va rious governments’ misunderstandings & misrepresentations of the word “unforeseeable”.
- Modern Life: Only a few minutes feature anything but static shots of conversations at kitchen tables with reticent elders. Oddly mesmerizing
- I Know You Know : you realize quickly that this father is either the most careless spy ever or that something else is terribly wrong.
- Saw Stella at SIFF, mostly overestimating the inevitable awful to break the gauzy spell of not happy adolescence.
- Moon : creepy sci fi on the cheap.
- Rembrandt j’accuse you of being Tim from the Office (and a little crazy)
- Dead Snow : zombies are the new bacon. / Feeling mildly delerious and extra sensitive to the possibility of zombie attacks now that everyone else has reached their destination.
- All Tomorrow’s Parties documentary is a brilliant collage (and challenging recognition game). Now I want to go!
- Pirate for the Sea , an enlightening and unfocused tribute with a lot of whale and seal blood and a little bit of hope.
- City of Borders , smartly-crafted Israel Palestine doc. She found an exceptional menagerie of unicorns in a conflict zone.
- The Hurt Locker , near plotless, character development free, stuffed w/ preferably ignored war horrors, yet astonishingly compelling.
- Sounds Like Teen Spirit : a heartbursting joy. Until the end. Like spellbound with more telegenic subjects and better choreography.
- Like Dandelion Dust : knockout gutwrenching adoption horror movie, with a happily contrived tearjerker ending.
- A Sea Change : frightened by the NewYorker, retiree journeys to pen a letter explaining the unfathomable ocean crisis to his grandson.
- Welcome : heartbroken instructor trains an Iraqi Kurd refugee to swim across the English Channel for love.
- Art & Copy : reverential doc about advertising as high art told through interviews with creatives, who are as magnetic as their ads.
- William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe . Daughters’ outstanding tribute to their lawyer father & a history of American revolution.
- The Paranoids : Argentine slackercore, stumbles along pleasantly uneventful and ends jarringly disjointed. no lo comprendo.
- Humpday : two straight guys decide to sleep together for art. Lynn Shelton’s film is squirmily suspenseful, funny, and believable.
- Il Divo : feverish Italian political biopic; could’ve traded some showy camerawork for just a little more narrtive coherence.
- True Adolescents : on the perils of having an indie rocker as a wilderness guide. Harrowing, affecting, authentic, and oh so funny.
- A Woman Under the Influence : the kids are the only unlikely beacon of sanity in this hellish nuthouse. Left me feeling unhinged.
- OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies . Goofy french spy comedy under the moon at the beach huddled in sleeping bags.
- The Karamazovs : czechs stage a beautiful Dostoyevsky production in a steel mill; haunted by a janitor’s tragedy, dancers, and puppets.
- At West of Pluto : naturalistic portrait gently flutters through a day & night of Quebecois teen life, parties, & love in an ice rink.
- Manhole Children : So bleak & miserable, in this Japanese documentary Ulan Bator’s impoverished seem less like fact than cruel fiction.
- Cold Souls : Paul Giamatti offloads his heavy soul. Once he realizes his folly, it’s been lifted by Russians. Metaphysical laughs!
- (500) Days of Summer : mutual Smiths appreciation may not be solid relationship foundation, but works as a spark for a cute romcom.
- The Girl from Monaco : bombshell weathergirl sexes up repressed lawyer’s trial/visit. Hints of intrigue, comedy, & Bodyguard bromance.
- Give Me Your Hand : twin French brothers have a dialogue deprived “erotic” walk to Spain. Too nappy to be sure what happened.
- Adam : Romance is even harder with Asperger’s, but with such an adorable couple you hope for a fairy tale ending. Entirely lovely.
- the Bear : No Age turned what might have been a confusingly frivolous animal buddy pic into something strangely ominous and moving.
- Every Little Step : a movie about casting a revival of a musical about casting a broadway production. Heartfelt, engaging, & fun!
- 50 Dead Men Walking : Gripping thriller. Ben Kingsley handles an IRA double agent through webs of danger, deceit, & family obligations.
- OSS 117: Lost in Rio : goofy French spy returns, complete with Nazis, buffoonery, and crocodiles.