One of my favorite bits of sports trivia is this: the first American team to win the Stanley Cup was neither Detroit nor Chicago not even New York, Pittsburgh or Boston. Not one of these traditional ice hockey powerhouses was the one to bring the Stanley Cup to the US for the very first time; instead, it was the Seattle Metropolitans who way back in 1917, won Lord Stanley’s Cup after a heated battle with the Montreal Canadiens, themselves a hockey powerhouse who would eventually rack up an amazing 24 Stanley Cup wins, the most of any pro hockey team.
The makers of Sonicsgate, opening Friday night at SIFF Cinema Friday night aren’t the first to overlook the Metropolitans’ place in history and they probably won’t be the last. Sports fans (myself included) do tend to have a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to their favorite teams, but hearing “…in 1967 the Coliseum welcomes Seattle’s first professional sports team…” and “…the Sonics returned to the finals…to secure the city’s first major league sports title” burned. Early 20th century ice hockey was hardly the big business the NBA had already become by the time the Sonics rolled into town, but still, I’m vexed.
Nevertheless, I did my best to put aside my irritation and give Sonicsgate a fair viewing. Producers Jason Reid and Adam Brown intentions were obviously not to make a simple recitation of Seattle sports history; Sonicsgate is a fans’ labor of love to celebrate the team to which they were so devoted and to share their feelings of betrayal and loss when their team was “stolen” away from them.
To that end, Sonicsgate works well. Even after watching the whole thing, I still can’t be bothered to work up much upset about the team’s move to Oklahoma City–and, yes, I was a Sonics fan, too; after hockey, basketball is my favorite sport–but I do feel a lot more sympathy for fans like Reid and Brown than I did before watching the movie. Sonicsgate is well put together and quite honestly a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. Any Sonics fan can appreciate the look back at the team, particularly the many interviews with players and coaches as well as the commentary by local media and community members. Any sports fan, even one who couldn’t care less about b-ball, can appreciate the passion that went into making it, and anyone who doesn’t fit into either group can still find entertainment in the movie–even with the filmmakers’ obvious bias, it’s still an interesting look at politics, big business, and just how important being a fan can mean to people on both a personal and a civic level.
You can get more information on the film by visiting the Sonicsgate site and you can see the movie through Thursday at SIFF Cinema where every one in attendance gets a free copy of the DVD after the screening.
A different, but no less intense, sort of passion is on display at NWFF where La Danse: Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris has been held over for another week due to popular demand. Legendary filmmaker Fredrick Wiseman’s fascinating documentary presents an intimate look at the legendary dance company, following the rehearsals and performances of seven ballets. Ballet dancers work as hard as pro athletes–sometimes even harder–and while their fans don’t paint their faces in company colors, they’re every bit as devoted.
Also at NWFF: Once Upon a Time in the West, Saturday and Sunday at 8:30. Sergio Leone’s classic Western is a dark, twisted thriller of a movie with an engrossing story and brilliant performances by the likes of Henry Ford and Jason Robards, Jr. It closes out NWFF’s Spirit of ’69 series by following True Grit, the Henry Hathaway-directed film that showcases John Wayne at his best, at 6:00 pm each day.
Sunday afternoon at 1:00 or 2:30, stop in to NWFF to check out Northwest Boychoirs as they sing songs of the season to accompany vintage holiday film footage.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical that tells the story of fictional East German rocker Hedwig whose dreams of fame and fortune inevitably fail to humorous and often genuinely touching effect. Sing along with the excellent soundtrack at Central Cinema Friday through Wednesday.
Yes, Virginia, it’s that time of the year again: after spending the previous 11 months showcasing vintage noir, zombies, splatter, the unusual, the offbeat, and the just plain weird, the fine folks at The Grand Illusion turn their attention to the heartwarming with their annual nightly screenings (6 and 8:30 pm through the week, additional shows on weekends) of Frank Capra’s beloved It’s a Wonderful Life. If it’s been a while since you watched this film or if you’ve simply tuned it out, figuring that it’s just another boring holiday movie played to death on TV, do yourself a favor and make sure you go see it this year. It’s far from the piece of gooey schmaltz that people who’ve never really watched it seem to think it is; in fact, for a large portion of the film, It’s a Wonderful Life is dark and depressing, making its ultimate message all the more wonderful in the end. Tuesday, December 15, the Grand Illusion hosts their It’s a Wonderful Life Holiday Party with free admission, food, drink, the presentation of their annual “George Bailey Award” and, of course, a screening of the film.
Never ever feed it after midnight: Gremlins, in which a young boy receives an unusual Christmas present in the form of…well, you know the story. Midnight at the Egyptian.