Archive for January, 2010

Weekend Film Agenda January 29

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival has two sessions Saturday at Cinerama, brought to you by SIFF and EMP/SFM.

Speaking of sci-fi, SIFF Cinema presents a weekend of Sci-Fi on Blu Ray. Friday night at 7:30 check out Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece: 2001: A Space Odyssey, a movie that scared the bejezus out of me as a kid and remains one of the most compelling films made and is the acknowledged standard against which all serious sci-fi films are measured. It’s pioneering special effects and innovative film and sound techniques tell a story of human evolution, advanced technology, extraterrestrials, and the creepiest computer of all time.

Sunday at SIFF it’s a double feature: Get down there in the early afternoon for the 3:30 screening of The Man Who Fell to Earth, the 1976 Nicolas Roeg-directed film about an alien who comes to Earth to get water for his thirsty planet. While it’s best known because the alien just happens to be played by David Bowie (who is very, very convincing as an alien), it’s worth watching for more than mere gawking at a rock star. It’s been a cult favorite for years due to its surreal imagery and its complex look at society as reflected by the experiences of the ultimate outside. It’s followed by Logan’s Run at 6:00 pm. I’d like to pretend that the reason my brother and I loved this movie so much when we were kids was that we were impressed by its ultimate message of the indomitability of the human nature, but the truth is we liked the flashy special effects. (Oh, and the idea of a world without cranky old folks telling kids to get off their lawn.) Watching it again for the first time in years a few months ago I was struck by how even with some seriously outdated tech and acting that isn’t exactly Academy quality, it still manages to be an exciting movie.

If you lived twice as long as he did, you might someday become half as good as Julius Shulman, the photographer who delivered American architecture to the masses via his work from the 1930s until his death in 2009. During the course of his storied career, Shulman, THE preeminent architectural photographer captured on film such iconic buildings as the Stahl House in Los Angeles and structures built by such luminaries as Charles Eames, Pierre Koenig, and Frank Lloyd Wright. His library of images was so desired that the Getty Center in LA had to do battle to win the right to host his catalog. So vast was his talent that it would be worth a trip to LA just to see some of his photos at the Getty. With such an august figure you might expect that a film about his career would be a little dry–brilliance can be boring–but Visual Acoustics is an intriguing look at an intelligent, likable man who just happened to be an artistic genius. While it may be impossible to do a documentary without any talking heads, director Eric Bricker wisely avoids relying on them too much, keeping his focus on the man and his work. Shulman, and others, talk about his work, the significance of photography to architects and architecture, how architecture influences our lives and our society, and Shulman’s photographic techniques all in a way that’s more friendly conversation that classroom lecture. The visuals on display, needless to say, are stunning. I think I became a better photographer myself just watching this film. At NW Film Forum.

Director Katie Turinski profiles a group of a dozen Portland performance artists who use glitter, booze, and talent to transform themselves into “the kind of drag queens your mother warned you about” in her documentary Sissyboy, a chronicle of the noted drag troupe’s last year. Interviews with the Sissyboy members and looks at the group’s rehearsals and public performances paint a picture of personal freedom through anything-goes artistic expression. On screen at the Grand Illusion.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Ghostbusters, the Midnight Movie at the Egyptian Theater.

Winner of a Cannes Jury Prize and Romania’s official Oscar selection, Police, adjective is a dry comedy about a police officer who has a crisis of conscience when he has choose between getting in big trouble with his big boss or ruining the life of a young man whose made what he thinks is just a minor mistake.

Rat City Roller Girls new season debut with discounts, donations

rcrg by sn
Grave Danger v. Derby Liberation front in a photo by Slightly North

The Rat City Rollergirls skate into the 2010 season with a bout on Sunday, January 31 at Key Arena. All four home teams–Sockit Wrenches, Derby Liberation Front, Throttle Rockets and Grave Danger–will battle each other tourney style as they duke it out to see which non-profit group each team has selected will score the biggest donation based on the team representing them.

The Sockit Wrenches will be fighting for the Lambert House, a center for GLBTQ youth. The Pinup Angels send care packages to American servicemembers stationed around the world, they’re represented by Derby Liberation Front. Throttle Rockets are standing up for Fisher House, an organization that enables military family members to be by their loved one’s side during hospitalization for illness, disease, or injury. Grave Danger is there for Old Dog Haven who provide homes for Washington’s senior dogs.

Doors open at 2:30 and the bouts begin an hour later. RCRG season ticket holders, don’t forget that you get the opportunity to enter in your very own door on the east side of Key Arena, enabling you to score the choicest seats in the house. (If you’re not already a season ticket holder and would like to be, check the RCRG site for details.) Individual game tickets can be purchased at the door; in recognition of the tough economic times, the Rollergirls are sweetening the pot by offering a deal: buy four tickets and get a fifth free. Take advantage of this offer by gathering your group and heading down to an in-person ticket location or purchase in advance online through Ticketmaster.

flickr find: amp’d


photo by hyperme | a11024689 [flickr] via our group pool. [#]

2010 Sci Fi & Fantasy Film Fest this weekend

The fifth annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival (SFFSFF, an acronym that’s fun to say aloud) blasts onto the screen at Seattle’s Cinerama Theater this Saturday, January 30.

SFFSFF packs ten films into two different sessions – you can attend either or, better yet, both. There are two major advantages in doing both: one, you don’t have to worry about missing any of the great films in the festival, and, two, if your luck is anything like mine, the winning film, to be honored in a ceremony following session two, is always a film from the session I didn’t attend. Tickets are $9 a session or $15 for the combo ticket, so you’re saving some money by seeing both. (You can use it to buy extra popcorn.)

Films come from all over the world and represent a variety of styles: there’s serious and silly, animated and live action, and everything else, too.

Session 1 runs starts at 4:00 pm and includes seven films from the USA, two from Spain and one from Canada. The shortest of the bunch is a mere two minutes of computer animation about a boy and his mom stranded on a strange planet after their shuttle crashed. (Shuttle T-42). The longest film at fifteen minutes, Charlie Thistle, tells the story of bureaucrat stuck in a black and white world who dares to reach out for a color besides grey. Other films include Extra-Ordinary in which the friendship between two young people is tested when one of them develops superpowers; Die Schneider Krankheit, a Spanish film in which a Russian space shuttle with an astronaut chimp crash lands in 1950s Germany; and The Trekkie in which a self-hating Trek nerd dreaming of a life beyond fandom finds himself exploiting the battle skills he’s learned from endless hours of watching Captain Kirk.

Session 2 begins at 7:00 pm and includes films from the USA, the UK and Canada, including the brilliant local short Third Day’s Child about a future in which not all children are “every day” children; CC 2010, in which a young woman and her angelic milkman pal traverse the Pacific Science Center at the Seattle Center to search for her parents in the cosmic ether. Elder Sign is a spoof commercial brought to you by the folks responsible for Casting Call of Cthulu. Other films themes include King Arthur in the modern day and alien invasion.

After both series have concluded an expert jury will be announcing their awards.

Tickets for either or both sessions are available online at SIFF Cinema.

United Way King County Hunger Challenge

This week is Hunger Action Week in King County. This week, a variety of public officials, local media personalities, and bloggers will try to live on the value of food stamps given to either an individual or family in the state of Washington.

The Basic Food Benefit in the state of Washington is $7 a day for individuals, $12 a day for a family of 2.
So far the new mayor, Mike McGinn is taking part, as well as KOMO radio host Brian Calvert and a whole list of local bloggers (including me).

Follow along on the United Way of King County’s blog.

flickr find: reflections

thanks to kate — spirited earth [flickr] who shared this photo via our group pool [#]

Win tix to Kool Keith or DJ Krush

Kool Keith isn’t just a performer; these days he’s become a hip hop legend. Like all legends, tales swirl around him: while it’s not true that he spent some time locked up at Bellevue (the famous psychiatric hospital in New York, not our surburban neighbor to the east), it is true that he’s produced some brilliantly abnormal work as a member of Ultramagnetic MCs, as Kool Keith, as Dr. Octagon, as Dr. Doom and with Ultra (his co-op with Tim Dogg) and with Ice-T as the Analog Brothers. This isn’t just more recitation of the merits of drugs, cars, and brand name logoed clothing – this is off the cuff stream of conciousness that’s just as likely to be about what he had for breakfast or chopping up bodies or how the rap genre stagnates when practiced by artists who are more concerned with their cash flow than their lyrical. Kool Keith brings his stellar madness to Neumos on Friday, January 29, and you can win a pair of tickets simply by e-mailing your name (first and last) to no later than noon on Wednesday January 27. Please include “Kool Keith tickets” in your subject line.

DJ Krush sounds nothing at all like Kool Keith but he’s no less creative. One of the pioneers of Japanese hip hop, DJ Krush lays down instrumental tracks lush with layers of sound from nature, jazz, r&b, and what they used to call “soul”. People call his work ambient or trip hop, but Krush himself avoids labels for good reason – it’s impossible to pin him down to a single category. His multi-layered songs are individual works of art. DJ Krush makes it out to Neumos on Sunday, January 31, and we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away to his show, too. Again, e-mail your full name to no later than noon on Wednesday January 27 and make sure your subject line includes “DJ Krush tickets” somewhere.

Weekend Film Agenda January 22

A massive natural disaster is landing on your doorstep, you need to get out NOW, but you’re not allowed to bring your beloved pets with you. What do you do? During the nightmare that was Hurricane Katrina, many pet owners had no choice but to leave their pets behind and hope for the best. Animal rescuers swept in to recover as many pets as possible and transport them to safety, sending them to shelters and temporary homes around the country. Mine, opening at SIFF Cinema on Friday is a documentary that tells the story of these displaced pets and their displaced people, focusing on the conflicts that arose when Katrina’s human victims sought reunion with the animal victims who had been rehomed, often very far away. People think of pets as members of their family, but the law considers them simply to be property. When two families both want the same animal, who has the better claim: the family forced by extreme circumstance to give it up or the family who gave it a safe, loving new home? Director Geralyn Pezanoski wisely avoids supplying simple answers to complicated questions and instead allows her subjects, people involved in a variety of ways, to tell their stories and express their points of view for themselves.

Also at SIFF: Community Cinema sponsors a screening of Garbage Dreams on Saturday at noon. The Zaballeen are Egyptians who survive in the world’s largest garbage village, outside of Cairo, by collecting and recycling garbage. Garbage Dreams follows three young men and the hard choices they face as modern globalization threatens their established way of life.

The Grand Illusion screens To My Great Chagrin: The Unbelievable Story of Brother Theodore. Born into a wealthy family in Germany, Theodore Gottlieb was sent by the Nazis to the Dauchau concentration camp where he was forced to surrender his family’s estate. With the help of family friend Albert Einstein, he eventually made it to the US where over time he became famous for his black humor monologues, rising to the height of his fame in the 1950s and 1960s during which he successfully worked the nightclub circuit and made dozens of television appearances on the talk shows like Merv Griffin’s, Dick Cavett’s, Joey Bishop’s and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. He retired in the 1970s but was lured back into performing and was introduced to a whole new audience. To My Great Chagrin presents a look at his fascinating history and the existential humor that made him into a legend still inspiring comedians today.

Late night at the Grand Illusion: 1987’s Street Trash, a twisted tale that begins with a liquor store owner inadvertently selling cheap bottles of liquor that cause drinkers to melt–literally–and only gets weirder from there.

Jesco White is a famed mountain dancer from West Virginia whose renown has inspired a slew of songs by artists like the Kentucky Headhunters, Mastodon and Hank Williams III, and many others. Interest in his performing abilities as well as his hard-driving life inspired PBS to release two documentaries about him; a third, produced by Johnny Knoxville, screened at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. He’s appeared in TV shows and music videos and now he’s inspired a feature that starts from spins biographical fact into a dark, surreal and unsettling tale of of a damaged man’s quest for revenge. NW Film Forum screens White Lightnin’ Saturday at 10:30, featuring an intensely compelling performance by Ed Hogg as the sometimes charming but always very troubled Jesco and a strong turn by Carrie Fisher as his girlfriend Cilla, as well as some genuinely creative cinematography by director Dominic Murphy.

Midnight at the Egyptian: Brokeback Mountain.

Seattle Children’s Film Festival

Friday night marks the start of this year’s Children’s Film Festival Seattle, a ten day celebration of films for children from around the globe.

Opening night features a performance by Lelavision that blends film, acrobatics, dance, music and science in a night of audience participation that explores the origins of life.

The festival continues with full length film and shorts programs including both live action and animation from over 25 different countries. Old favorites like Francois Truffaut’s sweetly funny 1976 film Small Change join many new films making their North American debut, including Moomin and Midsummer Madness, a Finnish animated film adapted from from a well-loved children’s book. Short film programs are arranged around themes like “chills and thrills” and and “totally tall tales”.

All films screen at NW Film Forum.

Rebirth Brass Band

Want to see music that you can actually dance to? Here’s your chance. The Rebirth Brass Band has been around longer than the Mac, Prozac and disposable contacts were invented. But that doesn’t stop them from having a great sound that you can stomp your feet to. If you like the musical styles that helm from New Orleans, the vibe you get at Honk Fest West or the simple act of having fun, then get yourself to Neumos to see this funk band jam their hearts out. Tickets are $20, or FREE if email with “Rebirth Brass Band” in the subject line and your Full Name in the actual email. Sorry minors, this is a 21+ concert. Giveaway ends by Thursday so get your fingers atypin’.

Rebirth Brass Band, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk will be at Neumos on January 23rd. Doors open at 8pm.

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