SIFF 2016: Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016)

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Weaving together footage from two dozen films she has shot over fifteen years, cinematographer Kirsten Johnson constructs a unique, impressionistic documentary that does not possess a comprehensive narrative logline but splinters off into many tantalizing tangents. The theme that rises to the top, however, is an examination and celebration of motherhood, both coming and going. We see babies being born and matriarchs disintegrating. A boxer’s mother consoles him after a bitter loss, a daughter curses her mother in the wake of her suicide. From Brooklyn to Bosnia, Johnson captures connections.

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The Frances Farmer Show #7: SIFF 2016 Midpoint Report

Almost halfway through the marathon that is the Seattle International Film Festival, we take a break to talk about some of the films we’ve seen so far. Movies discussed include: Chimes at Midnight, Sunset Song, Love & Friendship, Long Way North, Our Little Sister, Alone, The Island Funeral, Concerto, A Bride for Rip Van Winkle, Cameraperson, Women He’s Undressed, In a Valley of Violence, The Final Master, Lo and Behold, The Lure, Tiny, The Seasons in Quincy and Scandal in Paris.

You can listen to the show by downloading it directly, or by subscribing on iTunes or the podcast player of your choice.

Some corrections:

The woman in The Island Funeral takes a trip with her brother, not her sister.
The Seasons in Quincy starts in the winter and ends in the autumn, not summer, because that’s how seasons work.

SIFF 2016: Rainbow (Nakesh Kukunoor, 2015)

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Dhanak (English title Rainbow), the latest film from director Nagesh Kukunoor, concerns a pair of siblings traveling the deserts of Rajasthan in order to meet Shah Rukh Khan. The reason is sentimental: older sister Pari (the wonderful Hetal Gadda) wishes to help her blind little brother Chotu (Krrish Chhabria) get his eyesight back. Inspired by a poster in her village that has SRK asking for eye donations, and learning that he’s shooting a film 300 km away, she takes her brother and hits the road.

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SIFF 2016: Alone (Park Hong-min, 2015)

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The Korean psychological thriller Alone begins with an enticing update on Rear Window. On a rooftop across the street from his apartment, a photographer named Su-min witnesses a woman being attacked by three masked men. He snaps a few shots of the crime but betrays his presence to the perpetrators, who come rushing off the roof and toward his building. Su-min tries to hide but the men soon find him and just as they are about to bash in his head with a hammer, the camera cuts and he wakes up naked in the alleyways that surround his apartment.

At this point–and all the way to its conclusion an interminable 90 minutes later–these labyrinthine alleyways act as purgatory for Su-min. He bumps into his ex-girlfriend and they get into an argument, he finds a childhood facsimile of himself, who brandishes a kitchen knife which he literally uses to kill his father. Each time a scene reaches a traumatic crescendo, Su-min wakes up again, back at the beginning of the alley, before stumbling off into another dream. Or is it memory?

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SIFF 2016: Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell (Martin Bell, 2016)

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Not quite sure what the purpose is of this 30-year return to one of the subjects from Streetwise, the essential documentary on homeless youth. Turns out life sucks when you have ten kids, some born from prostitution and raised by the state, and are on methadone. Feels like more of a supplement than its own standalone feature, especially since much of it consists of Erin watching and commenting on moments from Streetwise but hey, if it gets Streetwise back into circulation, I’m for it.

Friday May 27 – Thursday June 2

Featured Film:

The Seattle International Film Festival, Week Two

The second week of SIFF brings new films from Sammo Hung and Sylvia Chang, old films from China and Ernst Lubitsch, documentaries from Werner Herzog, Yo-Yo Ma, Kirsten Johnson and the makers of Streetwise, and Sion Sono being Sion Sono. Check out our Week Two Preview, along with our continuing coverage and a Festival Midpoint episode of The Frances Farmer Show coming early next week.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Central Cinema:

Predator (John McTiernan, 1987) Fri-Sun, Tues
Spaceballs (Mel Brooks, 1987) Fri-Sun, Tues
Dune (David Lynch, 1984) Thurs Only

SIFF Egyptian:

The 2016 Seattle International Film Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program

Century Federal Way:

Saadey CM Saab (Vipin Parashar) Fri-Thurs

AMC Gateway:

Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Grand Cinema:

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) Fri-Thurs Our Review
High-Rise (Ben Wheatley) Fri-Thurs
A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Sing Street (John Carney) Fri-Thurs
Colliding Dreams (Joseph Dorman & Oren Rudavsky) Tues Only
Track 01: Local Music Video Showcase (Various) Weds & Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

High-Rise (Ben Wheatley) Sat, Mon-Thurs
The Case of the Three-Sided Dream (Adam Kahan, 2014) Fri-Thurs
Her Sister’s Secret (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1946) Sun Only 35mm

Landmark Guild 45th:

A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos) Fri-Thurs
The 2016 Seattle International Film Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program
Idhu Namma Aalu (Pandiraj) Fri-Thurs
Brahmotsavam (Srikanth Addala) Fri-Thurs

Regal Meridian:

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos) Fri-Thurs
Sing Street (John Carney) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The Long Voyage Home (John Ford, 1940) Fri Only 35mm
Silver Ochre: Who Are US 2016 Sat Only
Destiny (Fritz Lang, 1921) Starts Weds
Raiders! and The Adaptation – Double Feature Thurs Only Directors in Attendance
Sweet Bean (Naomi Kawase) Starts Thurs

AMC Oak Tree:

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) Fri-Thurs Our Review
A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Sing Street (John Carney) Fri-Thurs

AMC Pacific Place:

A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
The 2016 Seattle International Film Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Kaptaan (Mandeep Kumar) Fri-Thurs
This Time (Nuel C. Naval) Fri-Thurs
Sing Street (John Carney) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

The 2016 Seattle International Film Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program

AMC Southcenter:

A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs

Sundance Cinemas:

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos) Fri-Thurs
Sing Street (John Carney) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

The 2016 Seattle International Film Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program

Varsity Theatre:

Pelé: Birth of a Legend (Jeff & Michael Zimbalist) Fri-Thurs

SIFF 2016: Long Way North (Rémi Chayé, 2015)

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In his feature debut, artist and director Rémi Chayé, with screenwriters  Claire Paoletti and Patricia Valeix, brings us the animated story of a 19th century Russian girl, the 14 year-old Sacha, whose aristocratic parents’ hopes for her are that she live up to her status as a “real young lady” and appease the political status quo with a suitable marriage. Sacha, however, her childhood imagination set fire by  the stories from her seafaring, explorer grandfather, hasn’t much use for the balls and gowns of fine ladies. Her heart is set on seeking out this same grandfather, declared to be lost at sea in an expedition to the North Pole, but who, she believes, is still waiting for rescue. The story follows her path after she runs away from parents and her St. Petersburg home, and, applying her wits, her navigational knowledge, and her courage in a societal context that doesn’t expect much self-sufficiency from any girl, much less an aristocratic one, she eventually finds a passage on a northbound ship, where Sacha and the crew face the dangerous cold, crushing ice floes, and their own fears and conflicts.

Sacha’s sturdy character is a delight in a film landscape where female characters rarely take center stage, and she recalls the vibrant characters my daughters and I love so much in the Ghibli studio oeuvre: Chihuro of Spirited Away; Satsuki of My Neighbor Totoro; Sheeta of Castle in the Sky; Kiki; Arrietty; Nausicaä. While there is a slight nod to a possible love interest in Sacha’s story, the primary focus has very little to do with her male peers and much more to do with the adventures her deep convictions and life passions bring her. Sacha grows up on her journey north, her understanding of the world, of herself and her capabilities deepening through what she encounters and through those she meets, boys, men, and women alike. In fact, Olga, a gruff and kindly innkeeper, is perhaps the character with whom Sacha has the deepest connection and from whom she learns the most.

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SIFF 2016 Preview Week Two

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The Seattle International Film Festival rolls along into its second week and here are some titles to look out for. We’ll link to our reviews of the titles listed here as we write them, as we’ve been doing with our Week One Preview. We looked ahead to the festival in general on The Frances Farmer Show, and we’ll have another episode coming up early next week on SIFF at its halfway point.

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SIFF 2016 Report #1: Sunset Song, Concerto: A Beethoven Journey, A Scandal in Paris, A Bride for Rip Van Winkle and Love & Friendship

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Here’s a quick run through some of the movies I’ve seen so far at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival.

Sunset Song (Terence Davies, 2015) – Out of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic novel, performed in that book’s hybrid Scots-English dialect (with mostly superfluous subtitles for the Americans), Davies fashions a gorgeous inversion of Hollywood women’s melodrama. Sure, his heroine Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn) suffers considerably, but where the Golden Age classics trafficked in schadenfreude at the sufferings of their independent women, Davies finds absolution in Chris’s determined resistance to the patriarchal psychoses that possess first her father (Peter Mullan, a Davies father-monster recalling no less than Pete Posthlewaite in Distant Voices Still Lives) then her husband (Kevin Guthrie). An Old World rebuke to American solipsism: tomorrow is not another day–only the land endures.

Continue reading “SIFF 2016 Report #1: Sunset Song, Concerto: A Beethoven Journey, A Scandal in Paris, A Bride for Rip Van Winkle and Love & Friendship

SIFF 2016: Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965)

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Orson Welles was a vain human being but he was not a vain movie star. A character actor at heart, Welles always gravitated to the grotesque. He loved to play fatally flawed individuals, the more makeup the better. Nowhere is this predilection more pronounced than in Welles’s closest analog to a vanity project, the Shakespeare amalgam Chimes at Midnight, which borrows from five different plays to build a portrait of the corpulent, drunken, “sanguine coward” John Falstaff.

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