‘film:2007’ Category Archives
by jacicita in boyle danny, film:1994, film:1996, film:2001, film:2002, film:2004, film:2007, short films
I haven’t written about the other National Theatre Live broadcasts I’ve seen this year — they may be shown at the cinema, but they aren’t films — but I did want to mention Frankenstein. SIFF Cinema made a weekend of it, showing three days of double features from Danny Boyle as well as both filmed versions of the play.
Starring Jonny Lee Miller & Benedict Cumberbatch, switching the roles of Victor and the Creature from night to night, Frankenstein has been an extremely popular production both at the National and in broadcast around the world. There are plenty of reviews all over the web from people who know far more about theatre than I do, but I will say that I thought the device of telling the story from the point of view of the Creature was quite effective.
The first version I saw had Miller as the Creature and Cumberbatch as Victor. It hadn’t occurred to me until then, but Cumberbatch was quite obvious casting after his success with “Sherlock Holmes”*. Both characters are men who fancy themselves gods. Miller is also a more physical actor, so he was a more natural choice for the Creature.
All the same, it was interesting to see that switched up two days later, with a more poetic Creature & a more physical Victor. I’m glad I got the chance to see both. The rest of the cast was also marvelous, particularly Naomie Harris as Elizabeth.
All of this was a great excuse to have a weekend of Danny Boyle films, and the perfect opportunity use up my last batch of SIFF Cinema vouchers. Win win!
Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, and Shallow Grave I have all seen before on DVD, but it was great to see them all again on the big screen. 28 Days Later in particular benefited from being shown in the theater; the epic shots of an empty London deserve the big screen.
Sunshine is the only selection I’ve seen in the theater before, and is one of the very few scifi films that I love. I was disappointed that the presentation was on Blu-ray rather on film; the image pixelated in some scenes, which is one of the many ways that digital projection drives me up a wall. All the same, it’s better to see Sunshine on Blu-ray in the theater than at home on my 32 inch TV. So it goes.
Millions is the only feature I hadn’t seen before, though I have read the book. It’s Boyle’s family film and is just ridiculously charming. So is the book :) (Also, it was charming in spite of the fact that I recently saw James Nesbitt in “Jekyll”, and so he makes me a little nervous.)
They also ran two of Boyle’s short films, which was a treat even in low resolution. Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise stars Timothy Spall as a vacuum cleaner salesman / force of nature, and Strumpet is a magical, a modern fairy tale starring Christopher Eccleston and Genna G as two talented people who find greater scope for their art in each other, only to clash with the forces of the music industry.
*I didn’t actually like “Sherlock Holmes”, though that is a post for another day and perhaps another blog.
by jacicita in andersson roy, film:2007
SIFF Cinema is back! I am full of glee! I dug out my volunteer vouchers and caught the last screening of You, the Living on Thursday night, and am so glad I did. Just marvelous, and definitely one of my favorite movies of the year. (Nevermind that it actually came out in 2007. Compared to the majority of stuff I’ve seen this year that’s practically brand new.)
It’s a Swedish black comedy, a series of vignettes that makes use of drab sets, dryly absurd humor, and repeated lines to comment on the human condition. Which makes it sound dour, but it’s not. To borrow Ebert’s term, it’s elevating. Things go wrong for everyone. Let’s have a drink and see how tomorrow goes.
The entire film is shot on soundstages, and it put me in mind of Synecdoche, New York (which I loved). It’s more accessible than Synecdoche, which is counter intuitive what with it being vignettes rather than more-or-less narrative, but there you have it.
I haven’t seen any of the director’s other work — this is only his fourth feature film as he apparently works about as quickly as Terrence Malick — but like Malick, I suspect they’re all very much worth watching.
by jacicita in abel dominique, film:2007, film:2008, gordon fiona, siff 2009, yim pil-sung
I missed the Belgian film Rumba when I first put my schedule together, but I overheard a passholder discussing it, so I was able to catch the second screening. I was interested in it because I had seen the team’s previous feature, Iceberg a few festivals ago. Both films are nearly dialogue-free, with slapstick & surrealism in simple sets with largely static cameras. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it sort of thing, I suppose, but for me they both succeed more than they fail, and are more than worth it for something totally unlike everything else I see in dark comedy. I would be very interested in seeing their short films.
Last night I caught a late screening of Hansel & Gretel, a South Korean reversal of the story, here with adults being trapped in the depths of the woods by children. A lot of it was very promising: it was well-cast & visually gorgeous with a great score, however I didn’t love it. I felt the pacing was off, it should have been about a half hour shorter, and it didn’t come close to the creep factor that I expect of Korean horror.
I’m taking tonight off, which is good because I feel like I am coming down with something, then I have a Canadian film tomorrow & a relatively slow weekend. Hmm. I should probably go find some more films!
by jacicita in akhurst lucy, berinstein dori, chan peter, film:1950s, film:2007, film:2008, film:2009, siff 2009, wilder billy
Apparently all the cool kids are Twittering SIFF reviews, but I hate Twitter with the fire of a thousand suns, so y’all will have to bear with me over here. (Also, I might have to unsubscribe from Publicola for the duration. Retweets are not blogging, you idiots, and they’re certainly not *politics*. Why no one can understand that if we wanted to read tweets we’d be on damned Twitter is beyond me.)
But anyway. I’ve had a slightly weird festival so far, having spent more hours volunteering than seeing movies, at least in the first two days. However, since I *have* seen movies, I am ahead of a lot of the festival staff, who tend to see the first five minutes of a feature and then have to go back to work.
My first movie of the festival was Sunset Boulevard, one of the unfortunately few revival screenings I am going to be able to make. I had never seen it before, which is ridiculous considering what a Wilder fan I am, but so it goes. I loved it, of course. It was part of a TCM festival-within-the-festival, and as such was introduced by Robert Osborne, which was nice. I am a sucker for that sort of thing, as only a girl raised on AMC by Nick Clooney can be.
Second up was my first Secret film ever, which I very much enjoyed. A fast-paced, snappily scripted start to the Secret fest. I’m looking forward to the rest. The big appeal for me is that it’s a film experience that’s impossible the rest of the year, where I know absolutely nothing about a film going into it. I read too much to have that in general, so it’s pretty cool to have it here.
Next was the first film I could actually vote on, Morris: A Life With Bells On. I was initially super annoyed about it, because I found out it was a mockumentary only after I bought my ticket. I, gigantic dork that I am, wanted an actual *documentary* on Morris dance, and if I had realized it earlier I probably wouldn’t have gone. Ah well. It worked out, as this is easily one of the best non-Guest mockumentaries I have seen, and starred quite a range of familiar UK faces, including the pinnacle, Sir Derek Jacobi, and others famous perhaps only to me (Ian Hart, Richard Lumsden who was the father in “Sugar Rush”, Dominique Pinon from City of Lost Children & Delicatessen). It was well-paced & very funny, and the Morris men in the audience were duly appreciative. So, good times.
Monday I was possibly the youngest person in the audience for Gotta Dance, which is unfortunate, as it was an utterly charming movie. If you want to be reductive, it’s Young@Heart but with dance, following the first senior dance team for the Nets. It deals with more body issues and yet fewer health ones than the chorus, which makes sense. I totally loved it, and it was one of those rare films where I realized that I never once wanted to check my watch.
I wound up the long weekend with a late showing of Warlords. If you like Hong Kong historical epics (and I do), then it’s definitely worth seeing. Unfortunately, it fell to the curse of the Egyptian, with botched sound at pretty much every reel switch. (The Egyptian is famous at the festival for … technical difficulties. The worst I remember was 3 Needles, where the first 10 minutes, all English voice-over, played without sound. At least Warlords was subtitled.) Anyway. Of the cast. I suppose you all just know Jet Li, but I was in it for Andy Lau & Takeshi Kaneshiro. Andy Lau is worth seeing in anything. If you aren’t familiar with him, you should rent Infernal Affairs, where he co-stars with
my boyfriend Tony Leung.
And that is all for now! Let’s see if I can keep up like this for the rest of the festival. Heh.
by jacicita in film:2007, film:2008, hazanavicius michel, king michael patrick, van sant gus
* During the festival, a friend came up to Seattle and we went to Sex and the City. I know, I know. But I love the show, I do, and I wanted to know What Happens Next. But to me, it resembled nothing more than really bad fanfiction. Which is sad, because there is really good fanfiction for this show.
* At the festival someone handed out passes to what would turn out to be the first audience screening anywhere of Milk. I’ve never attended a test screening before, just lots of press ones, so that was an interesting experience in itself. I know a lot of folks doubt the casting of Sean Penn, and I did too, mostly because even though I can see that he’s a great actor, I can pretty much only see him as himself. And I must admit that in the film it went back and forth for me; sometimes he was Sean Penn, and sometimes he was Harvey Milk. He got more Milk as it went on, though, and like I said, I think a lot of this is in my head.
I did think that Emile Hirsch, James Franco, and Alison Pill were particularly great, and I will be interested in seeing it again when it comes out in December (!!) to see how it compares to this cut. I read on the IMDb, always a source of accurate information (heh) that they are shooting pick-ups still. So, we’ll see. There were some things I thought were off: the integration of Milk’s audio recordings was a little forced, for example. And there’s a little self-indulgent Van Sant slow motion. But there were also some glorious shots, like some where Milk & White were dwarfed by the magnificent interior of City Hall. I love that sort of thing, where the director doesn’t compromise a big screen vision for the sake of eventual small screen viewing.
But most of all, what I put on the survey afterwards is that it reminded me that it’s all right to still be angry. Probably not what the studio was looking for, but no less true for all that, and particularly notable leading up to this disgusting Seattle Pride weekend where everyone’s supposed to show queer unity or whatever by buying stuff. *spits*
* Finally, last night I trekked up to Shoreline for my last chance to see OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. It was a last minute addition and surprise audience award winner at last year’s film festival, so I had been pretty much dying to see it. It’s a French James Bond parody, and it was worth the wait. Hilarious, with a side of ho!yay. Excellent! Probably would have been even better if my French wasn’t basically non-existent, but the subtitles were good. Hey! They’re shooting a sequel! Awesome. Also, I’d love to get my hands on some of the older OSS movies, even though the IMDb voters appear unimpressed.
by jacicita in alvi suroosh, film:1940s, film:1991, film:2003, film:2004, film:2007, gillespie craig, jarmusch jim, leiner danny, maddin guy, moretti eddy, strouse james c, ulmer edgar g
* Lars and the Real Girl. I queued this mostly because Patricia Clarkson & Emily Mortimer are basically always worth watching, and I was curious what drew them to the project. I still don’t know. It required suspension of disbelief that eluded me, and I am, honestly, a pretty credulous viewer. In this case I was constantly irritated by the things I was supposed to believe and the questions I wasn’t supposed to ask… or at least the questions the filmmakers weren’t going to bother to answer. Skip it.
* Night on Earth was a surprise arrival when Netflix decided to pass up the five ‘available now’ discs ahead of it. Which is fine, because it’s a great movie that I should have seen a long time ago. It’s totally my sort of movie, being basically five vignettes of cab rides all starting at the same moment around the (Western) world. Stick with it past Winona Ryder’s overacted LA segment for New York & Helsinki in particular.
* When I was on the east coast, friends made me watch Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. And I laughed. A lot. I feel compelled to admit this to you, the Letterboxed reading audience. Judge me if you must.
* I missed Heavy Metal in Baghdad at the film festival, but that was okay because it just came out on DVD. It tracks Iraq’s only heavy metal band, Acrassicauda. (There’s a heavy metal scene, but holding a band together, as you’ll see in the doc, is nigh on impossible.) It’s about living in Iraq, about being a refugee, about wishing you were home and that home is what it used to be. And it’s about metal. Rock on.
* Grace Is Gone is, so far as I can tell, the first decent movie John Cusack’s been in since High Fidelity. He’s the husband of a soldier killed in Iraq, and the film follows his initial grief as he tries to figure out how to tell their daughters what has happened. It’s a little unavoidably sentimental, but I also bought it enough to tear up a bit, so there you go.
* In preparation for seeing Ann Savage in My Winnipeg next week, I picked up Detour. It was really a terrible transfer, but the movie itself is classic noir — an average Joe getting caught up in a web of troubles to put it lightly — and she’s the ultimate femme fatale, hard and manipulative. Good times!
* While I was at it, I got Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee, which is an essentially silent film. It’s funny and weird (v weird) and includes hockey and a wax museum, which is pretty much win so far as I am concerned. I have to get it out again at a later date so I can watch it with Maddin’s commentary. Delicious!
by jacicita in eshaghian tanaz, film:1930s, film:2007, film:2008, mamoulian rouben, marsh james, miike takashi, puenzo lucía, siff 2008
* Man on Wire is just crazy amounts of fun. It’s a documentary, with a wee bit of recreation, of Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. It’s structured, appropriately enough, like a heist film, and Petite is the master teller of his own story. It’s marvelous filmmaking too, in that there’s great tension even though we know exactly how it ends.
* Be Like Others was my second documentary of the day, and utterly heartbreaking. It takes us to Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death, but gender reassignment surgery is legal, even encouraged. It is painfully clear throughout that the vast majority of these people would never make this choice if they lived anywhere else. They’re undergoing this brutal procedure (brutal in that it is gender reassignment in *Iran*, that is, I don’t mean this to be a commentary on truly transgendered people or Western methodology) so that they can fit into the rigid societal/religious definitions of gender. Not so they can fulfill who they really are. The only thing I wish is that there had been further inclusion of women. There is one lesbian at the start of the film, and we never encounter her again. It seems like a huge gap to me. Painful & unforgettable.
* I added Becky Sharp for the form rather than the content, and was pleasantly surprised by both. It’s a Vanity Fair adaptation (obviously), and the first film done in three strip Technicolor. The color is gorgeous and the dialogue is hilarious & snappy. Good times all round. Ignore the IMDb reviewers. They’re idiots.
* Somehow I had got it into my head that XXY was a Canadian film. I blame it on mid-festival pudding-brain. It’s from Argentina, and is the story of a 15 year old hermaphrodite under increasing pressure to choose a gender. It’s just beautiful, and Inés Efron is luminous as Alex. I never remember to vote for the other Golden Space Needle categories, but I’ll try to put in a ballot for her.
* Finally, last night I had scheduled a 9:45 movie, Sukiyaki Western Django. Perhaps because I am insane. I gave serious thought to selling my ticket to someone in the rush line, and I’m glad I didn’t, because it was on copious amounts of crack. More, even, than I had anticipated. I knew it was a Japanese Western, and that Miike is kind of a nutcase director, but I did not know that it had a cameo by Quentin Tarantino, or that it was in English… phonetic English, which sounds a lot like the red room Twin Peaks scenes. It’s an excellent terrible movie, and great fun to see with a packed house.
by jacicita in dworkin mark, film:2007, film:2008, kalin tom, nattiv guy, siff 2008, tadmor erez, to johnnie, young melissa
* Savage Grace was a late addition to my schedule, when I realized I had screwed up somewhere and needed something to fill out a 6 pack. What better than a Julianne Moore incest movie? Well. That’s how my brain works, anyway. It was disturbing, but not as much as it should have been. Which is weird. And it is, oddly, the first time I have *not* felt that Hugh Dancy was miscast. So apparently his other roles – even in Evening! – were Just Not Gay Enough. Good to know!
* Strangers, the love story of an Israeli man & Palestinian woman who meet during the 2006 World Cup, is flawed but endearing. The leads are wonderful & the politics are complex, but there is the occasional plot-wise suspension of disbelief that gave me pause. Still, one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while.
* Sparrow was the first of three Johnnie To movies I seem to have scheduled for myself. I am a sucker for Hong Kong action; I’m not gonna lie. This one is a lot of fun — it follows a team of four pickpockets as they all get involved in the life of a mysterious beautiful woman. Happens to the best of us. When the team works together, particularly in the final heist, as it were, it’s like a dance. Good times!
* It’s impossible to watch Mad Detective (my second Johnnie To flick) without wondering how long it’ll be before some American studio buys the rights to it for a crap remake. Because a remake will be crap. Mad Detective was much darker than Sparrow. It’s a dirty cop story with a twist — the detective of the title has a most unusual investigative method, as he can see people’s inner personalities. The ending was a little much for me, but the ride to get there was great.
* Finally, another local documentary, Good Food is about organic farming in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps not earthshattering — we can probably all agree that organic, local food is better for us and better for the planet — but beautiful and inspiring. And as it was the world premiere, it was pretty awesome to see a group of farmers taking the stage to a well-deserved round of applause.
by jacicita in film:1960s, film:2007, film:2008, garcía adrià, jeoing beom-sik, jeong sik, maldonado victor, paley nina, shangjun cai, siff 2008, timmons deirdre, zeffirelli franco
* The Red Awn still doesn’t exist on the IMDb, apparently. It’s written and directed by Cai Shangjun, the writer of Shower and Spicy Love Soup, both of which I also enjoyed, particularly Shower. This was a father-son reunion story of sorts, set among migrant harvesters in rural China, and a beautifully-shot trip into a world that I really don’t know anything about. Which is part of the point of film, yes?
* My first animated feature was Nocturna, part of the Films 4 Families portion of the festival. It’s a Spanish & French film that’s been described as a cross between Monsters, Inc & Miyazaki, which is a pretty fair assessment, actually. It’s an utterly charming story about an orphan who loses his star, and discovers the system that makes night as we know it happen. The version I saw was dubbed, but I thought it was well cast. And how can you not love a movie where one of the characters is a cat shepherd? I ask you.
* The only midnight movie on my schedule this year was Epitaph. It’s a little disjointed, but it had some really great scares, and is beautifully filmed. It’s a solid first film from the directors, who have scads of potential.
* Sita Sings the Blues is, hands down, my favorite film of the festival so far. I need it out *now*, so I can force everyone I know to see it. It’s the Indian epic of Ramayana as told from memory by friends of the director, animated, turned into a musical with tunes performed by Annette Hanshaw from 1929ish, with an autobiographical thread from the director. The interplay between all of the texts, the way the epic comments on the music, it makes my toes curl. Plus it uses several different styles of animation, and the most mindblowing thing? It was animated over the course of five years by the director alone. It is full-on amazingness. I need to own it, like, yesterday.
* There’s always a few revival features at the festival, and this year we have the 40th anniversary of Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, which I hadn’t seen since I was in high school, and certainly never on the big screen. Obviously the amazing thing with this film is it does what you could never do in a theater — cast the leads crazy young. Editing and ADR enable the creation of a performance that could never exist on stage. And the effect is heartbreaking. (Also, oh man, Mercutio! I have so much love always for that role.)
* Finally, my first documentary was a local piece, A Wink and a Smile. It follows a group of students through a burlesque class in Seattle. Our screening was the world premiere, and though it was not *quite* as insane as last year’s Blood on the Flat Track premiere (for one thing, no one took photos of the screen), it was pretty amazing. The documentary itself was fabulous, blending history, the Seattle scene, and the development of the class as they worked their way towards their graduation performance. It almost made me want to try burlesque. Almost.
by jacicita in film:2007, hunt helen, ruzowitzky stefan
Tonight I see my first movie of the festival, so let’s clean out this Google Doc so I’ll be ready.
* Senator Obama Goes to Africa does not exist on the IMDb, so have the Senator’s page instead. It’s not any sort of grand campaign document, but I found it interesting. It is pretty PBSy. My favorite moment was when he was visiting the jail where Nelson Mandela was held, and he’s told of how the prisoners missed being around children. All throughout, really, the way he really listens to people is great, but that was a particularly striking moment.
* I only went to Then She Found Me because it was a SIFF members screening & I was a little intrigued by the cast. It’s really just an elevated Lifetime movie. The interesting thing about it is the direction of the actors, which is a natural result of actors directing. For example, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen such an ugly performance out of Colin Firth. Still, easily skippable. I think it’s already out of theaters here.
* The Counterfeiters was this year’s winner of the Oscar for a film in a foreign language. I’d like to think that if The Band’s Visit had qualified (how I rage against that disqualification!) it would have at least been close. The Counterfeiters was solid, but not great, though it did cover a little-known part of Nazi history.
…that’s all for now, folks! I have twenty two SIFF films lined up, which is, I think, the same as last year. I will try to keep relatively on top of posting about it. I know you’re all excited.