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This is yet another incarnation of my personal blog. Here's where you can read about what I do when I'm not at work: hiking, seeing plays and other shows, eating, traveling, etc.

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SIFF 2012: Closing Week

Posted by gck Monday, June 11, 2012

I saw only two films for closing week, then two films for closing weekend. No doubles, and two nights I went SIFFless in favor of the Seattle International Dance Festival (mainly to watch Lucien Postlewaite and Andrew Bartee in Flower Festival one more time… LOVE this) and American Idiot (which made me remember how awesome that album is). I’m a little sad for the festival to be over, but it also feels like it’s definitely time.

Volunteered a good chunk for the last weekend. Short, easy shift at Kirkland on Friday where we exchanged DCP horror stories (“the keys were set to expire at the end of the day… the end of the RUSSIAN day…”). Another easy, overstaffed Saturday morning shift at the Uptown (I managed to avoid all the commencement traffic by driving in early) followed by an unplanned extra hour because they once again only had ONE person showing up for the afternoon shift. I hope this sort of thing is fixed for next year. Sunday morning I did the will call shift, which was extremely boring for most of the time because it was Secret Festival at the Egyptian, which means no tickets to pick up. But there was a lot of free food, courtesy of the FOOLs (baked goods) and Egyptian staff (bacon waffles), and I also snagged a copy of the FOOLs ballot, full of crunchy numbers. Then Sunday night, I did check-in/wristbanding and appetizer serving at the closing night gala. One of these days I will learn that waitressing is not something I should be doing! It was pretty fun, but I was completely exhausted by the end. But I did get to stand in close proximity of Jason Biggs who was there (with a polar bear) to represent the closing gala film, Grassroots. Film count: 20. Volunteer vouchers: 27.

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace
UK, 2011
Genre: Documentary
Watched: SIFF 2012, Harvard Exit
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

First of all, you can watch this documentary series for free on archive.org. I do kind of wish I had known that ahead of time because I could have caught a different film and because watching the series in one sitting wasn’t really the best way to do it. There is a lot of information, and I found myself tuning out at times during the second and third parts because there was just too much in my head! Adam Curtis has his unique style of filmmaking. I don’t hate it, but I also don’t love it. I found the repeated use of the same clips to be distracting, and the epic scope of information involved is interesting but not focused on making a specific point. In the end, I don’t buy the whole “we have let ourselves become like machines” idea. Still, there’s a lot of good stuff there, and I’m thinking about watching it again, one part at a time, to process it better.

Canada, 2011
Genre: Comedy
Watched: SIFF 2012, Egyptian
Rating: **** (out of 5)

Guy donates lots of sperm as a young man in order to get some extra cash. Turns out they used all of his samples and he’s the biological father of hundreds of kids who want to know his identity, conveniently around the same time his girlfriend gets pregnant and is trying to decide whether or not to keep him around. Quite funny, definitely a solid, feel-good movie. I think the fact that the movie was in French (from Quebec) made it more charming – but I’m hearing rumors that they may be remaking this movie in the US.

(also: Shapito-shou)
Russia, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Drama
Watched: SIFF 2012, Kirkland Performance Center
Rating: ****1/2 (out of 5)

There are some types of films that are so awesome that most people can’t see the awesomeness. And that is what film festivals are for. For some reason when I see something with a long run time, it gets me more interested. A director who is audacious enough to think his creative vision is so interesting that it will convince an audience in today’s ADHD culture to stay in a theater seat for over 3 hours has got to have something going on. It’s brilliance or disaster, and the reviews were saying brilliance so I bit, dragging Alexis along for the ride. Now, I don’t agree with Sergey Loban that it couldn’t have been edited down a little more and I didn’t like all of the parts, but that’s okay. It was pretty awesome. Four stories telling stories about different characters leading up to the same event. Lots of totally random pop music. Lots of totally random stuff in general. Then after the 207 hours of film, the director stayed for a Q&A, mostly in Russian (the audience was mostly Russian). Oopsie moment at the beginning when the staff member introducing the film and director accidentally said the film was from the USSR. The Q&A suffered in translation because they weren’t really accommodating the translator, but I did like what Loban said about the fire scene being about purification, that all our illusions perish in the flames. Very appropriate when looking at these significantly flawed characters who certainly had plenty of illusions.

Israel, 2011
Genre: Drama
Watched: SIFF 2012, Pacific Place
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

I had one more ticket in my 20-pack to use up on the last day, and I ended up choosing this one because it was the best-reviewed film that fit in the least stressful way. I didn’t end up loving it, but I didn’t regret the choice either. It has been described as a mind-bender film about two Palestinian girls who have a traumatic experience with Israeli soldiers that changes their lives and relationships. The structure of the film, starting from later on in life and giving information in flashbacks, makes things interesting. Some parts got pretty boring for me. I didn’t love the characters. A few scenes were pretty disturbing. Overall, it was okay – there was stuff to think about, but I didn’t find myself really wanting to think about it. I would have preferred to end the festival with Chapiteau-Show, but this one didn’t totally ruin things for me or anything like that. Afterwards, I walked out into the hordes of people lining up to see Brave, with the passholders being the first to be informed that all of their electronics were going to be temporarily confiscated. Geez.


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