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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: Third Weekend

Posted by gck Thursday, June 7, 2012

Film watching slowing down. Volunteer hours going up. I worked a really easy shift in Kirkland on Friday night (gotta love being able to drive home in 5 minutes) and a busier shift at the Uptown Saturday morning. The shift started at 10:15, which I thought was early enough to avoid most of the traffic. WRONG. I left around 9:35 and was still late. I-90 started slowing down around Seattle and I-5 was hellish, probably due to the 520 bridge closure. Then there was surprisingly difficult traffic around Seattle Center for so early in the morning. I worked another full screening of Beasts of the Southern Wild (one of these days I’ll have to actually see it). It was a secured screening and special security people were in the theater with special binoculars to catch people recording or using their cell phones. There was only one person coming in for the next volunteer shift and the house coordinator was desperate for people who could stay longer so I stayed an extra hour or so to help seat the next film. Then I got stuck in rage-inducing traffic on I-90 (F U 520) and 405 due to an accident. But nothing would keep me from my cat movie in Kirkland. Film count: 16. Volunteer vouchers: 17.

(also: Rentaneko)
Japan, 2012
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Watched: SIFF 2012, Kirkland Performance Center
Rating: **** (out of 5)

There’s been a lot of talk about there being many cats in SIFF 2012. I approve of this motif. This movie definitely adds to the cat count. I squeed a little bit when I saw this one on the program. Didn’t have extremely high expectations, but I knew I was going to see it no matter what. Fortunately, it’s actually pretty good. A bit too long, but it’s charming, quirky, and funny, and there are indeed a lot of cats. I think most people who watch this movie will like it because the people who wouldn’t would already be turned away by the premise. Highlights are the cats (duh. Apparently they are individually listed in the credits, too!), a funny commercial, and the insulting neighbor. I believe all the screenings were pretty full, so people love cats! I’m sorry, there was no way I could write an unbiased review of this movie.

The Art of Love
(also: L’Art D’Aimer)
France, 2011
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Drama
Watched: SIFF 2012, Kirkland Performance Center
Rating: **** (out of 5)

Argh, SIFF. Two movies this year from directors of films I enjoyed at previous festivals. #1 had the unwatchable subtitle timing problem. #2 was this one, directed by Emmanuel Mouret, the French Woody Allen, and they were unable to get the keys from the distributor for the digital projection for the Kirkland venue. Instead, they played a DVD backup with a watermark in the center and a timer at the top. Yeah, that sucked. It would have been nice to know that this was a possibility earlier because Alexis and I would have gone for one of the Uptown screenings instead. Still, we made it through the movie and so did pretty much all of the audience. This lived up to my expectations as a quirky rom-com, and I liked all the different stories. Frédérique Bel was particularly amusing.

(also: Klovn)
Denmark, 2010
Genre: Comedy
Watched: SIFF 2012, Egyptian
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

A midnight movie after 4 hours of volunteering, two trips to Seattle, and two other films. Great idea! I was SO exhausted even before this film began. This is a film that’s being distributed in the US by Alamo Drafthouse, and the founder (Tim League) introduced the film by playing a voicemail from someone who was kicked out of their theater (I’d heard it before) and playing a Seattle vs. “foreigners” game of chugging Underberg, a highly featured drink in the movie. The film was definitely funny but there was a lot of crudeness that was unnecessarily shocking. However, watching the trailer should filter out most of the people who would be bothered by this. It’s like a more vulgar Danish Hangover with a kid involved. Trailer is NSFW.

Valley of Saints
India, 2012
Genre: Drama, Social Issues
Watched: SIFF 2012, Kirkland Performance Center
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

Beautiful film set on Dal Lake in Kashmir. It’s about a a nice guy named Gulzar who wants to leave the area with his not-so-nice friend Afzal because they’re tired of rowing tourists around the lake for little money. The Kashmiri conflicts, in violent contrast with the peacefulness of the lake, prevent them from leaving. Instead, Gulzar ends up taking care of and befriending Asifa, a visiting scientist who is staying in his uncle’s houseboat and is doing research on the environmental impact that residents are having on the lake. I really enjoyed watching this film, and even though I was tired, it did not make me fall asleep (which is a big deal when it’s a quiet movie like this). However, looking back at it, it felt pretty but not particularly meaningful. There are issues of poverty, social class, terrorism, pollution, etc. that the camera touches on but never really explores. The film leaves me only with beautiful images of Dal Lake to ponder, nothing more.


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