Thursday, May 23, 2013

SIFF 2013 - Week 1 (so far...)

This year, the festival got off to a late start for me because I was enjoying the heck out of an impromptu vacation on the Oregon coast. But as soon as I got back into town, in fact within hours of being back in Seattle city limits, I was at the SIFF Uptown theater to see my first film of the festival, a Turkish drama called Jin. Sort of like "Run, Lola, Run", but with a 17yr old Kurdish freedom fighter. This was a sad and beautifully shot movie with "magical realism" qualities blended with some seriously brutish storytelling.
I'm glad I saw it but I'm not sure I'd recommend it.

PopulaireNext up was the DELIGHTFUL French romantic comedy Populaire. You guys, I seriously love the French actress Déborah François. She's enchanting. I was first introduced to her last year at SIFF in another great romantic comedy, Les Tribulations d'une Caissière. Why the hell can't America make a good romantic comedy anymore?! Please take note American screenwriters and film studios - it is possible! Anyway, "Populaire" is set in Normandy in 1959, when being a secretary was all the rage! The movie centers around an International Speed Typing contest, and...You know what? It doesn't matter what it's about - I was charmed out of my pants! I haven't heard that much clapping or seen that many smiles on audience members' faces in years.

My third film in three days was the Spanish dark comedy Bypass. I can't have a SIFF where I don't see at least 2 films from Spain, and this seemed fun. It was just ok.

The last movie I saw as of this blog posting was a true gem from the Philippines. Bwakaw is a sweet, yet sad film starring the great Eddie Garcia as Rene, a curmudgeonly gay man in his late 70s, living in a suburb of Manila, who has nothing to do in his retirement except meticulously plan his death and rewrite his will on a daily basis. His best friend is his dog, the titular Bwakaw. When she gets sick, Rene's life gets turned upside down. You guys? Everyone was crying in the audience. BUT this is truly not a depressing movie. I wish everyone could see this film; the SIFF guide describes it as "life-affirming" and they got it right. This is the kind of movie that I count on SIFF exposing me to every year.

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