My SIFF has continued over the last week and a half with a nary a dud in the bunch. I don't want to jinx anything, but this is the first time in years that I haven't been truly disappointed in at least one film.
That's not to say that I've loved everything; I haven't. But so far it has been a successful festival filled with some truly delightful film experiences.
Some reviews -
C.O.G. : On paper, this movie checked all of my boxes - Based on a David Sedaris short story, and the first time Sedaris has ever sanctioned and licensed an official adaptation of his work (check); starring the dreamy musical theater heartthrob Jonathan Groff (CHECK), with my boyfriend Corey Stoll, Denis O'Hare, and Casey Wilson in supporting roles (check); filmed on location in a part of Oregon that I'm familiar with (check); I thought that I would unequivocally love this movie. And I did love the acting performances. I just felt like the direction could've been stronger and that it let down the story a little. But given that this was only 29 yr old director Kyle Alvarez's second film, I'll grant him some slack. Also a travesty - neither Jonathan Groff nor Denis O'Hare (Tony award-winning musical theater geniuses) got to truly sing; a missed opportunity of grave proportions.
The Punk Singer: An eye-opening and honest documentary about the life (or at least the past 25 years of it) of Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, punk Riot Grrrl pioneer, wife of Adam "Ad Rock" Horovitz, and general kick-ass activist/feminist. Who knew about the true nature of her "fight" with Courtney Love all those years ago, or that she's been suffering from a debilitating form of Lyme disease for the past decade. A great archive of music history.
Bonus! - I was inspired to dig out my old Le Tigre cds. So damn good.
Atraco!: Set in Franco's Spain in the mid 1950s, this darkest of comedies from writer/director and Almodavar disciple Eduard Cortes, was just the type of Spanish film that I enjoy. The film is a fictional "what if?" telling of the events leading up to, and following the real-life theft of Eva Peron's jewels from Madrid in 1955. I thought this movie was so clever. I loved the twist on historical events.
Touchy Feely: The latest Lynn Shelton film. I personally liked her previous movie Your Sister's Sister more, but some of the performances in this one, especially from Josh Pais and Scoot McNairy, were great. It was filmed in the Capitol Hill, CD, and Madrona neighborhoods of Seattle where I live, so it was fun spotting the streets and houses that I knew.
Cutie and the Boxer: I'm not sure I can find the words to describe how much I loved this documentary about married Japanese artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. Director Zachary Heinzerling, who won the Directing award this year at Sundance, explores Ushio and Noriko's complicated, co-dependent relationship that is as complicated as it has been nurturing for their art careers. The doc focuses on Ushio, who at 80 years old is trying for one more successful show to seal his artistic legacy, while the 59-year-old Noriko is finally making a name for herself with her "Cutie" series of R. Crumb-like illustrations depicting her relationship with Ushio and his earlier struggles with alcoholism. Through vérité camerawork, archival footage, and animated sequences of Noriko's drawings, Cutie and the Boxer is an intimate, funny, uncompromising portrait of the Shinoharas's unique, and unconventional love story. GO SEE THIS MOVIE if you can.
Flight of the Storks: French director Jan Kounen has ambitiously brought Jean-Christophe Grangé's famous novel to the big screen. People have tried for years to adapt this mystery thriller from page to film and have never succeeded because it's hard to cut the content down to fit a movie's acceptable length. Kounen had tried to adapt the book a decade ago and could never figure out how to cut it down under 3 hours, and when he was approached by producers 10 years later to try again, he said he'd do it only if he could do it as a mini-series; but secretly dreamed of showing it on the big screen. The mini-series played on TV in France earlier this year, but SIFF got the world premier of it as a feature film. I must say that it didn't feel overly long, per se, but it was super distracting having all of the people sitting around me in the theater constantly getting up and going to the bathroom. I would love for HBO to buy the distribution rights for this so that I could watch it again in the comfort of my living room. I enjoyed the heck out of it. Especially loved Harry Treadway (Helloooooo twin brother of hottie actor Luke Treadaway) in the lead role.
Two Weddings and A Funeral: Like a wackier, Korean version of the gay classic "The Wedding Banquet". It was cute, but not that memorable.
A Band Called Death: You guys. This documentary may have changed my life. I loved it so very much. It tells the story of the Hackney brothers David, Bobby, and Dannis who in the early 1970s started a band in their native Detroit that might have been the birth of punk rock. I can't recommend renting/buying/downloading this movie as soon as you can. Especially if you're a fan of rock music. Or family. Or a human being. Excellent.
Zaytoun: Um, you guys? I may have voted for Stephen Dorff for Best Actor for the SIFF Audience awards. He was AMAZING in this film. He made me cry. I know, I'm just as surprised as you. The setting is war-torn Beirut in 1982. Dorff plays a downed Israeli fighter pilot who makes a deal with one of his capturers, a 12-yr old Palestinian boy named Fahed, that he will smuggle Fahed across the border and take him to his former Palestinian home if the boy helps him escape Lebanon. This movie! I had a lot of emotions about it! I don't get how Dorff can make such awful dreck for years, and do dumb commercials for electric cigarettes, and then turn around and give a performance like this. Flabbergasting.
Thérèse: Damn, this movie bugged me. Again, on paper this film should've been right up my alley. Famous filmmaker Claude Miller's last film (yes!); starring Audrey Tautou, who I've loved since her breakout turn in Amelie (Yes!); adapted from the François Mauriac's legendary 1927 novel about French provincial life (YES!). Instead, from the very first 5 minutes I was annoyed. The movie's plot takes place between 1922 and 1931, yet there were clothes, and items like bicycles and boats that seemed anachronistically out of place - I said out loud more than once "Is this supposed to be 1928 or 1958?" - that I found so irksome and it was hard for me to enjoy anything. Also, Audrey, sweetie, I love you dearly, but as gorgeous as you are, and you're beautiful, you are too long in the tooth to be playing a young lady of 21. It was almost laughable in scenes when you could see her wrinkles. Again, no hard feelings! I'm old too! I love her, but damn, come ON! Gorgeously shot though. It made me want to fly to southern France and Bordeaux immediately.