Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Seattle International Film Festival: May 17 - Jun 10


That time of the year again! SIFF arrives a week earlier this year than usual, bringing a spectrum of cinema from across the world. Again in 2012 we see a qualitative diversity-dip in that the percentage of foreign cinema, arthouse and all things challenging or adventurous are once again relegated to fringe sections - rather than making up the larger body of the content as was the case in the 90's and 00's. As a consequence we again get the thematically titled 'Pathways' with the conceptual hand-holding of themes like "Love Me, Do!" for the disproportionate romance selections, "Make Me Laugh" signifying comedic content, the infantile "I Didn't Know That!" for documentaries and the once-predominant New Global Cinema section is now categorized as "Show me the World". You decide how you feel about that. Last I saw and experienced, it was adults a good bit mature (and senior) to myself that were attending International Film Festivals across the country. I wasn't quite aware that the 'Sex in the City' and 'Glee' network tv demographics were going out of their way to seek out such experiences in North America's urban centers. Maybe SIFF knows something I don't? 

Nonetheless, this year's fest isn't as painfully omissive as last year's. Or even 2010 for that matter. We're again seeing a glut of middle-ground contemporary romances, clever quirky dramas for the sub-Sundance sect and a lot of filler seemingly there to entice some imagined suburban demographic out of their Bellevue hobbles and into the city. But there's a good bit of legitimate, original, challenging, crafted cinema to be found in here too. SIFF in the past has existed as a focal-point of visionary cinema curatorialship, with the resources, funds and legacy to be hugely influential. This year I found some 16-18 films of interest, curiosity or gravitas that I plan to attend, by both directors of note and new developing artists. Overall not a bad year, but not on par with the stellar run we'd seen spanning the decade of 1998-2008. Figuring it was in-part a ongoing effect of the recession, audiences staying at home or in front of their screens, laptops, (or criminally, iphones) to watch film - and the festival's attempt to find and maintain new demographics over the past few years - I anticipated that we'd see a return to the content values of that previous decade by now. 2012 marks a slight shift back toward those core interests that made SIFF previously a unmissable, incomparable representation of cinema from around the world. They've got a long way to go to gain back that lost ground, but I continue to be enthused about their new home at the SIFF Cinema at the Uptown and expanded screens between that venue and their Film Center. As always though, venue resources, influence, and legacy in the arts are all about what you do with them. That said, glad to have a international film festival of it's stature in my city, do though wish there was more than this as the sum total of what I'll be attending this year:

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Friday, May 18
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11:00 AM - Andrei Zvyagintsev  "Elena"
AMC Pacific Place 11
ELEN1812

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45189&FID=254

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Friday, May 18
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4:30 PM - Wang Xiaoshuai  "11 Flowers"
Harvard Exit
11FL1812

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45209&FID=254

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Friday, May 18
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6:30 PM - Pema Tseden  "Old Dog"
Harvard Exit
OLDD1812

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45263&FID=254

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Saturday, May 19
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2:30 PM - Alain Gomis  "Tey"
SIFF Cinema Uptown
TEYX1912

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45429&FID=254

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Saturday, May 19
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4:00 PM - Alison Klayman  "Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry"
AMC Pacific Place 11
AIWE1912

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45355&fid=254

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Saturday, May 19
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6:00 PM - Denis Côté  "Bestiaire"
SIFF Film Center
BEST1912

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45406&FID=254

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Monday, May 21
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6:30 PM - Mohammad Rasoulof  "Goodbye"
AMC Pacific Place 11
GOOD2112

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45188&FID=254

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Tuesday, May 22
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7:00 PM - Eric Khoo  "Tatsumi"
Harvard Exit
TATS2212

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45194&FID=254

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Wednesday, May 23
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6:30 PM - Isao Takahata  "Only Yesterday"
Egyptian Theatre
ONLY2312

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45430&FID=254

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Thursday, May 24
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9:00 PM - Pen-ek Ratanaruang  "Headshot"
SIFF Cinema Uptown
HEAD2412

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45225&FID=254

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Tuesday, May 29
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9:00 PM - Nadav Lapid  "Policeman"
AMC Pacific Place 11
POLI2912

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45208&FID=254

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Wednesday, May 30
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6:30 PM - Guy Maddin  "Keyhole"
SIFF Cinema Uptown
KEYH3012

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45158&FID=254

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Thursday, May 31
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6:30 PM - Benh Zeitlin  "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Egyptian Theatre
BEAS3112

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45173&FID=254

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Friday, June 1
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11:55 PM - Various Directors  "V/H/S"
Egyptian Theatre
VHSS0112

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45403&FID=254

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Sunday, June 3
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1:30 PM - Brian Knappenberger  "We Are Legion"
Egyptian Theatre
WEAR0312

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45436&FID=254

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Sunday, Jun 3
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6:30 PM - Hirokazu Kore-Eda  "I Wish"
Egyptian Theatre
IWIS0312

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45218&FID=254

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Monday, Jun 4

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7:00 PM - Adam Curtis  "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace"
Harvard Exit
ALLW0412

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?FID=254&ID=45522

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Tuesday, Jun 5
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6:00 PM - Yang Jung-ho  "Mirage"
Harvard Exit
MIRA0512

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45442&FID=254

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Wednesday, Jun 6
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6:30 PM - Matthew Akers  "Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present"
AMC Pacific Place 11
MARI0612

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45394&FID=254

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Thursday, Jun 7
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4:00 PM - Tomáš Lunák  "Alois Nebel"
AMC Pacific Place 11
ALOI0712

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45212&FID=254

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Saturday, June 09
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2:30 PM - Andrea Arnold  "Wuthering Heights"
Harvard Exit
WUTH0912

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=45172&FID=254


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grant Gee's new film "Patience (After Sebald)" at Northwest Film Forum: May 11 - 17



I've spent no small amount of time immersed in the work of W.G. Sebald. From the proto-Hauntological nature of his "Austerlitz" to the genre creating/defining "The Rings of Saturn". His works exist as literary explorations of the past, both real and imagined, and in the latter book's case the wandering, dreamlike nature of his inner-ambulations through the geography of a walking tour of Suffolk as a landscape embodying time, memory, nostalgia and and it's impression left on the psyche. Sebald's is almost a different take on the 'Zone' as depicted in the works of Andrei Tarkovsky. So this is going to make for a curious exploration of that invisible territory, documentarist Grant Gee's film essay on time, memory, geography and Sebald, playing for one week at Northwest Film Forum. And who better to soundtrack this documentary/visual poem on Sebald and his Zone than the composer of all things haunted himself, Leyland Kirby, aka The Caretaker. From the Northwest Film Forum: "Following up his documentaries on Radiohead and Joy Division, director Grant Gee turns his lens on author W.G. Sebald. An accolade rather than a biography of the German writer, Patience responds aesthetically to the writer’s body of work. A journey through the landscape of the novel The Rings of Saturn with literary commentary, the film, like the writer’s work, pieces together an intimate collage of fiction, nonfiction, history and recollection."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Bloody Valentine remastered "Loveless", "Isn't Anything"
& "EP's 1988-1991" (finally, finally finally) released May 7


I'd usually not get this worked up over a spectacular new release, much less a reissue of an
album from decades ago... but we are talking My Bloody Valentine, making these easily what?
The reissues of the year? Of the decade? Finally, after delays, delays, delays and baffling
convoluted scenarios of "missing master tapes", what was scheduled in 2008 (and even listed
on Sony/Amazon UK) the remastered double disc of "Loveless", "Isn't Anything" and a (near)
complete EP's Collection by the, and I do mean THE, genre Shoegaze/Noiserock expanding/
defining act of the late 80's/early 90's. With the EPs collection only falling short of being
literally comprehensive by the omission of "Ecstacy & Stawberry Wine" (according to that
tracklist). Regardless, these releases are of such mythical status as to deserve it's own
'MBV Watch' thread and whispered anticipation on the hyperbole/tastemaker machine
that is Pitchfork for the last four years... HERE THEY FINALLY ARE. I'll not be waiting for
a domestic pressing/release, but instead going for the UK editions this coming week on
Sony which look pretty fine indeed.

This week there's an unusually revealing interview with Kevin Shields hosted by Quietus where
the years of near-inactivity between these album's genesis and the present day are addressed
and Shields talks the insanity at work in attempting to bring them back into the world for
Pitchfork: "The process actually started in 2001, when we managed to come to an agreement
with Sony, who inherited us from Creation. Part of the Sony deal was that I wanted all of the
EPs made into one package because, back in 2001,you could get the albums pretty easily but
not the EPs.So it was basically a compilation of all the EPs, and that was it. "Then we decided
to do Isn't Anything and Loveless as well - if we're gonna remaster [the EPs], we should
remaster every-thing. In 2002, I tried to start working on it, but the studio that had the tapes,
Metropolis Studios, lost them; the analog multi-tracks were all missing for a year. Only after
I started threatening to get Scotland Yard involved did they magically, suddenly reappear. The
true story is as yet to be determined, but we'll fight that one out in the near future. That took
us to 2003. And then Sony fell into complete breach of contract due to various issues, and it
took until last year to fully sort it out. In the meantime, I started the work anyway in 2006,
and I completed it in 2007 - those are the ones [that leaked] on the internet, that was the
near-completed work. And then Sony behaved very badly again - like most sociopathic
companies do, they can't help it - and I had to re-adjust the situation until it was slightly
fair again, and that's why stuff is coming out now."