Seattle postsTuesday June 10, 2014
SIFF 2014: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (And See You Next Year)
Best of the fest: theirs and mine.
Well, it’s over. After screening something like 269 movies, of which I saw 15, the 40th Seattle International Film Festival has ended. I can get on with my life.
The festival prizes have been dished out, too. Among others, the Golden Space Needle for best documentary went to “Keep on Keeping On,” about jazz legend Clark Terry, which I didn’t see, while the Space Needle for best film, director and actress all went to Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” with Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and newcomer Ellar Coltrane, which I did see, and I agree with SIFF's assessment. It was the best of my fest anyway.
Basically I’d divide up what I saw this way:
- The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Sweden)
- The Trip to Italy (UK)
- Leninland (Russia)
- I Origins (USA)
- Jimi: All Is By My Side (USA)
- They Came Together (USA)
- Ekstra (Philippines)
- Klumpfisken (Denmark)
- Chinese Puzzle (France)
- Dior and I (France)
- Muse of Fire (UK)
See you around, SIFF membership guy dancing in your seat. In the last month, I probably saw you more than Patricia. I have been returned home safely but pretty tired.
9 Thoughts a Week into SIFF 2014
The Seattle International Film Festival is a week old tonight. A few thoughts:
- The bearded guy in the SIFF membership ad? I like him—particularly the bit with the champagne. But before every SIFF screening?
- Same with the “Cinescape” ad. Clever and fun, but it goes too fast to get the feel for all the movies they’re experiencing. And before every SIFF screening?
- That said, my favorite bit in the above is the woman seeing herself in the lineup of “The Usual Suspects.” That dopey, sexy Benicio looks she gives us. That’s dead on.
- The opening night party needed a little more food and a little less chocolate. Even Patricia thought that. Actually, she thought it first.
- The Egyptian screwed up the subtitles for the first five minutes of the Norwegian film, “In Order of Disappearance,” so they were out of sync with the action. The last time I experienced this? At the Egyptian for a SIFF movie.
- Even so, I’m glad the Egyptian’s back. Thanks, SIFF.
- The theater for Wednesday night’s screening of the 218-minute-long Holocaust documentary, “The Last of the Unjust,” was ridiculously hot and stuffy. Tough enough sitting that long for a Holocaust doc; you’ve got to lose the air conditioning? It was like a cattle car in there.
- I asked the woman in charge at SIFF Uptown to turn up the air conditioning, twice, but she said there was no more she could do. It was as high as it could go. “It’s an old building,” she said. “Well, there’s a lot of old people in there,” I said. And I wasn’t even referring to me.
- In the end, that, plus some health matters, plus the length and breadth of the movie, made me walk out of “Unjust” after about 140 minutes. This morning I felt like a wimp.
So excluding “Unjust,” here are my favorites so far:
- “In Order of Disappearance,” Norway
- “Jimi: All Is By My Side,” USA
- “Dior and I,” France
- “The Bit Player,” Philippines
- “Chinese Puzzle,” France
- “Muse By Fire,” UK
Dead on: Benicio's dopey, sexy look.
SIFF's Opening Night: Freudian Slips, the Resurrection of the Egyptian, and Sloppy Seconds on the Red Carpet
Three directors and an actress: The director and co-star of “Jimi: All Is By My Side,” John Ridley and Hayley Atwell, stand with SIFF's managing direcgor Mary Bacarella and artistic director Carl Spence, during the “red carpet experience” last night at the opening of the 40th Seattle International Film Festival. I went, but I wasn't experienced.
Last night, Patricia and I went to SIFF’s Opening Night festivities at McCaw Hall. We have gala passes this year, which means Opening Night (“Jimi: All Is By My Side,” a biopic of Jimi Hendrix), Closing Night (“The One I Love”), Centerpiece (Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”), the Saturday night screenings and parties, early seating, and, best of all, open bar. But it doesn’t include the “red carpet experience,” whatever that is. We did walk on the red carpet to get into McCaw Hall but maybe the experience was over by then. We were sloppy seconds on the red carpet. Are you experienced? We weren't.
It wasn’t a bad evening—getting dressed up to go to the movies—but it wasn’t exactly our crowd. What crowd was it? It felt like patrons. It felt like people better plugged in than we are. The movie, too, was a good try, but almost felt like touring with a rock band: you'd get flashes of brilliance amid long stretches of tedium. (Review up later.) McCaw Hall is also an interesting venue for a movie. You know how when you see people watching a movie within a movie? How there’s that echo effect in the theater? Like that.
Director John Ridley and star Hayley Atwell were there, but no André Benjamin, unfortunately (the best part of the movie). We also got a brief speech from Mayor Ed Murray, who told us that his favorite movie in high school was “Funny Girl,” which he went to see nine times. “By the ninth time,” he added, “my parents really should’ve known that I was gay.”
The good news is the expansion of SIFF: they’re buying SIFF Uptown in lower Queen Anne and reopening the Egyptian theater on Capitol Hill.
The Freudian slip of the night belonged to SIFF’s managing director Mary Bacarella, who thanked SIFF’s board of directors for their hard work “all year wrong.” So with many boards.
The party afterwards, across the way from McCaw, amid strobe lights, was a search to find something that wasn’t chocolate.
What's It Like to Live in a Championship City?
I began to think about it on the ride over to Jeff and Sullivan's house, Patricia and I with our drinks, our salad, our 12-Man cupcakes from Cupcake Royale. I thought about it particularly after I saw all the people in the streets, an hour before gametime, wearing their Seahawks jerseys: #s 3, 12, 24, 25, 80. I suddenly realized I'd never lived in a city that had just won a major sports championship. What was that like?
I grew up in Minnesota and when the Twins won the World Series in 1987 I was living in Taipei, Taiwan—about as far away as you could get without leaving the planet. When they won in '91 I was living in Seattle.
And that was that. Because Seattle hasn't won any major sports championship since 1979.
Sure, we had the M's in '95. That was exciting. And I was in the thick of it. But they never even made the World Series. They never even made Game 7 of the ALCS. They had a great run but they were never champs. Don't get me started on the last 10 years.
So I was wondering what it would be like in Seattle if the Seahawks won.
I'd never been on that positive end of a rout before, either. First play from scrimmage and we're up 2-0. Then 5-0. 8-0. The Seahawks were dominating completely at this point but the score didn't really reflect it. One long pass and the Broncos were back in it. But they didn't get that pass. 15-0. 22-0. I was thinking maybe the Broncos would get that great halftime speech, or something, but first play of the second half and Percy Harvin runs it back 87 yards for a touchdown: 29-0. That felt like the nail but I'm sure the nail was driven in earlier. The game was like a hardware store: You have your pick of nails. Final: 43-8. The only 43-8 score in NFL history, according to Nate Silver.
We got firecrackers and fireworks immediately—neighbors of Jeff and Sullivan. On the ride home, there were horns honking in Fremont. On 99 we saw the following digital-sign warning: “There are extra DUI officers on the road right now.” Downtown, groups of people out in Seahawks jerseys whooped it up. I saw pockets of enthusiasm. But that was about it.
At home I couldn't stay home, so I walked over to the Quarter Lounge and checked things out. Apparently there'd been 150 or so people there for the game, but when I arrived, 90 minutes after the final play, there were maybe 30. Some whooped it up. Most quietly soaked it in. On TV a local broadcast highlighted a celebration somewhere on Pike. Was it downtown? Or Capitol Hill?
On the walk up Madison I passed three guys, drunk and stupid, shouting and hitting garbage cans and dancing bad dances in the street. Horns honked at them. In celebration? In annoyance? A fine line.
On the walk down Broadway one guy high-fived me. That was it. But when I got to Pike it was Mardi Gras. Without the beads.
The street was cordoned off and cops stood on both Broadway and 11th. In the middle of it all, folks whooped, chanted, played call-and-response: Sea .. Hawks! ... Sea! ... Hawks! ... Sea!....Hawks! ... Wooooooooo! Beer bottles and cans littered the street. Everyone was filming everyone. I joined in that.
There was tons of enthusiasm but it had nowhere to go. Where did people want it to go? That would've been an interesting question. Toward what? I think just up in the air.
This is my city but it wasn't really my celebration. I haven't been a football guy since the 1970s. The only football jerseys I own are Minnesota Vikings jerseys. I only watched three Seahawks games all year—the last three. I was happy, sure, but just that, and more for my long-suffering Seahawks friends, Mr. B and the like, than for myself.
On the way home, up Broadway again, horns honked, people shouted, we played call-and-response:
Dudes in car: Sea!
Dudes in car: Sea!
Girls in car: Woooooooo!
One of my favorite Tweets during the game was this:
Karl Rove still thinks the Broncos have a shot at this thing.— Keith Conrad (@keithrconrad) February 3, 2014
On Facebook, a friend of a friend feigned ignorance about my friend's happiness for his city, asking what happened. I responded: We legalized pot, gay marriage, and won the Super Bowl.
It's not really my celebration but it ain't bad. Parade Wednesday.
Scenes from a celebration: Capitol Hill, February 2, 2014.
The First Rule of Seattle Traffic
1. No, please. After you.