Seattle postsFriday May 03, 2013
Sifting Through the SIFF Schedule
I was glancing through the schedule for 2013 SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival), trying to figure out how they'd organized everything. The booklet lists a few traditional categories (LOVE ... MAKE ME LAUGH...) and some odd ones (OPEN MY EYES ... PROVOKE ME!). Mostly I was trying to find the country by country. In particular I was interested in films from France—although “Les tribulations d'une caissière” kinda screwed me over last year—and finally found, in the back, on pg. 49, a topic index. No pics, no synopses, just movies by topics. I read down:
- FAMILY FRIENDLY
- GERMAN LANGUAGE
Uh ... wait. Where was the French? I backtracked, looked again. Then again. I studied the other topics: ARABIC LANGUAGE ... ASIAN .... JAPANESE LANGUAGE ...RUSSIAN LANGUAGE... But no FRENCH LANGUAGE? Were they banning French movies or something? Did others complain about “Les tribulations d'une caissière,” too?
A few pages on, I found Country Index, where, yes, about 15 French movies were listed. Whew. Even so. Quel est le probleme, SIFF?
And what's with the logo below?
And has anyone heard what's worth seeing?
Starts May 16.
All the Pretty Cherry Blossoms
I went for a walk around Capitol Hill Saturday, First Hill to Volunteer Park, as temps climbed into the mid-60s. All the cherry blossoms were out.
I also like still seing these “Approve 74” signs still up. Because we did.
A Walk in Seattle
Last night I was going to meet my friend Vinny at the Grand Illusion Theater in the U district for a showing of Ozu Yasujiro's “Tokyo Story” (1953), which was recently named the third-greatest movie of all time by critics worldwide, and the greatest movie of all time by directors worldwide. Both groups were polled by “Sight & Sound” magazine, which does this kind of thing every 10 years.
I usually bike to work in lower Queen Anne, so I could've done that, then biked over, then biked home at 10. For some reason, maybe the late-night ride, I decided against. I decided to walk to work, walk to the U district, then catch a ride with Vinny after the movie.
It was a nice day for a walk, and I needed it. Last fall I was diagnosed with subacute thyroiditis, which messes with the thyroid hormones released into the body. First you're in a hyperthyroid stage (too much), then the thyroid shuts down and you go into a hypothyroid stage (too little), then you stabilize eventually. If you're one of the 85% who stabilizes. Apparently I'm one of the 15% who doesn't. So last week I began taking levothyroxine, a supplement, and yesterday, in the middle of the day, I developed symptoms that I associate with hyperthyroid: I got cold, my heartrate went up, and I felt a huge bout of anxiety, for no reason, about nothing.
So a late afternoon walk felt like a blessing. I stopped in my bank, stopped at Cinema Books, the best movie-bookstore in the world, owned by Stephanie Ogle, where I bought two books, then at Scarecrow Video, where I checked out its vast Criterion Collection. Then I met Vinny at Thai Tom on the Ave.
Some iPhone photos from the walk:
Mercer Mess, 4:15 pm. When I bike, I weave through this like the centipede in the old video game.
South Lake Union.
The I-5 bridge from the University bridge, late afternoon.
I'm interested in the lesser-known names in and on our public places. Here's Ms. Hagy's Seattle Times obituary.
Cinema Books, on Roosevelt Way, which is always packed in this manner. It's owned by Stephanie Ogle, who is always a delight.
The wall behind the cash register at Cinema Books. Ms. Ogle's photo (with ...?) is between and to the left of Marilyn Monroe's and Catherine Deneuve's.
The Grand Illusion was sold out for “Tokyo Story.” The movie fit my mood. But ... third-greatest ever? Greatest ever? No movie should have to live up to that.
What Seattle Means to Me
What is America to me
A name, a map, or a flag I see
A certain word, democracy
What is America to me
--Frank Sinatra singing “The House I Live In,” with lyrics by Abel Meeropol and music by Earl Robinson
What does Seattle mean to me?
Yesterday after work, I was biking home to First Hill from lower Queen Anne but was having brake problems. I'd had the brakes replaced about a month ago at Velo Bike Shop on Capitol Hill, and ever since the front brakes stuttered, and now they were squeaking noisily. Screeching almost. So I biked over to Velo, they fixed them on the spot, then I biked a bit around Capitol Hill before coming back via Madison. I was at the corner of Madison and Boren, first in line in the left-turn-only lane, with a motorcycle behind me, revving its engine, both of us waiting on the green arrow. But it didn't come. We waited out the cars traveling south on Boren, and north on Boren, and the moment before the east-west traffic moved, the moment we were supposed to get the green arrow ... didn't arrive. Because the system didn't register a car there. Because there wasn't a car there: there was just a bike, followed by a motorcycle, followed by a car. The system mostly registers cars. The motorcycle began to creep forward and we had this conversation.
Me: You should get closer. It's not registering me.
He: Yeah, sometimes it doesn't register me, either.
Me: Great, what do we do?
Then I saw what he was doing. He was going anyway. He was waiting for the eastbound traffic to dissipate, then he turned left against the red arrow. “Oh, right,” I thought. “We can do that.” I did the same.
That happens a few times a year, by the way, and it's not what Seattle means to me. Here's what Seattle means to me.
As we were turning, I heard a horn honking. Insistently. The motorcyclist's? To warn people what we were doing?
No, it was the car behind us. Admonishing us because we were doing something bad.
And that's what Seattle means to me.
The system is set up in a way to screw you over; and when you improvise, there's always someone there, someone who wouldn't normally talk to you, scolding you for it.
My Evening with Sissy Spacek
I noticed the movie first. “Hey!” I thought. “Terrence Malick's 'Badlands' is playing at SIFF!”
Only when I bought tickets (for $35/$40) did I learn that “Badlands” was an afterthought to one of the major events at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival: “An Evening with Sissy Spacek,” in which the Oscar-winning actress accepted SIFF's lifetime achievement award and sat down for a two-hour Q&A with Time magazine's Richard Corliss. The screening of “Badlands,” which starred Spacek and a young Martin Sheen, came later, and, by the time it did, a third of the audience had left. Sad.
I had a good time at the event but questions arise. Why Corliss? Why not a local critic, like John Hartl or Moira MacDonald? One of the best, most entertaining interviewers I've seen is both local and a movie critic: Warren Etheredge of the Warren Report. Why not him?
The audience portion of the Q&A can be a drag—particularly in Seattle. The people raising their hands are generally the people who shouldn't be raising their hands: folks who don't want to ask anything but want to pontificate and blab and unenlighten and waste our time. Thankfully, we didn't get many of those. We got oddities: geeks bearing gifts. They spoke tentatively, then brought out some odd, hand-made doo-dad—a ceramic flying pig dangling on a string, for one—then brought it up to Ms. Spacek, who, to her credit, acted more graciously accepting these things than I do accepting a gift I want from someone I love. She showed her chops right there. She deserved her lifetime achievement award right there.
Did you know, under the name “Spackle,” that she sang a late '60s bubble-gum song called “John You've Gone Too Far This Time,” about how John Lennon in 1969 was no longer the mop-top we all loved? I didn't. Someone menioned that the song is hard to find online but it's actually pretty easy. And pretty awful. It should as least be catchy.
More catchy was this clip we saw as part of her career retrospective:
After the Q&A, but before the “Badlands” screening, Michael Upchurch, who, with John Hartl, has been covering SIFF for The Seattle Times, came up and mock-chastised me: “Where was your present for Sissy?” he asked. Exactly.
Here's a portion of the Q&A. Apologies, but we were sitting halfway back so the volume isn't the best and the hand-held jumpiness is like out of a Lars von Trier film. Hope no one gets nauseous.
Apologies, too, Sissy, for not bringing you a gift. Next time.
(TURN UP THE VOLUME FOR THIS ONE...)
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