erik lundegaard

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Wednesday June 13, 2012

SIFFed Out

I saw 10 movies at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival and was pretty tired by the end of it. SIFF is billed as the longest film fest in the world, 25 days now, 450+ movies, but there are times, particularly when you're caught in the middle of it, when “longest film fest” seems less boast than threat. You want to wave the white flag. You want to go climb a mountain. If you going to the movies you want to see something loud and stupid and with supheroes.

Here are the rankings of the movies I saw, from first to worst, with links to reviews:

  1. Starbuck: Must-see French-Canadian comedy
  2. Under African Skies: Documentary on Paul Simon's “Graceland”
  3. Goodbye: Iran today
  4. The Revisionaries: Texas today
  5. Lola Versus: Girls today
  6. The Revolutionary: The Marxist yesterday
  7. Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Heroines: Doc on feminism and boobs
  8. Hello I Must Be Going: A mopey 35-year-old's big adventure
  9. A Checkout Girl's Big Adventure: Insipid French fairytale

I'd recommend the first three. Plus half of the fourth. “Checkout Girl” was physically painful.

My 10th film, in case you're wondering, was Terrence Malick's “Badlands” during “An Evening with Sissy Spacek.” More on that later.

None of my movies won any awards. Here's the rundown from the audience and the cognescenti:

2012 SIFF Audience awards

  • Best film: “Any Day Now”
  • Best documentary: “The Invisible War”
  • Best director: Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Best actor: Alan Cumming, “Any Day Now”
  • Best actress: Jamie Chung, “Eden”
  • Best short film: “Catcam”

2012 SIFF Juried awards

  • Best new director: Nicolas Provost, “The Invader”
  • Best documentary: “Five Star Existence”
  • Best narrative short: “The Extraordinary Life of Rocky”
  • Best animated short: “Zergut”
  • Best documentary short: “Paradise”
  • FIPRESCI Prize for Best New American Film: “Welcome to Pine Hill”

I also heard good things about “Chasing Ice,” “Your Sister’s Sister,” “My Brother the Devil,” “The Fourth State” and “The Intouchables.”

SIFFtacular trailer: Seattle International Film Festival 2012

Fun the first time I saw it.

Posted at 07:31 AM on Jun 13, 2012 in category Seattle, Movies
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Friday March 02, 2012

David Ishii, Seattle Bookseller (1935-2012)

These days it seems I hear the news via Facebook more than any other source. The other day it was Jim Walsh's post (and then everybody's posts) about the death of Davy Jones. Yesterday it was Knute Berger with the sad news of the death of David Ishii, a long-time used bookseller in Pioneer Square, whom I interviewed for The Grand Salami, an alternative Mariners program, in the summer of 1998.

The interview is below.

Name: David Ishii

Birthdate: April 16, 1935 in Seattle, WA.

Evacuated: along with other Japanese-Americans to the Midwest during World War II. Although technically allowed to return in 1945, Ishii's mother kept the family in Milwaukee until the summer of 1948.

Owner: since 1972, of David Ishii Bookseller in Pioneer Square, where baseball memorabilia hangs from the walls and autographed baseballs sit on a shelf above the cash register.

* * *

What are your earliest baseball memories?
When I was in high school the Seattle Rainiers won the Pacific Coast League pennant. That was really fun. Every morning in the PI they'd have a drawing of a little man. If he was smiling, the Rainiers won; and if the Rainiers lost he was sad. 

I learned how to score when the Pilots came to Seattle in 1969. I wrote in to KVI—they had two-sheet instructions on how to score—and that's when I got into the game. Because to score you have to pay attention. I went to about seventeen games that year and could hardly wait until the next year. But they left town. Even after, I would open up the paper to see how some of the ex-Pilot players, like Tommy Harper, had done.

What do you remember about the early years of the M's?
On days I did not have tickets, I would walk up to the ticket office, buy a ticket, and sit in the third deck, outfield, anyplace, just to see what the game was like from different parts of the Kingdome. That was fun. I remember they had Perry's Perch: Third deck behind homeplate. Very few people bought tickets there. Now it's impossible to get a ticket there. Impossible.

Do you have a favorite Mariner moment?
During the George Argyros days when the Yankees came to Seattle and Tom Paciorek hit two game-winning homeruns on Friday and Saturday night. For the Sunday afternoon game, this big limousine comes in from left field and out pops Paciorek's family. They did it as a surprise for him.

Favorite Mariner?
Griffey. I go to as many games as I can mainly to see him play. Because I know that maybe ten or fifteen years down the line, when I'm an old man, I'm going to say, “I saw that play, I saw that play, and I saw that other play he made.”

I saw it when he broke his hand; I saw almost all his basket catches. What a lot of people probably don't realize—in this last catch he made—is that as soon as he caught the ball he turned around and stopped the runner from advancing. That's what made the Willie Mays catch [in the 1954 World Series] so great. Mays was way out there; and as soon as he got the ball, he threw it in so the runner on second couldn't advance. That's what Griffey did.

It was fun to watch him go for eight homeruns in a row; but it's his fielding.

What about non-Mariners? I notice the autographed picture of Lenn Sakata.
[Laughs] He's the first Japanese-American to wear a World Series ring. I met him. A friend of mine, Frank Abe, worked for KIRO, and he called up Lenn Sakata and Sakata says, “Yeah, I've got some family here, come on down.” So we went to a hotel by the airport and met him. I was really surprised. Not a tall man, but, boy, he was strong. His legs, thighs: big.

Let's talk about some of the memorabilia in your store.
Well, this is a ceramic ball. The Lenn Sakata fans—of which there were three of us—we all signed a similar one and gave it to him.

A lot of these are autographed balls. Mac Suzuki. Lou Piniella. Johnny Bench. Griffey.

That's my high school first baseman's glove. When I went to Queen Anne High School, in ... I think it was 1952 when I bought this. After I delivered all the papers on my paper route, a bunch of us would go and play catch. This is a small (glove). See how small it is? I couldn't afford a big one. And it has plastic laces. So it's a cheap mitt. It's a Reach brand mitt.

A friend of mine, Phil Gallagher, he had a big mitt and I was envious of him. But I could still dig 'em out.

Posted at 06:50 AM on Mar 02, 2012 in category Seattle
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Wednesday June 01, 2011


It's been a crazy month and I haven't made it to many Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) movies. Not like last year. Last year I felt tuned in. I saw eight movies, including what became my eventual no. 2 of the year, “Restrepo,” and I really only felt one of the eight (“Zona Sur”) was a waste of time.

This year I've only seen three, and, given my schedule, will probably only see one more before the whole thing shuts down in a week and a half. Of those three? One was a waste of time (“The First Grader”), one merely disappointed (“The Whistleblower”), and I'm still wrapping my mind around the third (“Black Venus”).

Each showing has suffered its technical difficulties, too.

  1. “The First Grader,” opening night at McCaw Hall, began 15 minutes late, and then we had to tack on another half-hour for all the corporate speeches. When the film finally began, it seemed underlit to me. Ten minutes in, the film abruptly stopped. When it came back on, we were five minutes earlier in the story and the film was, yes, now properly lit. Director in the house, too. Embarrassing.
  2. “The Whistleblower,” Sunday afternoon at the Egyptian, began 45 minutes late and seemed underlit.
  3. “Black Venus,” Sunday evening at the Egyptian, began more or less on time. But for some reason they couldn't show the digital film. Instead, in that big theater, we watched the DVD, which, particularly in far shots, was blurry, while for the entirety of the film the words PROPERTY OF MK2 PRODUCTIONS appeared in the upper right corner. Plus it seemed underlit.

I suppose we go through these kinds of technical problems every year. Doesn't make it any less bothersome. The opposite.

Banner for the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)

Posted at 07:13 AM on Jun 01, 2011 in category Seattle
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Sunday May 08, 2011


Anyone know the methodology the Washington State Ferry System uses for exiting the Bainbridge Island ferry (either the Puyallup or Wenatchee) once you hit Seattle? Most of the time, we're able to jog left and then head east onto Marion, through (and up) downtown Seattle, and straight toward our home on First Hill.

Occassionally, like this afternoon, we'll be directed to the right and onto Alaskan Way heading south, where there are no left turns for several blocks. We have to drive all the way down to King Street, nearly to Safeco Field, before we can turn left and head in the direction we want. And almost every time this happens, as with this afternoon, a Mariners game is just getting out. Which means all of us are being forced to drive toward a massive, cluster-f***ed traffic jam. We're adding to the problem rather than avoiding the problem.

So anyone know the methodology? Why sometimes Marion, why sometimes Alaskan Way, why sometimes both?

And why force us toward Safeco as M's games are just getting out?

Me, Chris and Jordy on a Washington State Ferry heading toward Bainbridge Island, August 2008

I like riding it; it's the exit that can sometimes be a pain.

Posted at 06:43 PM on May 08, 2011 in category Seattle
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