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Festival Blog

Live from the 2008 music and film festivals!

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June 16, 2008 2:59 PM

The passholders speak!

Posted by Moira Macdonald

The Fool Serious, a motley crew of SIFF's passholders, have announced their award winners for this year's festival. The group's favorite films were: 1. "Cherry Blossoms," 2. "The Edge of Heaven," 3. "Time to Die," 4. "Bliss," 5. "Frozen River," 6. "Love and Honor," 7. "Captain Abu Raed," 8. "The Unknown Woman," 9. "SECRET #1," 10. "Ben X." Favorite documentaries, in order, were "Casting a Glance," "Saving Luna," "Stranded: I've Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains," and "The Wrecking Crew." The Fools, who describe their group as "the officially unofficial un-organization of the Seattle International Film Festival's full series pass holders," are the festival's marathoners, many seeing 100 films or more, so their list is always worth watching.

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June 15, 2008 1:00 AM

SIFF has a busy finale

Posted by John Hartl

On this hectic closing day, the TBD slots at SIFF Cinema tonight have been filled by two of the festival's most popular movies: "Frozen River" and "The Wrecking Crew," which just won the Golden Space Needle for best documentary. The MyFestival series ends at 6:30 tonight at the Harvard Exit with screenings of the winning films: "Perfect Sport" and "Robbie's Withdrawal."

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June 15, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 15

Posted by Doug Knoop

Benaroya Hall
2 p.m. — ][“Alexander Nevsky”

Cinerama
Noon — ][“Cherry Blossoms — Hanami”
3 p.m. — ][“Female Agents”
6 p.m. — ][“The Wackness”
9 p.m. — ][“Triangle”

Egyptian
11 a.m. — ][“2008 Secret Festival”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Towelhead”
4:30 p.m. — ][“Sleep Dealer”
7 p.m. — ][“Timecrimes”
9 p.m. — ][“Donkey Punch”

Harvard Exit
11 a.m. — ][“Lakshmi and Me”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Em”
4 p.m. — ][“Apollo 54”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Perfect Sport”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Villa Jasmin”

Pacific Place Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“The Five Senses”
1:15 p.m. — ][“Fugitive Pieces”
4 p.m. — ][“Before I Forget”
7 p.m. — ][“Wonderful Town”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Head-On”

SIFF Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“Some Assembly Required”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Alice, Upside Down”
4 p.m. — ][“Letting Go of God”
7 p.m. — ][“TBA #1”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Head On”

Uptown
11 a.m. — ][“Vice”
2 p.m. — ][“Mysteries of Pittsburgh”
4:30 p.m. — ][“Sonetaula”
8:30 p.m. — ][“The Unknown Woman”

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June 14, 2008 9:19 PM

The Verdict

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

Seattle thrives despite itself.

More specfically, Seattle music thrives despite a city government intent on limiting fun, state liquor laws that are nothing short of puritanical, and unchecked development constantly pushing artists and musicians to the margins. The fact that the Georgetown Music Festival can host 50-some bands--the vast majority local--in an out of the way setting and a less than supportive civic attitude towards outdoor celebration owes everything to the attitude of its producers. Props all around.

Props to the weather, too. Way to pull it together!

As I said before, we--you, me, your neighbor, Greg Nickels--need events like these to happen in this city. Seattle must maintain its cultural gravity or else, in the face of overdevelopment and gentrification, it will lose its creative currency. Whether Nickels knows it or not (or knows it and just doesn't care), that currency is a prime motivator for prospective tourists and would-be residents. Kill it and everyone goes to Missouri. I hear rent is cheap there.

And the Quintessential Seattle Weekend continues with Emerald City Soul Club at the Lo Fi Gallery. Don't sleep.

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June 14, 2008 8:59 PM

Rocking with the 'Duct, Lashes

Posted by andrew matson

David Terry has other musicians with him, but he is the focus of Aqueduct on stage. Perched behind keyboards, he belted out a bunch of catchy, fractured synth pop songs to the biggest crowd of the day at the Rainier stage beneath the I-5 ramp.

Among other things, he succeeded in removing the taste of The Hanks from my mouth by powerfully putting down some quintessentially Seattle indie pop. Terry lives here and makes albums for local label Barsuk Records, and his wonderfully unaffected singing style and natural warmth recall NW pillars and labelmates John Roderick (The Long Winters) and David Bazan (Pedro the Lion). He's from Tulsa, but when he sings wry, honest indie pop with that voice, Aqueduct is the sound of Seattle. The audience jumped around and took cell phone pictures in the setting sun light.

But Aqueduct is only one sound of Seattle. This much was proved by a rousing set from The Lashes. A scrappy bunch if there ever was one, they looked like GMF: guys who don't shave often wearing aviator shades and tight pants. They played a loud set of what sounded like bubblegum pop run through torn speakers. It should be noted that frontman Ben Lashes looked like a self-styled icon: Chicago Bulls jersey, black scarf, black baseball hat cocked hip-hop style, black jeans and a black Nike hoodie. He looked like a man come to bring death to rock traditon, yet The Lashes are about as straight-up as it gets. Their set was rock as dance music, rock as party, echoing a sentiment that The Hands put out with their tried and true yet completely exciting rock 'n roll two bands previous on a different stage.

And with that, I left Georgetown. Detroit-souding local blues-rock band Thee Emergency were still yet to headline, but I'd been at GMF since noon. What can I say? My dogs were barking.

Georgetown Music Fest, I love you and all your rocking. I love that you gave hip-hop a chance. I love the BBQ man. I hate to see the buildings around you get torn down- next year's Fest might have different surroundings. But next year, that awesome band of 14 year-olds I saw (The Lost Episode) will be 15 and even better, and should they decide to come back, probably playing at one of the bigger stages.


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June 14, 2008 8:31 PM

Putting the "Aw" in Rawk

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

Meat-and-potatoes rock--there's never too much of it.

Just when I write a huge story about the sound of Seattle being "pretty, pastoral, and mellow," along comes a well-stocked Georgetown Music Festival to put the "aw" back in classic rawk. Seattle's got it in spades and it's been well represented here all day.

First by the Hands, a gutsy, don't-give-a-damn band that ran wild with double guitar leads and marial drums. Lots of "whoa-oh"ing behind lead singer John Healy, who was equal parts raunchy bark and unhinged yowl. When a band has that much fun on-stage it's infectious, and their energy carried over into the front rows, the mainstage beer garden, and backstage, where a bunch of other festival-playing musicians dug the Hands' crunchy riffage. Yes, I said "crunchy riffage."

And then by Slender Means, who's sweet, soulful keyboard runs added a side of greens to the bands otherwise meaty, pop-rock feast. The keys stood out as more a lead instrument than mere embellishment. Supremely tight songwriting from these locals, the kind of catchy, bedrock jams that are impossible to deny. With both Slender Means and the Hands, the full-body takeover came in the form of volume, lots of volume. Along with savvy songwriting, that volume is why the music is impossible to deny: It forces itself on you until you relent. Nobody was putting up much of a fight.

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June 14, 2008 7:02 PM

The smoothest bands at GMF...

Posted by andrew matson

...are locals Slender Means and Los Angeles band The Hanks.

Slender Means played around the corner at the Georgetown stage, and their slick pop rock was impeccable.

On disc, Slender Means' guitar rock grows tiresome, its prettiness workmanlike. Live, with all the character amps give guitars, Slender Means sounds a whole lot better. For a band that likes to pull off "yearning" as a song style and whose strong suits are its musicianship and songwriting, you need textures to make things stand out, and Slender Means was drawing that out of itself here. The members were really listening to each other, and when I left them, singer Josh Dawson's tenor vocals were perfectly restrained and carrying most of the melody.

Over at the Stockhouse stage, I watched The Hanks make GMFs worst music. It's a matter of preference, because the crowd gathered was not small- 150 people?- and people were swaying and bobbing, clearly getting into the music. It was "contemporary rock teenagers like" as defined by Hollywood.

Now Aqueduct is starting. I can already hear the chant: "Who wanna rock with the Aqueduct? You wanna but you know you can't stop the 'Duct!"

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June 14, 2008 6:01 PM

The Key of Drone

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

Hypatia Lake is an extremely well-adjusted band. I don't mean that they make sure to call their moms every Sunday and navigate post-modern ennui with stylish aplomb (though maybe they do), but rather that they balance drone and melody in an extremely tuneful, accessible way.

One guitarist lead and another was dedicated to jagged squalls and slow, heavy washes of feedback. Playing the Rainier Stage to several hundred people (the crowd thickens as the hours pass), they made dissonance sound soothing and intricate interplay look easy. That's a good festival band.

Man Plus are on the Stockhouse Stage and sound really good. Back to more sunshine and music.

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June 14, 2008 5:36 PM

Who Knew?

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

mail.jpgShim by Heather Trimm


It's official--The weather is beautiful. The sun is shining on Georgetown Music Fesival. We now have perfect festival conditions. More happy people show up every hour. Sweet-smelling smoke from the BBQ guy wafts over the Stockhouse Stage, two-seater planes buzz over the Rainier Stage, fans sit in the grass and take it all in at the Georgetown Stage. The layout is thus: An L, formed by backstreets and alleys, with the main (Rainier) stage at the crook of the L. At either end are the smaller stages. The schedule is timed so that bands play the smaller stages simultaneously, with the main stage quiet. When there's a band at the main stage, the other stages are quiet. Very smart.

Shim (pictured above) slayed the main stage crowd earlier. These guys were unabashed heshers, long-haired, mutton-chopped, crude, and oversexed. It was guitar-driven classic rock, not the a $200-a-ticket geriatric cashing-in kind, but in the "we just wanna party with you" guitartastic kind. You know what I mean. If you don't, these lyrics should fill in the blanks:

Love me like an animal
Put it in the cool moonlight
Want me like an animal
Cuz it's feeling like I could go all night

Thank you, Shim, for the true-blue rock. Thanks again for best band name at the festival (followed by Hockey).

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June 14, 2008 5:00 PM

Psychedelic Rock From Pink Snowflakes

Posted by andrew matson

Photo by Heather Trimm special to The Seattle Times
smallPinkSnowflakes41.jpg

What does "psychedelic rock" mean to you?

To the Pink Snowflakes, it means deafening guitar feedback over head-nod tempo folk songs with "trippy" echo guitar effects and use of EBow note sustainer. It means songs come out of speakers like a wash, at firehose force and with narcotic pacing.

Their set was fun, but so loud that you had to either jump right in or not mess around with it at all.

The Snowflakes decorated their sound with electric violin, the Stockhouse stage with a black-light poster of a unicorn, and the air surrounding their 200+ audience with bubbles streaming from two machines. They played GMF last year, and their set was slightly better today- the songs sounded tighter. Most of their appeal is in the look and feel: the bubbles are whimsical, the band looks like a hobo version of arena-psych-pop band The Flaming Lips, and- if you're into "heavy" things- the noise from the guitar and drums hurts so good.

GMF will change you: the BBQ man's smoke wafts over the fence and gets into your clothes, the sun bakes your skin, and the Pink Snowflakes make you go deaf.

Off I go to watch The Hands and Aqueduct!

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June 14, 2008 4:02 PM

Traffic

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

It's impossible to describe how odd/cool it is to be watching a band--Shim's well-honed horndog classic rock, for example--play an outdoor set in the sun when out of nowhere

ZZZZZZZHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMM

A low-flying biplane buzzes a couple hundred feet over your head.

And then

HHHHHHHHRRRRRRRNNNNNNNN

A semi rolls down the on-ramp right behind the stage.

The world turns as Georgetown rocks on. Feels urban, unique, remote. Which it is.

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June 14, 2008 3:14 PM

The best band in Seattle...

Posted by andrew matson


Photo by Heather Trimm special to The Seattle Times

...is three 14 year-olds who go by The Lost Episode. At the semi-hidden Georgetown stage in full-bore sunshine, Fergus Farley (drums), Daniel Perlmutter (bass) and Pete Michel (guitar; vocals; keys) won over a crowd of around 150 in a big way. People threw their hands in the air and made rap concert noise ("ohhhhhhhhhhhh!!!) for Pete's "hip-hop" breakdown using programmed sound samples from what he called "a thirty dollar keyboard." He pressed the buttons like he was scratching records. The band members are kids- skinny white kids with floppy haircuts in jeans and t-shirts- and when Fergus and Daniel laid down a a Fisher-Price My First Groove under Pete's fresh button mashing, it was funny watching them super-seriously play something so stitched-together and fun.


But that wasn't their "sound." The Lost Episode is dreamy Sonic Youth and Black Sabbath. Pete's a good guitar player, and Sabbath shows up in heavy minor-key guitar lines. He's also comfortable with guitar noise like Sonic Youth: queasy-sounding string bends hung in place to relish the dissonance; song verses were four chords but unpredictable and largely unresolved. Daniel and Fergus were just as much a part of the sound. The songs I heard were carefully composed pop but with multiple movements, and the rhythm section held things together nicely.

Okay, maybe they aren't the best band in Seattle, but The Lost Episode hit a soft spot for me. I will never not love a confident, slightly depressed, art-damaged band of 14 year-olds with good taste. The kids are alright, and it's warmed my heart. Almost as much as my skin, which is burning form the concrete's reflection of a very hot sun. June gloom, huh? Sleeves are rolled up at GMF- even the short ones.

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June 14, 2008 2:24 PM

"Hi Everybody." "Hi Eric!"

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

You're still here?

That's fine. Since you insist on staying home and reading about the festival instead of coming here and experiencing it, you ought to have something good to read. You ought to know what you're missing.

The Setting: Old brick buildings, narrow back alleys, 38 bands, three outdoor stages and two inside Jules Maes. Georgetown's wonderfully rough-hewn cafes, bars, and restaurants (said our server at Smartypants after picking up our bill: "Have a kickass day!"). A wildly diverse crowd, from punk-rock tweens to fanny-packed Boomers to bearded, tatted locals, plus dogs and babies. A supremely low-key atmosphere, far from the sweaty hipster crush of Block Party or the milling thongs of Bumbershoot. Sun. Beer. Beer in the sun! Almost like summer!

The Sound: First band of the day was the Lonely Forest, a pop-rock trio from Anacortes with emo-ish tendencies. The crowd at the Rainier Stage matched the band in looks and age and familiarity with each other. "Hi everybody!" the bassist said from the stage. "Hi Eric," everybody replied. We're all friends here.

Lead singer switched off on guitar and keyboards; he bumped up his vocals from angsty croon to angsty scream for the poingnant moments. There's a whiff of the Faint in their piano-driven tracks, yearning and ambitious, though the Lonely Forest keep the edges enjoyably rough. The mostly teenage crowd was enthralled. The band ended their set with a cover of "Tomorrow"--the "Annie" song--which was unexpected.

Word is Spokane's Kaylee Cole started singing and writing songs just a year ago. She had a wonderfully nuanced voice and emotional range considering, and her piano-led solo pop tunes were surprisingly complex and catchy. The aggressively cute, blue-eyed, blond-haired 22-year old subsumed apparent influences (Tori Amos, Joanna Newsom) to arrive at a hopelessly likable sound. "This is a song about Spokane," she said; the chorus went "Every day is the same and nothing is gonna change around here."

Danny's House is from the Bay Area freeway suburb of Vallejo and exhumed that drunk-fun brand of goofy post-Sublime ska-funk that went extinct in 1996. The bassist wore a shiny turqoise suit and matching cowboy hat.

Levator just followed at the Stockhouse Stage. Hard to focus on to focus on the music and blog simultaneously, but I liked the thick, drony psych-rock that I overheard. While I was sitting outside. In the sun. Listening to music. Sun! Seriously, it's been since like September. I almost forgot what it was like. Bliss.

Shim is currently classic-rocking the Rainier Stage and sound damn good doing it.

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June 14, 2008 2:06 PM

Your Civic Duty

Posted by Jonathan Zwickel

You really should get out from behind the computer and come down to Georgetown. Sure, Georgetown seems closer to Tacoma than Seattle and yeah, you don't know most of the bands playing at the festival, but these kinds of public celebrations are why you live in the city. It's your civic duty to support them, to take part, to drink beer in the sun and watch a teenage band from Anacortes sing their awkward hearts out. It's a micro-holiday in a funky, out-of-the-way neighborhood offering a bunch of good music to discover. It's Saturday. It's sunny! What's keeping you?

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June 14, 2008 1:00 AM

'Bottle Shock' closing-night film

Posted by John Hartl

Although it will still be open for business through Sunday night, SIFF's official closing-night movie, “Bottle Shock,” plays at 6:30 tonight at the Cinerama. Unfortunately, there's not much to celebrate here. As wine-tasting movies go, “Bottle Shock” is no “Sideways.” Heck, it doesn’t even seem to be trying to match that film’s entertainment value. The script is based on a true story about a 1970s contest between French and Napa Valley winemakers, and too much of it plays like a self-congratulatory fairy tale. Alan Rickman has some snooty fun with the role of a British wine-shop owner who sets the plot in motion, and Freddy Rodriguez shines in a scene in which his character demonstrates his knack for identifying wines by taste. Rodriguez, co-star Bill Pullman and director Randall Miller are scheduled to attend the screening.
Also playing at 6:30 tonight: the world premiere of "Em," Tony Barbieri's haunting tale of a man who falls for a woman who becomes a ghostly presence in his life (at the Harvard Exit); Alan Ball's provocative treatment of Alicia Erian's much-discussed book, "Towelhead," about an Arab-American girl growing up in Texas (at the Egyptian); and Jeremy Podeswa's well-acted adaptation of Anne Michaels' novel, "Fugitive Pieces," about a World War II survivor's strange journey (at Pacific Place).

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June 14, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 14

Posted by Doug Knoop

Benaroya Hall
8 p.m. — ][“Alexander Nevsky”

Cinerama
Noon — ][“The Island of Lost Souls”
2:30 p.m. — ][“Jolene”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Bottle Shock”
10 p.m. — ][“Chrysalis”

Egyptian
11 a.m. — ][“Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Tennis Shoes”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Summer Heat”
4 p.m. — ][“Visioneers”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Towelhead”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Sleep Dealer”
Midnight — ][“Donkey Punch”

Harvard Exit
11 a.m. — ][“The 27 Club”
1:30 p.m. — ][“The Bluetooth Virgin”
4 p.m. — ][“Lakshmi and Me”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Em”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Love and Other Crimes”

Northwest Film Forum
4 p.m. — ][“The Pitch Slam: Northwest Production Summit”

Pacific Place Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“Fairytale of Kathmandu”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Leroy”
4 p.m. — ][“Hidden Face”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Fugitive Pieces”
9:30 p.m. — ][“La France”

SIFF Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“Alice, Upside Down”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Accelerating America”
4 p.m. — ][“Faces (Cassavetes)”
7 p.m. — ][“In Search of Kennedy”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Emmanuel Jal: War Child”

Uptown
11 a.m. — ][“It’s Hard to Be Nice”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Days and Clouds”
4:30 p.m. — ][“Frozen River”
7:15 p.m. — ][“The Girl by the Lake”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Vice”

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June 13, 2008 10:10 PM

Helmet and BBQ and that's it

Posted by andrew matson

The day's headliner Helmet sent out guitar and drum technicians for roughly an hour's worth of tuning and sound-checking. The heavy metal songs that followed once the band got on stage were so technical and precise, the preparation seemed justified.

I talked to Stefan Schachtell, one of Georgetown Music Fest's promoters, and he estimated 800 people showed up today. It looked like at least 400 stayed for Helmet, and they all knew what they were getting into. Guys in their thirties slammed into each other near the stage, grimacing while fiercely shaking their heads. Helmet pounded out pulverizing jams and the crowd reacted like they'd been waiting for it forever.

Then everybody ate BBQ from the guy selling hot links and ribs outside the Fest's gates. Horror of horrors, he'd run out of ribs, so everybody ate the links. They went fast and the BBQ master vowed to return tomorrow with more ribs "for his people."

Oh, and I talked to the girl from Megasapien and told her she sounded like Sunny Day Real Estate. She said it was a compliment, and she was right.

Best part of today? The weather, which was cool but not cold as Helmet wrapped things up. Second best part? Cancer Rising.

More Georgetown tomorrow!

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June 13, 2008 8:21 PM

Cancer Rising

Posted by andrew matson

I just watched Seattle rap group Cancer Rising. I know these guys- rappers Gatsby, Judas and blesOne and DJ Tiles One- so I'll acknowledge some conflict of interest, BUT...

They got Georgetown Music Fest's crowd going like no other group so far. Thirtysomething couples leaned into each other's ears and repeated clever lines they picked up. CR rapped about Seattle things Seattle people know about like Ezell's fried chicken and "rollin' Rainier" Avenue, and that brought smiles to all ages of faces on the street and in the nearby packed beer area. There was a small child dancing with her mom right near the stage (side note to parents: get some earplugs for your kids!) and Gatsby worried aloud that his music had too much swearing for the youngster. With crowd endeared, CR ran through a set of West Coast-style party raps while people danced in what is now becoming dusk.

Missed Godspeed. Hearing Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death right now. Brutal rock. The coffee shop is closing.

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June 13, 2008 6:42 PM

Sun!

Posted by andrew matson

We are now unzipping our sweatshirts at Georgetown Music Fest. The sun is out! Just an hour and half earlier it appeared impossible.

Also, very good rocking has commenced. With the sun, women have brought GMF to life.

The sun started shining as moody three-piece rock band Megasapien played the Ranier stage. Megasapien's singer is a petite woman who both plays guitar and sings like Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate, '90s NW pioneer of what is now called "emo" rock. As people put on sunglasses, she murmered verses and threw her voice off cliffs for big power-chord choruses. It was slow, heavy rock engineered to sound like there was a tight emotional coil underneath its surface.

I watched Megasapien and then walked around the corner to catch Seattle rock singer/guitarist Carrie Akre. She played solo with a lightly distorted electric guitar plugged into a small Fender amp. Later, she was joined by a male back-up guitarist. She has a tuneful, flinty rock voice, and used it confidently on power ballads. We know Ms. Akre from her '90s bands Goodness, Hammerbox, and the Rockfords, all alternative rock born from people who remember what "alternative rock" used to mean. It was bright, and even a little hot, while she played the out of the way Georgetown stage for an appreciative audience of people in black glasses with full-sleeve tattoos.

Back around the corner from Carrie Akre played another female-led local rock group called Kindness Kind. They did carefully arranged, very pretty pop rock. As I write this blog, their webpage is open on another tab: www.thekindnesskind.com. I suggest you check it out. What I heard was "indie"-sounding with an emphasis on writerly compositon, but not pretentious.

Inside All City Coffee blogging, I can hear The Bad Things plod through a Zorba the Greek-style 2/4 rave-up. It's minor-key and notably male-voiced. I think it's all men from here on out.

Whoa- here's Lords of the North sludge-ing through some drop-D tuning right next to me on the Stockhose Stage. Very manly.

Sets to catch: Cancer Rising and Godspeed, both local hip-hop, and Helmet, '90's progenitors of what Wikipedia calls "thinking man's metal."

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June 13, 2008 4:55 PM

Sound Check

Posted by andrew matson

Georgetown Music Fest '08

The Georgetown Music Fest is heating up. The weather is not. Last year, the GMF opened on what felt like the hottest day of the year. This year it opens on what feels like late Fall. Gray, cloudy and a little breezy. Sweatshirt weather.

The sound of drums, distorted guitar, "Check! check! check!" shouted into microphones, and, yes, overhead airplanes fills the air, but the music hasn't started yet. Right now it's rock ambiance: sound check.

The outdoor Rainier and Stockhouse stages are being serially occupied by several rock bands, each setting up their instruments, playing a few chords, almost starting a song, then thumbs-upping the sound guy and walking off stage to make room for the next band. The same thing is happening on the stage in nearby bar Jules Mae's and around the corner of 12th and Harney at the Georgetown stage. Last year there were three stages- the Georgetown stage is new.

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June 13, 2008 9:30 AM

Schedule changes

Posted by John Hartl

Earlier in the festival, the heterosexual Turkish-German drama "Head On" was scheduled to be shown as part of the "Emerging Masters" program for writer-director Fatih Akin. But a homoerotic Australian movie with the same title accidentally wound up in its place. That mistake will be corrected on Sunday, when Akin's "Head On" finally gets a festival screening at 9:15 at Pacific Place. Also added to Sunday's program, at 6:30 p.m. at the Harvard Exit, are the winners of the MyFestival contest: John Burish's short, "Robbie's Withdrawal," and Anthony O'Brien's feature, "Perfect Sport." The latter, a high-school wrestling drama, was shot on Vashon Island and features Harvey Keitel's daughter, Stella. MyFestival, which invited viewers to vote on their favorite films, logged 55,000 page views, spanning 75 countries. Screenwriters, actors and directors will all be in attendance.

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June 13, 2008 1:00 AM

Cinerama weekend at SIFF

Posted by John Hartl

SIFF returns for three days to the Cinerama, where Dan Ireland's "Jolene" has its world premiere at 9:30 tonight. SIFF's co-founder, Ireland previously scored with "The Whole Wide World" and "Mrs. Palfrey at The Claremont." Like those films, this adaptation of an E.L. Doctorow short story gives several superb actors a chance to demonstrate their range. Frances Fisher, Dermot Mulroney and Michael Vartan are especially impressive in change-of-pace parts, while the title role -- a resilient girl who bounces back from a series of disastrous relationships -- is capably handled by an Ireland discovery, Jessica Chastain.

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June 13, 2008 1:00 AM

SIFF's embarrassment of riches

Posted by John Hartl

Some tough choices need to be made tonight at SIFF. Playing across the street from each other are two films with live music: the brilliant silent classic, "Sunrise" (7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the Triple Door), and the 1938 Russian battle epic, "Alexander Nevsky" (7 p.m. at Benaroya Hall). Dorris Dorrie's touching tale of a widower who assumes the identity of his dead wife, "Cherry Blossoms -- Hanami," plays at 6:30 p.m. at the Uptown, and Julia Sweeney's remarkable one-woman show, "Letting Go of God," plays at the same time at SIFF Cinema. The latter is a followup to Sweeney's 1998 Golden Space Needle winner, "God Said 'HA!'," and unlike most sequels it's even better than the original.

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June 13, 2008 12:05 AM

'Em' makes a haunting debut

Posted by John Hartl

One of the spookiest and most intimate films in the festival, writer-director Tony Barbieri's "Em" has its world premiere at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at the Harvard Exit. In this 21st Century variation on Hitchcock's "Vertigo," Nathan Wetherington gives a riveting performance as a dazed Everyman who falls for a woman who becomes a ghostly presence in his life. Barbieri, who won the festival's New American Cinema award for "The Magic of Marciano" eight years ago, suggests a Bergman-like ability to use his actors' faces to suggest shifting emotions. A repeat screening is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Exit.

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June 13, 2008 12:00 AM

Today's screenings: June 13

Posted by Doug Knoop

Benaroya Hall
7 p.m. — ][“Alexander Nevsky”

Cinerama
1 p.m. — ][“The Unknown Woman”
4 p.m. — ][“Triangle”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Female Agents”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Jolene”

Egyptian
4 p.m. — ][“In Search of Kennedy”
6:30 p.m. — ][“The Wackness”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Mysteries of Pittsburgh”
Midnight — ][“Chrysalis”

Harvard Exit
4 p.m. — ][“Pierre Rissient: Man of Cinema”
7 p.m. — ][“Accelerating America”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Trouble the Water”

Northwest Film Forum
3 p.m. — ][“Show Me the Money: Northwest Production Summit”
4:30 p.m. — ][“So You Want to Be an Independent Producer?: Northwest Production Summit”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Salawati”
7 p.m. — ][“Hidden Face”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Before I Forget”

SIFF Cinema
4 p.m. — ][“Some Assembly Required”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Letting Go of God”
9:30 p.m. — ][“The 27 Club”

Triple Door
7 and 9:30 p.m. — ][The Album Leaf Performs “Sunrise”

Uptown
4 p.m. — ][“American Son”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Cherry Blossoms — Hanami”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Sonetaula”

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June 12, 2008 9:59 AM

Sergei and Sergei

Posted by Lynn Jacobson

One of the premier events of SIFF 2008 gets underway tonight: an archival presentation of Sergei Eisenstein's grand "Alexander Nevsky," with Seattle Symphony performing Sergei Prokofiev's score live. It screens tonight through Sunday at Benaroya Hall. Tom Keogh wrote about the project in Tuesday's Seattle Times; see his story here.

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June 12, 2008 1:00 AM

'Apollo 54' a low-tech space opera

Posted by John Hartl

Low-tech space opera, played for laughs, has been a science-fiction staple at least since “Dark Star” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” developed cult followings. A silly, sepia-toned Italian variation, "Apollo 54" (playing tonight and Sunday at the Harvard Exit), is the first feature-length creation of a gang of merry pranksters called The 54 Group. It follows long-haired scientist Bobby Joe and his dimmer co-pilot, Jim Bob, as they test the limits of space and time. Bobby Joe is fond of making pretentious announcements that explain each new twist in their adventure, while Jim Bob just wants to find a way back home. But making lunch is frankly more their speed. Slurping spaghetti and gorging themselves on subway sandwiches, they do battle with a space dragon that looks a lot like a roasted chicken once they’re finished with it. Soon they’re fighting over who gets to “analyze” it by taste-testing.

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June 11, 2008 1:00 AM

'Perfect Match . . .' has U.S. premiere

Posted by John Hartl

French fluff can sometimes be formulaic, but "Perfect Match . . ." (tonight and tomorrow at the Uptown) overcomes its "meet cute" cliches with considerable wit and charm. Veteran actress Carole Bouquet delivers one of her best late-career performances as a writer whose son becomes attached to the homeless man who is squatting next door in a relative's apartment. The movie, which is making its American debut at SIFF, coincidentally (and rather poignantly) includes a lengthy clip from the late Sydney Pollack's "Out of Africa."

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June 11, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 11

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
4:30 p.m. — ][“Fly Filmmaking Challenge 2008”
7 p.m. — ][“Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame”
9 p.m. — ][“Villa Jasmin”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“Trouble the Water”
7 p.m. — ][“Fields of Fuel”
9:30 p.m. — ][“The Order of Myths”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Wonderful Town”
7 p.m. — ][“Salawati”
9:30 p.m. — ][“American Son”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Seachd: The Crimson Snowdrop”
6:45 p.m. — ][“Pierre Rissient: Man of Cinema”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go”

Uptown
4:30 p.m. — ][“Momma’s Man”
7 p.m. — ][“Perfect Match...”
9:30 p.m. — ][“The Girl by the Lake”

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June 10, 2008 4:33 PM

'Trouble' worth a repeat

Posted by John Hartl

Danny Glover, executive producer of "Trouble the Water," visited the Harvard Exit Wednesday to talk about the documentary, which focuses on the neglect of African-American survivors of Hurricane Katrina. He said the footage made him cry when he saw it, and made him want to support the film's completion and its September-October theatrical release. He referred to one of its subjects, Scott, as "my adopted nephew now." The movie gets another festival screening on the last Friday of the festival (June 13), also at the Exit. Glover is no longer in town, but directors Tia Lessin and Carl Deal plan to be on hand for a post-screening discussion.

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June 10, 2008 2:44 PM

Rewind to 1914

Posted by Lynn Jacobson

A historic film plays at a historic theater tonight: "In the Land of the Head Hunters," a fictionalized depiction of Northwest Native tribes circa 1914, screens at the 100-year-old Moore Theatre. Fully restored, it will be accompanied live by a small orchestra. Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald wrote about this remarkable project in last Sunday's paper. See her article here, and go to the SIFF Web site for ticket details.

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June 10, 2008 1:00 AM

Meryl reveals 'the process'

Posted by John Hartl

At one point in "Theater of War," a revealing documentary about the 2006 New York staging of Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children," Meryl Streep informs us that we don't really want to know too much about the process of preparation for a role. To outsiders, she says, it can just look like "bad acting." It's like showing off the plumbing in a new house; you might be proud of it, and you're certainly glad it works, but it's not something you'd want to advertise. Sorry, Meryl, but in this movie watching "the process" seems pretty interesting, especially when Tony Kushner, Kevin Kline and Brecht's daughter pop in for a comment or two. Acting students won't want to miss this one. It plays tonight and Thursday at SIFF Cinema.

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June 10, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 10

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
3:30 p.m. — ][“Games of Love & Chance”
6 p.m. — ][“The Secret of the Grain”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Lady Jane”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“Combalimon”
6:45 p.m. — ][“Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go”
9:15 p.m. — ][“The End”

Moore Theatre
7 p.m. — ][“In the Land of the Head Hunters”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“XXY”
7 p.m. — ][“The Island of Lost Souls”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Postcards From Leningrad”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Under the Bombs”
7 p.m. — ][“Theater of War”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains”

Uptown
4:30 p.m. — ][“Princess of the Sun”
7 p.m. — ][“Days and Clouds”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Still Orangutans”

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June 9, 2008 1:00 AM

'Baghead' a silly, familiar horror comedy

Posted by John Hartl

The Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, created the very independent romantic comedy, “The Puffy Chair,” and they’re following it up with "Baghead," a silly, familiar sendup of “The Blair Witch Project" (it plays today at the Egyptian). After watching “We Are Naked,” an excruciatingly personal movie that was produced for $1,000 (the filmmaker apologizes for going over-budget), two immature couples are inspired to retreat to a cabin in the woods to write a screenplay for a cheapie horror movie. One of them dreams that she’s being watched, and soon the dreams appear to have some basis in fact. As the shaky nature of their relationships are revealed, they turn on each other and flirt with catastrophe. Too bad the characters are so rote; the women are almost non-entities, and the bond between the men borders on the maudlin.

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June 9, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 9

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
4:30 p.m. — ][“Baghead”
7 p.m. — ][“Empties”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Teddy Bear”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“Sweet Thing”
7 p.m. — ][“Tulia, Texas”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Combalimon”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Encarnación”
7 p.m. — ][“Alone in Four Walls”
9:30 p.m. — ][“It’s Hard to Be Nice”

SIFF Cinema
4:15 p.m. — ][“The Order of Myths”
7 p.m. — ][“Under the Bombs”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame”

Uptown
4:30 p.m. — ][“Walt & El Grupo”
7:15 p.m. — ][“Momma’s Man”
9:45 p.m. — ][“Sukiyaki Western Django”

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June 8, 2008 1:00 AM

The movie that changed his life

Posted by John Hartl

Howard Patterson, now retired from The Flying Karamazov Brothers, drew quite a bit of inspiration from Jackie Chan's athletic Hong Kong comedies, especially "The Young Master," a 1980 movie that will be screened at 6:30 tonight at the Harvard Exit, as part of the festival's "Talking Pictures" series. Patterson, who now lives in Portland, will be dropping by to talk about the film, which he says "changed my life." Chan especially impressed Patterson with the notion that physical comedy "can have at least as much of a role in story telling as spoken language."

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June 8, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 8

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
11 a.m. — ][“2008 Secret Festival”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Phoebe in Wonderland”
4 p.m. — ][“When Did You Last See Your Father?”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Baghead”
9 p.m. — ][“Empties”

Harvard Exit
11 a.m. — ][“Mancora”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Tulia, Texas”
4 p.m. — ][“Boystown”
6:30 p.m. — ][“The Young Master”
9:15 p.m. — ][“The End”

Pacific Place Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“Saturn in Opposition”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Bliss”
4 p.m. — ][“Alone in Four Walls”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Encarnación”
9 p.m. — ][“Still Orangutans”

SIFF Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“Princess of the Sun”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Saving Luna”
4 p.m. — ][“Becky Sharp”
6:30 p.m. — ][“XXY”
9 p.m. — ][“Stalags — Holocaust and Pornography in Israel”

Uptown
11 a.m. — ][“The Great Buck Howard”
1:30 p.m. — ][“A Girl Cut in Two”
4:15 p.m. — ][“Erik Nietzsche the Early Years”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Walt & El Grupo”
9:15 p.m. — ][“A Lost Man”

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June 7, 2008 1:00 AM

'Mancora' a thin follow-up to 'Voices'

Posted by John Hartl

Oscar Torres wrote “Innocent Voices,” the powerful, semi-autobiographical El Salvador drama that took the Golden Space Needle for best picture three years ago. He’s also a contributor to the script of Peruvian-born Ricardo de Montreuil’s “Mancora" (tonight and tomorrow at the Harvard Exit), but this thin tale of a brutally severed father-son relationship is much less persuasive. The movie begins with the suicide of a man whose wife left him for a Spanish diplomat. His tape-recorded suicide note, addressed to his 21-year-old son, Santiago (Jason Day), claims that “your mother left me for being a failure.” Santiago spends the rest of the movie blaming himself and indulging in a flirtatious relationship with his stepsister, Ximena (Elsa Pataky), a successful photographer whose impulsive husband doesn’t miss a thing. Day tries to create a character out of a GQ beard and haircut. Pataky is stronger as the conflicted half-sibling, but these doomed creatures rarely acquire the depth necessary to make them compelling.

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June 7, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 7

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
11 a.m. — ][“Man on Wire”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Be Like Others”
4 p.m. — ][“FutureWave Shorts 2008”
6:30 p.m. — ][“When Did You Last See Your Father?”
9 p.m. — ][“A Secret”
Midnight — ][“Sukiyaki Western Django”

Harvard Exit
11 a.m. — ][“Ramchand Pakistani”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Half-Life”
4:30 p.m. — ][“Derek”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Máncora”
9 p.m. — ][“Sweet Thing”

Pacific Place Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“The Drummer”
1:30 p.m. — ][“The Wave”
4 p.m. — ][“About Water”
7 p.m. — ][“Bliss”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Timecrimes”

SIFF Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“Saving Luna”
1:30 p.m. — ][“The Dark Horse”
4:30 p.m. — ][“Good Food”
7 p.m. — ][“Otto; or, Up With Dead People”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Seachd CQ: The Crimson Snowdrop”

Uptown
11 a.m. — ][“Garage”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Four Women”
4 p.m. — ][“Choke”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Late Bloomers”
9 p.m. — ][“Erik Nietzsche: The Early Years”

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June 6, 2008 11:51 AM

A whale's tale

Posted by Lynn Jacobson

This is also the weekend to see "Saving Luna," the documentary about the lonesome killer whale that Stephan Michaels wrote about in The Seattle Times earlier this week. See the story here. The movie plays at SIFF Cinema at 11 a.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

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June 6, 2008 9:57 AM

Dancing on a wire

Posted by Moira Macdonald

OK, you have exactly one more chance to catch James Marsh's wonderful documentary "Man on Wire" -- tomorrow (Sat.) at 11 a.m. at the Egyptian -- so don't miss out. In its SIFF premiere last night, this film about high-wire artist Philippe Petit was as tense as any thriller and as joyous as a bird in flight. Most of the film focuses on Petit's most renowned act: his 1974 walk on a wire strung across the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, with no safety devices. Marsh cheekily covers the event's months of planning and heist-like precision (Petit and his motley crew of conspirators were, of course, trespassing), showing us a level of daring far beyond most of our imaginations. The walk, in which Petit occasionally lay down on the wire -- more than 100 floors above the Manhattan streets -- emerges as an act of great beauty; and Petit, cheerfully reminiscing about the event more than 30 years later, as an artist of the skies. This one may not be back post-SIFF (far as I know, it's not scheduled for a regular theatrical run), so fill up the seats on Saturday and let this film make you happy.

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June 6, 2008 1:00 AM

'Stranded' is the real 'Alive'

Posted by John Hartl


Previously dramatized in “Survive!” (1976) and “Alive” (1993), the true story of a 1972 Andes plane crash finally gets the full documentary treatment in "Stranded, I've Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains" (9:15 tonight at the Egyptian). The director, Gonzalo Arijon, was able to talk to all 16 survivors, and their memories dominate the film. Never sensationalistic, always sensitive to the deep affection the survivors clearly feel for each other, Arijon deals at length with the avalanches that killed eight people (after the crash), the desperation brought on by hunger (a tube of toothpaste provides dessert for everyone) and the cannibalism that became necessary when the only food available was human flesh. Actors recreate several key moments, and archival footage fills in the rest. The television material from the early 1970s is in shockingly threadbare condition. This was a catastrophe that received worldwide attention at the time, but the remaining footage looks like it was recorded a century ago.

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June 6, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 6

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
4 p.m. — ][“Jar City”
7 p.m. — ][“The Great Buck Howard”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains”
Midnight — ][“Otto; or, Up with Dead People”

Harvard Exit
4 p.m. — ][“This Way Up”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Half-Life”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Be Like Others”

Pacific Place Cinema
4 p.m. — ][“You, the Living”
6:30 p.m. — ][“The Wave”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Saturn in Opposition”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Anvil! The Story of Anvil”
7 p.m. — ][“Ramchand Pakistani”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Christopher Coluombus, The Enigma”

Uptown
4 p.m. — ][“Brick Lane”
7 p.m. — ][“Phoebe in Wonderland”
9:30 p.m. — ][“A Girl Cut in Two”

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June 5, 2008 1:00 AM

A pal's tribute to Derek Jarman

Posted by John Hartl

Derek," a 76-minute tribute to British gay film legend Derek Jarman, who died of AIDS in 1994, bears an odd credit: “Written and spoken by Tilda Swinton.” Years before Swinton became an Oscar winner (best supporting actress, “Michael Clayton”), she was Jarman’s pal and artistic collaborator, and she registers her loss by talking about their closeness and visiting his grave. She and director Isaac Julian also dig up a lively filmed interview with Jarman in which he talks about his childhood, his aborted coming-out at the age of 10, his films about Edward II and Caravaggio, the “punk revolt” that he celebrated in “Jubilee,” and his rejection of what he sourly calls Margaret Thatcher’s “revolution.” Film clips from most of Jarman’s movies are deftly used to complement his words. "Derek" makes its local debut at 7 tonight at the Harvard Exit.

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June 5, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 5

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
4 p.m. — ][“Call Me Troy”
7 p.m. — ][“Man on Wire”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Choke”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“Girl Sparks”
7 p.m. — ][“Derek”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Boystown”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Huddersfield”
7 p.m. — ][“The Drummer”
9:30 p.m. — ][“About Water”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Mr. Big”
7 p.m. — ][“Alexandra”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Anvil! The Story of Anvil”

Uptown
4 p.m. — ][“A Secret”
7 p.m. — ][“Brick Lane”
9:30 p.m. — ][“La France”

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June 4, 2008 2:20 PM

Try your luck with 'Buck'

Posted by Moira Macdonald

This morning at a press screening I saw what I predict will be an audience favorite: "The Great Buck Howard," a charmingly retro little comedy about an Amazing Kreskin-like mentalist (the ever-sly John Malkovich) and his young assistant (Colin Hanks). Emily Blunt, one of those chameleon-like actors who's terrific and utterly different in everything she tries, co-stars as an eye-rolling publicist. Written and directed by Sean McGinly, the film is short, snappy, and unexpectedly sweet, with an ending that reminds us to believe in magic. Hanks (who's got the classic-movie-star earnestness of his dad Tom) and McGinly will attend the movie's Centerpiece Gala screening Friday night at 7 at the Egyptian; it'll also repeat Sunday at 11 at the Uptown.

I've been mostly AWOL from the festival this year due to an unexpected family situation, but am trying to catch up a bit this week. (Looking forward to "Man on Wire" tomorrow.) Tell me what I missed.

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June 4, 2008 1:00 AM

Around the world at the Egyptian

Posted by John Hartl


Few movies quote from Alan Watts, the once-popular interpreter of eastern religion who wrote “The Way of Zen” and “The Joyous Cosmology.” But Werner Herzog’s meditative new documentary about Antarctica, “Encounters at the End of the World,” finds a delightfully appropriate slot for Watts’ embrace of the universe’s paradoxes. The movie is part of a wide-ranging lineup tonight at the Egyptian, which is also presenting the world premiere of “Good Food,” an exuberant documentary about the impact of farmers’ markets in the Northwest, and a repeat screening of “Go With Peace, Jamil,” a Danish drama that examines Muslim extremes within Middle Eastern communities in Europe. As the title suggests, there is an alternative to the cycle of revenge practiced by Shias and Sunnis - emphasized at the end with a peace-keeping quote from the Koran.

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June 4, 2008 12:45 AM

And around SIFF with ... you

Posted by Lynn Jacobson

Longtime Seattle Times movie reviewer John Hartl can -- and does -- sit through multiple films a day. But even he can't see everything at SIFF. It's impossible. So help him (and other film buffs) out by telling us which SIFF films you would pay to see again -- and which you'd avoid. Just add a comment below ...

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June 4, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 4

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
4:30 p.m. — ][“Encounters at the End of the World”
7 p.m. — ][“Good Food”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Go with Peace Jamil”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life”
7 p.m. — ][“This Way Up”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Captain Abu Raed”
7 p.m. — ][“Huddersfield”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Garage”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Stalags — Holocaust and Pornography in Israel”
6:30 p.m. — ][“The Dark Horse”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Magnus”

Uptown
4:30 p.m. — ][“Late Bloomers”
7 p.m. — ][“Four Women”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Sparrow”

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June 3, 2008 10:54 PM

John Waters something new for Benaroya Hall

Posted by John Hartl

Zipping through his boundary-smashing movie career, commenting on everything from his debut movie, “Hag in a Black Leather Jacket” (1964), to his latest work in progress, “Fruitcake,” John Waters delivered a standup comic act Tuesday night that must have been Benaroya Hall’s first NC-17 presentation. The first co-production of Seattle Arts & Lectures and the Seattle International Film Festival, the show demonstrated that Waters has lost little of his shock value over the years. Indeed, as he pointed out in a number of references that can’t be repeated in a family newspaper, the internet just seems to be catching up with him.
He talked about his obsessions with Zorro the stripper, Alvin and the Chipmunks (“I’m sexually attracted to Alvin”), Larry Craig (he wonders who will make the movie), amusement parks (he’d like to build one where every ride makes you throw up), and Freud, whose techniques he prefers to the pills that are now supposed to “even” out behavior. “You can’t be even all the time,” he said. “If I’d been even, I wouldn’t have had a career.”
Waters adored the late William Castle for his ability to promote crummy movies (the advertising gimmicks for “Macabre” convinced a very young Waters that “someone would die at every performance”), and he fondly recalled producer Kroger Babb’s long-running feud with the Catholic Church, whose condemnation of Babb’s childbirth movie, “Mom and Dad,” made it possible for the picture to run for eight years in Baltimore. “Sometimes I just pretend I’m Kroger Babb all day,” said Waters. “Porn is art now, if it’s old enough.”
Waters proposed that young people need negative mentors, then proceeded to tell how he and his late pal, Divine, used to shoplift. One trick was to try on clothes, sit down and apply for a job, then walk out still wearing the clothes. At a record store, Waters appeared to steal albums, then faked outrage when he was “caught.” He claimed that the latter technique won him $4,000 in a lawsuit. Divine, he said, was even more accomplished; she could walk out of a store carrying a stolen TV and a chainsaw. He’s against the death penalty because “I might get it. We all have our bad nights.”
His advice to parents: “If you have a kid on drugs, pretend you are.” His advice to Bush-haters: “Let’s US steal an election this time.” His own mother, informed that one of Waters' new movies would concern sex addicts, sighed and said “Oh, maybe we’ll die first.” But he insists he gets along “very well with my parents. They’re very understanding.”

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June 3, 2008 1:00 AM

John Waters Day at the film festival

Posted by John Hartl

It's John Waters Day at the Seattle International Film Festival. The once-outrageous Baltimore filmmaker, now best-known for "Hairspray" and "Cry-Baby" and the musicals that were made from them, will present his 2000 variation on the Patty Hearst kidnapping, "Cecil B. DeMented," at 4:30 p.m. at the Egyptian. Starring Melanie Griffith and Stephen Dorff, it's part of the festival's "Talking Pictures" series. Next he'll appear at 7:30 p.m. at Benaroya Hall, where he'll deliver what the festival calls "an original talk."

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June 3, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 3

Posted by Doug Knoop

Benaroya Hall
7:30 p.m. — ][John Waters Live at Benaroya Hall

Egyptian
4:30 p.m. — ][“Cecil B. DeMented”
7 p.m. — ][“Mad Detective”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Mirageman”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“FLOW: For Love of Water”
7 p.m. — ][“Mr. Big”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Great Speeches From a Dying World”

Pacific Place Cinema
4 p.m. — ][“Island Etude”
7 p.m. — ][“Fighter”
9:15 p.m. — ][“A Lost Man”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Captain Ahab”
7 p.m. — ][“Christopher Columbus, the Enigma”
9 p.m. — ][“Girl Sparks”

Uptown
4:30 p.m. — ][“The Song of Sparrows”
7 p.m. — ][“32A”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Teddy Bear”

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June 2, 2008 1:00 AM

Israeli 'Strangers' artfully improvised

Posted by John Hartl

Israeli filmmakers evidently have a thing for Romeo-and-Juliet stories. Last year’s film-festival entry, “The Bubble,” was a tragic gay love story about a Palestinian boy who falls for an Israeli soldier. Erez Tadmore and Guy Nattiv’s artfully improvised love story, “Strangers,” which plays today at the Uptown, gives us a straight variation.When their bags get mixed up in the Berlin subway, an Israeli man and a Palestinian woman become lovers; only gradually do they realize that their affair will become almost hopelessly complicated. Unlike the boys in “The Bubble,” they don’t at first recognize that they’re supposed to be enemies, and the script echoes the characters’ penchant for making it up as they go along.

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June 2, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 2

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
4 p.m. — ][“Mad Detective”
7 p.m. — ][“Song Sung Blue”
9:30 p.m. — ][“You, the Living”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“Shadow of the Holy Book”
7 p.m. — ][“Call Me Troy”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:15 p.m. — ][“Blind Mountain”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Island Etude”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Sparrow”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Alexandra”
7 p.m. — ][“Night Tide”
9 p.m. — ][“August”

Uptown
4:30 p.m. — ][“Strangers”
7 p.m. — ][“Magnus”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Shall We Kiss?”

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June 1, 2008 1:00 AM

Long-lost 'Saga' screens at Exit

Posted by John Hartl

For his final production, "The Saga of Anatahan," Marlene Dietrich’s most frequent director, Josef von Sternberg, moved to Kyoto, where a studio was built to recreate Anatahan, a Pacific island that became home to a group of shipwrecked Japanese sailors in 1944. Marooned for several years, they refused to accept signs that the war was over, and they became increasingly distracted and frustrated by a woman who played “queen bee” to their drones. The rarely screened result, which plays this afternoon at the Harvard Exit, is a fascinating hybrid, filmed in Japanese but with English-language narration that doesn’t really work as a substitute for subtitles. As in most Von Sternberg productions, the black-and-white cinematography is gloriously atmospheric. For this retrospective showing, the festival is lucky to have found a 35mm print that looks almost new.

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June 1, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: June 1

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
11 a.m. — ][“Secret Festival”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Newcastle”
4:30 p.m. — ][“Young People F’ing”
7 p.m. — ][“One Hundred Nails”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Bad Habits”

Harvard Exit
11 a.m. — ][“Son of a Lion”
1:30 p.m. — ][“The Saga of Anatahan”
4 p.m. — ][“Great Speeches from a Dying World”
6:30 p.m. — ][“FLOW: For Love of Water”
9 p.m. — ][“Go with Peace Jamil”

Pacific Place Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“Time to Die”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Savage Grace”
4 p.m. — ][“TBS (Nothing to Lose)”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Captain Abu Raed”
9 p.m. — ][“Blind Mountain”

SIFF Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“The Ties That Bind”
1:30 p.m. — ][“The Art of Memory”
3:45 p.m. — ][“Walking Dreams”
6:15 p.m. — ][“Once Upon a Time...”
8:30 p.m. — ][“Rare Gems from Pilot Animation Studios”

Uptown
11 a.m. — ][“Kung Fu Panda”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Fighter”
4 p.m. — ][“Ben X”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Strangers”
9 p.m. — ][“Shall We Kiss?”

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