SIFF 2001 sentences:
chronicling my attempts to enjoy SIFF while being unemployed in seattle


june 17th:               2 more - 105 total
Short last day. First was Secret Festival film #4, a brand new film that was worth watching, although I think many in the audience were disappointed with the type of film it was. Had to sit next to Annoying Guy. Not too long after it was over I was tossing around a frisbee for an hour or so.

I then made the mistake of going to see The Princess and the Warrior again, which I originally saw on June 5th. While it was interesting to see a second time, I mainly went expecting a Q&A (since there was one for Friday's showing) but unfortunately there was none this time. And since the 2+ hour film started late, it didn't get out until 6:40. I then went across the street to try to get into Jalla! Jalla! (which I originally saw way back on May 15th), but encountered troubles with Mr. Serious. He wouldn't let me in, claiming it was "pretty full" and had been playing for 10 minutes. I didn't feel like talking with him and so I left. And I didn't want to stay around for any of the 9:30 shows so I headed out of the area.

And thus, after about a month of many movies, the festival was over. And in many ways I was over as well.

june 16th:               5 more - 103 total
Arms are somewhat numb. Spent roughly 15 hours in or near the egyptian. Showed up early for Tarantino Tutorial #4 to get an ideal seat. It was supposed to start at 10am but at 10:30am we were still standing in line outside. The two Witney films shown were Santa Fe Passage (a western) and Juvenile Jungle (a juvenile delinquent setup). Both enjoyable. That was followed by about 1.5 hours of talk/discussion between QT, two other guys on stage, and the audience. QT speaks with non-stop enthusiasm. I developed an analog watch idea at some point.

Next was Bangkok: Dangerous, an acceptable Thai film. And after that was another Thai film, Tears of the Black Tiger, a cowboy movie with a unique look that references '50s/'60s thai films. It was apparently bought by Miramax last month and so should appear in the near future. Q&A with the lead actress, Stella Malucchi, followed.

Stuck around for Ghost World even though I saw it a few weeks ago at the pre-screening. Packed theater. Still humorous the second time around and was able to pay more attention to the set details. Uneventful Q&A with Terry Zwigoff, Daniel Clowes, and Thora Birch followed. She is little in person but big in the film.

On the walk back I was reminded of why everything is wrong.

june 15th:               4 more - 98 total
It's very easy to theater hop at Pacific Place. And since siff passholders can wander into Pacific Place at any time, it's easy to see non-festival films for free. So today I went to the first showing of Tomb Raider. It was even worse than I expected it to be. Has there ever been a good film in which planetary alignment was the centerpoint of the plot?

Then on to Exploding Oedipus, one of the most non-narrative films I've seen in the fest. Got tiresome real fast. Short Q&A between the director and the 40 or so of us left in the theater followed.

Next was Tarantino Tutorial #3 which showed Paratroop Command and The Bonnie Parker Story. QT gave enthusiastic intros to both films, which were directed by William Witney. The Bonnie Parker Story was even shown in Superama scope. Enjoyable.

Went over to BPH for Rennie's Landing. A so-so movie about uninteresting people. The audience was heavily comprised of either cast or crew or friends/family of the cast or crew. An annoying two hours.

june 14th:               5 more - 94 total
Last day of pre-screenings. Went to two of them, The New Country and Finder's Fee. The New Country is a great swedish road-trip movie, in the style of Together or Jalla! Jalla! or some of the other newer swedish films. Two refugees keep on the run to elude being arrested. Finder's Fee was a fairly lame U.S. movie, which looked even worse when shown right after The New Country.

After a break I then spent over six hours at BPH. First was Out of the Closet and Off the Screen, a short 44-minute documentary that provided an overview of William Haines, a mostly forgotten actor from the early '30s who was ordered to give up his male lover or his studio contract. Also shown was Way Out West, a campy 1930 film with Haines in the lead role. Q&A with one of the documentary makers was sandwiched between the two films.

Manhood and other Modern Dilemmas was a french comedy that tried to make points about male/female relationships. Cute at times but overall so-so. Q&A with director Ronan Girre followed.

Last for the day was Parsley Days, a charming low-budget movie shot in Halifax, NS (which is actually south of Seattle). Fantastic use of bikes. Q&A with director Andrea Dorfman followed.

june 13th:               2 more - 89 total
Slept in once again and skipped the first pre-screening. Partially did this because I knew that I had to leave the downtown area around 1pm to head to a "Job Hunter Orientation" at a WorkSource office way north on Aurora. Supposedly it's a mandatory orientation if one wants their unemployment benefits [RCW 50.20.010(1)]. Thirty of us sat for two hours and listened to one woman give us something along the lines of a sermon crossed with a drill sergeant's spiel crossed with a pep rally. And then, in the last 20 minutes, she went off on some patriotic tangent, telling us, among many other things, how the U.S. is the best country to be unemployed in since we don't have to worry about the government forcing us into certain undesirable jobs like in other countries. Five minutes was spent thanking U.S. veterans. Laughable and creepy.

Skipped the 5pm showing of Little Otik to seek out food then went to get in line for Together. Viewed an old-looking Quentin Tarantino exit Tutorial #1 while being harassed by fans. Together was a great swedish drama/comedy set in a '70s collective housing situation. Contained lots of stuff that would be familiar to anyone who has spent time in a collective household (i.e. there's a short discussion on whether to ban Pippi Longstocking books). The kids in the films are pretty amazing.

Stayed at the E. for Baise-Moi. Take a porn film, combine it with elements of Thelma & Louise, add a bunch more violence, set it in France, and you'll have a rough idea of what this is. Right up there with Battle Royale as most violent film seen at the fest. Still not sure what to make of it.

june 12th:               4 more - 87 total
Skipped the first pre-screening to get more sleep and to deal with unemployment insurance matters. I eventually hit Strictly Sinatra at noon. Another so-so movie, this one about a scottish-italian guy in Glasgow who gets involved with local gangsters.

Took off for downtown to see Km. 0 (from spain) at cinerama. Kinda like a soap opera-ish version of Short Cuts. Amusing at times but nothing too great. The cinerama seats are the worst of all the theaters in the festival.

Then back up to BPH for Dog Food (from the philippines). This was one of those unexpected treats. Had a bit of everything in it, although I don't feel like mentioning any of it now. One to see. This screening was sparsly attended.

Back to the cinerama I went, this time for Battle Royale (from Japan). Holy moly. Fully packed theater for this one. The story's concept is fairly simple: each year a group of randomly selected students is dropped onto an island along with a bunch of weapons. The last student to survive wins and gets to go back into society. Filled with tons of violence, deaths, and laughs. BR was enough for the night so I decided to head home.

At the bus stop a self-described "jamacian-american who is stoned" became a little miffed when a smoking hipster refused to sell the guy a cigarette. The man the eventually did a backflip - "that is my gift to you two."

june 11th:               5 more - 83 total
Started with Disco Pigs and A Woman is a Helluva Thing. Disco Pigs was pretty great even though I couldn't understand a large chuck of the irish accents. But any joy I got from watching it was wiped away by A Woman is a Helluva Thing, a terrible movie that basically involved watching a jerk for 89 minutes, seeing him have an epiphany, and listening to him make a speech as he finds redemption in the final minutes of the film.

Next was Go Tigers!, a fairly decent documentary about a small-town in Ohio that is nuts about their high school football team. Includes the most graphic vomit scene I've seen on film in a long time.

Headed back to the egyptian for Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors and then Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Virgin Stripped is a korean film beautifully shot in B&W and over two hours in length, although the time flew by. After that, the theater then filled up with hundred of Hedwig fans, conservative film critic Michael Medved, and other random peopoe. Hedwig was a fairly fun film that will probably pop up as a midnight movie for years to come.

june 10th:               4 more - 78 total
I don't know if the 6:19am quake awoke me in the morning, but I was up early enough to get in line for Secret Festival film #3 before 10am. A better-than-average new film, but I was hoping for something better.

Used up time before the next film by going to hi*score, where I played a game of AFM and managed to RTU once again. Then got in line at BPH for Final, a sparse movie that had an interesting concept, but I would have been pleased reading it as a short story.

Next was Steamboat Bill Jr. back at the E. The guy in line behind me, who was a nearly non-stop talker, tried to extract stories from the two separate guys who asked for change. One guy claimed he was getting $28,000 in 10 days but needed some money now. The other guy claimed that Steven Spielberg gave him a backpack one day in Pioneer Square. The Buster Keaton silent film included live accompaniment from the Alloy Orchestra and was a fun event.

Headed downtown and crossed paths with two people I knew who were coming back from Scratch, which I wanted to see but it conflicted with the Steamboat showing. Got on line at the Cinerama for The Weight of Water. It's a fairly big film ($16M budget), albeit a messy and predictable one. But it has Sarah Polley in it - and that would make even the messiest film worth watching.

june 9th:               1 more - 74 total
For the first time in awhile, I had a night in which I slept for more than 8 hours. I awoke too late to get to the 11:30am showing at the cinerama so I had a relaxing morning. Rode around on a bike. Looked into future employment. Visited the Wallingford library for the first time.

Eventually got in line for the 4pm showing of the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. It's fairly lengthy (at 144 minutes) but it moved right along as it covered the 10 or so of Kubrick's films. Nothing too revealing, but it's nice to see clips from his various films on the big screen. Q&W with the director (who was Kubrick's brother-in-law) followed.

I was then intending on taking a break (since there wasn't enough time to get to any of the 6:30pm showings) and then heading downtown for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. But I got sidetracked when I ran into a few people I knew. Soon thereafter I placed a bet and won a ticket to a future Mariners game and a pretzel. At some point I decided not to make it to Hedwig.

This was the first day since May 16th in which I only saw one film. I suppose this inevitable break is doing me some good. I need to see 3.25 films per day for last 8 days of the festival if I'm going to hit the 100 mark.

june 8th:               3 more - 73 total
If I still had a job then I probably would have called in sick today as I was somewhat dizzy when I woke up. But there were films to see. Went to the noon pre-screening of Jackpot, a film by the same brothers that did Twin Falls Idaho. Not as engaging as TFI, but worth checkin' out. May need to see it again.

Went to the Cinerama for Film Noir (Japan). I think the movie put me into some type of trance due to the sounds (wind, waves, soft-spoken japanese, and no music) and the images (falling snow, wind turbines, static shots). I started to fall asleep at one point even though I was enjoying the film. After leaving the theater I felt as if I had been drugged. Dizzily found my way back to c. hill to see Blink, a sub-standard PBS-ish documentary about a guy who used to be involved in KKK/White Aryan Resistance stuff. Nothing too insightful or new. Q&A with the director followed.

I was going to stick around for another film or two but decided to flee back home for rest and to take care of Normal Things. Felt odd getting back at 7pm instead of midnight. I finally have clean socks once again.

june 7th:               5 more - 70 total
I'm still amazed that I've been able to get up before 9am for the past week or so. Went to the 10am pre-screening of Iron Ladies, a Thai movie about a mostly-gay volleyball team who heads to a national tournament. While most of the comedy wasn't too funny, it's nevertheless a fun and interesting film, perhaps because it's based on a real-life team. The film has made a ton of movie in Thailand and so it's also interesting to see how a popular thai film portrays katoeys.

Next was Mortal Transfer, the most current film by Jean-Jacques Beineix (who did Diva and Betty Blue). French hitchcockian tale in which a guy ends up entangled in a mess. It had its moments.

Skipped the last pre-screening to take a break. Returned and went to BHP for Camp Scott Ladies (although it may officially be called Camp Scott Lock-down). A documentary about a "boot camp" for female minors who have gotten in trouble with the law one too many times in L.A. county. Profiles about 5 girls in the place. Nothing too shocking, but worth viewing.

Stuck around BHP for Faat-Kine from Senegal. The printed guide listed it as a 90-minute movie, but it ended up being 2 hours. The audience didn't seem to mind its length at all since it was enjoyable to sit through. A good look at Senegalese life, the main character being a 40-year-old single mother of two.

Faat-Kine didn't end until about 9:25pm so I decided to just see Southern Comfort across the street at E. instead of heading downtown to pacific place. Expected to have a not-so-great seat, but "my" seat was available, and even without people on either side. Southern Comfort is a documentary about a small community of transgender people living in the middle of nowhere (and that would be in rural Georgia, near Toccoa). It mainly focuses on Robert Eads, who in the film is dying of cervical and ovarian cancer. Not a soapbox movie. Simply shot (mostly by a two-person crew) and compelling to watch. Q&W with Lola Cola and the director followed.

june 6th:               4 more - 65 total
First was Tortilla Soup, a retelling of Eat, Drink, Man, Woman set in a U.S. hispanic community instead of China. Flows well and has lots of shots of tasty foods. And how often do you get to see Raquel Welch and Paul Rodriguez in the same film?

After that was the australia "comedy" Better than Sex. This was perhaps the worst film I have seen at SIFF thus far. It was embarassingly bad and I would have left in the middle of it had I not known it was just 85 minutes in length. I don't even want to spend time thinking about it any more. At least it helped me realize all the good stuff I've seen in the past few weeks.

Things improved a little with The Closet, a lightwight french comedy. Those around me seem to be really entertained by it. I was mostly ambivalent. Since the movie was only 80 minutes long, I had time afterwards to go downtown, and I haven't been downtown during the day for a week or so. Weaseled my way into my former workplace to get a package and then headed to Left Bank books to pick up something.

Last up was This is My Moon, a sri lankian(sp?) movie that was just strange. I think I liked it, but I'm still not sure. Odd continuity and lots of static shots. I'm glad I went to it though. The written Sinhala language is graphically interesting.

Semi-reluctantly skipped the evening showings to go to another event at the Little Theater, but got to hear Ariel Bordeaux and Ellen Forney do short bits.

june 5th:               4 more - 61 total
All three pre-screenings were worth sitting through. Jump Tomorrow wasn't one that I was planning to see, but I'm glad I viewed it. Part road-trip movie, part love story. Simple, small, and humorous film. I liked this one.

Next were the two biggies, Ghost World and The Princess and the Warrior. Ghost World was fun. Colorful. Filled with a bunch of little details/items. Spotted an issue of Girlhero in one of the scenes.

The Princess and the Warrior was decent enough. Run Lola Run fans may be put off by its length or pace. I got annoyed when I realized that a few shots that I saw in the trailer last month were going to appear in the last 10 minutes of the movie.

Took a break and returned to attend the 7:15pm showing of Sex, Shame, and Tears. Supposedly it's "the biggest box-office hit in Mexican history." Comedy in which several 30-something couples argue about and discuss topics surrounding male-female relationships. Ok, but nothing overwhelming or new. The audience laughed loudly when "Usted no entiende español?!" was translated in the subtitles as "Don't you understand english?!" Would it have been better to keep the literal translation of "Don't you understand spanish?!"? This is what subtitlers have to deal with.

Decided to skip the 9:30pm showings as well. On the bus ride back, some old guy had a large printout in his lap of an apparent ampulove.com banner ad.

june 4th:               6 more - 57 total
Some of this is draining on the mind, jumping from one type of film to another. Went to all three pre-screenings: a french thriller, The Crimson Rivers; an american comedy, Haiku Tunnel; and an australian romance, Innocence. After that I still managed to hit Chronically Unfeasible (Brazil), A Place Nearby (Denmark), and Angels of the Universe (which I was seeing for the second time).

Highlights were Innocence and Angels of the Universe. Wish I had time to write an essay on both of them. Everything is compressed. You'll overhear people say things like "I liked that one" and after awhile you realize that there are at least 12 meanings behind "liked," depending on how it is said. Two slices of Hot Mama's pizza. Poor seat posture. Noticed full moon on way home. Lots of coins in pocket.

june 3rd:               3 more - 51 total
The morning started with another Secret Festival film. This one was far better than last week's secret film. It was an old film by a well-known director, a movie that for one reason or another is not availble on video and has rarely been shown theatrically. Extremely amusing and an unbelievable treat.

After that I headed across the street for Shorts: Oddballs, Eccentrics and Misfits, a collection of high-quality short films, all somewhat centering around the same theme. This was a good change of pace from 90-minute dramas. Got a free t-shirt for one of the films.

Once the shorts were over I fled the hill to do Normal Things for several hours. Returned to see Baraka at the Egyptian. Although I've seen this film on dvd, that media pales in comparison with viewing a 70mm print of it on a large screen. The clarity of the images was incredible. Makes one not want to watch another film for awhile.

june 2nd:               3 more - 48 total
Went to MacArthur Park (crack), e-dreams (kozmo), and Angels of the Universe (crazies). All very worth seeing for different reasons. More to write, but now is not the time to do so.

june 1st:               2 more - 45 total
Didn't see too much today. Went to two pre-screenings: Startup.com and The Young and the Dead. The first is one of the many films that seem to be popping up about the rise and fall of various internet companies. Despite its nothing-new subject matter, it was still interesting. Focused more on the relationship between the two founders. The second movie was also a documentary. Specifically, one about a run-down cemetery in Hollywood that was revamped by a new team of young people who started up video biographies, etc. Entertaining.

Took a break from the SIFF schedule and went over to the Little Theater to see two documentaries - Streetwise and the short Kids on the Ave. For over ten years I've had the Streetwise book but I never got around to seeing the movie. Since the book photographs are in B&W, I had always thought that the film was in the B&W as well. But this is not the case. Early '80s downtown Seattle in color. Kids on the Ave is a recent 25-minute video about, shockingly enough, some kids who spend lots of time on the Ave. It was shot several years ago though, so none of the people in the video are still sitting in front of Pagliacci pizza nowadays.

I was then going to hit a 9:30pm SIFF film, but got sidetracked and ended up playing pinball at hi*score with some people. Thought about going to the midnight show decided to get home before midnight for a change and hopped on a 9:40pm bus.

may 31st:               4 more - 43 total
Started with Left Side of the Fridge, a mockumentary (is that word in the OED?) from Canada about a guy who searches for a job while his filmmaker roommate documents the events. Mostly in french. Clever and amusing. Spinal Tap + Roger & Me.

I was hoping to see MacArthur Park at the 2pm pre-screening, but they had troubles getting the print on time and so they showed O Fantasma (from Portugal) instead. For some reason I decided to stick around and watch it. About twelve people left during its showing due to boredom but I managed to sit though it. I'm still not sure if I liked it or not. Little dialog, filmed mostly at night, has a young guy running about and seemingly sexually experimenting when he's not being a garbage collector. After it was over I headed down to hi*score for some pinball and manged to Rule the Universe on Attack from Mars, which I haven't done in years.

Next was Chain Camera. Ten L.A. high school students were given video camera so that they could make some video diaries. After a week they then passed the cameras on to other students. By the end of the year 200 students used the cameras for a total of 700 hours of tape. The filmmakers then edited it down to 16 students and 90 minutes. Works better than you may think it does. The quality is grainy and noisy, but the diverse selections make it worth watching. More info at the official site. After it was over, a panel discussion was squeezed into about 20 minutes of time. Unfortunately, due to babbling academicians, we didn't have much time to hear from one of the students who was featured in the film and who was in attendance.

Skipped the 7:15pm showings. Instead I walked around and checked to see if some friends were home (they weren't). One of the annoying things about spending so much time at and around SIFF is that it's in an area I'm familiar with. But I suppose this could be a good thing as it encourages me to discover some alleyways, buildings, and other sections that I haven't explored yet.

Went downtown to Pacific Place for the 9:30 showing of Possible Loves (Brazil). The film prior to that started late and also had a Q&A session and so no one was let in until 9:40 or so. And on top of that, the theater was oversold. Apparently Pacific Place kept selling tickets for the movie throughout the day even though the showing had already sold out. As a result, there were about 100 people in the theater who couldn't find an empty seat. I don't know what kind of compensation they received once they were ordered back into the lobby. The film finally started at 10pm. It's one of those "what if" films that interweaves three stories, all containing the same character, but in each scenario he took a different path after being stood up for a movie date 15 years ago. Somewhat similar in theme to Blind Chance or Sliding Doors. An ok film. After it was over, the guy sitting next to me told his apparent girlfriend that he didn't like the film because he couldn't identify with the guy or the story (or something like that, I had troubles eavesdropping). Yeah, it's real hard to identify with basic themes of chance and/or fate.

may 30th:               4 more - 39 total.
Skipped the first two pre-screenings but went to the third, Ginger Snaps, an entertaining Canadian horror (and comedy) movie that manages to combine werewolfdom with menstruation. Too bad the film fell apart in the last 20 minutes.

Headed to Pacific Place for the rest of the day. First was Odd Little Man from Norway. It's one of the films that dramatizes someone's childhood memories/memoirs. Pretty much plotless, but filled with amusing-enough scenes. Decent, but have seen this stuff too much (i.e. the icelandic Movie Days).

The best of the day was definitely Little Senegal from Algeria. Slow and steady, the film follows a guy from Senegal who attempts to trace what happened to his ancestors who were taken as slaves. Most of the film is set in Harlem and is filled with a ton of great elements. Funnier than one might think.

The first SIFF item I went to twice ended up being 6ixtynin9. I wanted to see it with a larger crowd and I wanted to see it again simply because it's a funny film. They overbooked the showing and so ticketholders were scrambling for seats - some passholders were nice enough to leave to free up seats. It was also relaxing to watch something familiar - maybe this is why I'm not as tired now as I have been in past nights.

So far I think I've seen about 39 films. Eighteen more days to go.

may 29th:               5 more - 35 total
Already losing touch with other realities. Found out that I missed a Scrabble tournament that was held here over the weekend.

Somehow got up early yet again and went off to see Seance at 10am. It's the more recent item from the same guy who did Cure. Creepiness, ghosts, etc. Returned at 2 for Gaudi Afternoon, a screwball mystery comedy by Susan Seidelman - has tones of her earlier Desperately Seeking Susan. Fairly amusing.

After those pre-screenings, I hit three during the regular festival showings. A Matter of Taste was a plain French item that I only went to because I wanted to stick around the Harvard Exit for the evening. Next was If..., a 1968 movie that I think was Malcolm McDowell's first film. As someone else wrote, "This is maybe the archetypical alienated, surreal, rebellious British youth film of the 1960's." It was great to see it for the first time. Last was Night Shift - I wasn't expecting much out of it, but it surprised me. Partially set in a french bottle factory, the new guy at work is constantly harrassed by a jerk. Kept me awake.

During the weekdays there's not much time between films - people seem to be complaining about that fact. Starting times are 5pm, 7:15pm, and 9:30pm. So, lets say there's a 2 hour movie at Harvard Exit at 7:15pm and after that you want to see something downtown at Pacific Place. You have to figure out how to 1) get down there in 15 minutes, and 2) get down there early enough to get a decent seat. Annoying.

may 28th:               4 more - 30 total
Skipped the first showing of the day after I realized that there were some non-movie things I needed to take care of. So the first one I got to was Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton, a documentary about the cycle of poverty in the Mississippi Delta area, focusing on one woman and the kids she cares for. Amazing, but I'm not sure what to say about it at this hour.

Ali-Zaoua was next, it's a drama from Morocco about some street kids trying to bury a friend. Very few adults in the cast. Something like the Little Rascals + Lord of the Flies. I thought it was pretty great, but Film Threat called it a bore.

Next, in the same theater, was Sky Hook, a Yugoslavia drama/comedy about some people who decide to build a basketball court amidst bombings in Serbia. Interesting and decent.

I then unfortunately decided to see No Place to Go, a German film in black & white about the final days of leftist writer Gisela Elsner. This was perhaps the worst film I've seen at SIFF so far. The B&W cinematography earned it a few points, but I think most of the audience wished the main character had killed herself within the first 10 minutes of the film. Ugh, a waste of time.

may 27th:               5 more - 26 total
My arms and legs are slightly tingling from either lack of food, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, or a combination of those elements. First item today was the Secret Festival at 11:30am. When I got to the Egy. around 10:10, the line was already about halfway down the side of the E. As per the Secret Festival rules (and the legal oath you have to sign), I can't name what I saw. But I liked it, mainly because of the setting. It's interesting to see 400+ people file into a theater to see a film that they have no idea what it will be.

Next up was Body and Soul, a 1925 silent Oscar Micheaux movie with Paul Robeson. I had seen it a long time ago somewhere else, but I still can't figure out where. The 102 minutes of live piano accompaniment was impressive.

Then on to Amy's Orgasm, a cute film. And then Barking Dogs Never Bite, a South Korean film that was similar in tone to 6ixtynin9. And last for the day was Chopper, a violent (and funny) Australian movie based on a real-life murderer who is a best-selling author there.

Talked to a number of strangers while waiting in lines. This is a good thing.

may 26th:               4 more - 21 total
The blur is beginning. Managed to get to Scout's Honor, a documentary about gays in the Boy Scounts of American; Diary of a Chambermaid, a 1964 Luis Buñuel film; Lift, which involves the urban trend of shoplifting pricy clothes and reselling them to friends; and Things Behind the Sun, the new Allison Anders movie. The highlight of those being Things Behind the Sun. See this when it rolls out.

Between movies I played pinball, sat on a few buses, walked to a party on First Hill, and mistakenly ate something I probably shouldn't have.

First Secret Festival showing is tomorrow morning. I guess the line starts early. I don't know. I'm tired.

may 25th:               2 more - 17 total
Let the sponsorships begin. Now the SIFF has officially started, the inside of the Egyptian theater has about 50 banners from corporations (and a few from local organizations) on the walls that lead to the theater area.

At 10am I watched Bartleby, an adaptation of a Herman Melville story. The main draw it has is Crispin Glover, who many people are still nuts about. Most of the movie looks like a stage play and a lot of the jokes didn't make me laugh (i.e. a guy mistakenly leaves his sandwich in the xerox machine and makes a copy of it. ha ha.) It has its moments though. If you are easily annoyed by Glover or soundtracks filled with Theremin sounds, then stay away.

Right after that was Lost and Delirious, an impressive looking film about lost love set at an all girls' prep school. Kinda like The Virgin Suicides + Girl Interrupted + Heathers.

The hard thing about the actual SIFF showings is deciding which films to go to. There are always four (and sometimes five) different movies playing at the same time in different theaters. Most of the films play twice during the festival, a few play just once. So you have the examine the schedule and sort out any overlapping that occurs with ones you want to see.

The first decision I made was to skip all of the 5pm films. Instead, I needed to ride in the monthly Critical Mass ride. I was hoping to then bike over to the Harvard Exit and watch the movies playing there at 7:15pm and 9:30pm. At 7pm though I was still among 40+ bicyclists riding around downtown. So I gave up the 7:15 movie. We eventually biked to the Ave and those of us left found ourselves sitting around a table at Araya's. I decided to blow off the 9:30 show too. I felt like I was playing hooky.

may 24th:               2 more - 15 total
6ixtynin9 was a very entertaining "comedy-thriller" from Thailand. Filled with absurd situations occurring within a logical framework. It made me laugh and that's a good thing.

Next up was Our Lady of the Assassins from Columbia. Parts of it reminded me of Amores Perros due to the crowded, violent, poverty-stricken streets and sidewalks. Does the Medellín drug syndicate really shoot off fireworks whenever a big shipment successfully gets into the U.S.? That would seem to be one perk of living there.

Towards the end of Our Lady three brand new characters suddenly appeared on the screen. And they were speaking english. It was quickly apparent that there was a mess-up during the reel switchover and somehow a reel from a completely different movie started running. Pretty much everyone in the crowd found this amusing. Apparently we were shown about a minute of one of the last reels for Fast Food, Fast Women.

Today was also the "Opening Gala" for SIFF. I didn't attend this pricey ($35) event, which wasn't more than a premiere for The Anniversary Party. Besides, I was too busy packing up my desk belongings since it was my last day at work.

may 23rd:               2 more - 13 total
It struck me today that my brain may get fried very soon. I say this because I discovered that there are morning/early-afternoon press and passholder screenings even after the festival officially starts up this weekend. That means I could conceivably view 25 films between Monday and Friday of next week, which covers just 1/3 of whole festival's length. This probably isn't a healthy thing, sitting for hours on end, watching one movie after another. But, if anything, it will keep me away from staring at computer monitors.

Anywhere from ten to sixty people show up for each of these early screenings. Some people are seemingly there for every showing. Some appear one or twice and then never again. Some people return to the same seat for every showing. It's mostly an older crowd, perhaps retired people who can afford to attend movies in the middle of the day. I have the feeling that I'm looked at with suspicion since I look like I should be elsewhere, namely at a day job. I'm tempted to turn to one of them and say "But I'm on the clock at this very moment!" But I don't do so.

Went to the noon movie, expecting to see Allison Anders's Things Behind the Sun. Unfortunately the print apparently was held up in Belgium and so they showed Living Blood instead. Decent but nothing too engaging or noteworthy.

101 Reykjavik was next. Since I'm still a sucker for all things Icelandic, I liked this one. Mostly a comedy about a 30-year guy who lives with his mom, views porn on his iMac during the day and goes out to bars at nights. Could understand without the help of subtitles the smokka-related sentence written on the mirror.

may 22nd:               2 more - 11 total
Eagerly went to the 10am showing of Stranger Inside since it's the new film from Cheryl Dunye (who did The Watermelon Woman). Expected to see at least an ok film, didn't expect to see a pretty great film. Set in a state correctional facility. May be a bit too melodramatic for some, but the tone of everything was just so wonderful. Check out the film's official site.

A few hours later I went to the other side of the world and watched Vertical Ray of the Sun, a Vietnamese film that was also pretty great. Slow moving, not having much of a plot, but every shot is a painting you want to stare at for awhile. It creates a world far removed from television, bags of Doritos, car exhaust, high-rise condos, George W. and buddy lists. But problems with relationships are always going to be around, even if you're floating in clear blue water in the middle of nowhere. I did have trouble keeping track of who was who for part of the movie, but that didn't distract from the overall sensation. Oh, and there's great use of Velvet Underground and Arab Strap tracks.

may 21st:               2 more - 9 total
One of the joys of seeing so many films in this fashion is that you often have little knowledge about the film before you see it. You may have read a capsule summary or you may have been drawn to it due to a specific director or actor, but for the most part the movies aren't surrounded by hype.

When's the last time you walked into a theater to see a movie and 1) didn't see any TV commercials for it, 2) didn't see any movie previews for it, 3) didn't see any of the cast on talk shows, 4) didn't hear a friend rave on and on about it, 5) didn't read a lengthy review in the paper, or 5) didn't have any idea who any of the actors/actresses were? I guess we trust the SIFF people to offer at least semi-decent films and so if you randomly pick something from that cinematic buffet then you're probably going to be somewhat pleased.

Went to Divided We Fall in the morning. After the film, I overheard someone describe it to a friend as "one of those jew-in-the-cupboard stories." And I suppose this is correct. Czech movie set in WWII. Enjoyable if not a bit predictable. I realized that don't know much about the German occupation of the Czech territory. Recommended.

Stuck around to see Liam, which is probably the film I've been least excited to see so far. Directed by Stephen Frears and set in '30s Liverpool. It looked nice but didn't do much for me.

may 18th:               3 more - 7 total
The only one I got to on Thursday was Everybody's Famous from Belgium. A generally pleasant "dark comedy." Looking through the SIFF summaries, 'dark comedy' seem to be one of the most overused phrases in the guide.

Today I amazing woke up early and thus went to the 10am showing of Brother, a Japanese gangster film that mostly takes place in L.A. My first Takeshi Kitano film. Kitano as an actor is as smooth as Peter Falk's Columbo.

Continuing with the severed finger theme, went to Before the Storm (sweden) about a kid who is picked on at school and a mostly unrelated adult who is picked on by people in his past. My college swedish teachers might be glad to know how many words I could understand without reading the subtitles. There's a girl in this that has a very small but extremely charming part spouting off a few lines from hollywood films. It's worth seeing it just for that, although the rest of the movie is pretty decent as well.

may 16th:               1 more - 4 total
For some reason I thought that the Japanese film Cure was going to be a fast-paced gangster story. I was wrong, but that's fine. It was a slow-paced David Lynchian detective/horror/thriller story that included great use of sounds, one face peeling, and a ton of wonderful images. It was a bit on the long side so I was constantly squirming around in the uncomfortable Egyptian theater seat, but I'm tempted to make it to another showing of it. "Who are you?"

I found that that there are also press screenings next week as well. Woo.

may 15th:               2 more - 3 total
Two more press screenings that I got to: Jalla! Jalla! and O. The first one is a Swedish comedy that was pretty amusing at 10am in the morning. I think it would be amusing at any hour though. Peppered with bursts of energy. If you see this movie and don't smile or laugh once during it, let me know.

O is a retelling of Othello and that was fairly decent. I haven't read Othello so I don't know how compressed this adaptation was. Set in a southern private high-school. Thumbs up, but nothing too special. If you're interested in recent cinematic Shakespeare, I recommend Titus.

may 14th:               1 seen - 1 total
One of the perks of having a full series pass is getting to go to some of the press screenings a few weeks before the festival opens. This afternoon I headed off to see My First Mister. I had high hopes for it since it was directed by Christine Lahti (who I've liked ever since Housekeeping) and had Albert Brooks in it. Brooks does provide numerous laughs, but it's not a Brooks film. My First Mister eventually turns into a TV movie-of-the-week that just leaves you with an empty feeling. Recommended only for Brooks fans or for people interested in seeing Leelee Sobieski's version of a gothy/angsty teenager.

One main reason for going to these earlier showings is it allows me to further check out the Egyptian theater. During popular festival films, the theater will probably be completely filled and I'd like to find the best place to sit for various scenarios, assuming of course that I'll get at least some choice of seats during the main films. I don't want subtitles to be blocked by someone's hairdo.

may 11th:
Spent another 40 minutes waiting in line at the box office. Realized that many people in the world have no idea how to politely wait in a line. Stop yelling into your cell phone headset. Don't show up at a post office counter with a lamp and expect the clerk to box it up for you. If you want to get to know someone, stand in line with them for a lengthy amount of time and see how they behave. Better yet, stand a few places behind them and watch how they conduct themselves when solo.

Decided to get a Secret Festival pass, tickets for Tarantino #3 and #4, and a ticket for Steamboat Bill Jr. Had to also shell out another $1.00 to get the Secret Festival pass laminated. It's possible the guy just made up that amount and pocketed my dollar bill.

may 10th:
One step closer. Began the day by getting a copy of the Seattle Times while waiting for the bus. On the way to work I attempted to read/skim through the "Official Program Guide" to find out what was in store this year. A little later I headed to the box office to pick up my pass.

I purchased an early bird pass in early January partially to have something to look forward to later in the year and also because there was a $125 discount if you bought it prior to 1/15/01. About a month after ordering it, I found out I was going to be laid off from work. At some point I realized that my last day of scheduled work was going to be May 24th, the same day of the SIFF opening. I took that as some sort of sign.

Waiting in line at the box office took over 40 minutes, which I didn't mind too much. Some others though seemed somewhat annoyed. My pass photo looks like it was taken with a PXL-2000. The camera woman was a Liv Tyler look-alike.

At some point I realized that my pass didn't include any of the "Tarantino Tutorial" movies. I also started to have thoughts about getting a pass for the Secret Festival. So part of my time in line consisted of figuring out how much I wanted to go to those events as well. In the end though I just got the regular pass and headed back to work.

Went back through the guide, highlighting films that I either definately wanted to see or that looked promising. Looked a bunch of them up via imdb.com, although imdb's search engine is highly annoying at times, especially when looking up foreign films. I ended up highlighting 107 films. I haven't looked much at the schedule, but I don't think I'm going to get to all of them. But I think I'm going to head back to the box office tomorrow and get a Secret Festival pass (not available online) and perhaps a ticket for the last Tarantino Tutorial. I'm also tempted to fork over $10 for the Steamboat Bill Jr. showing.

All in all though it looks like it will be a kick ass June.

may 10th:
I'm going to attempt to document my experiences with the Seattle International Film Festival on this page. We'll see how it goes...





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