Film Fests Archive for May, 2009

SIFF 2009 Dispatch: Ein! Zwei! Die!

I’ve caught a few films at SIFF that are “hold review” films, meaning although they may have played at earlier fests (and been reviewed from those fests) they now have distribution, so we can’t write full reviews on them at SIFF. I can, however, write briefly about them, so here’s a roundup of three of them.
In the Loop, the festival opener, is a sharp, funny political comedy that’s been called something akin to the love child of The West Wing and The Office. As the Brits and the Americans bicker over starting a war or stopping one, the political tug-of-war among the players keeps up a frenetic pace, with rapid-fire dialogue that’s often completely politically incorrect; insults are hurled back and forth like hand grenades so quickly it can be hard to keep up with it all through the laughter of the audience. James Gandolfini is particularly good as a peace-loving general, but all the players in In the Loop, including his, have alliances and hidden agendas, and the film is biting and often very funny (though when you mull over much of the plot after seeing it, and ponder how close to the truth it likely is, it’s actually kind of scary).

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SIFF 2009 Dispatch: The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle and Burma VJ

Catching up, at long last, with some SIFF updating. I had a busy weekend family-wise, so wasn’t able to enjoy the fest much of its opening weekend, but I did make it to the fest opener last Thursday night: the gala screening of In the Loop, followed by the fest’s always-hotly-anticipated opening night bash, which spilled out from the lovely Paramount Theater and out onto the street. Many popular city restaurants provided appetizer-sized portions of yummy fare, and there was live music and lots of excitement in the air. I, being old and a wimp, knocked off rather early, but I heard from friends who stayed late that it was a great time.
Sunday Night my husband and I got out for a late-night screening of The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle at The Egyptian (quick, raise your hand if you live in a major city that doesn’t have a theater called “Egyptian”). Things got off to an interesting start as director and Seattle-native David Russo kicked off his introduction by telling the audience that he’d been upset when he learned his film was screening at The Egyptian because it has such a awful (f-bomb) sound system by way of thanking the sound crew for making it as good as it could be, under the circumstances. In all fairness, he’s right on the sound quality at the Egyptian but, uh … thanks?

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Why Cannes Matters

indieWIRE’s Eugene Hernandez has an excellent mid-fest diary up titled “Yes, Cannes Matters,” which appears to be his personal response to the more objective piece up the other day on whether Cannes is still important, in which Hernandez polled numerous film biz folks on their thoughts (including MCN’s David Poland) on the lauded fest.
It’s a good read, check it out. All I have to add on it is … amen.

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“One of my favorite things in watching any performance on film is when there isn’t a lot of cutting going on and when you get a chance to become really absorbed in the artist in hand. The same way we do, hopefully, at a concert, when we get a chance to really trip in to something that’s happening on stage. Whether the singer’s singing, or one of the other musicians is playing, we sort of stay there instead of cutting round with our eyes a lot.”
~ Jonathan Demme

“We’ve talked about this before in the past, my obsession with the Shakespearean histories having the ideal combination of the sweet and the sour. In ‘Henry IV, Part II’ which we’ve discussed before, in the end of that story it’s very complex and haunting because Prince Hal becomes Henry the King, and he has transcended his hoodlum days and at the ceremony is Falstaff, his good friend with whom he has really fucked around and been a loser with, and Falstaff comes up to him and says, ‘Now that you’re king we can really party,’ and the king famously says, ‘I know thee not, old man.’ It becomes Henry IV’s anointment and Falstaff’s catastrophe. That’s life. I have experienced very little unfettered triumph. There are moments, such as when my children are born, but even that comes with new fears and anxieties. In a sense the better you can communicate that life is both at once, the more powerful over time something becomes. One strives for something where the threads are there because it lasts in way that is very palpable. The idea of a tragedy is powerful in literature and theater, but in cinema it doesn’t work, certainly not commercially, and less so critically. Why is that? I think it has to do with how movies are so close to us.”
~ James Gray