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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“Film festivals, for those who don’t know, are not exactly the glitzy red carpet affairs you see on TV. Those do happen, but they’re a tiny part of the festival. The main part of any film festival are the thousands of people with festival passes hanging on lanyards beneath their anoraks, carrying brochures for movies you have never and will never hear of, desperately scrabbling to sell whatever movie it is to buyers from all over the world. Every hotel bar, every cafe, every restaurant is filled to the brim with these people, talking loudly about non-existent deals. The Brits are the worst because most of the British film industry, with a few honourable exceptions, are scam artists and chancers who move around from company to company failing to get anything good made and trying to cast Danny Dyer in anything that moves. I’m seeing guys here who I first met twenty years ago and who are still wearing the same clothes, doing the same job (albeit for a different company) and spinning the same line of bullshit about how THIS movie has Al Pacino or Meryl Streep or George Clooney attached and, whilst that last one didn’t work out, THIS ONE is going to be HUGE. As the day goes on, they start drinking and it all gets ugly and, well, that’s why I’m the guy walking through the Tiergarten with a camera taking pictures of frozen lakes and pretending this isn’t happening.

“Berlin is cool, though and I’ve been lucky to be doing meetings with some people who want to actually get things done. We’ll see what comes of it.”
~ Julian Simpson 

“The difference between poetry and prose, and why if you’re not acculturated to poetry, you might resist it: that page is frightening. Why is it not filled? The two categories of people who don’t feel that way are children and prisoners. So many prison poets; they see that gap and experience it differently. I’m for the gap!”
~ Poet Eileen Myles