Film Fests Archive for May, 2011

SIFF Review: The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical

Last Sunday, I took my son Jaxon, aged 11, to see The Sound of Mumbai, which is screening at SIFF in their Films4Families section. Jaxon is on the Films4Families jury this year, which means that for the first time, he’s being asked to view movies as more than just pure entertainment. The Sound of Mumbai was his first real experience with a documentary (other than March of the Penguins, and I’m not sure how much he remembers of that), and I was curious to see how he’d respond to it.

“Is this a real story or a made up story?” he whispered about 20 minutes in, as on the screen we saw the deplorable conditions in which the cheerful main subject lives.
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At SIFF This Weekend — May 20-22

This weekend, the Seattle International Film Festival offers an array of interesting, good films to choose from, which you can view on the handy-dandy fest calendar. Not sure what to watch? You can try out The Siffter for suggestions!

If you’re looking for recommendations, my own picks for Friday would be Submarine (7PM, Egyptian) or 3 (7PM, Neptune), Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage (9:30PM, Egyptian), AND the midnight screening of Trollhunter (midnight, also at the Egyptian). For Saturday, consider checking out Nuummioq, the first feature film out Greenland, at 11AM. The afternoon offers How to Die in Oregon up against Silent Souls — either is recommended.

If you’re over in Renton, which is having its opening night tonight, you can catch SXSW standout Natural Selection and Touch, an terrific little film about the relationship between a manicurist and a mechanic. In some ways, it’s kind of a lighter, funnier version of The Off Hours. which screens later in the fest.

Tomorrow afternoon you could catch The Trip, the hilarious road trip film with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, and then check out Miranda July’s excellent, trippy flick The Future. Later tomorrow night, you won’t go wrong with either Perfect Sense or Jess + Moss, and midnight brings another offering: John Carpenter’s The Ward. Bring a friend.

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SIFF 2011: The Preview

Thursday evening, the 37th edition of the Seattle International Film Festival will kick off with a Gala opening screening of The First Grader, followed by a sure-to-be-packed opening party. Justin Chadwick’s charming drama about an 84-year-old Kenyan freedom fighter who decides to take advantage of the government’s free education program by enrolling in his village’s school is an interesting choice for a festival opener: There are no big stars to parade down the red carpet — but then Seattle’s never really been the kind of festival locals flock to because of the stars. It’s a rather innocuous, crowd-pleasing choice, not likely to offend any festival donors — but then, rebellious Seattle isn’t exactly the kind of town where not offending is the first priority.
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“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful. People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that. It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What’s sad is film criticism has disappeared. It’s really sad.”
~ Brett Ratner Has A Sad

“The loss of a local newspaper critic is a real loss. People who know the local audience and know the local cultural scene are very important resources. You can’t just substitute the stuff that comes in from nowhere through syndication or the wire. I think at the same time, some of the newer outlets have really beefed up and improved their coverage and made room for criticism. The real problem is in the more specialized art forms — fine arts, classical music, dance and jazz, say. There is a real slowing of critical voices, partly because those art forms have smaller audiences. Newspapers and magazines can say that doesn’t get enough traffic, so we don’t have room for that. To me, that’s especially worrisome. This is the opposite of what newspapers are supposed to do, which is not to try to figure out what people are already interested in and recite that back to them, but to hopefully guide them to something that they should be interested in, connecting potential audiences with more interesting work.

“Then again, not everyone needs a critic. People have been going to movies for more than 100 years now, and probably the vast majority of those people have not read movie reviews or cared what critics thought. But there has always been an important subset that wants to know more, that wants to think about what they’ve seen and what they’re going to see, and wants someone to think along with. I think critics are important, not just as dispensers of consumer advice — though that’s certainly part of it, too — but as trusted voices and companions for people to argue with in your head when you’re going to movies or afterwards.”
~ A. O. Scott