Monday, May 28, 2012

#SIFF2012 Days 2 & 3 - Snows of Kilimanjaro, Wonder Women! Law In These Parts, ____, Crown Jewels.

Upon the completion of my third day of movies (and sun!) at the Seattle International Film Festival I can happily and surprisingly-to-no-one announce how much I'd love to add this to my yearly slate of festival visits.

Yesterday, Sunday, was a two-movie day. No need to take my temperature. I'm feeling fine. It is, I've learned, completely acceptable to see only two movies in one day at a film festival. I did it, and the world did not end.

The first movie I cannot tell you about. Wait, what? Dor, being discreet? It's not in my nature, no. But, they have this awesome thing in Seattle called the Secret Film Festival which lasts four Sundays and comes with a separate ($45) pass. They show movies they cannot tell you about, for whatever reason. Movies they aren't supposed to show for some reason, or movies they don't want announced, before during or after they play. But wait, what about Twitter? I know. Believe me, I know. But Secret at SIFF actually means secret! I saw this Sunday's film with a crowd of hundreds of early-rising, chance-taking citizens of Seattle and not single one of them filled their followers in on the movie after the fact. As such I have no intention of being the first. I'll mention that I liked the movie and I love the whole idea of a secret fest.

Next on my list was The Law In These Parts, which has for some reason been on my "eh no I don't really need to see that" list from the other film festivals it has played. But boy am I glad I gave in and got a ticket because it was some movie. It concerned a subject on which I am ill-informed, and that is the Israel occupation of Palestinian territories. Even more than that, the movie chose to focus on solely the laws that were enacted and have been applied to citizens of those territories since the late 60's until today. I feel like you have a particularly vested interest in the topic (not so much) or a general passion for documentary film to go for this film. You can imagine which one describes me. Anyway, this one wins major points in my book for the director's laments at the beginning and the end about the nature and inherent bias of the medium of documentary film. So, so glad I saw it!

Memorial Day is a day off for me, which is the reason I even decided to travel this weekend in the first place. It typically falls right around my birthday (which is Wednesday this year, the 30th) so I equate this three-day weekend with indulgence. Who am I kidding - I equate every weekend (and most weekdays) with indulgence.

Anyway, I spent this day doing what I do best and that's sitting alone in a dark room watching movies. The day began with a French film called The Snows of Kilimanjaro which I frankly loved. I'd missed it at Rendezvous with French Cinema, not because it wasn't on my radar but because I had tickets and was too tired to go to more than the 13,263 films I'd already seen in that series. Luckily SIFF had my back and I could see this moving (if a bit heavy-handed) lament on family, forgiveness, poverty, marriage and class. I don't think the title represents the film well at all. I hope it gets a decent US release, because I enjoyed it a great deal.

Next was possibly my least favorite of SIFF and that is called Crown Jewels. It's not often I see a Swedish film that's less than very good. Even good would be unexpected. This one really pushed my limits of belief, patience, and understanding. And it was two sodding hours! Why!! I don't even have the energy to type out what I didn't like, but if anyone's seen it I'd love to chat with you but I feel like all I'd be doing is shaking my head and having false start after false start, like that comedian that Fred Armisen plays on Weekend Update sometimes who tries to read the news and just says "I mean, but really now, and when you think about it, but the thing I really hated, and I say this objectively..."

After that, I was able to salvage the day (actually more than salvage it) with a documentary - always a safe bet for me and one that usually tips the scales in favor of a good movie day. And how could I go wrong with an inside look at pop culture + feminism + comic books? I learned a bit, I giggled, I was inspired and I had hope for a new generation. Might sound a bit cheesy but Wonder Women! was all that and more. I couldn't help but think my friend Jason would be all over this movie. I also couldn't help but compare it to another documentary I saw this year that centered on the comic book universe, and this one blew it out of the water in terms of accessibility to a non-comic book audience. Not that I disliked the Spurlock.

At any rate, it's been a great SIFF so far. I may or may not see more movies while I am in town. If I do, I may or may not write about them, since my flight leaves at midnight, and then I land in NYC, go straight to work, and then go straight to my birthday party. It's a tough life.

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