SIFF 2019: Let’s Hop On Over to Europe

Sunday morning we mosey down to Pacific Place to see Swedish kids’ movie Sune vs. Sune. A funny little adventure involving one fourth-grade boy named Sune, a new boy in school named Sune, a girl they both like, their parents and teachers, and other kids in and out of school. For what it was, it was quite enoyable – funny and well-paced. And although it’s not necessary to know the back story of old Sune, what we did find out after is that Sune is quite a well-known character in Sweden. He came to being for a local radio program back in the 80s and subsequently developed quite a following. This is like the fifth feature film about Sune and his family. There was also an animated tv program and many books published relating his tales. We found the tv show on youtube, and since it is very much a Swedish phenomenon, with no English subtitles. I think the filmmakers really found a confluence of universal appeal with Sune vs. Sune, so I don’t know if I’ll be running out and watching the other films, even if I could find them. (Though I might try to read a book in my pursuit of learning the Swedish language.)

Later, we got to Shoreline Community College a little early and took a little stroll around campus. If it weren’t for being in Shoreline (Seattle elistist am I), it was be a pretty cool school to attend. Very much in the woods, with lots of nature all around. Of course, my allergies would kill me, too, if I spent too much time there, but I’m sure some people would love it – and do! We were there for Palace for the People, a documentary depicting Soviet-era palaces, their history and original purpose, and their current states. Five were featured, in Moscow, Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, and Berlin. They were/are grand contructions of public use buildings, meant to show the people how good life is under Communist rule. All but the Berlin Palace of the Republic are still standing and in use. The film itself is maybe lacking a bit in narrative, it is after all made by a couple of photographers, but the subject itself I find immensely fascinating (immense like the buildings themselves!).

SIFF 2019: Uptown House 2, Times 2

Saturday was a perfect day for watching movies, dark and rainy. We got a little gardening done, and after trying Little Big Burger (Field Roast version) we headed back to the Uptown. (I will admit now that I started writing this probably the very Sunday following this Saturday I’m describing, but then I had some technical issues and just gave up. It is now nearly three weeks later, and I’m finally finishing this.)

OK, so first film was Sgaawaay K’uuna, or Edge of the Knife, the first film performed in the rare Haida language. You can look it up on Wikipedia and learn that only a couple dozen people still speak this language. A small tribe is gathering for their annual fishing party, in preparation for the winter, where we see that one of the tribespeople, Adiits’ii, is not completly respectful of tradition, and subsequently suffers the consequences. Eventually the whole tribe suffers, of course, but Adiits’ii really suffers the most, one might argue, as not only did he accidentally cause the death of his beloved nephew, but is also taken over by demons in the woods. Perhaps I had low expectations, thinking it might be hokey or exploitative, but it was neither of those, and ended up being one of our faves of this festival.

After a little jaunt to the KEXP Gathering Space, it was back to the Uptown for Frances Ferguson. A quirky little tale of a young, attractive teacher who has an illicit relationship with one of her students. A far extreme from a Lifetime Movie, the story was presented as a low-key, minimalist comedy, complete with voice-over narration from Nick Offerman. The rhythm and pacing of this film was very unusual, which I feel very much contributed to the comedic success, but which also could be off-putting to some. Another highlight. A successful Saturday, indeed.

I neglected to mention last time that the Who Let the Dogs Out documentary was led by a documentary short about a dude who won a drug-crazed weekend with Van Halen from MTV back in the 80s. It was funny seeing how nuts these guys went, and trying to imagine something like that happening now.

SIFF 2019: Don’t Feed Your Dog Chocolate

This was documentary weekend. On Saturday we went to the Uptown for Le Chocolat de H, which sadly didn’t come with samples. Hironobu Tsujiguchi has won best in show at an annual French chocolate contest for six years, and now he’s preparing for the next contest. We follow him as he decides on which Japanese flavors to showcase, and we follow him to Ecuador where he visits the plantation that supplies some of his cacao. It was kind of like a high end episode of Japanese Style Originator without the celebrity panel.

Pacific Place Mall is undergoing a huge renovation, but the theater is still open. Today we went there to see Who Let The Dogs Out, about the origins of the eponymous hit song. Ben Sisto spent ten years on the research which he apparently has been presenting as a live show, and now we get to see it on film, along with quite a few interviews of musicians and producers involved in said history. In some ways, I would say this film is reminiscent of The Search for General Tso (see SIFF 2014: Day Two).

I found both films interesting and enjoyable, even if I can’t get that danged song out of my head.

SIFF 2019: Let’s Open This Can of Worms

Here we are, waiting for the Opening Night Gala to begin. It maybe it already has? How does that work? We’ve shown our tickets, bought our drink, and now we’re sitting in our seats listening to Derek Mazzone “spin” some tunes before the festivities begin.

As usual, the Seattle crowd is an odd mix of dressed up and dressed down. Even me and the B are wearing our nicer duds (but not too nice).

Tonight’s film is Sword of Trust. Will update after.

LATER: It was a late night; this is the morning after. The festival has commenced. Before we could see the film, we heard some speeches and saw a heartfelt tribute to the late Paul Allen.

The film itself was good, mostly light hearted and funny, and the first feature Lynn Shelton has filmed outside of the PacNW. Significantly, it was made in Alabama, which had an interesting effect on the proceedings. The producer would remind is that decisions made by the state government this week don’t necessarily represent the values or beliefs of the majority of people living there. Ms. Shelton, star Marc Maron, the cinematographer, and one other of the filmmakers came on stage afterward for a fun Q&A with Beth Barrett. Maron went on a bit of a rant, but it was quite funny so it was OK.

After that, we headed over to the party at Fisher Pavilion. It was quite loud, and we don’t generally talk to strangers, but we got free ice cream, potato dumplings, and cocktails, so it was worth the slight discomfort of being in a crowd.

Our first regular film is tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled for my all-important updates!

Omöjlig Mat

Pardon my Swedish; I just didn’t want to immediately give anything away in my subject line.

This past Sunday I finally tried the Impossible Burger. It was at the Thackeray Café in Freford (my word for that dmz that is the border of Fremont and Wallingford), and it was dressed as their Bistro Burger. So there was quite a bit on it, but I did pick off a few bits to eat “straight”. It was good, said with some hesitation. I mean, it wasn’t bad.

I’m not sure it was so much better than all the other veggie burgers out there. Have you tried the Field Roast burger? Now that is a good mouthful of food. Our Impossibles were cooked ‘well’ apparently, because there was none of the signature ‘bleeding’, but that’s not really something I’m looking for in a burger. Well, not in a veggie burger.

What I want is a savory chunk of edible substance, something that provides resistance to my bite, something that is tasty in a complementary way to toppings such as Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard. And I can get this from other, less expensive, choices. I don’t need something that mimics a handful of ground beef. It’s bad enough a large percentage of restaurants still charge extra to sub a veggie patty, but the Impossible is like four dollars more! (Thackeray didn’t charge extra, but their burger with fries is $16 anyway, so, not cheap.)

I think it’s probably a good thing that the Impossible Burger exists, as it could encourage more meat eaters to wean themselves off of commodified beef – in favor of processed food, but still. But the Impossible Burger is filling a need I don’t have, as I’m perfectly satisfied with other savory sandwich fillers. (I’ve tried the Beyond Burger, too, but haven’t convinced myself to shell out the bucks for a second round at home. Again, I don’t really need my patties to bleed in order to enjoy them.)

Would I have it again? Sure, of course. Am I going to go out of my way in order to do so? Probably not.

Would Have Been

It’s a phrase that annoys me, “today they would have been this many years old.” As the years pass, it gets more annoying to the point of ridiculousness. I mean, maybe they could have reached 99 years, but I’m guessing they would have been felled by something else in the meantime. It would be ok if we just acknowledge the anniversary of someone’s birth, but it seems we insist on this element of wishful thinking.

Regardless, I find myself on this day thinking that my dad would have been 70 today. That’s a milestone year. People have parties for such achievements. But it’s entirely meaningless. He didn’t make it, so there’s nothing to celebrate.

Except I would like to celebrate, I’m just not sure how. When I was younger, I might have worked myself up into a frenzy, culminated by etching some symbol into my skin with a paring knife. Quicker and cheaper than a tattoo, but not as potentially artistic. My dad probably wouldn’t approve of either, but at least he could appreciate a tattoo.

I’ll probably just end up having a drink in his honor-he’d appreciate that more. Still, no matter what I do, I’ll never get another of his bear hugs, and that’s so much more annoying than any stupid thing people might say.

(I’ll get that tattoo, as well, maybe in time for his not-75th.)

SIFF 2018: Day Three – From Kenya to France

I feel like Supa Modo was promoted as a children’s movie (it was sponsored by Full Tilt ice cream, and preceded by a trailer for the final Belle and Sebastien film) but really it was a movie with and about children. Not that it would be inappropriate, but it was a bit heart-wrenching. Jo has only a couple months to live, so her mother brings her home to her Kenyan village where her neighbors try to make her last days memorable. Supa Modo was made possible by Tom Tykwer’s group, the same people who made last year’s Kati Kati available to the world audience. Is it a coincidence that both films are concerned with death?

We couldn’t really remember why had chosen to watch Un beau soleil intérieur but I’m sure it was at least in part due to the presence of Juliette Binoche in the starring role. She’s still got it, as far as I’m concerned, but the film itself left us scratching our heads. Binoche is an artist on a search for love. I think maybe the issue here is that there’s no really beginning, middle, and end. Rather, this is just a segment of the larger story of one woman’s life.