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.

SIFF 2018: Day Two – Letters and Numbers

If you’ve never seen a Peter Greenaway’s film, The Greenaway Alphabet might be a good introduction. Made by his wife Saskia Boddeke, it is set up as sort of a conversation between Peter and his teenaged daughter Pip, discussing topics in alphabetical order. Stylistically similar, it is interspersed with scenes from Greenaway’s films to further elucidate given points.

There are quite a few penises (and vulvae) which I find quite humorous. American audiences I think are a bit squeamish when it comes to male frontal nudity (Greenaway is Welsh, living in the Netherlands). I was reading the IMDb trivia for Call Me By Your Name last night, and one item said the American leads both had no frontal nudity clauses in their contracts, which frustrated the director. We see women all the time head to toe, but not men. I agree, more penises, please! Or less female nudity. Let’s be fair.

Afterward, we headed to the Egyptian for Daveed Diggs’ Blindspotting. Written and performed along with Rafael Casal, our friend summed it up as Les Mis with Diggs as Jean Valjean. This is a pretty good summation, as a significant portion of the film is delivered rap/spoken word. Set in Oakland with three days left in Diggs’ probation, it’s a study of gentrification, police violence, and relationships.

SIFF 2018: Day One – Cats in Canada, Waxing on Wax

Do you like cats? I like cats. Some people really like cats. They express their affection in different ways, usually by adopting one or two. But some people adopt dozens, and some people show their cats in competition. It is these two types we saw this day at the Uptown.

We opened with a short about a couple in Florida who run a de facto hospice for elder cats. It maybe tried to tug a little hard on the heart strings. But still, the humans are interesting, the cats are adorable and heartbreaking. You can watch the cats at www.cats-cradle.org

In Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit, we follow a year in the life of a group of Canadian cat fanciers. One wants to rack up enough points to win first prize for the year, but another wants to thwart her efforts. Maybe. If she can. The important thing is that you show your best and hopefully the judges will see that. Such is the cutthroat world of cat shows in the Great White North.

Perhaps felines are a little too feel good for you. Perhaps you’d prefer the sordid tale of the rise and fall of a punk/industrial/alternative music store cum record label. Behold Industrial Accident – The Story of Wax Trax! Records. We caught this on at Majestic Bay Cinemas on a surprisingly rainy evening. I spent alot of time in college and after listening to and thinking about the Wax Trax! recordings and related acts. Because of this, I can’t really guage how interesting this story is, but but there is the human element. Two dudes with similar musical interests feel in love in Denver in the 70s and opened a record store. They moved to Chicago, creating an iconic venue for self expression and acceptance of other. Lives were changed, an industry was changed, and the rest of us are better because of it. Well, sure, that’s a matter of opinion.