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.

SIFF 2017: One Year Later

I surprised myself the other day when I discovered that I had not, in fact, written about my screenings at the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). I can really only attribute it to laziness. Maybe I thought, “no one actually reads these, anyway, so why bother?” I’ll tell you why. Even if no one else reads them, I have referred to past write-ups on several occasions, especially when recommending a film to someone for which I cannot remember its title. And so, on the eve of the next festival season, I shall endeavor to recall last year. At the very least, I shall make a list.

The Wedding Party
Screening : 5/20/2017 5:30 PM
Venue : SIFF Cinema Uptown
We started off with a Nigerian rom-com about two families clashing on, well, the day of a wedding. It’s kind of a classic old money vs. new money send up with lots of side stories to keep the action going throughout the film. According to the IMDb trivia, it is either the highest or second-highest grossing film in Nigeria. Its sequel takes the other spot.

Brigsby Bear
Screening : 5/20/2017 8:30 PM
Venue : SIFF Cinema Uptown
I really liked this one. It’s weird and quirky, but heartwarming, too. It’s probably available on one of the streaming services.

The Trip to Spain
Screening : 5/21/2017 11:00 AM
Venue : SIFF Cinema Uptown
Having seen the first two “Trip” films and the series, I couldn’t not see this one as well. The UK series and the first Trip to Italy were really the best of this group, but who can resist those landscapes and Rob Brydon? Ouch! What about Steve Coogan? Gotta love the Coog, but his character here has taken a nasty turn, and he makes it a little difficult to watch.

Weirdos
Screening : 5/27/2017 4:15 PM
Venue : AMC Pacific Place 11
I had to look this one up to remember what it was about. It’s a coming-of-age road movie set in mid-1970s Nova Scotia, which is mostly OK. However, I was really annoyed at Molly Parker’s “crazy mom” character. (The first listing under Plot Keywords on IMDb is “mentally unstable woman”.) I’m no psychologist, of course, but she didn’t seem to have a specific malady, except that generic “crazy” act. At first she just seemed like a flighty artist type. She had a couple mood swings before becoming a bit paranoid, then just shut herself up sobbing. Anyway, it was a year ago, so I don’t remember details, but it felt to me like the director told Ms. Parker, “act crazy” rather than, say, “act Borderline Personality Disorder” or whatever. (“your character has cancer.” “oh, is it skin cancer? leukemia? pancreatic? lung?” “just cancer. play cancer, and make it real tragic.”)

The Little Hours
Screening : 5/28/2017 12:30 PM
Venue : SIFF Cinema Uptown
This didn’t seem to get the attention I thought it would. Hilarious sexcapades set in a Middle Ages convent. What’s not to love? Writer/Director Jeff Baena and actor Aubrey Plaza were on hand for a Q&A after (I think they’re, like, together).

Angry Inuk
Screening : 5/29/2017 11:30 AM
Venue : SIFF Cinema Uptown
Documentary centered on seal hunting by the Inuit and how that way of life is being threatened by legislation and popular attitudes in North America and the European Union.

7 Minutes
Screening : 6/3/2017 12:00 PM
Venue : SIFF Cinema Uptown
A tense Italian film set mostly in an employee breakroom of a textile factory where the union reps are discussing whether they should give up seven minutes of their break times. Seems like such a simple question with a simple answer, but if you start thinking about the implications, or watch these women do so, you’ll see it’s really not simple at all.

Kati Kati
Screening : 6/4/2017 6:00 PM
Venue : Ark Lodge Cinemas
My first time at the Ark Lodge Cinemas. If I weren’t so stuck in my two-mile radius (inertia), I would go to this theater more often. It’s the type of neighborhood establishment we should be preserving and patronizing. The film was good, too. Made and set in Kenya, it is about a group of people who are transitioning from living to the dead. That is to say, they are dead, but they are not quite ready to let go for one reason or another.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
Screening : 6/10/2017 3:45 PM
Venue : SIFF Cinema Egyptian
If you need a good cry, or would like to step outside your bubble of privilege, check this one out. Marsha P. Johnson was a transgender activist in the Stonewall era of New York who died under suspicious circumstances in the early 1990s. While she’s the focus of the film, it is just as much about the people who survived her and live in the aftermath, sometimes good, and a heck of a lot bad. We all want to be loved and understood and accepted, but it alludes some people, or comes at a really steep price. And in some cases, justice may never be served.

Albüm
Screening : 6/11/2017 4:15 PM
Venue : AMC Pacific Place 11
This Turkish film explores adoption and family dynamics. A couple decides to expand their family by having a child, for seemingly no other reason than it is expected of married people. In order to do so, they must adopt, but they are not willing to admit this fact and go to all sorts of extremes to hide it. This is a very dry, black comedy. I think that some films are better understood in their own country, and perhaps one could say that about this film. Apparently the woman who plays the wife is pretty famous in Turkey, so I feel like this movie would have a relatively universal appeal there. Here it is pretty uncomfortable.

So there you have it, folks. (or, just me) I have summarized my 2017 SIFF intake. I have made pains to make it easier for me to post on this blog, so I do plan on staying on task for this year’s festival. My first film is less than four days away!

Too Old To Dye?

I just read this article today, and it’s getting me excited about doing some kind of hand made project. Spinning? Weaving? Dyeing? All of the above?

When I was a young, pale girl in South Texas, I had a real love/hate relationship with the sun. That’s an exaggeration- I just didn’t like being in the sun. I still don’t. But being pale in sunny San Antonio was not the norm. Problem was, I had neither the patience nor the pigmentation to get tan.

So I set about to get tan by other means, mostly black tea. I tried various methods of staining my skin (“you’re soaking in it”), but none produced results. In the end I didn’t really care that I failed, but I remember enjoying those days of experimentation. I had a lot of free time, sure, but why did I ever stop?

I’m starting to get the itch. I wish I had planned for early retirement, but I will have to make the time.

Distraction Warning: Solar Energy Policies

While I agree that the whole Russia-Trump situation is potentially a pretty big issue, so far nothing much concrete and prosecutable has come out of all the revelations. Meanwhile, a lot of other decisions are being made on the behalf of the citizenry which are being overshadowed by all the nonsense. Let’s keep investigating as long as there are legitimate suspicions (which there are currently), but let’s not also lose sight of the other goings on. They will also have far-reaching repercussions on our lives, possibly even more than what may just end up being a nauseating scandal.

Case in point: there are those who are determined to reverse our solar energy policies, in favor of increased reliance on fossil fuels for electrifying our nation’s grid. You can read this article from the New York Times, which I will summarize with my two cents below.

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