The festival is winding down, and for our penultimate screening we find ourselves returning to the Uptown for the world premiere of Middle Man, starring Jim O’Heir. Mr. O’Heir was in attendance, along with writer-director Ned Crowley, and actors Anne Dudek and Andrew J. West (they brought gifts for the audience!). The framework for the story is a familiar one, this time involving a CPA who decides to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comedian and the mysterious hitchhiker he picks up on the way to Las Vegas. They get stuck in a kind of time warp, like those dreams where you’re running but don’t actually get anywhere. They are so close to Vegas, but can’t seem to get out of a town called Lamb Bone and its quirky residents. A black comedy, there are some moments of gore. My favorite character turned out to be the troubadour TQ, who sang a song and dressed a bit like Chris Isaak.
This film fails the Bechdel Test. And while I don’t know that it would have benefited from passing, it does have the overall feeling of a dude pic, even if those dudes are middle-aged (or older?). The few women there are in the film, however, are pretty much treated the same as the men, so there is that. No spoilers!
After a quick trip to Capitol Hill for the fourth and final time of the weekend, we headed to the Uptown for The Brand New Testament. I had high hopes for this one, as it stars Benoît Poelvoorde (as “Dieu”) of Man Bites Dog fame. It’s a silly thing. I’ve rolled my eyes at people clambering to Audrey Tatou films, as if a good actor cannot be in a bad movie, or just their presence will make any film worthwhile, and here I am deciding to see a film in large part because of one of its stars. Regardless, I was not disappointed. The premise is that God has a tweenage daughter who decides to rebel against grumpy ol’ dad. With the encouragement of the spirit of her brother, JC, Ea sets out into the real world to shake things up. The real star is, of course, Ea (Pili Groyne) who starts on her path of reckoning by texting everyone with a mobile a countdown to their individual deaths. There are some strong reactions to this information, and some lives are changed irrevocably.
To be clear, The Brand New Testament is a comedy. A really great one. I’m not sure if it will get a theatrical release in the US, but I would guess it will find its way onto Netflix eventually.
After some discussion, we have concluded that this film most likely passes the Bechdel Test.
Back in Capitol Hill for the second time in one day (haircut!), and the third time of the weekend (I went back a fourth time Sunday for non-cinema-related business), we had the delight of watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople at the Egyptian. From the guy who brought us Eagle vs Shark, this was a fun trip through the bush of New Zealand. A city boy, in need of fostering, with gangster ambitions gets placed with a couple on a farm. Things go well at first, then the boy, already prone to running away, is given a big reason to make himself scarce. He’s teamed up with gristly Sam Neill for an adventure in the wilderness. A favorite of the festival, sometimes the audience laughter blocked out subsequent lines (jokes?).
Wowee, forget the story – New Zealand is an awesome bit of topography! There were some really great aerial shots and sweeping vistas that make Annabel Langbein‘s show pale in comparison. But, seriously, except for one excruciating scene of harsh nature, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a very enjoyable film. It will be showing in some theaters later this month. Does not pass the Bechdel Test.
After the movie, we wandered over to Molly Moon’s to get some ice cream before they closed for the night at eleven. The weather was perfect for it, and the swiftly moving line was well out the door. We’re not quite there yet, but summer nights in Seattle can really be downright pleasant.
One byproduct of the film festival is that I spend way more time in Capitol Hill than usual. We made the trek on Friday, joined by a third wheel – I mean, friend, to the Egyptian for Burn Burn Burn. Like My Blind Brother, this was a first-time directorial effort by a British woman. And while they shared some themes (such as survivor guilt), they couldn’t be more different, especially in terms of tone and setting. In Burn Burn Burn, two friends set out across Great Britain, scattering the ashes of their recently deceased best friend. They are young, so the death is a tragedy, and the trip forces the women to deal with things they wouldn’t have otherwise. There were moments of hilarity, and plenty of heavy times, too. Well worth the effort, and passes the Bechdel Test.
Afterward, we had a nice dinner at Via Tribunali, where I discovered that I prefer the Fremont location. No surprise there.
I’m really kidding about the third wheel comment, by the way, in case anyone was worried.
Thank goodness for national holidays. No work, and we get to see another movie! This time it was Contemporary Color at the Egyptian. David Byrne spearheaded an event where ten high school color guard teams were teamed up with ten composers for a grand exhibition. Each musician composed a new song for their team and performed it live while the team performed their routine.
I find it extremely heartwarming when high school kids get opportunities such as these. Color guard teams are not the superstars of high school. From what I remember, it was made up with people who could not make the cheerleaders, or who wanted to be in band but had no instrument. But here they are getting to be in a huge arena (Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre) with thousands of audience members, some for the last time in their high school careers. It was televised, apparently, on a local broadcast, and now it’s made into a film. That’s got to feel amazing.
I ground my coffee by hand this morning. No mishaps.
We headed up to Shoreline Community College to see The Intervention, starring Melanie Lynskey. Writer/director/star Clea Duvall introduced the film and participated in post-show Q&A. Touted a Big Chill of a new generation, it is a great effort for the first-time director. They call it a comedy, but I’d call it more of a drama with comedic moments and elements. I suppose, as most things, it is subjective, as one audience member mentioned that it was the first time they had laughed out loud at a movie in a long time. Laugh or cry, it was good enough that it got bought at Sundance, which means more people will have the opportunity to feel what they’re going to feel.
Does this film pass the Bechdel Test? I think it might, if only for at least one scene where two women are talking about their relationship with each other.
I hope Shoreline has a little more money to invest in a better sound system.
Saturday found us back at the Uptown for two films, before enjoying some aprés film banter and then a birthday party in Ballard.
Up first was a surreal Australian coming-of-age story called Girl Asleep. Set in what could have been the late 1970s or early 1980s, or maybe No Time, our heroine makes the transition from not-girl to almost-woman by transporting to the fantasy world of an old, possibly magical, music box. Fun to watch eye candy, there is nothing new as far as the general plot and “moral” of the story go, but overall quite a nice film. Even nicer, it was sponspored by Snoqualmie Ice Cream who handed out free samples afterward. (It was preceded by the short film “Driftwood Dustmites” – ten minutes, but I could not wait for it to be over.) I see Girl Asleep has been picked by Oscilloscope, so it should be available for viewing in the near future. Bechdel Test: PASS.
We were joined by a couple friends for Kedi, a documentary about the special relationship cats have with the city of Istanbul. Like Neko Atsume but with real cats (BTW – two dudes sitting in front of us for My Blind Brother immediately each checked their game when the film was over). We are introduced to several cats and the humans who have assumed the role of caretaker for them. The cats have free reign over Istanbul, and they are many. Amazingly, I think the film could have used more cats (just like this paragraph). There were too many shots of the city itself – expansive views of the skyline, overhead shots of the old buildings, shift tilted vistas of the harbor. I get it, it’s not just about the cats.
We headed over to a nearby coffeehouse to discuss, and yet another coffee-related mishap befell me. This time I did not even want coffee, but ordered a peppermint steamer (presumably syrup and steamed milk). I was handed a cappuccino. In a way, it may have been making up for the spilled coffee of the previous day, or maybe the universe is just messing with me.