Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

Time's a-wastin', procrastinators: time to turn off the Netflickery and get yourselves to an actual cinematic event. SIFF 2012 comes to a close on Sunday, and here I present to you a handy list of six sure-fire hits — some archival favorites, most recently-screened standouts — all unspooling this weekend as the festival prepares to bid adieu for the year.

You'll notice that the Closing Night selection Grassroots, which chronicles Grant Cogswell's 2001 Seattle City Council bid (on a tenacious pro-monorail platform), isn't on this list; I got an early look and I can tell you it jumps the rails pretty early on, veers into unpleasantly manic territory and finally wobbles its way to a very silly finale. Not terrible, but far from great, and definitely not worth the gala-ticket pricepoint. I actually doubt the film will have much interest outside the 206 and adjacent area codes, and — fun though it can be to see our Space Needle and our evergreens and our neighborhood haunts on the big screen — a gigantic world-cinema celebration like SIFF reaffirms for us all that Seattle actually isn't the center of the universe. Right?


170 Hz
{screens June 9 at 2pm at Pacific Place}
Dark, absorbing, ferociously visual Dutch flick about two very attractive deaf post-adolescents who fall hard for each other and — rebelling against their parents' various encroachments on their lives, of course — cook up a plan to run away together. The leads' performances, the atmospheric handiwork, and the not-quite-linear storytelling are spot-on in the most purely sensual film I've seen in quite a while.

Best of SIFF 2012 shorts
{screens June 10 at 7pm at the Egyptian}
The full roster for this late-breaking collection of Audience and Jury favorites from the shorts programs won't be announced until day-of, but assuming the Shortsfest award-winners are prominent this should be an entertaining and enlightening package. I'm partial to Nudist Beach (from the Keep Calm and Carry On set of Brit shorts) and Paradise (from the Over The Edge program), the latter of which won the Documentary Short Grand Jury prize and will likely be screened here. Amie picked a nice roundup of standouts a couple weeks ago that just might get their second shots too.

Coal Miner's Daughter
{screens June 10 at 8pm at the Harvard Exit}
Loretta Lynn hand-picked Sissy Spacek to portray her (and apparently announced casting even before Spacek was approached for the role) in this perennially amazing screen adaptation of her autobio. We'll see if Zooey Deschanel (!) fares as well in the planned Broadway version (!), but in the meantime we can behold Sissy at her vivid, naturalistic best at this special FREE archival screening. The weather forecast didn't allow for a planned outdoor event at Seattle Center's Mural Amphitheatre (originally scheduled for 6/8), but I reckon boots can scoot just as well at the dear old Harvard.

Hello I Must Be Going
{screens June 8 at 6pm at Pacific Place, June 9 at 3pm at the Harvard Exit}
Thirtysomething Amy (Melanie Lynskey), newly jobless and husbandless, reluctantly moves in with her high-achieving parents (Blythe Danner and John Rubenstein); an unexpected guest to her pity-party arrives in the adorable form of her dad's client's 19-year-old son (Christopher Abbott, aka Charlie of HBO's Girls, who'll attend SIFF screenings with Lynskey as a special guest). The cast is wonderful and the Laura Veirs soundtrack is perfect for the material. A few silly, shticky missteps in the final third threaten to knock the story off its trajectory, but in the end the film's many charms win.

Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present
{screens June 8 at 4pm at the Uptown}
This outstanding examination of the remarkable life and groundbreaking work of the 60something Belgrade-born performance-art sensation documents the conception of her ultimate self-portrait — a three-month 2010 MoMA retrospective whose centerpiece was the artist herself looking intently at whatever museum visitor sat facing her, every damn hour of every damn day MoMA was open — and its glorious culmination. This is a smart, perceptive, beautifully assembled film that manages to make challenging art accessible, and to give us the sensation of gazing into Marina's eyes ourselves. It's my documentary best-of-fest pick, and one of my favorite films of any genre so far this year.

Red Road
{screens June 9 at 11am at the Harvard Exit}
This slow-burn Scottish chiller is absolutely worth a big-screen viewing if you missed it during its original 2006 run. The story follows a young widow working as a security guard who, after catching a reviled apparition from her past on Glasgow CCTV monitors, embarks on a dangerous revenge game of deception and blackmail. This stripped-down feature debut of SIFF 2012 Emerging Master Andrea Arnold is thoughtful, intense, and disquieting.

And that does it for my SIFF coverage this year… at least until I preview the Uptown's "Best of SIFF" series (June 15-21) in the coming week. See you at the cinema(s)!