Three Imaginary Girls

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


We’ve just passed the halfway point of SIFF 2010. Which means if you’re local to Seattle and haven’t yet partaken in our annual month-long cinematic gorge fest, it’s not too late. And with around a hundred narrative features left to sift through, it’s never too early to start planning your movie weekend. Here’s a must-see, an OK charmer, and a definite miss on tap for June 4-6:

Blessed, directed by Australian Ana Kokkinos (one of this year’s SIFF Emerging Masters), is an affecting Crash-style ensemble drama about mothers, their children, and the unhappily strained dynamics between them. Set in a blue-collar Melbourne suburb and taking place over the course of a single day, the film’s intersecting stories are told twice, in two distinct segments: part one provides the viewpoint of the troubled offspring (a pair of runaway preteen siblings, a teen boy accused of stealing his mom’s money, an adult who learns of his estranged mother’s passing, etc.), part two recounts the action via the parents’ POVs. Frances O’Connor, Miranda Otto, and Deborra-Lee Furness are among the top-notch Oz actors playing the moms, who in the chock-full day presented here will encounter visit by the police, a suicide attempt, a sexual abuse allegation and/or an accidental death. Kokkinos handles all the drama efficiently, keeping the stories moving at a brisk clip and generally maintaining an honest tone all the way to the film’s heartbreaking, life-affirming end. It’s not quite up to par with her great 1998 gem Head On (which will be screened separately as an archival presentation), but so far it’s one of the stronger efforts of the SIFF year. {Screens June 4, 6:30p and June 5, 4p, at Pacific Place.}

Meet Monica VelourMeet Monica Velour. If you thought Kim Cattrall’s talent was wasted in Sex and the City 2, or if (like me) you’ve read the bad reviews and you’re just flat-out avoiding it, you could do much worse than this uneven but endearingly offbeat indie by first-time feature director Keith Bearden. In it, La Cattrall plays a former porn star, living in an Indiana trailer park, struggling to regain custody of her daughter while coming to terms with the dead-end life she has created for herself. (Yeah, there’s actually not much of Samantha here at all.) The film’s focus, though, is a 17-year-old Napoleon Dynamite lookalike named Tobe (Dustin Ingram); he’s a fan of her catalog (which includes such titles as Saturday Night Beaver and Pork & Mindy), and via a rather far-fetched series of events he and Monica become unlikely pals. It’s silly fun, with a nice performance by Cattrall (and a knockout one by Keith David as an avid kitsch collector; I want a whole movie about him), and the happy ending manages to avoid sticky-sweet. {Screens June 4, 9:30p, at SIFF Cinema and June 6, 1:30p, at the Neptune Theatre.}

Run If You CanRun If You Can is a love-triangle story that could have been interesting. German director Dietrich Brüggemann’s debut feature concerns wheelchair-bound Ben, his assistant Christian, and a loopy cello student named Annika. Ben is deeply desperate — his assholish demeanor and biting humor are meant to be proof of this, I suppose. He fires one caregiver whom he’s grown tired of abusing, then hires conscientious Christian, who (evidently for the first time in Ben’s life) challenges Ben’s poor treatment. Things suddenly change when Christian meets Annika, whose klutzy bike-rides to university Ben has been observing stalker-style from his window. A ridiculous and frustrating chain of plot points later, the three have become close friends, all with lots of time on their hands, and Annika (who is so awkward that she has trouble with everyday life anyway) finds herself in the middle, literally and figuratively. Who will she choose? How will she choose? Yawn. This one’s skippable as far as I’m concerned. {Screens June 6, 3:30p and June 7, 9:15p, at Pacific Place. I hope you don’t need this information.}