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Looking back on the best and worst of SIFF 2009
by Herb Krohn - SGN Contributing Writer

American Primitive
Rating: Very Good

USA - 2009
Genre: Coming of Age Drama
Set in 1973 this feature film plot centers on a widowed man who has just moved to Cape Cod, MA with his two teenaged daughters. It quickly becomes apparent that his "business partner" is more than just that when he moves in with the family. On a night outing with their high school friends to the local gay bar one of the daughters happens to see their father out with his "partner" dancing and cavorting. The story really centers on the two daughters and how they cope or experience denial with the possibility that their father is a "homosexual", as well as how they come to terms with the issue once the cat is out of the bag. This feature film does a remarkable job of capturing the spirit of the times in the early 70's, as well as how society was dealing with the early gay rights movement. Based on a true story, this film will hopefully return soon for a theatrical run.

Give Me Your Hand
Rating: Bomb

France - 2009
Subtitled
Genre: Erotic Road Movie
Two identical twin brothers take a road trip on way to their mother's funeral. They fight, experience jealousy, and have sexual experiences along the way. This boring poorly made film really went nowhere very slowly; spending time to sit through it was good only for a nap. Even the sex scenes were not very interesting. This is among the worst in gay films of SIFF 2009.

Tears of April
Rating: Excellent

Finland (Germany & Greece) - 2009
Subtitled
Genre: Romantic Action/Adventure
A very complex period piece set at the end of the Finnish Civil War in 1918. A soldier saves a young woman in a genocidal action and insists on taking her to a Judge for trial. He develops feelings for her along the way and does whatever it takes to try to save her life, even sleeping with the Judge. So it sounds fairly simple, this well done work really captures the plot and recreates this story as though it were really happening. It is an excellent cinematic work, as well as a profile of the highly principled solider who really believes in the woman's innocence, and yet he also seems to develop a romantic fondness for the Judge as well. It's a contrast in human behaviors and values, and it comes together well.

Among the top choices for SIFF 2009:

Talhotblond
Rating: Excellent

USA - 2009
Documentary
This documentary is one fascinating production, telling the true story of an internet love triangle gone bad that results in a murder of an innocent young man in upstate New York. Real life is often stranger than fiction and this eerie true tale proves it. This film is a must see for anyone and everyone who has ever sought out friendship, partnership, or sex on the internet!! Told through interviews with many of the participants and their families, as well as photographs, and transcripts of the actual internet text conversations this production tells the story in a factual and non sensational, unbiased way. It really raises lots of questions about internet freedom and regulation, individual culpability, as well as if and how should the World Wide Web be policed and if so by whom. Winner of the 2009 SIFF Grand Jury for Best Documentary, it's an absolute must see, don't miss it!!!

OSS 117: Lost In Rio
Rating: Good

France
Comedy
The 2nd in the series of French Comedy parody of James Bond films, our hero OSS117 travels to Rio to complete his latest assignment. This film is a cross been James Bond, Airplane, and the Naked Gun series, this film takes aim at almost every ethnic group and ever gag joke used. Still it's a clever enjoyable comedy romp and worth the price of admission.

Black Dynamite
Rating: Excellent

USA
Comedy
Don't miss this parody of early 1970's American Blacksploitation Films! It is a riotous comedy as our hero "Black Dynamite" returns to action to save children from the scourge of smack, to save the Black American ideal from the ravages of foreign intrigue and finally to save America from Richard Nixon. This film is hilarious and tacky forage in the genre of a time gone by, and it was without a doubt the funniest film in SIFF 2009. While certainly not the highest caliber film, it somehow won the 2009 SIFF Golden Space Needle Audience Award for Best Picture!! Don't miss out, go see this film!!

The Cove
Rating: Outstanding

USA - 2009
Documentary
This film will make your blood boil. It epitomizes nearly everything wrong with our world today - Arrogance, Indifference and Greed. The subject is the Dolphin trade and the community in Japan that provides most of the mammals' uses in such places as Sea World and other similar marine animal feature parks in the world. The problem is that after a few dolphins are selected by the marine parks the rest are herded into a nearby cove and slaughtered. The effort that the filmmakers had to go to clandestinely document the horrible truth behind the exploitation of the dolphin trade is truly remarkable. What is even more amazing is that the point person who is trying to stop this exploitation and needless butchering of a species is the same man who started it all - the original trainer of the dolphins used in the 1960's hit TV show "Flipper". This is an amazing story that begs to be told to the world. Not only about the senseless killing of thousands of dolphins each year, but the greed of these so called fishermen to sell this poisonous meat to their own communities. This film is the Winner of the 2009 Golden Space Needle Award for Best Documentary.

SIFF 2009 Golden Space Needle Audience Awards

Best Film Golden Space Needle Award
Black Dynamite, directed by Scott Sanders (USA, 2009)
First runner up: The Necessities of Life, directed by Benoît Pilon (Canada, 2008)
Second runner up: (500) Days of Summer, directed by Marc Webb (USA, 2009)
Third runners up (tie): ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction, directed Kevin Hamedani (USA,
2009) and Morris: A Life With Bells On, directed by Lucy Akhurst (United Kingdom, 2008)
Fourth runner up: North Face, directed by Philipp Stolzl (Austria, 2008)

Rounding out the top ten:
Marcello Marcello (Denis Rabaglia, Switzerland, 2008);
Departures (Yojiro Takita, Japan, 2008);
Patrik Age 1.5 (Ella Lemhagen, Sweden, 2008);
Amreeka (Cherien Dabis, Canada, 2009)
Humpday (Lynn Shelton, USA, 2009)

Best Documentary Golden Space Needle Award
The Cove, directed by Louie Psihoyos (USA, 2009)

First runner up: Sweet Crude, directed by Sandy Cioffi (USA, 2008)
Second runner up: William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, directed by Sarah Kunstler and
Emily Kunstler (USA, 2009)
Third runner up: Every Little Step, directed by James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo (USA, 2008)
Fourth runners up (tie): Food, Inc., directed by Robert Kenner (USA, 2008) and Facing Ali,
directed by Pete McCormack (Canada, 2009)

Rounding out the top ten:
Gotta Dance (Dori Berinstein, USA, 2008);
Afghan Star (Havana Marking, Afghanistan, 2008);
Dancing Across Borders (Anne H. Bass, USA, 2009);
The Garden (Scott Hamilton, USA, 2008);
Icons Among Us (Michael Rivoira, LarsLarson, Peter J. Vogt; USA, 2009)

Best Director Golden Space Needle Award
Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker (USA, 2008)
First runner up: Lynn Shelton, for Humpday (USA, 2009)
Second runner up: Kari Skogland for Fifty Dead Men Walking (UK/Canada, 2008)
Third runner up: Spike Lee for Passing Strange (USA, 2009)
Fourth runner up: Marc Webb for (500) Days of Summer (USA, 2009)

Best Actor Golden Space Needle Award
Sam Rockwell for Moon (United Kingdom, 2009)
First runner up: Jim Sturgess for Fifty Dead Men Walking (United Kingdom, 2008)
Second runner up: Natar Ungalaaq for The Necessities of Life (Canada, 2008)
Third runner up: Mark Duplass for Humpday (USA, 2009)
Fourth runner up: Toni Servillo for Il Divo (Italy, 2008)

Best Actress Golden Space Needle Award
Yolande Moreau for Séraphine (France/Belgium, 2008)
First runner up: Catalina Saavedra for The Maid (Chile, 2008)
Second runner up: Trine Dyrholm, for Little Soldier (Denmark, 2009)
Third runner up: Nathalie Press for Fifty Dead Men Walking (UK/Canada, 2008)
Fourth runner up: Iben Hjejle for The Escape (Denmark, 2009)

Best Short Film Golden Space Needle Award
Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, directed by Nick Park, (UK)
First runner up: Treevenge, directed by Jason Eisener (Canada)
Second runner up: Full Employment, directed by Thomas Oberlies and Matthias Vogel
(Germany)
Third runner up: French Roast, directed by Fabrice O. Joubert (France)
Fourth runner up: Make My Day, directed by Pelle Møller (Denmark)

Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision, Presented by Women in Film/Seattle
Sweet Crude, directed by Sandy Cioffi (USA, 2008)

Now for the 2009 Fool/Serious Awards which are determined by balloting of Full Series Passholders, 170 holders of SIFF passes (full series, platinum, press, sponsor and staff) rated every SIFF film they saw.

Most Liked

The Most Liked films are:

1. Departures
2. North Face
3. Tears of April
4. Séraphine
5. Necessities of Life
6. The Hurt Locker
7. That Evening Sun
8. Troubled Water
9. Moon
10. Kabei - Our Mother

Least Liked
1. The Whole Truth
2. Black Dogs Barking
3. Everything Strange and New
4. Sugisball
5. Yes, I Can See Dead People
6. Be Calm and Count to Seven
7. The Baby Formula
8. Inland
9. The Firm Land
10. The Hills Run Red

Top Documentaries
The Top Documentary films are:
1. Burma VJ - Reporting from a Closed Country
2. Every Little Step
3. The Beaches of Agnès
4. Sweet Crude

Top Archival
The Top Archival films are:
1. Sunset Boulevard
2. Once Upon a Time in the West
3. The Third Man
4. Dodsworth

The Special Category Award Winners
The Special Category Award Winners are:
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Best Script: Tie - Lynn Shelton for Humpday and Kundo Koyama for Departures.
Best Cinematographer: Kolja Brandt for North Face
Best Music: Osvaldo Golijov for Tetro
Best Actor: Natar Ungalaaq for Necessities of Life
Best Actress: Yolande Moreau for Seraphine
Best Guilty Pleasure: a tie between ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction and Black Dynamite

And lastly, after screening 118 films in this years SIFF this critic's choices are:

Best Films:

1. Departures
2. Hachiko: A Dogs Story
3. Marcello, Marcello
4. Mommy Is At The Hairdresser's

Best Documentaries:

1. The Cove
2. Talhotblond
3. Art & Copy
4. Defamation

The Worst Films:

1. The Baby Formula
2. The Exploding Girl
3. Raging Sun, Raging Sky
4. Give Me Your Hand

The Best Comedy Films:

1. Black Dynamite
2. Chef's Special
3. A Pain In The Ass



The Best Gay Oriented Film:

Mommy Is At The Hairdresser's

The Worst Gay Oriented Film:

The Baby Formula

Until Next Year: See you at the movies!


Transformers 2 : Michael Bay in a nutshell
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Transformers:
Revenge of the Fallen
Now Playing


Michael Bay was born on February 17. Paris Hilton was also born on February 17. I too, was born on February 17. I'm not sure what I think about this; I'll have to get back to you.

Four young upwardly mobile professionals dressed in urban smart-garb exited the theater in front of me. They weren't hipsters, but I knew by looking at them that they didn't live in Tukwila. They were talking about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. They weren't excited, but they weren't being derisive either. So I said, "What did you think of Transformers?"

The tall blonde guy wearing a brown leather jacket over a hoodie with creased jeans and Skechers said, "It's a Michael Bay movie."

This was not stated sarcastically, or with baited irony. It was said with an inevitable shrug, an exhausted affirmation that watching a Michael Bay movie is like anonymous sex with a pretty stranger; it's something you enjoy, but you know it won't matter in 20 minutes.

There, I said it (sort of). I liked it. Okay, I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. Hey, it's a Michael Bay movie.

I was even a bit irritated as the strapping frat boys behind me goofed on the flick at a couple of crucial points near the end. In retrospect, they were right and I was in denial. They also know how to enjoy a film like this.

If you go to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen because you're in the mood for tight storytelling, high drama, or enlightened perspectives, you are in the absolute wrong place. If you want to see some cool special effects, awesome explosions, and you like to goof on movies like in Mystery Science Theater 3000, pony up and enjoy. In fact, I think talking out loud during screenings should be mandatory.

The special effects are terrific. You can't take your eyes off the action, even after nearly two-and-a-half hours that easily could have been cut in half.

Shia LaBeouf (whose last name I choose to loosely translated as "the beef") is charming and Megan Fox (no translation required) is absolutely gorgeous. Everybody else, including John Turturro who I've loved since Miller's Crossing and Barton Fink, is stuck in stereotype hell.

Deus ex machina translates from Latin to English as, "God from the machine." Grad students love this term, which they use to describe a person or thing that shows up inexplicably and solves a narrative problem. It's sort of like a narrative non-sequitur but with a purpose. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is full of them. Also, divine robots, godbots (machina ex Deus?), play an important role in the previously mentioned moment late in the film when the frat boys were goofing. I have a weird sense of humor so I find this amusing.

It's also filthy. I was totally surprised by how thoroughly filthy this film is, especially in light of the innocence of the first film from 2007. I don't mind filthy, I've read The Canterbury Tales and Xaviera Hollander and enjoyed both. But I still wouldn't let my 10 year old see this flick, which is sad because isn't that who plays with Transformer toys in the first place?

In the end, this movie is pretty much what is expected. Unfortunately, the 2007 film, which was more than expected, set the bar really high. But what are you going to do? It's a Michael Bay movie.









Nonstop musical action in the break/s: a mixtape for stage
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New Century's Orange Flower Water is a hit
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Olympic Yacht Club: all grown up at 30
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Unsilenced musical witness to the Holocaust
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Strong acting can't salvage Vrooommm
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SSO world premiere falls painfully flat
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2009 PrideFest
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2009 Seattle Pride Parade shatters attendance records
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2009 Seattle PrideFeast
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Looking back on the best and worst of SIFF 2009
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Transformers 2 : Michael Bay in a nutshell
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Green Day, Lambert, Amos rocking in July
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Remembering the King of Pop
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Pride festivities and fun with my slave
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Deep Inside Hollywood - Romeo San Vicente
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Book Marks
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Capitol Hill Pride Festival
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Caliente Gay Pride with Efrenat Neighbours Underground
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Comeback! Gay shame bash at Chop Suey
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CruiseyT, Seattle's Pride Cruise
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A Dyke About Town: The delights of Pride
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EqualitYOGA at Cal Anderson Park
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Seattle Storm packs Key Arena
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