by Herb Krohn -
SGN A&E Writer
SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Through June 9
As the 39th edition of SIFF heads into its final weekend, here are two films generating serious buzz - one highly deserving, the other ... well, you decide.
THE GREAT PASSAGE
Saturday, June 8, 3 p.m., Kirkland Performance Center
The quest for the rare SIFF entry that is a complete 'wow' is like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Some years there will be multiple 'wows' and other years there will be none. This remarkable film is the long-awaited 'wow' of SIFF 2013. It is a rather simple plot of a geeky, awkward loner of a man at a publishing house, who is transferred from sales to the dictionary section - where he finds himself. This wonderful film has it all: humor, warmth, poignancy, romance, challenge, friendship, while covering all stages of human life from youth to death. The centerpiece is language - more specifically, words - as the characters' lives come together over the task of creating a new, comprehensive dictionary. Arguably the best SIFF film of the past several years, The Great Passage just sucks you into the lives of the characters and their relationships to one another. While it does not yet have a scheduled American release date, it is not to be missed.
THE BLING RING
Rating: Below average
Sunday, June 9, 6:30 p.m., Cinerama
Closing Night Gala Presentation
Four girls and one boy of high-school age who live overindulged lives in the L.A. area begin burglarizing the homes of stars in Hollywood and Beverly Hills for excitement, money, and trophy items. The boy is almost certainly Gay, but the film never completely discloses nor addresses it. This group of bored, decadent, designer-label obsessed spoiled brats steal and then party and play; they stupidly spend wildly, take drugs, and drink at bars while bragging about their exploits to their friends, naturally resulting in their arrest. Based on real-life incidents, this film, a reflection of this pathological sickness that grips far too many young people as a result of exploitative media, particularly advertising, will keep your interest, but after it's over and you think about it, it really is depressing. Nonetheless, the performances and the production are of the highest caliber.
The following films have already had their final SIFF screening but are worth seeking out (or avoiding, as the case may be):
Rating: Above average
Coming-out teen comedy
'Every trendy high-school girl wants a Gay best friend' is the premise of this cute comedy, which will appeal to a contemporary teenaged audience. The jokes are clever, and the characterizations of the stereotypical high-school groups (both Gay and straight) are textbook. It is a fun film, but really nothing special with a plot of three competitive popular girls who are all seeking to be the prom queen; they figure the answer to their quest is to have a G.B.F. to bring them over the top in popularity. The production values are solid, so it demonstrates that modern Gay-centric comedies can demonstrate quality filmmaking, so in this regard it is refreshingly light and cute. If you like the teen comedy genre, this is one for you.
IT'S ALL SO QUIET
A middle-aged, lonely, closeted Gay man takes care of his bedridden father and the family farm while he struggles with his sexual identity and is hit on by other somewhat closeted characters. Bleak, dark, and slow - this a good film to avoid, unless you really like this kind of thing.
Rating: Very good
A biopic exploration of the life of mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria, from early manhood through his ascendancy to the throne and the tortured life he led, slowly descending into madness as he struggled with his sexuality, his love of art and music, and his overpowering vision and desire for peace. This German-made film uses fantastic settings as well as lavish costumes to bring the period to life. The filmmakers were exquisitely detailed in capturing the time period as well as Ludwig's internal struggles and dilemmas. Lengthy, at over 140 minutes, this film is not for everyone! While select viewers with an intense interest in the subject matter will be mesmerized by the exquisite attention to detail, those who don't share these interests will likely be bored.
FUCK YOUR PARENTS
This creative clever short plot exactly matches its title. A cohabiting twentysomething Jewish couple break up and go their separate ways. Not a revenge film, it is a hilarious unique comedy that really sets up an unusual scenario, which had the audience in stitches. To avoid spoilers no more will be said. If you get a chance to see this, grab it!
This is a docudrama about a woman who became the private chef to the president of France. One of the greatest food films ever, it will have you wanting to try each and every dish created. The cinematography of food preparation makes this film one that will hopefully be released soon in the U.S. so you too can enjoy the finest in French cooking. Even Julia Child would have gone nuts over this!
The following films of LGBT interest, unavailable for preview, have screenings this weekend (see the SIFF Guide or visit www.siff.net for details):
Friday, June 7, 4 p.m., Egyptian
Saturday, June 8, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian
Sunday, June 9, 1:30 p.m., Egyptian
LAST I HEARD
Saturday, June 8, 6 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Sunday, June 9, 2:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown
Friday, June 7, 7 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sunday, June 9, 1:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
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