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April 18th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Now, I suffer from the same deep down Freudian affliction as most other men: castration anxiety. I was worried that this film would put way worse of a tingle in my dingle than it did do. The movie spends far less time actually dealing with detached genitals than you (and I) might have thought; it is instead about something all men can relate to: legacy.

The film’s three main characters make for some interesting drama: 1) Siggi, the curator of the penis museum and seeker of the titular FINAL MEMBER, 2) Pall, legendary Icelandic womanizer and the first to pledge donation, and 3) Tom, well-endowed American exhibitionist with plans to donate while still alive. Even though the documentary was filmed over a multiple year period, the tension of who’s going to the the first specimen (and will the specimen be donated while the elderly Siggi is still alive) is extremely well paced and completely engrossing.

The filmmakers could have easily left the universal themes at the easy phallic metaphors and left it at that, but they have so much human generosity to the subjects of the film. A sympathetic symphony of patriotism, aging, obsession, and manhood. Funny, but never at the expense of its subjects.

This is the least subtle imagery in the film. I promise it doesn't get into the immature weeds.

This is the least subtle imagery in the film. I promise it doesn’t get into the immature weeds.

A tip of the hat yet again to our friends at Drafthouse for releasing another instant classic.

—made it through without quease or dis-ease, dan

It’s been a month

April 11th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

since I graced this blog with my musings on the splendiferous programming of the Grand Illusion. Sorry it took so long, but maybe you haven’t even felt my absence. I’ve been putting in 60 hour work weeks and had to get out of town the last few weekends, so that’s my excuse. That, and I’ve been feeling a little creatively dry.

However, I had to jump on here to talk to you about MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS. I had the pleasure of repping this film for SIFF 2013, and the even greater pleasure of meeting director and star of this meta rock doc, Tom Berninger. Berninger is the brother of the frontman of The National, Matt Berninger.

This film has appeal on multiple levels. Will you see lots of behind the scenes action of one the the biggest indie bands in the world? Yes, and I know that’s the appeal for most of the people who would rush out to see this film. But for me, the two biggest appeals were unexpected and that’s what I want to share with you.

Appeal one: The National is made up of two pairs of brothers, plus Matt Berninger. Tom Berninger, Matt’s brother and the director and true star of the film, is the perfect foil to Matt. Tom is into heavy metal music, not the indie rock nonsense his brother creates. Matt is the older brother who has the career and has it together, while Tom wants to be a filmmaker and has only made one feature that looks like a Roger Corman movie. The brotherly drama fuels the movie perfectly and works as a movie about brothers about a band of brothers. Layers!

Can you guess which is Matt and which is Tom?

Can you guess which is Matt and which is Tom?

Appeal two: Speaking of layers, after Tom gets done filming The National’s international tour for 2010′s High Violet, he moves in to Matt’s apartment in Brooklyn and attempts to try to find what the story of his movie. That’s where the film veers out of the standard tour documentary/band profile arena and becomes something entirely different.

I don’t want to give too much more away. Suffice it to say, though we show many music docs here at the GI, this is one that is truly unique and eschews traditional music doc structure.

It’s great! See it!

Also, we’ve got a few films on 35mm by a little unknown director named Orson Welles, but you don’t need me to tell you to see ‘em. ;)

—back in the saddle, dan

Positively Bergmanian

March 15th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Okay, I haven’t seen much Bergman. But all the Scandinavian Americans speaking their native tongue and the quiet drama portrayed in rich black and white certainly drew parallels for me. It must’ve been striking high art chords with its 1979 Cannes audience as well, winning the Camera D’Or.

We do this a lot at the GI, have a string of similarly themed films in a row. Not talking about just director or actor retrospectives; here we have two weeks in a row films about rural life, filmed in the 70s and critical darlings. Both relatively forgotten till just recently, and both with real life subjects and real history. And both absolutely worthy of rediscovery!

And yes, of course the overt socialism drew the inevitable Sawant references from Seattle’s two weeklies. This film deserves much more than name dropping local politicians, and true cinephiles will see its place as a great contemporary piece to Malick’s DAYS OF HEAVEN. I wish I had thought of that first, but the great, late Roger Ebert beat me to it! Proves great minds think alike.

Nice cine. Anagram.

Nice cine. Anagram.

See you cats Saturday! I’ll be slinging film for the 7:00 NORTHERN LIGHTS and following that up with a lil’ anime! That’s right! The GI is still the best place in town to see anime on the relatively big screen! TIGER & BUNNY!

—northern by pacific northwestern, dan

What a Jule of a Film

March 7th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

You know I’m not going to resist a titular pun, but maybe you didn’t see that one coming? I’m back, after letting you loose with Woody Allen for a while. You certainly didn’t need me to tell you to go see films from his most verdant and broadest ranging decade. And in 35mm no less!

I really want to talk to you about COUSIN JULES. What an absolutely exquisite gem of a film. A day in the life of a French backsmith and his wife. While watching the film, I was reminded of the children’s story of City Mouse and Country Mouse. The film doesn’t hit you over the head with the thematic virtues of the quiet peasant’s life like that old fable. Instead, it gives you a quiet ode to rural living, filmed in the aftermath of the French New Wave and the anti-materialist late 60s films of Jean-Luc Goddard.

This film is so exquisitely shot, it furthers my belief that whatever they were doing with the photochemical process in the 70s still makes it the greatest decade for cinema. This pastoral poem has all the fly-on-the-wall, day-in-the-life authenticity of the best cinema verite. With hardly a word uttered the whole film, to make a clumsy analogue to today’s post-modern filmmaking, this is OG mumblecore. There is no conflict or plot, besides the most rudimentary theme of man vs. nature, or going about your daily business to survive.

What's buzzin', cousin?

What’s buzzin’, cousin?

From the title, I was expecting something along the lines of the 70s Quebecois gem MON ONCLE ANTOINE, which just so happens to have come out the same year (1971). I don’t think that Cousin Jules from the title is meant to be someone specific’s cousin diagetic to the film, but an everyman. He’s your Cousin Jules too, and somewhere in the French countryside he’s still pulling away at his billows and carving another slice of bread.

Thank you, Cinema Guild, for distributing this missing treasure at last.

—cousin jules, he’s no fool, dan

Jobriath C.E.

February 1st, 2014 § Leave a Comment

My gosh my goodness, what a well-told story of someone’s life. The ultimate of tragedies. This film is a must see documentary, not just from a music interest or gay interest standpoint, but because it is one of the most full-fledged stories of “before their time” genius I have ever seen.

jobriath-gatefold

This album cover’s actually pretty rad.

Jobriath was a genius of a composer and performer. I especially liked the Cole Berlin persona of his later years, deftly tickling the ivories with the quaintest and most delightful of tunes. I think he could have been a great Broadway musical writer. So sad.

His dismissal at the time of being wrapped up and delivered as a star feels so ironic living in a post-American Idol America, though some of the same dances with being too outwardly gay still factor today (even on that show). Though again, this film transcends just being a story about the first openly gay rock star, which it could have easily been in the hands of a less talented filmmaker. The film has just the right amount of reveals, plot twists, and act breaks you would expect if it was a narrative film instead of a documentary.

And the film’s even got a print version Stranger Suggests this week! See it Saturday night and I’ll be the one projecting it for your edification.

—go Hawks, dan

Another Beautiful Poetic Documentary

January 25th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

You can do yourself a favor and see TOKYO WAKA this week. Seriously. It’s a damn fine picture and I don’t mind telling you why.

In a happy trend, documentaries are returning more to their cinema verite roots. Why tell when you can show? Isn’t the true cinematic power of film its ability to show 24 pictures a second, pictures being worth a thousand words? This film focuses on crows, of course, but it happens to capture the essence of Tokyo at the same time. The reverence shown to crows by Japanese people is explored through religious symbolism and cultural signifiers, and is elegantly and eloquently paced throughout the film. There is the same repetition and reprisal of themes spaced so as to truly create a poem of a movie. A fine film to watch while the dry, grey winter air makes one melancholy in our own city.

I've been attacked by a crow. They aren't nice.

I’ve been attacked by a crow. They aren’t nice.

In stark contrast to the quiet stoicism of TOKYO WAKA stands RAZE, weekend late night and around for the full week. Fans of the classic grindhouse, Roger Corman-era “women in prison” movies and the new school horror, Eli Roth-era “torture porn” movies will be happy to see the two married together for bare-knuckled fights to the death. Speaking of GRINDHOUSE, in its recent Tarantino incarnation, Zoe Bell from DEATH PROOF is the star of the film. One of my personal favorite female genre stars, Rachel Nichols, co-headlines the bill.

We’ve added some more tasty treats to the calendar, be sure you scroll the whole main page!

—WAKA WAKA WAKA, Fozzie Bear, dan

That’s Outrageous!

January 18th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

I wish I could have seen Evangelion last week. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to watch it ahead of time: so no blog.

However, I was able to get my grubby mitts on BEYOND OUTRAGE, a remarkable film directed by and featuring Takeshi Kitano, whom I recognized as being the teacher from BATTLE ROYALE. But of course, he’s so much more than that to the right person. GI volunteer Edwin told me he’s an respected auteur in Japanese cinema, so I’m sure we’ll have some stalwart fans out for this one.

As to the film itself: though it was a sequel, I didn’t feel lost or left behind by not having seen the first one. It felt like a very natural place to start a yakuza film, with an absolutely great opening shot. Handled with a pacing more in line with the Godfather films, this film is a refreshing throwback to old school gangster films, discarding the hyperkinectic editing and twists and turns of so many films of late. Sparsely scored, this film lets ambient sound and dialogue take center stage, sonically speaking. It helps create a gritty atmosphere, perfectly suited to the exquisitely framed shots.

Do it.

Do it.

We’ve got so many other great Japanese films on this calendar, it’s crazy! Another dose of anime with ANOHANA THE MOVIE and a poetic documentary about crows, TOKYO WAKA.

And don’t forget, Friday and Saturday nights we’ve got special screenings of one of the best music docs of 2013, THE PUNK SINGER. Perfect storytelling and incredibly intimate, THE PUNK SINGER hits you hard and fast as one of BIKINI KILL’s seminal songs. A must see, especially for PNW natives.

—next week, Zoe Bell, dan

Don’t Call The Cops, But Here Comes The Devil

January 4th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Welcome to 2014. I’m back after December off. Didn’t really have any new thoughts to share on IAWL and I was knee deep in some other stuff. But guess what? I’m here now, and we’ve got two very GI-worthy films to ring in the new year.

First off, the sequel in spirit (or at the very least, titularly similar) to last year’s GI hit WRONG. That’s right, none other than WRONG COPS. Not since RENO 911 have cops been painted in such a selfish, boneheaded, and hilarious way by an ensemble cast of funnymen (including my boy Eric Wareheim!). It’s not the laugh-a-minute fast-paced antics of that crew, but a motley crew slightly more corrupt and even less concerned with the need to perform as proper officers of the law. Not as surreal as WRONG or RUBBER, Quentin Dupieux’s latest film is simultaneously weirder and more relatable. And just when you were feeling down about Steve Little going away with EASTBOUND AND DOWN now off the air, here he pops back up to make you love him all over again! At least, I love him! He and Eric Judor from WRONG both feature in this film. Perhaps the greatest pleasure is Marilyn Manson’s sublime supporting role.

Oh, so very wrong Mr. Manson.

Oh, so very wrong Mr. Manson.

Comin’ on up in the late night slot for the next two weeks: the film HERE COMES THE DEVIL. I didn’t see it when it was in SIFF 2013, but I’m sure as hell glad I saw it now. Another one of the great 70s horror/thriller homages I’ve seen come out in recent years, fans of Ti West’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL will find a lot to like here. The film has some aesthetic touches that link it firmly in a 70s milieu, such as sudden zooms on key revealing details (making me think of horror/thrillers like those of Argento or perhaps Roeg’s DON’T LOOK NOW). Not full of gotcha twists or jump scares, this is how I like my horror. I just you could go see the new PARANORMAL ACTIVITY sequel, but if you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a more acquired taste than that.

She's just having a seizure, right?

She’s just having a seizure, right?

Sorry we don’t have THE THIN MAN this week, blame that crazy winter they’ve got going on on the east coast right now. Hard to imagine with that sunny day we just had. I’ll be seeing you next week with EVANGELION 3.0, I loved the first two and I’m stoked!

—sunny day, chasing the clouds away, dan

So Very Close

November 23rd, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Again, another fast and quick week. You don’t need me to tell you you have to see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, especially since we’ve got a new 35mm print.

Let me just tell you a little story about when I saw this director’s cut as a young boy: it was scary. Remember, the blockbuster film that put Spielberg on the map right before this film? JAWS. He doesn’t lose it with this film, and I still remember his 2005 WAR OF THE WORLDS as being pretty damn good (as far as I was concerned, minus a little too much screeching from Miss Fanning). Spielberg has long been giving us incredible sci-fi, and it all started here. Can’t have those incredible dramatic tensions in WORLDS without the lights outside and the whole house shaking in ENCOUNTERS. And it was just plain weird, making the Devil’s Tower in mashed potatoes. That was something a kid could relate to!

The thought of this scene never fails to make me hungry. What can I say, I grew up in Idaho.

The thought of this scene never fails to make me hungry. What can I say, I grew up in Idaho.

I think JAWS is incredible (and the little seen DUEL even better), but ENCOUNTERS is the film where Spielberg really starts to show himself as an auteur and preludes his criminally underappreciated sci-fi films of the last decade (A.I., WAR OF THE WORLDS, MINORITY REPORT). Yes, his immediate sci-fi success following ENCOUNTERS is E.T., and his sci-fi legacy is undoubted, but there is something very compelling about ENCOUNTERS. I need to see it again…guess I will, I’m slinging reels tomorrow night!

—ready for Malick, dan

Divine Divinity

November 15th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

I don’t have to really say much here, do I? We had some John Waters flicks a couple years back on 35mm, and that’s when I discovered the magic of Divine. Talk about a truly magnetic screen personality! There’s lots to love and enjoy here, this superb doc having just won here in town at SLGFF. If you didn’t catch it, please do!

Glenn or Glennda?

Glenn or Glennda?

I’m sorry, been a bit ill of late and don’t have the energy to go crazy here. Luckily Divine is all the crazy you need and deserve, and we got it at the GI this week. Plus, FEMALE TROUBLE in 35mm! Wonderful!

—I’ve divined your future, it’s got Divine, dan