There may be only three days left, but there’s a huge pack of material to choose from, hence why we’ve decided to devote a fourth article to help you get through the end of this year’s slate of films.
It’s been a great year at SIFF this year. Catch up with us next week when we’ll be covering the Golden Seattle Awards and offering our own picks on the best of what the festival had to offer.
THE BLUE HOUR (ONTHAKAN) director Anucha Boonyawatana screenplay Anucha Boonyawatana, Waasuthep Ketpetch starring Atthaphan Poonsawas, Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang, Djuangjai Hirunsri Thailand, 97 minutes
The Blue Hour starts as a slowly-paced reflection on the lives of two gay teens in Thailand. They live their lives in complete secrecy, originally meeting at an abandoned pool because they can’t afford a motel and meeting at home would be “impossible.” They later have a date at a garbage dump. The film moves at a meaningful, reflective pace, letting each individual thread define itself in between moments of silence. Then things get fucking weird. Someone gets beat to death, a dog gets mauled, then another person dies. And that’s all before the otherworldly spirits, possessed moss paintings and re-animated corpses get involved. This movie is bonkers. Even if the film has no discernible meaning (upon an initial viewing, at least), it’s undoubtedly an interesting and at times captivating experience. *MUST SEE*
Sunday, June 7 at 8:30 PM, Harvard Exit
SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE director Leslye Headland screenplay Leslye Headland starring Alison Brie, Jason Sudeikis, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Natasha Lyonne, Jason Mantzoukas USA, 101 minutes
Director Leslye Headland attempts to throw the rom-com genre on its head with this crowd pleaser, with limited success. As traditional as Sleeping with Other People ends up, there’s still much fun to be had. The comedy is often hilarious and many performances are spot on, with some actors completely out of their comfort zone. Jason Sudeikis is particular is charming as Hell. Nothing incredible here, but still guaranteed to deliver a hearty laugh.
Friday, June 5 at 9:30 PM, Harvard Exit (director in attendance)/Sunday, June 7 at 4 PM, Harvard Exit (director in attendance)
TANGERINE director Sean Baker screenplay Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch starring Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O’Hagan, James Ransone USA, 88 minutes
Newly discovered actors Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor are an absolute revelation in this comedy about two Hollywood-based, trans identified sex workers. As the rambunctious Sin-Dee (Rodriguez) runs all around the city in trying to track down her pimp boyfriend and the girl he cheated on her with, Alexandra (Taylor) focuses on promoting her show at a club later that night to whoever she passes by. The film is hilarious, often due to the excellent timing and chemistry between Rodriguez and Taylor. It’s also an incredible feeling to see a film with two trans people as the protagonists, both of whom are real characters with tangible personalities and aspirations. They have their share of strengths and weaknesses, just like anyone else. Is the film perfect? Absolutely not, primary reason among them that the creative control of the film rested in the hands of a mostly white crew. Considering the narrative is told from the perspectives of two women of color, this is no doubt problematic. Tangerine is still a smart, innovative and beautiful film regardless. No other film at the festival this year has felt nearly as alive.
**BEST OF WEEK 4**
Sunday, June 7 at 6:15 PM, Harvard Exit (to be followed be a closing night party at MOHAI, included in price of admission)
THOSE PEOPLE director Joey Kuhn screenplay Joey Kuhn, Grainne Belluomo starring Jonathan Gordon, Jason Ralph, Haaz Sleiman USA, 89 minutes
This debut feature features notable acting, a well-paced story and a high production quality. It is without a doubt a film that can stand on its own, which makes it all the more shameful that it’s so out of touch with reality. Those People centers on a young art student in his mid-20s named Charlie and his best friend/lifelong crush Sebastian, the invalid heir to a massive fortune in stolen and swindled Wall Street investments. It’s very difficult to create sympathy for a person who was both complacent and complicit in acts of major financial crime, and to attempt to do is admirable, but director Joey Kuhn never quite builds a convincing case for why we should care. If that all weren’t bad enough, Those People also seems to exist in some sort of alternate reality where everyone is wealthy, perfectly manscaped and has jobs at high-end magazines like Vogue. It’s like the film brings up issues like wealth inequality and unemployment, only to completely abandon those who desperately need our attention. Those People is very well-made and Kuhn is no doubt a promising director. I just hope that next time he makes a film about something other than forced sympathy for spoiled rich kids.
Saturday, June 6 at 11 AM, Harvard Exit
ME HIM HER director Max Landis screenplay Max Landis starring Dustin Milligan, Luke Bracey, Emily Meade, Alia Shawkat, Geena Davis, Scott Bakula, Haley Joel Osment USA, 98 minutes
Everything about this film screams the typical low budget gay movie – the twinky actors, the amateurish production value – only Me Him Her seems to gleefully revel in it. It’s a minor stroke of genius the film works as well as it does, oftentimes in fact because of its grand dorkiness. The humor is usually quite effective and the lead actors are a lot of fun together, even if the script’s simple minded send-up of Hollywood’s treatment of queer people doesn’t quite work. It’s also a terrible shame that the film seems to ascribe to the offensive standard trope of gay women being achievable objects of pleasure for straight men. Even still, the film has enough charm to keep most audiences happy. And that Haley Joel Osment cameo is freaking hilarious.
Friday, June 5 at 7 PM, Harvard Exit (filmmakers and actors in attendance)/Saturday, June 6 at 1 PM, Pacific Place (filmmakers and actors in attendance)
CHALLAT OF TUNIS (LE CHALLAT DE TUNIS) director Kaouther Ben Hania screenplay Kaouther Ben Hania starring Jallel Dridi, Moufida Dridi, Narimène Saidane Tunisia, 90 minutes
Challat of Tunis takes on the mockumentary format in exploring the treatment of women in the politically tumultuous country of Tunisia. In the film, a woman director travels throughout the capital city of Tunis in order to find the so-called “challat,” (apparently Arabic for ‘slasher’) a man who became notorious for attacking pedestrian women who he deemed indecent. Challat is inspired by actual events, which at times provides the basis for incredibly profound and remarkable material. Though the mockumentary approach at times clouds this strength in so strongly blurring the line between fiction and truth, the format also provides the opportunity to delve into the study of a character who, for reasons that are equally infuriating and provoking, gleefully accepts the responsibility for such horrid crimes. Though Challat at times feels uneven, the film is saved by an innovative approach and a strong perspective. *MUST SEE*
Saturday, June 6 at 12 PM, Kirkland Performance Center/Sunday, June 7 at 11 AM, Harvard Exit
FOURTH MAN OUT director Andrew Nackman screenplay Aaron Dancik starring Evan Todd, Parker Young, Chord Overstreet, Jon Gabrus, Kate Flannery USA, 95 minutes
In Fourth Man Out, totally manly mechanic Adam comes out as a gay man to his even manlier, beer-drinkin’, poker playin’ straight guy friends. The majority of the struggles in this comedy come afterward, with Adam attempting to find his way in the big ‘ol gay world as his friends try to help him through. On one level, this is awful refreshing. Let’s face it, dating in the gay world is very difficult and it’s nice to see a film so aware of this. Which makes it even more unfortunate that every other gay man in the film feels like a sick caricature. One is a married closet case who wants to turn Adam into his basement sex slave and another is so obsessed with cock that he mimes fellatio with a baguette on their first date. Fourth Man Out is largely a fun, finely-acted flick. If only the film was more grounded with the struggles we actually face.
Saturday, June 6 at 2:30 PM, SIFF Cinema Uptown
THE KILLING FIELDS OF DR. HIANG S. NGOR director Arthur Dong featuring Hiang S. Ngor (archival footage), Wayne Ngor, Sophia Ngor, Jack Ong USA, 87 minutes
This documentary explores the life of Academy Award winner Haing S. Ngor, who won the Supporting Actor award as an amateur performer for his role in the 1984 Cambodian genocide film The Killing Fields. Seeing the true story behind the actor’s passion is incredibly compelling and has remarkable value as a document of a painful time in history. However, the film makes the odd choice of creating animated re-enactments of Ngor’s biography, which are often dubbed in English. Sometimes even historical footage gets the same treatment. When dealing with such sensitive material as a genocide that affected millions of people, it feels like a bit of an awkward choice.
Friday, June 5 at 6 PM, Kirkland Performance Center (director in attendance)/Saturday, June 6 at 12:30 PM, SIFF Cinema Uptown (director in attendance)
MY SKINNY SISTER (MIN LILLA SYSTER) director Sanna Lenken screenplay Sanna Lenken starring Rebecka Josephson, Amy Deasismont, Henrik Norlén, Annika Hallin, Maxim Mehmet Sweden, 95 minutes
This Swedish film about a teen figure skater with anorexia tells the story from the perspective of her awkward, chubby younger sister. Though there’s nothing ineffective about this film, My Skinny Sister doesn’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said about the disorder. Using the film to contrast the two sisters’ experiences is an interesting choice, but ultimately one that is not explored enough. The visibility the film offers is still valuable, especially in providing exposure to the pressures young girls face in trying to achieve a dangerous and unrealistic standard of beauty.
Friday, June 5 at 6:30 PM, SIFF Cinema Uptown/Saturday, June 6 at 5:30 PM, Kirkland Performance Center/Sunday, June 7 at 6:30 PM, Pacific Place (Closing night party to follow at MOHAI)
The Survival Guide will return next week with a final installment as we reflect upon the best of the festival.