|Shunji Iwai at the Egyptian on May 26.|
tional Film Festival pas-
sed the midway
point on Memo-
rial Day. Here are a few
images from the first 12 days.
In this photo, director Shunji Iwai (Hana and Alice, SIFF '05) ponders an audience member's question after the second screening of A Bride for Rip Van Winkle, a three-hour tragicomedy about a soft spoken high school teacher (Haru Kuroki, reuniting with the director after 2015's The Murder Case of Hana & Alice) who finds her true self through a series of fabricated encounters.
I first became acquainted with Iwai, who got his start in television, when SIFF screened the dreamy murder mystery All about Lily Chou-Chou in 2002, and I've made an effort to keep up with his work ever since.
The last Iwai film to appear at the festival, 2011's Vancouver-shot Vampire with Kevin Zegers, marked his first English-language feature. It'll be interesting to see if he ever makes another. Though the downbeat, if sympathetic horror film had its detractors (the Fool Serious crowd gave it low marks), I enjoyed Iwai's idiosyncratic twist on a disorder previously explored in George Romero's Martin and Robert Bierman's Vampire's Kiss.
Forbidding length aside--at least for those who find 179-minute films challenging--the cautiously optimistic A Bride for Rip Van Winkle is likely to find more admirers as it continues to make the rounds.
|Clinton McClung at the Egyptian on May 29.|
West last came to Seattle to promote 2012's horror anthology V/H/S. His fourth feature and first Western stars Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga, Larry Fessenden, Toby Huss, a completely-over-the-top James Ransone, and scene-stealing border collie Jumpy.
Though I wasn't wild about his last film, the Jonestown-inspired docu-thriller The Sacrament, In a Valley of Violence proves he has no problem making the move to marquee names like Hawke and Travolta, both of whom are very good. If anything, Travolta's part, as a small town sheriff, could've been bigger. Hawke's primary foils are Ransone as his mortal enemy, Farmiga as his love interest, and Jumpy as his best friend.
At the Q&A, West repeated W.C. Fields's deathless maxim about how movie people should "never work with animals or children," but said that he couldn't have had an easier time with Jumpy, who shares a trainer, Omar von Muller, with Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier from The Artist.
|Ti West and Clinton McClung.|
|Beth Barrett, Martin Bell, and Erin Blackwell.|
On the plus side, Bell and Mark never lost touch with her, and Tiny combines present-day footage with material the filmmakers shot in 1999 and 2004. It's clear that the 44-year-old woman is also in a better place than she was during those prior visits, despite some serious health issues. If anything, it came as a relief when she walked to the front of the theater after the screening, because she looks far healthier and happier than she does in the film in which she can be seen smoking, riding a motorized scooter, and nodding out in her garage in a methadone-induced stupor.
I also took pictures of Nick Pesce, the director of The Eyes of My Mother, and Clea DuVall, the director of The Intervention, but they didn't turn out. Here's a list of the other films I saw from May 19 - 30 (in alphabetical order): As You Are, Evolution, Little Men, Love & Friendship, The Memory of Fish, Other People, Our Little Sister, Sunset Song, Tag, The Violin Teacher, Where Have All the Good Men Gone, and Wiener-Dog. I hope to write about some of these films in the next few months as there's some good stuff here, especially Little Men, Our Little Sister, and Sunset Song, all three of which justify my belief that Ira Sachs, Hirokazu Koreeda, and Terence Davies are three of our finest living filmmakers.
More thoughts and images to come. SIFF '16 runs through June 12.