Be Kind, Rewind: A Seattle Film Fest Recap

If you’re an avid reader of our sister blog, The Thread, you might have caught our recent coverage of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)—including a Q&A with its organizers, photos from its opening-night Jimi Hendrix flick, and a look at menswear mastermind Raf Simons’ new gig.

SIFF is the biggest festival of its kind—this year’s consisted of 435 films screened back-to-back at multiple venues during the course of 25 days—and while we hit upon a few highlights, we couldn’t come close to seeing it all. Which is why we asked our Nordstrom colleague Liz Marklewicz (a film buff whose fiancé gave her a SIFF pass as a gift—take note on that one, guys) to catch us up.

Keep reading to preview Liz’s three favorite SIFF flicks—which encompass Australian musician Nick Cave, Dazed & Confused director Richard Linklater, Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men and more.



[SIFF’s 2014 trailer—if this doesn’t inspire you to watch movies, nothing will.]

There’s not really one word that can describe the month-long motion picture marathon that is the Seattle International Film Festival. Complete with all its inexplicable giddiness and audience-demographic weirdness, SIFF screenings tend to elevate movies to their more esteemed counterpart: films. Post-SIFF, however, is an unexpected purgatory. Much to my liver’s relief, it signals an end to semi-weekly open bars and parties—but, also, the departure of some pretty incredible films.

Pick #1: Boyhood seized the Golden Space Needle Award for best film, best actress (Patricia Arquette) and best director (Richard Linklater). Beautifully subtle and shot in his signature languid style, Linklater joined the festival audience for a Q&A after the screening. Shot with the same cast over the course of 12 years, the film completes a unique coming-of-age story that propels itself forward not with typical tropes, but rather the quiet pulse of true-to-life memories set to a spot-on soundtrack of some of the best indie rock hits from the past decade. Overall, well-deserving of the Needle.

Further Viewing: Need a Richard Linklater primer? Start with Waking Life and the Before Sunrise trilogy.

 

Pick #2: Pointing a Hollywood-glossed lens at musician Nick Cave, 20,000 Days On Earth spins truth all the way around and back again. Whimsical devices lend an affected yet stylish air to personal and professional memories. Studio and live footage ground the narrative. Cave, however, never feels anything but genuine on-screen. Intimate, sentimental but always in the service of aesthetics, there couldn’t be a more perfect way to explore one of your heroes.

Further Viewing: While you’re counting the days, try Control (about Joy Division’s Ian Curtis) and Velvet Goldmine for similarly stylish music docu-movies.

 

Pick #3: Stuffing your face full of Cinerama’s spectacular chocolate popcorn during any movie is a treat. Little did I know how much I would dig SIFF’s closing-night feature, The One I Love. This low-budget, indie romantic comedy possessed by a sci-fi mystery pod-person can only be described as delightfully weird. With Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) starring as a couple seeking to rekindle their marriage, I went in with higher hopes for the popcorn than for the film. The plot, however, toes the line between sweet and spooky so excellently as it leads up to an utterly creepy ending, that you really just have to see for yourself. No spoilers here. Duplass plus the film’s writer, producer and director all stopped by for a cool, casual and endearing Q&A afterward.

Further Viewing: Get your expectations blown by watching Safety Not Guaranteed or Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

 

The only problem with festivals is that the films are gone too soon.
But it’ll be worth the wait when these SIFF gems finally make it to your local multiplex,
under-appreciated art house or Netflix queue.

—  —  —

Liz Marklewicz is an online features writer at Nordstrom. She holds a B.A. in Film Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

 

[Intro image by J.R. Eyerman via Life.Time.com. Movie still via SIFF.net.]

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