SIFF just added the French memoir Me, Myself, and Mum to its Best of SIFF program. Guillaume Gallienne wrote, directed, and stars in the film, which looks at his relationship with his prickly/delightful mother and his own struggles with gender identity and sexual orientation. Based on his one-man show, the adult Gallienne plays himself in his memories spanning a life growing up in a conservative wealthy family, navigating boarding-school culture, and trying to figure out who he is and what he wants. I saw it with my own mother, and we both thought Me, Myself, and Mum was hilarious and wonderful.
At last! The bittersweet final day of SIFF began yesterday, as tradition demands, with the fabulous annual Awards Brunch at the Space Needle. Closing Day is a combo-deal composed of the Awards Brunch and the Closing Night Movie/Gala, with a several hour gap in between so movie-gluttons can watch more films, the partiers can drink more mimosas, and everyone else can take a nap. But first! Who has “brunch” at 8:30 AM? This is clearly an awards BREAKFAST—mimosas not withstanding—and I encourage SIFF to stop fudging the issue. Thanks in advance.
The Awards Brunchfast is my second or third (maybe fourth) favorite SIFF event every year because FANCY SCHMANCY. Also, all the SIFFters are really exhausted and giddy and a bit punch-drunk because they've basically been awake for a month straight. (SIFF Marketing and Communications Director Jason Dittmer and I played, “My SIFF Pass Can Beat Up Your SIFF Pass”—his totally kicked mine’s ass.) Also? Literally the best goddamn bacon I've ever had in my pie hole. No joke. Literally. The bacon. Jesus Christ. The crowd was lovely and only a handful of the attendees were on Grindr. I am not sure if this is surprising or not. Probably not.
Quincy Jones with SIFF artistic director Carl Spence
Every time SIFF rolls around, I end up missing the most famous guests. Granted, I attend the festival more because I'm interested in movies than celebrities, but it's a nice fringe benefit. That said, it takes money and/or pull to get into the tribute events, so I usually give them a pass and attend a film instead.
So this year, I missed the tributes to Laura Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Quincy Jones. I also missed the opening night screening of Jimi: All Is By My Side with director John Ridley and actress Hayley Atwell, the centerpiece screening of Boyhood with director Richard Linklater,* and the closing night screening of The One I Love with director Charlie McDowell and actors Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass, though I did end up catching the films at other screenings (I also interviewed Linklater last week). Incidentally, until my friend Tony mentioned it, I'd forgotten that Charlie is the son of Malcolm McDowell.
I don't think it really counts that I saw actor-director Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson from The Avengers and ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) leaving the Egyptian after the screening of his film, Trust Me, though I did! He patiently posed for photo after photo with all the Joss Whedon fans who had come out to support him.
* Boyhood swept the Golden Space Needles, which were announced on Sunday, with awards for best picture, best director, and best actress (Patricia Arquette).
When a race war breaks out at a prestigious university, we get to backtrack to see what set it all off. Four black students try to navigate the Ivory Tower and figure out where they fit in while also trying to dismantle a...
SIFF, day 20! It barely feels over two million years ago that all of this sweet celluloid madness began. And what joy! Last night we were back in the warm embrace of our dear old Egyptian Theater, freshly plucked from the brink of oblivion by benevolent SIFF-ly fingers, and I am proud to report that the damn seats are hard as ever. (Butt rub please, stat!) Sadly, the bar they say they’re planning to open to complement the space is still a misty dream living somewhere in the future, but my liver isn’t complaining. The rest of me really is though. Believe it.
I don’t mind admitting that unless they throw one hell of a remarkable Opening Night party (this year’s seemed to be the utter zenith and nadir of “meh”), SIFF’s ever so gay, gay, GAY mid-festival “Gay-La” (geddit?!) most often turns out to be my favorite of all their yearly dos, for reasons passing understanding, of course. (Hush that sassy mouth-hole, you). This year’s was no different!
Shake the Dust Dir. Adam Sjöberg The Egyptian, June 5 at 9:45pm, June 6 at 4pm
This Nas-produced documentary explores breakdancing as a global phenomenon, particularly in communities where money is in short supply. It's so unrelentingly upbeat, though, that the good vibes threaten to turn bad—at least for those who like a little sour with their sweet—but it's hard to find fault with such a harmless form of escape and release.
In the film, a five-year labor of love, LA director Adam Sjöberg (We All Might Make It) travels to Cambodia, Uganda, Colombia, and Yemen to solicit commentary from dancers about their moves and inspirations (because of 2011's Arab Spring, which took place during filming, Yemen ends up getting short shrift). For Bogotá's DJ Fresh, a 30-year b-boy veteran, inspiration came by way of the breakdancing sequence in Flashdance, while Kampala rapper Abramz cites '80s hip-hop videos.
The idea that the future of humankind is to be found nowhere else but in the city is perfectly captured and expressed in this movie, which has three urban locations: Turin, Dakar, and New York City. What you will enjoy in this well-paced drama is the cinematography, the substance of each of the interconnected stories, and a number of the performances. You will also be surprised by how the Turin section (the story of a young and very traditional woman looking for her husband, but he has moved to New York City without telling her) ends (a post-racial utopia). (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Easily the best thing I’ve seen at SIFF 2014 at the time of this writing, Thai export Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy is just an all-around goddamned great movie. Loosely adapted from 410 consecutive tweets written by a real teenage girl, Happy coalesces into an episodic structure, like Peanuts, only with sudden bursts of bizarre violence, occasional absurdist digressions, and a more sophisticated sense of melancholy. Mary’s banal observations—one minute, she tweets “104.5 Love Radio is pretty good,” the next she despairs, “The truth is maybe I’ve got nothing”—are published on the screen as Mary struggles with love, putting together a yearbook, and the wide-open expanse of future staring her down. (PAUL CONSTANT)