dir. Jamie Hook
Fri June 13, 4 pm at the Cinerama.It takes equal parts "naiveté and calculation" to make films, says Seattle director Jamie Hook during an audio session for his feature The Naked Proof, which, true to form, has a bit of both. Although Hook has been active in the Seattle film scene as a producer, cinematographer, editor, writer, film critic, and founder of the Northwest Film Forum and Pinwheel Pictures (the calculation), Proof is his directorial feature-length film debut (that's the naiveté). Hook is readying for the 35mm premiere screening at the Cinerama on June 13 (the film previewed on video the initial weekend of SIFF) with the final sound mix. It's a meticulous process in which they tweak everything from the loudness of off-camera toilet flushing to the entrance of music during a pivotal scene.
Of which there are many. Proof is full of spirited fits and starts, a near non-narrative narrative that is buoyantly nonsensical and non-sequitur-esque, in which even the oddest of encounters are a search for truth. The through-lines are Henry (Michael Chick), a philosophy PhD candidate stuck in the quagmire that is finishing a dissertation, and Miriam (Arlette Del Toro), a woman, eight months pregnant, who mysteriously and with clear purpose shows up in his life. Henry's beached character lends the story its esoteric concentrations; much of the dialogue discusses the search for The Meaning of Life, but it is less intimidating (read: less boring) than that sounds. The accordion-infused soundtrack from Amy Denio, a bicycle ride through the streets of Seattle, a class full of deadpan college students, and droll, punch-fun performances from the endlessly photogenic Chick and Del Toro give Proof a lively and distinctive energy.
The other unique thing about Proof is that it features the serendipitous film debut of renowned playwright August Wilson, who struck up a cafe friendship with Hook at Victrola. Wilson, who has turned down Spike Lee and Alan J. Pakula, plays the film's philosophizing narrator in a performance that is funny, relaxed, and eternally trustworthy--if not leaving you wanting more. (Wilson plans to attend the June 13 screening.)
As such, Proof is nontraditional in its structure (and certainly so in its ending). It's sometimes described as a romantic comedy, but there are no pat Hollywood pacings here. "It is high-concept, but it is really low-fidelity," Hook says. "For all of its philosophy, it really boils down to a man in some funny situations." SHANNON GEE
dir. Mark Brian Smith
Thurs June 12, 4 pm at the Egyptian; Fri June 13, 6:30 pm at the Egyptian.Troy Duffy's Irish Catholic vigilante movie The Boondock Saints (1999) is an okay film, confidently directed and full of Tarantino-esque violence. As it turns out, the bigger drama was behind the scenes. Back in the late '90s, Duffy was a hard-drinking bartender trying to land a record deal for his band. In his spare time he wrote the script for The Boondock Saints. It's the script and not the band that garnered incredible buzz. That's about the time that Mark Brian Smith started following Duffy around to document his rise to stratospheric fame. Needless to say, it didn't quite happen that way.
Duffy obviously believed his own hype, and started negotiating deals like he was already a rock star. "If I'm a priority project at Miramax, then what the fuck is Harvey doing?" he shouts when Harvey Weinstein eventually stops taking his calls. Smith's access is incredible, and if Duffy had learned his lesson by the end, Overnight would have played like a tragedy. Instead, it turns out to be the story of a working-class guy who's given the keys to the Hollywood kingdom, and then loses them at closing time on one of many drunken nights. It's fascinating. ANDY SPLETZER
dir. Michael Polish
Thurs June 12, 4:45 pm at the Cinerama.Northfork, which completes brothers Mark and Michael Polish's low-budget, festival-friendly trilogy (see also Twin Falls Idaho and Jackpot), may not qualify as a complete success, but as an exercise in magical realism/exploration and rumination of death, it offers enough to muster interest.
The story: In the early 1950s, the small heartland community of Northfork is about to disappear, thanks to a newly built hydroelectric dam. In an attempt to move every resident out, an evacuation committee (made up of trenchcoated, fedora-capped men) has been assembled. These men make their way through the eerie and already near-empty area trying to coax a few remaining families out. Meanwhile, a sickly orphan is under the care of the local pastor (Nick Nolte). The young boy lies in bed afflicted with fever-induced dreams of a pack of angels who just might be searching for him. These two stories are connected via a gift the power company offers as an incentive to move the area's holdouts from their homes: a beautiful set of angel wings, which the evacuation committee's members carry in the trunks of their cars.
Filmed with little more than a gray palette, Northfork is the type of film one hopes to find at a festival. Challenging, ambitious, and pure joy to look at, it is worth the viewing despite its faults. BRADLEY STEINBACHER
dir. Danièle Thompson
Sun June 15, 6:30 pm at the Cinerama.Don't let the subtitles fool you--just because Jet Lag is French, that doesn't make it any smarter or more sophisticated than similar American fare. Still, SIFF's closing-night film will fulfill your romantic-comedy jones if you need a hit after weeks of pounding the SIFF venues. The fabulous, eternally cinematic and easy-to-watch French actors Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno star in this nothing-but-slight tale of two opposites attracting at an airport during a transportation strike. SHANNON GEE