If, after looking through our SIFF Bible, you plan on seeing Agonies of Flyweight, Cleopatra In Winter, Death and Desire on the Altiplano, The Little Minx, Oleander: King of France, or Pork, well, you'll have to wait until somebody actually makes them. Trey Aubrey of Martins Ferry, Ohio, was the first to call in with the names of these fake films, and for that he won a full-series pass. Two random Stranger readers--Betsy Lindsey of Marion, Virginia, and Chris Berg of Auburn, Washington--opened up their copies of the paper to find they'd also won full-series passes. There are real movies that some people thought were fake, such as The Adopted Son, Betrayal, Getting to Know You, Fucking Åmål/Show Me Love, and The Lifestyle. Other mistakes include Mayor Paul Schell's claim, in his proclamation declaring Broadway as "Seattle International Film Festival Boulevard," that the Broadway business district was the birthplace of SIFF. Then again, maybe Broadway stretched down to the Moore Theater 25 years ago.
Hey, speaking of The Lifestyle, I hear this tale of middle-aged swingers is a must-see, much better than that "Real Sex" show on HBO. Ikinai has been recommended, Adrenaline Drive sounds fun, Lovers on the Bridge is supposed to be fabulous, and though I've already seen it once, I may go back and see Late August, Early September again.
France has historically been a key country for film lovers, and two of this week's highlights represent the best examples of its past and present. Coincidentally, both draw inspiration from the same season: Eric Rohmer's Autumn Tale and, from one of the finest directors working today, Olivier Assayas' Late August, Early September. Plus there's The Swindle, which I hear is bad; nevertheless, Claude Chabrol's 50th film should be something to celebrate. But not even revitalized French cinema can hold a candle to the stream of wonders coming from Iran. Dance of Dust promises another fascinating look at the most beautiful movie landscape of our time.
Even though it's traditionally considered a strong suit of the novel, I'm convinced that film can better capture the unrelated ramblings and odd meetings of diverse people better than any other medium; such ensemble casts drive Russia's Day of the Full Moon and In That Land, Japan's After Life, and Canada's Last Night. Finally, my sheer disgust with the current mantra "It takes a village to raise a child" (it seems most villages do a better job at killing children) causes me to look forward to Sekal Must Die, wherein an entire Czech town decides to off their richest, most arrogant citizen.
Gillian G. Gaar
Seeing The Phantom Menace is like losing your virginity: an event hyped for so long, eventually you don't care what the experience is like--all you want to do is get it over with. Whew. Now that I've seen it, I'm free to turn my attention to regular movie-going again.
On the lighter side this week: Elvjs & Merilijn, featuring a Bulgarian Elvis and a Romanian Marilyn. 'Nuff said! Speaking of the Divine Miss M., I can't resist seeing Some Like It Hot for the umpteenth time, but in a new print and a screen larger than my TV set! Judy Berlin, 'cause I haven't seen Madeline Kahn in so long. Miguel/Michelle: You send your son out into the world to make his fortune, and he comes back as a woman! Wacky. Wim Wenders earned my admiration by being able to make a movie about angels without getting sentimental or soppy, so I'd see Buena Vista Social Club for his name alone; this documentary about Ry Cooder's collab with the Buena Vistas should be appropriately lyrical.
The recession in Japan has caused an unexpected boom in Japanese cinema. During its economic heyday, Japan could only offer up frivolous films like Tokyo Decadence, but with the economy shrinking every year, they are producing excellent, vital films like Adrenaline Drive and Ikinai. Though both films are comic in nature, Ikinai is moody and lugubrious, while Adrenaline Drive (as its title implies) is more upbeat, more entertaining, with lots of thrills, twists, and plot turns.
As the French economy has been in decline for many decades, I'm certain that other factors (unknown to me) are at play when it comes to the quality of their filmmaking. Something else--something in the wine, or the air, or maybe the snails--has caused the recent resurgence of this cinema. Director Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep) has played an important role in this resurgence, as he continues his reign of excellence with the new film Late August, Early September. Then there is Lovers on the Bridge, which has nothing to do with the current explosion of great French films (as it was made in 1991), but does, however, star the elegant and very sexy Juliette Binoche. Little more matters; I'm there!