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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 6 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 23
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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While not gonzo, Reason is still pretty darn good
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

FOR NO GOOD REASON
Now playing


Director Charlie Paul spent 15 years amassing footage about legendary animator, artist and author Ralph Steadman, the last of the remaining 'Gonzo' journalists who worked with idiosyncratic literary wild-child Hunter S. Thompson. The two are best known for their collaboration on the Las Vegas expose Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas but their friendship and working relationship went far beyond that 1971 effort, the pair also joining forces on everything from the Rumble in the Jungle to the Kentucky Derby to their Hawaiian adventures chronicled in The Curse of Lono.

The documentary film For No Good Reason is the culmination of Paul's efforts. Utilizing a framing device featuring actor and Thompson devotee Johnny Depp visiting Steadman at his sprawling U.K. home, the movie intersperses interviews with the likes of Terry Gilliam, Richard E. Grant and Jann Wenner, alongside footage of the artist creating some of the outlandish, one-of-a-kind surrealistic images he's most known for. Interspersed throughout is archival footage from a variety of sources (some of it of Steadman, a lot of it with Thompson himself), the idea to paint as full a picture as possible of the artist and his process.

It's interesting stuff, to be certain; watching Steadman and Depp (who more or less narrates the proceedings) pal around hardly a chore. But that picture? That picture isn't nearly as well developed as I think Paul means for it to be; and even with 15 years to put everything together, the director still can't quite get a handle on the image he's attempting to construct, let alone put the finishing touches on. Things remain as ephemeral as ever; and while, maybe, that is as it should be, that didn't stop me from wanting more than what the movie itself was willing to give.

Be that as it may, For No Good Reason is still awfully entertaining. The archival footage is fairly incredible, while the fashion in which Steadman works is as one of a kind and as uniquely original as anything a person possibly ever could have imagined beforehand. While he doesn't give tons of insight into his process, I did get a fairly solid feel of what his time working in tandem with Thompson did in fact mean to him. Paul's movie isn't awesome, never quite capturing that gonzo esthetic Steadman and his compatriots where known for; but it's still pretty darn fascinating, and for fans of the artist there isn't a reason good or bad that I can come up with to dissuade them from taking the time to give it a look.


Inventive Tomorrow a breathless spectacle
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

EDGE OF TOMORROW Now playing

Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is having a bad day. Never having seen a day of combat, the soldiering neophyte inexplicably finds himself part of the biggest, most important battle the Earth has ever known. The combined forces of the planet are all on the beach in France to hopefully take down an alien invasion force that has raged across Europe with unstoppable fury. This is humanity's last stand, victory hopefully nigh; the only unusual piece being Cage's presence right in the middle of all the chaos.

Things don't just go badly, they're disastrous; the aliens - their combat troops nicknamed 'Mimics' - apparently waiting for them, striking down the human forces as if they were flies running into a particularly bloody flytrap. Worse, Cage for some reason gets to live these events over and over and over again; each time he dies on the battlefield he finds himself reborn the morning before the fight, as if some irascible god-like force would find it amusing to see him run around like Sisyphus charging up a hill he'll never be able to get to the top of.

If Edge of Tomorrow sounds like some harebrained combination of Groundhog Day and Source Code, you wouldn't be alone in making those assumptions. Heck, you can throw in facets of Independence Day, Star Trek: First Contact and Saving Private Ryan into the mix for good measure, director Doug Liman's (The Bourne Identity, Fair Game) adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill not exactly hiding the fact it's cribbing from a variety of well-known sources. It's obvious the filmmaker is going to be playing things close to the vest in order to hide, or at least conceal, the sillier aspects of this admittedly outlandish scenario, and as wild and as weird as much of the film is, that doesn't mean there are a ton of surprises as far as the outcome itself is concerned.

Not that it matters. Liman is at the top of his game, confidently handling all of the pieces of this tale with pinpoint precision. At the same time, the script written by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Birthday Girl), with an assist from The Usual Suspects and Jack Reacher scribe Christopher McQuarrie, is top-notch, mixing all the pieces of this adventure with exceptional ease and massive amounts of imagination. From the moment Cage wakes up for the first time, the day before the invasion onward, the movie is a rousing adventure filled with pulse-pounding thrills and surprising dashes of character-driven humor, the film a breathless two-hours of fun worthy of celebration.

The crux of the narrative finds Cage having to meet every day - the same day - with soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), convincing her each morning that they do indeed know one another, and that she has to train him to be a better fighter in order for both of them to survive the next day's carnage. They are aided by scientist Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor), the one man who knows what is happening to Cage and why, his insights possibly the key to finding the chink in the Mimic's armor allowing humanity to ultimately prevail.

Liman doesn't just give Cruise and Blunt a magical playground to perform within, he also makes sure to give veteran character actors like Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson signature scenes that are as memorable as anything else taking place inside the circular time-jumping mayhem. More than that, he never loses sight of where things are headed, juggling all the pieces of this sci-fi puzzle with surprising ease. As confounding as things can be, Liman keeps character and motivation central to the drama, unafraid to slow things down to showcase the price of failure or allowing a bit player a moment in the spotlight, the whole only glowing brighter, because these not-so-minor-as-they-might-appear parts are allowed a minute or two to shine.

The climax itself isn't nearly as extraordinary as what comes before it, but in many ways that's expected. There are only so many places for things to end up, after all, and the fact Liman and the screenwriters don't go out of their way to try and do something at least somewhat surprising isn't a total shock. There is a final twist, and while it is a big one, it also doesn't make a ton in the way of sense. Still, it did bring a smile to my face, and I can't say I was at all displeased by the final images Liman and company chose to go out on.

Edge of Tomorrow is fun, anchored by a suitably self-effacing turn by Cruise that initially has him playing charismatically against type in ways I'm not sure we've seen before. As things progress and his confidence builds, his Cage slowly becomes the Top Gun meets Mission: Impossible hero we've come to expect - getting to that point such an exuberant jaunt it almost makes the ticks and mannerisms the actor's known for feel new again. Ultimately, he is the beating heart around which all else continually revolves, Cruise proving once again that, no matter what anyone thinks of him personally, as a movie star, there are still few bigger or more magnetic anywhere on the planet.


SIFF Film Synopses & Recommendations
by Herb Krohn - SGN A&E Writer

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Films listed without dates have already been screened.]

FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS
Italy
Rating: EXCELLENT
Genre: Romance

A young woman falls in love with a macho heterosexist motorbike mechanic eventually marrying him. Her best friend is a Gay man who she goes into business with, turning an abandoned building into a thriving bar and restaurant. After having two children, she learns she has cancer and that her husband has been cheating on her for some time. Then the film goes back in time to fill in the blanks, including how and why she and her closest friend came to be friends, as well as her love affair with her husband, and how it actually happened. This film has very high quality production values and strong performances and character development, so the audience forms an emotional connection to the characters. Let's hope this one comes back to screen here again soon.

FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS
Iran-USA-Italy
Rating: EXCELLENT
Genre: Bio-Documentary

This is a fascinating profile of Gay Iranian artist, Bahman Mohasses, who was one of the most respected artists during the time of the Shah. Completely disappeared and believed deceased, he was found living in Italy. The film consists of actual interviews with this remarkable Gay artist, he expounds in depth on his philosophy of art, culture, and his own works, many of which he himself saw destroyed. His perceptions of contemporary Gay life are a reflection of a long bygone era, and his recognition and acceptance of his own mortality are simply realistic.

THE FOXY MERKINS
USA
Rating: BOMB
Genre: Comedy-Farce

An unattractive overweight young woman goes to NYC to become a Lesbian prostitute. She befriends another Lesbian prostitute who attempts to show her the ways of the trade. They sleep under plastic tarps in the bathroom at the NYC Port Terminal. The Lesbian prostitute hangout for soliciting business is in front of the Talbot's clothing store. She has strange encounters with many women, including one with a police fetish, and a strange merkin salesman in a cemetery. While quite funny at times, one of the most hilarious moments being an encounter with two women in town for an accounting convention, this film, nonetheless, just falls flat and seems completely without any real character development or a clear plot direction. We can do much better than this production.

GERONTOPHILIA
Canada
Rating: AVERAGE
Genre: Coming of Age & Aging

A young man working in a nursing home falls in love with an eighty year old patient in this Bruce Labruce production. Solid performances, with good character development, yet this films pace is at times so slow it could lull the audience to boredom or sleep. It really needed to move quicker and create a greater sense of the emotional bonding of the characters.

IGNASI M.
Spain
Rating: AVERAGE
Genre: Bio-Documentary

Ignasi Millet is a renowned museum expert and art restoration specialist; he is also the father of two boys, has AIDS and takes lots of medications. His parents are both accomplished artists. He fell in love with a woman in a wheelchair and they had their two children; then he came out as Gay. His ex-wife is Bisexual; one of his sons is a Jesus freak. He talks, often quite fast, all the way through film, which includes interviews with his parents, children, ex-wife, friends, and medical providers, which is marginally interesting and funny at times. The film uses some creative production techniques to build an understanding of this flamboyant character; however it is a relief when it finally ends.

LILTING
United Kingdom
Rating: OUTSTANDING!
Genre: Family Drama
FRI MAY 30 | 7:00 PM | HARVARD EXIT
SAT MAY 31 | 2:00 PM | EGYPTIAN

Warning: To avoid spoiling the plot of this absolutely amazing and extraordinary work of film art, major points have been intentionally omitted from this review. A Chinese man and his English lover interact with his aging mother, who doesn't speak English and who dislikes her son's 'friend,' without knowing they are Gay. She is temporarily placed in a senior home until her son can move her in with them after he can get the courage to reveal he's Gay. The boyfriend hires an interpreter to develop an understanding with her, to improve their relationship, as well as to assist her with her prospective male friend, with whom their Chinese-English language barrier is an obstacle. We learn that sometimes relationships are best unspoken. This film constitutes modern Gay cinema of the highest caliber. The character development is so realistic and phenomenal that when the audience realizes the underlying plot though transitional scenes, the emotional attachment to the characters is complete! Beautiful, realistic, and so profound, this is certainly among the most outstanding films in SIFF this year, as well as in Gay cinema. Don't miss out on seeing this wonderful movie!

MAY IN THE SUMMER
Qatar/Lebanon/USA/Jordan
Rating: GOOD
Genre: Family Drama

Three sisters meet up in Qatar with their divorced Mom and Dad for the upcoming marriage of one of the daughters to a professor of Arab ancestry who teaches in the U.S. Dad has remarried and we learn that the very religious mother is having an affair with her former husband. Oh, and one of the daughters, who is a Lesbian, finally comes out to her sisters. Entertaining with good production values as well as strong performances and good character development.

SALVATION ARMY
Morocco/France
Rating: POOR
Genre: Coming of Age/Coming Out

A young Moroccan Gay teenaged boy is used by various older men for sexual exploitation, his mother is abused by his father, and the entire family worships his older brother. Then we skip to 10 years later when he has learned how to manipulate his way out of his home country and into a scholarship in Switzerland through an older Swiss man.

A STREET IN PALERMO
Italy
Rating: AVERAGE
Comedy Drama

Two women face off as the drivers of two cars that come face to face in a narrow street where there is not room enough to pass. One is a widowed woman who lost her daughter and lives to take care of her grandson, she takes care of the stray dogs in the cemetery when she makes her regular visit to her daughters grave. The other driver is a lesbian traveling with her girlfriend who is going to the wedding of a friend, their relationship is on the verge of collapse. The two central characters engage in a stubborn battle to out wait the other to see which is the most persistent and stubborn woman. Meanwhile the grandmothers son in law and relatives decide to create a betting pool of the locals as to which woman will win the test of stubbornness.

TO BE TAKEI
USA
Rating: EXCELLENT
Genre: Bio-Documentary
FRI JUN 6 | 7:00 PM | EGYPTIAN
SAT JUN 7 | 4:00 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN

A great biographical profile of actor George Takei, whose most famous role as Sulu, in the original 'Star Trek' series, is only one small role in this remarkable man's life as an actor and recent Gay rights activist. As a child he was interred in the Japanese camps with his family, and he went on to become an icon for modern Asian American actors, even though he once had to play stereotypical characters to earn his living. He faced having to choose to live in the closet to maintain his profession, until finally he could no longer reconcile it when California Proposition 8 passed. This well-made production is a perfect example of expert documentary filmmaking, conveying to the audience who this brave and famous person really is and what influenced his life and success.

X/Y
USA
Rating: Below Average
Genre: Drama
SUN JUN 1 | 6:30 PM | Pacific Place
MON JUN 2 | 4:15 PM | Pacific Place

Six twenty-somethings experience the complexities of modern relationships in New York City, which includes some same-sex sexual exploration. They are all in differing phases of their respective relationships, some of which are working well and others are on the verge of falling apart. This is a modern contemporary tale, which will appeal to younger audiences, and likely bore older and more mature or experienced people.

Other upcoming SIFF Films of LGBT Interest:

GAY-LA FILM PRESENTATION:
HELICOPTER MOM
WORLD PREMIERE
USA
Genre: Comedy
WED JUN 4 | 7:00 PM | EGYPTIAN

Followed by Gay-La Party at Q Nightclub
Sponsored in part by Three Dollar Bill Cinema, Greater Seattle Business Association,
The Stranger, Poquitos, Q Nightclub

Regular screening without the party:

THU JUN 5 | 4:00 PM | EGYPTIAN

BOYS
Netherlands
Genre: Coming of Age
MON JUN 2 | 9:30 PM | EGYPTIAN
TUE JUN 3 | 4:00 PM | EGYPTIAN

THE CIRCLE
Switzerland
Genre: Documentary Narrative
TUE JUN 3 | 9:30 PM | HARVARD EXIT
SUN JUN 8 | 12:00 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN

FUTURO BEACH
Brazil/Germany
Genre: Romance
FRI JUN 6 | 9:30 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN
SAT JUN 7 | 11:00 AM | EGYPTIAN

ME, MYSELF AND MUM
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Belgium/France/Spain
Genre: Coming Out & Gender Identity
THU MAY 22 | 9:30 PM | LINCOLN SQUARE
THU MAY 29 | 7:00 PM | EGYPTIAN
SUN JUN 1 | 1:30 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN

PIERROT LUNAIRE
Germany/Canada
Genre: Experimental
SAT MAY 24 | 10:00 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN
THU MAY 29 | 10:00 PM | SIFF CINEMA UPTOWN

THE WAY HE LOOKS
Brazil
Genre: Coming of Age
FRI MAY 30 | 9:30 PM | HARVARD EXIT
WED JUN 4 | 4:00 PM | EGYPTIAN

YVES SAINT LAURENT
France
Genre: Biopic Drama
FRI MAY 30 | 8:30 PM | KIRKLAND PC
SAT MAY 31 | 6:30 PM | PACIFIC PLACE






One Night Only! - Seattle Men's Chorus performs critically acclaimed 'Falling In Love Again' at home, before Germany Tour begins
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Lionel Richie brings all the hits to Seattle
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Three Dollar Bill Cinema to be a Grand Marshal; announces Pride mini-film festival
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OUTbound! It's twins! EVA Air gets double 777 delivery
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LIZZIE - The Rock Opera! - An interview with Mary Kate Morrissey
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From the Broadway stage to the movie screen: Just in time for Pride Month!
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Gage Academy of Art presents Best of Gage Student Art Exhibit
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Northwest News
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LETTERS
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While not gonzo, Reason is still pretty darn good
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Inventive Tomorrow a breathless spectacle
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SIFF Film Synopses & Recommendations
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