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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 29, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 39
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival launches October 12
Spotlights Armistead Maupin in Opening Night film
5 Gala film events, 4 dozen features, 13 shorts programs, 11 days, 6 Seattle locations!


Three Dollar Bill Cinema has announced the five gala film events for the 22nd Annual TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival running October 12-22. This highly anticipated 11-day festival presents over sixty shorts showcase and feature length film programs at six locations around Seattle. Record attendance is expected and celebrity guests and directors will attend multiple events. For the first time ever, the opening night gala will be at KEXP's new Gathering Space (472 1st Ave N) near Seattle Center. The closing night gala is at Il Fornaio inside Pacific Place (600 Pine St) and themed receptions will follow each of the three centerpiece features.

Three Dollar Bill Cinema Executive Director Jason Plourde elaborates, 'This year's gala films include an in-depth look at one of the queer community's most beloved writers and important activists, Armistead Maupin. And once we realized we could bookend the festival with Trudie Styler's star-studded film Freak Show that addresses the contemporary issues facing today's youth - we knew we had put together one of our biggest and best festivals ever.'

Check www.twistfilmfest.org for film festival details, including titles and screening schedule, a complete list of guests in attendance, and for online pass and ticket information and sales.

Tickets along with festival programs will also be available at the TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival box office at 12th Avenue Arts (1620 12th Ave). The box office will be open 2pm-7pm Fri-Sun 9/29-10/1 and 10/6-10/8. During the festival, the box office will be open daily opening 30 minutes before the first showing of the day and closing 30 minutes after the last showing of the day. Cash and credit cards accepted. Pay in cash to avoid processing fees.

Festival Highlights
Opening Night Gala - The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin - Thursday, 10/12 at 7:15pm

Closing Night Gala -Freak Show - Sunday, 10/22 at 7:00pm

Centerpiece Film - Saturday Church - Sunday, 10/15 at 7:00pm

Centerpiece Film - Apricot Groves - Wednesday, 10/18 at 7:00pm

Centerpiece Film - BPM - Friday, 10/20 at 6:45pm

Panel Discussion - SaturGay: Queers & Women in Comics - Saturday, 10/14 at 12:15pm

Free Workshop - How to be a Trans Ally - Thursday, 10/19 at 5:00pm

Advance Ticket Prices*
Opening Night Gala - $33

Closing Night Gala - $20

Centerpiece films - $15

Festival passes - $85-$240

Regular screening tickets - $11 ($8 for members, $9 for people with disabilities, youth under 21 & seniors over 65)

*Tickets purchased at the door increase by $2

OPENING NIGHT Gala
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

SIFF Cinema Uptown - Thursday, 10/12 at 7:15pm
Jennifer Kroot & Bill Weber; 2017; USA; 91 min.
Co-directors Jennifer Kroot and Bill Weber (previous collaborators on To Be Takei) open our festival with this delightful documentary about Armistead Maupin, one of the world's most beloved storytellers and creator of Tales of the City. Both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, this disarmingly frank look at Maupin's life and work follows his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels have inspired millions to claim their own truth. Grant Nelleson's funky and florid graphics punctuate the gorgeous archival footage and photographs. Endearing interviews with Armistead Maupin, Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen, Amy Tan, and Margaret Cho add to the narrative.

CLOSING NIGHT Gala
Freak Show

AMC Pacific Place - Sunday, 10/22 at 7:00pm
Trudie Styler; 2017; USA; 91 min.
Legendary club kid James St. James's young adult novel Freak Show was an ode to all things Gaga, Mercury, and Wilde. First time director Trudie Styler gives life to this delightfully amusing coming-of-age feature. Her personal connections (Styler is married to Sting) undoubtedly played a role in securing Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) as Billy Bloom, Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens) as Lynette and a list of cameos that include Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) as an anchorwoman, Bette Midler as Billy's inspirational mother and John McEnroe as a screaming coach (of course). When Billy decides to run for homecoming queen, despite hordes of conservative classmates at his high school devoted to football and Jesus, nothing will stop his wardrobe and sense of style from being utterly fabulous. Billy is no stranger to bullying, but just when he feels the most deserted, star football player Flip (Ian Nelson) befriends him in an effort to ease the harassment. A reluctant alliance with Blah Blah Blah (AnnaSophia Robb, 'The Carrie Diaries') further dispels his isolation. This story reminds us that community is to be cherished, and that each and every one of us has a significant role to play in its creation.

CENTERPIECE Films
Saturday Church

SIFF Cinema Egyptian - Sunday, 10/15 at 7:00pm
Damon Cardasis; 2017; USA; 81 min.
In this Glee-ful coming-of-age musical, Ulysses (dynamic newcomer Luka Kain) struggles to come to terms with the reality of a dismal home life with his bigoted aunt Rose (Regina Taylor). The limits placed on him by a religious upbringing only serve to heighten the vibrant, joyful queerness of his internal world, glimpses of which slowly expand as Ulysses comes to know himself and reframe his relationship with his family. Ulysses finds refuge in Saturday Church, a weekly community space run by a street-smart volunteer (Kate Bornstein). Newfound friends and queens of the New York City piers give Ulysses a platform and welcoming environment. Voguing competitions with gender-bending outfits, bursts of rose petals, and kaleidoscopic visuals show us that the heart of the performer is what makes a powerful performance.

Apricot Groves
SIFF Cinema Egyptian - Wednesday, 10/18 at 7:00pm
Pouria Heidary Oureh; 2016; Armenia; 80 min.; in Armenian and English with English subtitles
Queer cinema so infrequently originates in Middle Eastern countries, which makes this rare feature a fortunate blessing for audiences here in the United States. This intentional and beautifully crafted feature makes a triumphant return after screening at the 2017 Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival. Aram, an Iranian-Armenian transmasculine youth who immigrated to the United States in childhood, travels to Armenia for the first time to propose to a girlfriend Aram met and lived with in America. Aram encounters many cultural, religious, and national differences on the 24-hour trip, but even harder obstacles lie ahead: finding acceptance by getting the blessing and approval of those who must transcend their culture. This is a story of family, faith, brotherhood, and love. It's a moving reflection on the themes of secrecy and identity, as well as an intricate example of the endurance and complications that permeate conservative religious expectations.

BPM
AMC Pacific Place - Friday, 10/20 at 6:45pm
Robin Campillo; 2017; France; 140 min.; in French with English subtitles.
A blaring air horn signals an immediate sense of urgency at the start of writer-director Robin Campillo's epic, heart-wrenching love story of courageous, resilient people who fought for our very existence. Based on his life as an ACT UP activist in the early '90s, Campillo draws on his personal relationships and experiences fighting pharmaceutical companies for the release of new life-saving protease inhibitor drugs against the backdrop of fear and indifference from the general public and government. Its exquisitely crafted finale left journalists in stunned silence at the Cannes Film Festival and was the winner of the Grand Prix, Queer Palm, and Film Critics' Awards.

PANEL DISCUSSION
SaturGay Morning Panel: Queers & Women in Comics

SIFF Cinema Egyptian - Saturday, 10/14 at 12:15pm - $5
Learn about trailblazers doing amazing work to shift the climate in the superhero and online comic universe, including our own local transgender webcomic personality Jesska Nightmare! Have your media literacy lenses packed and ready to investigate the intersectionality of comics and film, particularly considering recent exciting developments of the Wonder Woman phenomena. Panelists include: Tatiana Gill (Moderator and Seattle cartoonist), Roberta Gregory (LGBT comics creator since the mid '70s), Isabella Price (comics creator and filmmaker) and Jessica Nightmare (writer, illustrator, and cartoonist).

WORKSHOP
How to be a Trans Ally

Northwest Film Forum - Thursday, 10/19 at 5pm - FREE: Open to All
Are you new to transgender concepts? Join us for a screening of Genderize (Audience Award winner for Best Documentary Short, Translations 2017) in which three young siblings share their thoughts on gender. Four years later, they exhibit a more developed perspective, exploring privilege, sexism, puberty, and parenting. Following the screening, join an open discussion facilitated by Aidan Key, director of Gender Diversity and founder of the Gender Odyssey conference. Bring your questions to this educational evening: gain a working vocabulary, more understanding of gender-nonconforming folks, and tools for allyship ... then make your way across the hall for TRANS SHORTS!

About TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival
TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival has been held annually in October since 1996. The festival has grown into the largest event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, gaining industry and audience recognition for showcasing the latest and greatest in queer film, from major motion picture premieres to emerging talent. An important venue in the Seattle film scene - and the social event of the season - the festival provides unique opportunities for visiting and local filmmakers to engage and entertain over 10,000 attendees.

About Three Dollar Bill Cinema
Three Dollar Bill Cinema provides access to films by, for, and about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people and their families, and a forum for LGBTQ+ filmmakers to share and discuss their work with audiences. We curate themed screenings throughout the year and produce programs in partnership with other arts, cultural, and service delivery organizations. Our biggest programs are TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival; Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival; Reel Queer Youth; and the free Three Dollar Bill Outdoor Cinema in Cal Anderson Park. For more details, visit www.threedollarbillcinema.org.

Courtesy of Three Dollar Bill Cinema


Crowd-pleasing Battle of the Sexes wins in straight sets
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Now playing


Its hard not to watch Battle of the Sexes and not view it through the dingy, muck-covered veil of current events. The story of a smart, successful and talented woman who battles against misogyny, sexism and current social mores in order to prove she has every right to expect and to warrant equal acclaim and payment as any man would demand, if any movie was made for the here and the now it is this one. But this isnt the tale of a presidential election or the saga of a man using every dirty trick at his disposal, including stooping to race baiting and social intolerance, to belittle and divide an unthinking base of supporters to follow his every whim no matter how absurd or idiotic they might turn out to be. No, this is a dramatic reenactment of a male-female tennis match that captured the attention of the world back in 1973, sadly proving once again that the more things change the more age-old biases and the inability of those stuck in beliefs and ideas from another day frustratingly remain the same.

Working from a sensational, intimately layered script written by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, The Full Monty) and directed with dexterous skill by Little Miss Sunshine impresarios Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, this empowering, exuberantly enthusiastic motion picture creates such a palpable sense of joy in the viewer it gives one hope things really will turn out for the better sooner rather than later. The story of the iconic contest of determination and skill between tennis players Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs that culminated in a match watched by an estimated 90-million people, the beauty of the film is its aggressive, unforced simplicity. Dayton and Faris dont pull their punches but at the same time still strike a cheery balance between ferocity and compassion, in the process crafting a gloriously unfinished symphony of melancholic euphoria I unquestionably adored.

The Tennis Battle of the Sexes was the tagline given to the tennis match between 29-year-old womens superstar King (Emma Stone) and 55-year-old former mens champion Riggs (Steve Carell), but their contest wasnt actually the first of its kind. Even though she was his second choice, Riggs managed to convince Australian champion and new womens number one Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) to play him first. His thorough domination of her forced King to rethink her reticence to take part in an event she considered nothing more than an uncouth three-ring circus. The athletic star and growing feminist icon understood that, while for Riggs this was nothing more than a rowdy bit of performance art engineered to put him back in the public eye, for women and their fight for equality the event was a pivotal turning point that could prove disastrous if she were to be trounced in the same way Court was.

But Beaufoys clever script doesnt paint such a black and white picture. Just as King was helping engineer a place for women in professional tennis outside of the male-dominated edicts of the day, she was also coming to terms with her own sexuality, an unanticipated relationship with hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) happening at the very moment she knew she needed to be spending as much time as possible focusing on her game. As for Riggs, he was a man who longed to return to the spotlight, a one-time household name who now felt like a forgotten tennis footnote, who wanted to make a new mark before any realistic chance to do so was lost to him forever.

It is these differences, these competing agendas, that make up the crux of the story, not the climactic tennis match. Unsurprisingly, Beaufoys screenplay spends a bit more time on King and her relationship with Barnett than it does on analyzing all that was taking place in Riggss world. Still, its easy to get a feel for his insecurities, the shame he feels when he cant live up to being the man his wife Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue) believes he could be, all of that filtered through a lens of a changing world rushing to pass men like him by whether they want it to or not. There are some beautiful, heartfelt moments that transpire during this portion of the story, the emotional components always working on multiple character-driven levels throughout the story.

Yet it is still Stone and her depiction of King that is the films undeniably flawless element. As amazing as the actress was last in year in La La Land, winning a much-deserved Academy Award for her efforts, she is even more incredible here, delivering what to my mind is, up to now, at least, the best performance of her career. The level of interior nuance, how she is able to convey so much just by the way she moves her body, trembles a lip or reaches longingly for a caress shes terrified shell never be able to publicly experience, all of it is sensational. I was fascinated by Stone, her performance building in ways that are continually surprising, all of which helps make her resilience and fortitude during the climactic tennis match all the more emotionally affecting.

Theres a subplot involving Riggss eldest son Larry (Lewis Pullman) that never quite comes alive, while Kings relationship with her devoted husband Larry (Austin Stowell) is almost too tender and reserved to a fault. Neither of these subplots connected with me as much as I wanted them to, and even though both have a number of strong moments, overall each is depicted with such timid restraint I found it difficult to care about anything either man was currently going through. I also wasnt entirely taken with composer Nicholas Britells (Moonlight) omnipresent score, the filmmakers utilizing it in a manner I sometimes felt was unnecessary, allowing music to intrude upon scenes where to my mind silence might have been best.

Still, Battle of the Sexes is extraordinary. Carell and especially Stone are marvelous, while Dayton and Fariss direction is consistently stellar, reminding me why it is I adore Little Miss Sunshine as much as I do, while also wishing the pair would step behind the camera more often than once every five or six years. As for Beaufoys script, it is one of 2017s best, his story achieving a vivacious immediacy thats downright spectacular. Together, theyve all journeyed back to 1973 to tell a story no one should forget about and, in light of recent events, sure as heck should take the time to learn something from. Ignorant bullies weaponizing sexism, homophobia and racism deserve to be silenced, and whether theyre on the tennis court, inside the corporate boardroom or even, heaven forbid, in the gosh darn White House, its about time we all follow Billie Jean Kings example and do whatever we can to shut them up, hopefully this time for good.


Overeager Friend Request needs to be deleted
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

FRIEND REQUEST
Now playing


College psychology major Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is a smart, beautiful young woman whose welcoming personality draws people to her everywhere she goes. One of those is outcast Marina (Liesl Ahlers), a random fellow student who tends to spook the majority of those she comes into contact with. But not Laura, and wanting to make herself a good example to best friends and roommates Olivia (Brit Morgan) and Isabel (Brooke Markham), she accepts Marina's Facebook friend request while also doing what she can to make nice with the strange girl.

But things get weird fast. It's almost as if Marina is stalking her, trying to insert herself into every facet of Laura's life even though they've just started getting to know one another. In a fit of fear, frustration and anger, Laura unfriends her new Facebook BFF, and in doing so sparks a supernatural maelstrom that will rip her life to shreds. Marina doesn't take kindly to rejection, and even after filming herself committing suicide and posting the video online, she's still going to make certain all of Laura's friends and loved ones, including both her current boyfriend Tyler (William Moseley) as well as her ex, computer whiz Kobe (Connor Paolo), face her wrath.

The 2016 German-produced horror yarn Friend Request plays like an uneasy combination of Gore Verbinski's 2002 remake of The Ring, the underwhelming 2014 modest cybernetic hit Unfriended and a more supernaturally inclined variation on Barbet Schroeder's 1992 favorite Single White Female. Director and co-writer Simon Verhoeven's (Men in the City) confection is a pretty standard genre yarn, one filled with many of the requisite shrieks and shocks one comes to expect from these sorts of efforts. It almost works, many elements of this little thriller far more effectively unsettling than they have any right to be, and if not for some serious instances of unparalleled stupidity there might have been something creepily fun here to talk about.

Let's start with what's exciting about the movie. First of all, Debnam-Carey, a relative newcomer likely best known for 2014's Into the Storm and a featured role on AMC's 'Fear the Walking Dead,' is quite good as Laura. She grounds the story with an intense, emotionally complex performance that's far more interesting than I felt the film itself deserved. Additionally, Verhoeven knows how to maximize the creep factor, a sense of omnipresent dread permeating things all the way through no matter how ludicrous events eventually become. He also paces things nicely, and for the most part I can't say I was ever squirming in my seat in boredom wishing the film would end.

But the script, as timely as it is trying desperately to be, talking about the Internet, cyberculture and how the youth and young adults of today are slowly losing their identities to an online realm where individuality, anonymity and privacy are a thing of the past, does not work very well. These ideas are presented heavy-handedly to the point of being didactic, extended bits where Laura is coming to grips with the reality that she didn't exactly make the best choices in regards to sharing so much of her life online tiresomely obvious.

Still, that's not the biggest problem. The unforgivable element is just how beyond stupid every single person in authority, whether they be a college administrator, a police detective, a parent, a Facebook help desk clerk or even a run-of-the-mill taxi driver, all prove to be. Look, people doing dumb things in a horror movie is par for the course. Heck, it's even part of the fun. But there becomes a point where things can get taken a step too far. As far as Verhoeven's movie is concerned, that step comes almost immediately after Marina kills herself and the video she made ends up on Laura's Facebook wall. From that point forward all the peripheral adults couldn't act more unrealistically or unprofessionally if they actively tried. It's unintentionally hilarious, and by the time we get to an extended bit in a hospital with one of Laura's friend's in a coma and the cop watching her acts like a total nincompoop my eyes had rolled so far back into my head it's amazing they didn't get stuck there.

Don't get me wrong. As promising a filmmaker as Verhoeven might be (he's been nominated for a number of German awards, including winning Best Director from the Munich Film Festival in 2016 for his refugee comedy/drama Welcome to Germany) that doesn't mean he's firing on all creative cylinders for all of this film's 92 minutes. The jump scares, while initially effective, grow tiresome, especially when they are no longer organic to the story and are presented just to generate a random shriek out of the audience. The final showdown between Laura and her ghoulish witch of an adversary, Marina, is also a major letdown, their face-off leading to a denouement that's as shocking as an episode of 'The Lawrence Welk Show' and as terrifying as a kitten pawing at a ball of string.

Look, Friend Request actually does have a lot going for it. One death near the end is something of a disquieting surprise, and there's a terrific nightmare sequence where Laura stares into a gothic black mirror and sees horrific images of violence and insanity that sent an authentic shiver right down the center of my spine. But for a real world supernatural horror tale involving cybernetic addiction, there's just too much about this film that's frankly stupid and silly for any of the more insidious scares to be effective. For all its potential, Friend Request deserves to be ignored, swiping left and forgetting about this film entirely the only course of action I can in good conscience recommend.






Seattle Men's Chorus & Seattle Women's Chorus create harmony in a noisy world with their 2017-2018 Season
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October openings are full of brand-new plays
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Pacific Northwest Ballet opens new season with George Balanchine's 'Jewels'
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Forward Flux Productions presents two new one-act plays
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Fashion Week at The Bellevue Collection
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Tutta Bella takes first place again this year in GSBA's 'Taste of Svedka' cocktail competition
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Janet Jackson returns to impressive form with exciting Key Arena show
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TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival launches October 12
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Crowd-pleasing Battle of the Sexes wins in straight sets
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Overeager Friend Request needs to be deleted
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