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Five Things to Look Forward to at the 2011 Seattle Film Festival

Five Things to Look Forward to at the 2011 Seattle Film Festival (photo)

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It would be easy to call the Seattle Film Festival a “best of fest,” a collection of the world’s most impressive films culled from nearly every festival that happened since the 36th edition of the festival ended last June. In purely relative terms, Seattle doesn’t boast a ton of world premieres amongst the 441 films they’ll show during the next 25 days, though SIFF definitely has more than most other festivals half their size. Instead, they bring the world to their doorstep with an unparalleled array of international and regional cinema that makes it a rare and precious event unto itself. Unfortunately, I have just a weekend in Pacific Northwest, where I’ll be reporting from over the next week, but given the amount of films we’ve already seen at other festivals, we can certainly make some recommendations for the fest, which kicks off tonight with a premiere of the drama “The First Grader” and continues through June 12th. (A full schedule can be found here.)

– The festival will pay tribute to Ewan McGregor on May 22nd with the “Trainspotting” actor onhand to discuss his career following a screening of his latest film “Beginners,” which will also bring out writer/director Mike Mills. The honor couldn’t come at a more appropriate time since McGregor’s on a roll and not only will the festival show oldies but goodies “The Pillow Book” in advance of his arrival on May 20th and “Moulin Rouge!” on May 22nd, they’re also screening “Perfect Sense,” his latest collaboration with “Young Adam” director David Mackenzie straight from Sundance that’s a romance set against the onset of a worldwide outbreak of a mysterious virus that robs people of their senses. Unfortunately, the festival itself was robbed of its planned tribute to Al Pacino when he was nominated for a Tony Award, so the McGregor tribute will be an even more exclusive opportunity to hear an actor talk about his craft at the fest.

ToyStoryHawaiianVacation_05182011.jpg-The sheer size of the Seattle Film Festival allows for experiences well beyond the average movie. Angelenos already know about the wonders of Shadoe Stevens’ remixes of film soundtracks from his frequent stops at the Cinefamily, but he’ll be treating folks up north to his E.L.O.-scored version of Douglas Fairbanks’ “The Thief of Baghdad” on May 26th. Meanwhile, cinephiles will appreciate the May 28th screening of all 270 minutes of Portuguese director Raul Ruiz’s historical epic “Mysteries of Lisbon” while families will surely crowd the AMC Pacific Place on May 22nd when the festival will have representatives from Pixar onhand to present the American premiere of a new “Toy Story” short “Hawaiian Vacation” as well as footage from “Cars 2.”

However, the two films that I can vouch for as films to catch on the big screen – or in one case, the really big screen – are Sean Casey’s doc “Tornado Alley” (June 4th and 6th), which sees the “Storm Chasers” star take his act to IMAX as he captures the wonder and devastation of being inside the eye of the storm, and Will Eubank’s “Love” (May 21st, 22nd and June 11th), a sci-fi epic scored by Angels & Airwaves that toggles between the grandeur of outer space and the grit of a Civil War battlefield when an astronaut staves off loneliness by reading the journal of a soldier. Both have incredible stories behind them, as interviews I did with Casey and Eubank attest, and are well worth checking out in the special setting only a festival can provide.

Submarine_05182011.jpg– Two films that would’ve made my top 10 list last year if they had opened in the three months after they premiered at the Toronto Film Festival will just have to wait for this year’s list, though audiences in Seattle won’t have to be as patient to see them. This weekend, “IT Crowd” star Richard Ayoade is scheduled to accompany his beautiful and brilliant directorial debut “Submarine” to the festival before it opens in limited release on June 3rd. Of the proud British tradition of “Angry Young Men” films, except for the fact its protagonist is but a mere 15 years old, “Submarine” is a rare coming-of-age story that feels completely original even as it burrows deep into one’s nostalgia for the recounting of Oliver Tate’s first love, which corresponds to the marriage of his parents (Sally Hawkins and Paddy Considine) falling apart. The film screens May 20th and 22nd.

And while we’re on the subject of sharply funny and expertly observed films, Seattle will also host Spanish madman Alex de la Iglesia’s latest, “The Last Circus,” which follows the story of a man deigned from his youth to be a sad clown under the big top and seeks revenge for his lowly role as the sidekick to the happy (but evil) clown who keeps the acrobat that the sad clown covets under his thumb. For whatever reason, de la Iglesia hasn’t found the same international acclaim as his compatriot Pedro Almodovar, but he’s quite worthy of comparison both in terms of his skill as a filmmaker and his wild tendencies. “The Last Circus” screens on May 28th and 31st.

Without hesitation, we can also suggest Tom Twyker’s highbrow but slightly sleazy love triangle drama “3 (Drei)” (May 20th and 21st), Mike Ott’s modest fish-out-of-water tale “Littlerock” (May 27th and 28th), Rachid Bouchareb’s Oscar-nominated gangster flick “Outside the Law” (May 20th and 28th), Evan Glodell’s epic breakup thriller “Bellflower” (June 1st and 2nd), Dave Boyle’s lovely, delicate road trip comedy “Surrogate Valentine” (May 29th and 30th), and the Swedish black comedy “The Sound of Noise” (June 5th and 9th) about musical terrorists. In the days ahead, expect many more.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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