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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cinebanter Special Edition: SIFF 2014 RE-CAP

The MP3 file of this episode can be found here.

In this episode, Tassoula re-caps the recent 40th Annual Seattle International Film Festival. She shares her favorite documentary from the event, plus her top three films. The breakdown is as follows:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 Tassoula's re-cap of the festival
• 10:12 Outro

Thanks to Brad Daane, Mark Cummins and Vincent Do for the original music used in this episode, and to the folks at SIFF for granting Tassoula press access to hundreds of fantastic films for the 8th consecutive year.

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Sunday, June 08, 2014

SIFF Sighting: THE ONE I LOVE (Romantic Comedy; USA)

Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) are a married couple going through a rough patch.

Though Ethan gives re-igniting their flame a college try, Sophie still isn't past their troubles, so they agree to couples' therapy.

Their shrink (Ted Danson, perfect for the part) assigns them a weekend away to work on their issues and that's when things start to get weird.

I can't go any further without completely spoiling the film, so I'll just say this is hilarious, thought-provoking, confusing, charming and odd. First-time screenwriter Justin Lader does an incredible job of entertaining while floating the big lingering questions, and all the while making the audience hungry for bacon.

I can't wait until this is released in theaters. I'll be first in line to see it again.

THE ONE I LOVE screened at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival.


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SIFF Sighting: CALVARY (Comedy; Ireland)

If you were told you had a week to live, not because you're ill, but because someone is planning your murder, how would you live out your last days?

Father Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) is faced with this problem when a parishoner notifies him in confession that he suffered abuse as a child at the hands of the Catholic church. Though Father Lavelle was not the abuser, the confessor believes guilt by association is a good enough reason to end the priest's life.

Rather than go to the police, the Father chooses to deal with this threat internally and independently. It's both courageous and stupid.

The entire film then progresses through random conversations, awkwardly funny exchanges and random reflections leading up to the "will it or won't it happen?" moment.

Though the performances are solid, the screenplay fails and by the time the climax is reached, the audience is more apathetic than invested.

CALVARY screened at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival.


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Friday, June 06, 2014

SIFF Sighting: ALEX OF VENICE (Drama; USA)

Alex (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and George (Chris Messina, who also directed the film) aren't communicating. Alex is pursuing a busy legal career; George is exhausted of playing Mr. Mom.

So George leaves.

In addition to their 10-year-old son, Alex cares for her aging, live-in father (Don Johnson) who has a drug habit and a fading acting career. She doesn't have time to be abandonded.

As she desperately tries to continue business-as-usual despite the world collapsing around her, she realizes that there is more to life. Before she can truly pick up the pieces, she has to examine what's broken and most importantly—what's worth fixing.

Winstead is fantastic as the troubled Alex and each supporting cast member does their part to match her element of chaos, if only to emphasize how much she's trying to ignore.

Especially great is Don Johnson who is obnoxious and sympathetic all at once.

The backdrop of Venice, California serves as the only character of complete calm here, making its presence known with sandy beaches and neon lights illuminating the boardwalk.

Messina has created a relatable film that somehow manages to mix heartbreak with hope.

ALEX OF VENICE screened at the 40th Annual Seattle International Film Festival.


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Thursday, June 05, 2014

SIFF Sighting: 4 MINUTE MILE (Drama; USA)

Drew (Kelly Blatz) is a teenager from the wrong side of the tracks that doesn't want to end up like his crime-ridden family. Richard Jenkins plays the retired track coach destined to save him.

The chemistry between the two leads is strong and Seattle provides a beautiful backdrop to this heartbreaking story. Bring a hankie.

4 MINUTE MILE screened at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival.


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Monday, June 02, 2014

SIFF Sighting: SEEDS OF TIME (Documentary; USA)

Cary Fowler is an agricultural genius who has dedicated his life to the evolution and preservation of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. This group collects seeds for a vault located in a not-so-vulnerable location in the middle of an ice bank.

For six years, documentarian Sandy McLeod followed his life as he lobbied, fought, worked and studied to progress the vault. This is his story.

In short: There are fewer responsibilities greater than helping ensure the long-term success of human life and this man has taken it on amidst divorce, cancer and whatever else life has thrown at him.

Though the politics can be frustrating and nature isn't always helpful, Fowler and his environmental disciples power through and never give up on their cause.

It's both frightening to watch (because of the scarcity of resources) and inspiring to see (because there is hope).

Fowler deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

SEEDS OF TIME screened at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival.

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Sunday, June 01, 2014

SIFF Sighting: BOYHOOD (Drama; USA)

"I thought there would be more."

The new Richard Linklater masterpiece Boyhood is filled with revelations like this that pass by so naturally you may miss them.

Ellar Coltrane (Mason) is phenomenal as a boy who ages 12 years before our eyes; Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke deliver pitch perfect performances as his parents, as does Lorelei Linklater who portrays his sister.

Don't miss it.

BOYHOOD screened at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival.

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