Jordan’s Favorite Seattle International Film Festival 2012 Films and Recap
The 38th Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is finally over. I say “finally” because, unlike most festivals, it spanned over 3 weeks. I wish I’d seen more films, but I was very happy with what I did get to see. With the exception of a few, I enjoyed almost every one I caught.
A little bit about the festival before I jump in. I was able to see films from nine different countries, visit three different venues (including two new ones), and meet a ton of film geeks (they won’t take offense to this). The people were nice (with over 800 volunteers!) and the organization was stunning. This may be my first SIFF experience, but it definitely won’t be my last.
As for the movies, I’ve released as many reviews up to this point as I could. However, in the coming months I will be reviewing a few more SIFF films that get wider releases (so look for those).
One last thing, The Golden Space Needle Awards capped the festival on Sunday, and I managed to miss almost every film that was recognized (figures, right?). So, keep that in mind when you read my arbitrary rankings. These are solely based on the movies I was able to attend during my busy schedule.
Without further ado, here’s my 2012 SIFF ranking:
1.) Compliance – The first movie in a long time that has occupied my mind for so long. I’ve heard it described as a “bloodless horror” film, which I think is the best description. The fact that it’s based on a true story is even scarier.
2.) Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson has combined everything that makes him a fan favorite into a story that doesn’t feel stale.
3.) Your Sister’s Sister – Aptly set in Western Washington, Your Sister’s Sister is virtually all dialogue, and in no way is that a bad thing. All three main characters (Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Mark Duplass) are at their finest.
4.) Sleepwalk With Me – Mike Birbiglia is not a household name when it comes to stand-up comedy. However, Sleepwalk With Me is a semi-biographical film that is both funny and thought-provoking, amplifying why he should be a household name.
5.) Safety Not Guaranteed – Time travel has never been taken less seriously. In the same vein, it’s rarely been as fun to watch.
6.) LUV – Set in Baltimore, the film doesn’t try to be The Wire (even though there are crossover stars) but still tells a very bleak story. This is the first film on my list that I’d heard nothing about before the festival began.
7.) Starbuck – My first non-English film on the list, but I actually think the subtitles enhanced the humor. It’s a pretty crazy premise, but it’s fun nonetheless.
8.) Liberal Arts – Josh Radnor writes, directs, and stars in this pretentious love story. He’s a lot like the Ted Mosby who got him famous, but Liberal Arts delivers a fun little love story, if you can call it that.
9.) The Details – This movie teases you from the very beginning, and the journey is completely worth it – even if the comedy is flanked by some pretty dark stuff.
10.) Recalled – I knew nothing about this military thriller before, and I really think it helped my viewing. It’s up to you to have a similar experience.
11.) Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry – This is the first documentary to make my list. I didn’t catch too many of them, but I thought Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry highlighted why art is essential to social activism.
12.) V/H/S – I’ve never been a fan of horror movies, but V/H/S is the type of movie I’d watch with a lot of people who hadn’t seen it yet. It’s very disjointed, but legitimately scary.
13.) The Imposter – How could a 23-year French guy convince a Texas family he was their missing 17-year old son? Better yet, how could this story actually be true? Find out for yourself.
14.) Brave – If you don’t compare Brave to other Pixar movies, it’s a good little film. I expected a little too much, but it’s still “good.”
15.) The Eye of the Storm – Symbolism is a huge part of The Eye of the Storm. I haven’t read the book, but as a standalone movie, I was completely onboard with the family drama.
16.) The Invisible War – I should’ve read the synopsis before I caught this one because it’s a documentary about sexual exploitation (particularly to women) in the U.S. Military. As you can imagine, it’s pretty emotional and sickening. The movie took home the Golden Space Needle Audience Award for Best Documentary.
17.) Fat Kid Rules the World – Actor-turned-director Matthew Lillard tells the coming-of-age story of an obese (and socially awkward) teen in Seattle. It wasn’t bad, but I was far more interested in the supporting character (played by Matt O’Leary).
18.) The Law in These Parts – The Israeli documentary is essentially a spoken research paper. There aren’t any cinematography thrills, but the information is still very valuable.
19.) Gimme the Loot – This movie didn’t work for me, but the people around me really enjoyed it. Take that as you will. The story surrounds two New York teens as they try to “tag” the city and gain recognition.
20.) Elena – Elena is a slow, slow burn. For those willing to get on board, the payoff may work a little better for you.
21.) Coming Home – There are glimpses of some very interesting things, but the movie fails to address why the story is happening the way it is.
22.) True Wolf – Sometimes animals are the best way to learn about human nature. Unfortunately, this documentary doesn’t quite capture the idea as effectively as some of its predecessors.
23.) Hemel – A character study about a young woman with huge daddy issues. If that hasn’t cautioned you enough, the opening scene definitely will.
24.) L – Someone compared this movie to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. I couldn’t disagree more. It is a very random movie (yes, like Drive), but it’s way too distracting.
25.) Hail – Over half the theater walked out of my viewing. The concept still sounds good on paper: a recently released prisoner trying to rejoin society. This just proves you need more than a cool premise.
In wrapping, I’d like to thank everyone for following the SIFF coverage. As a festival newbie, I’m definitely looking forward to future opportunities. Keep on the look for more reviews as they get wider releases. If you’ve seen some films I missed, comment below giving us your thoughts.
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