LAUNCHING ITS 28th annual iteration this Thursday, SIFF's looking like it just returned from the spa—tanner, fitter, 10 pounds lighter, and boasting washboard abs. Budget cuts have reduced the number of titles by some 12 percent from last year (to around 200 features plus 70-odd shorts), and that may not be such a bad thing. Previous years' schedules were perhaps a little, ahem, bloated. Nonetheless, SIFF remains the largest film fest in the U.S. This year's 25-day lineup includes the usual baffling array of categories and awards, designed to help package the undifferentiated mass of movies. Asian Tradewinds? It sounds like a cheap package tour. Exploding Cinema? We get that every week of the summer at the multiplex, thank you. A tribute to the '70s? Please. We can watch Goldmember for that. A more interesting idea would've been to have John Waters—who's flying out to introduce Female Trouble—curate a series of bad '70s cinema instead of screening the same musty old classics. And where's the glamour? As usual, it's lacking. Who'll be at the May 23 gala premiere of Igby Goes Down? Susan Sarandon? Claire Danes? Amanda Peet? Sorry. Instead we'll have Igby's writer-director, Burr Steers (nephew to Gore Vidal and therefore a demi-celeb), and boyish star Kieran Culkin. How sexy is that? What good is a diet if you can't show it off in a fabulous new dress? OUR SIFF PICKS
Culkin and Peet in Igby.
This week's recommendations: Das Experiment. German jailhouse psychology study goes very, very wrong. Sat., May 25, 6:30 p.m. and Sun., May 26, 1:45 p.m. Pacific Place. Lovely & Amazing. L.A. women cope with sex, showbiz, and plastic surgery. Sat., May 25, 6:30 p.m. and Sun., May 26, 1:45 p.m. Egyptian. Chinatown. The 1974 classic begins SIFF's salute to the '70s. Sun., May 26, 4 p.m. Egyptian. Yellow Asphalt. Three tales of Bedouin culture disturb and transfix. Sun., May 26, 4 p.m. and Tues., May 28, 7 p.m. Pacific Place. La Tropical. Fabulous Cuban music and sexy dancing! Sun., May 26, 9:30 p.m. and Tues., May 28, 4:30 p.m. Broadway Performance Hall. email@example.com