France, 2002. Director: Julie Lopes-Curval
Sun., June 1, 4 p.m., Harvard Exit
Wed., June 4, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
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Seattle Weekly's critical guide to SIFF 2003. • Movies A-E: From Abouna to The Eye. • Movies F-L: From The Flute Player to The Lover. • Movies M-S: From Madame Sata to The Sea Is Watching. • Movies S-Z: From Seaside to Los Zafiros/The Sapphires: Music From the Edge of Time. • SIFF Events • SIFF Shorts What I Wanna See • Brian Miller recommends. • Tim Appelo recommends. • Sheila Benson recommends.
France, 2002. Director: Julie Lopes-Curval
Sun., June 1, 4 p.m., Harvard Exit
Wed., June 4, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
It's about an attractive young lifeguard in a seaside town in northern Francethink of it as Baywatch with subtitles.
The Secret Lives of Dentists
U.S.A., 2002. Director: Alan Rudolph
Cast: Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Denis Leary, and Robin Tunney
Fri., June 6, 6:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Sun., June 8, 1:45 p.m., Pacific Place
From part-time Bainbridge Island resident Rudolph, this dentist-themed dark comedy has its D.D.S. protagonist (Scott) convinced that his wife (Davis), also a tooth-puller, is having an affair. Based on a Jane Smiley story.
France, 2002. Director: Jean-Claude Brisseau
Tues., June 10, 9:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Sat., June 14, 4 p.m., Pacific Place
Operatic and quasi-mystical, rococo and cuckoo, Brisseau's baroque psychosexual tragediessometimes suggesting Claude Chabrol with a fatal case of the D.T.'s dabble in both schmaltzy romance and crass exploitation. In his latest, a sapphic duo's quest to ball-break and plunder every man they meet encompasses murder, incest, insanity, public wanking, the angel of death, and a demonic Nietzschean superman given to messianic proclamations. "Admire this splendid symbol of our earthly life," he states at his wedding party. "I am the death of all, and the birth of all." In Brisseau's universe, sex is death, but alsoto borrow a title from his fellow guest and Gallic maverick Catherine Breillatsex is comedy. J.W.
Mexico, 2002. Director: Antonio Urrutia
Thurs., June 12, 9:45 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., June 15, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
A cop is assigned to find the perpetrator of hooker killings in which each of the prostitutes dies with a smile on her face, the victim of lethal orgasms. North American premiere.
Hong Kong, 2002. Director: Corey Yuen
Tues., May 27, 7 p.m., Egyptian
Fri., May 30, midnight, Egyptian
Sisters Lynn and Sue were orphaned as teenagers. Their parents were murdered by criminals who wanted to steal their father's top-secret invention. Now the sisters are ready to fight back.
A Soldier's Girl
U.S.A., 2002. Director: Frank Pierson
Sun., May 25, 6:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Made for Showtime, this true-crime story of a 1999 slaying at a Kentucky military base is basically a higher-order TV-movie-of-the-week for the urban market. That doesn't mean, however, that its message of transgender love and acceptance isn't perfectly palatable for the flyover masses. When nightclub performer and pre-op transsexual Calpernia (Lee Pace, whose breasts look real) asks the amorous, curious soldier Barry (Troy Garity), "Do you know what you're getting yourself into?" and he replies, "I don't care"well, those three little words will strike a romantic chord in anyone's heart (gay, straight, whatever). It's a hand-clutcher of a moment. To its credit, too, Girl doesn't demonize all Army men as hateful phobes, and Barry's sexual definition is left ambiguoushe's just a sweet, dim rube who knows how to love. The "Don't ask, don't tell" debate stuff is hokey, but genuine moments aboundas when Calpernia, lounging in a rowboat with Barry, ventures to sing k.d. lang's "The Consequences of Falling" without benefit of lip-syncing. B.R.M.
Somewhere Over the Dreamland
Taiwan, 2002. Director: Cheng Wen Tang
Tues., June 3, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Mon., June 9, 4:45 p.m., Broadway Perf. Hall
This Taiwanese triptych focuses on love lost and found. It also features members of the country's disappearing indigenous Atayal people.
Song for a Raggy Boy
Ireland/U.S.A./Denmark/Great Britain/Spain, 2002 Director: Aisling Walsh
Cast: Aidan Quinn
Fri., May 30, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., June 1, 1:45 p.m., Pacific Place
After going toe-to-toe with Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War, William arrives at St. Jude's reformatory school to begin his teaching career, only to discover a corrupt system.
China, 2002. Director: Zhang Yibai
Sun., May 25, 9:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Mon., May 26, 11:30 a.m., Pacific Place
Owing a debt to Hong Kong cinema and Wong Kar-wai, Subway is a fairly brisk, sleek, and capricious tale of marriage on the rocks, with two very attractive leads. Like the hero of last year's French film Time Out, the husband has lost his job and can't tell his wife. Instead he rides the subway all day, eavesdropping on strangers who have their own romantic woes. Meanwhile, his wife's being wooed by one of her design firm's clients (a nice turn by director Zhang Yang as the principled anti-Romeohis Shower took top honors at SIFF '00). Far from proceeding linearly like its namesake, Subway jumps elliptically between the young marrieds and two other couples who dally on the metro. It's full of digressive daydreams and interior monologues, with some cool visual flourishes and music, but the married couple's dilemma loses steam and feels claustrophobicagain, like the subway. You ultimately wish the other passengers got equal time. B.R.M.
Springtime in a Small Town
China/Hong Kong, France, 2001. Director: Tian Zhuangzhuang
June 5, 7:00 p.m., Pacific Place
One of the best movies I saw in Toronto '02, Springtime uses a classic melodrama as the basis for a confident reinterpretation that effectively revisits the period of the original. The first film by Tian Zhuangzhuang in the decade since The Blue Kite, Springtime remakes a 1948 Chinese feature to wonderful effectskewing the Chekhovian triangle that develops between a sickly young landowner, his demurely provocative wife, and the incongruously cheerful doctor who, having fought successfully with the Communists, lands in the couple's doleful midst. It's sensuously cerebral and delicate. J. Hoberman
Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator
U.S.A., 2003. Director: Helen Stickler
Mon., June 9, 4:45 p.m., Cinerama
This freestyle documentary recounts the life of Mark "Gator" Rogowski, the former poster boy of professional skateboarding, now serving time for the murder of a friend.
Argentina, 2002. Director: Diego Lerman
Sat., June 7, 4 p.m., Harvard Exit
Mon., June 9, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Another slice of life from Argentina, Suddenly features an overweight protagonist with a dead-end job andquoting the press releasea band of "tough little lesbians." U.S. premiere.
Argentina, 2003. Director: Sergio Diego Bellotti
Thurs., June 12, 4:45 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sun., June 15, 4 p.m., Harvard Exit
Liberated by the death of his father, young Boga becomes a river nomad, taking his boat on an aimless odyssey until he runs into El Pampa, a seedy river rat. Kind of like Anaconda, only . . . not. U.S. premiere.
Spain, 2002. Director: Alberto Rodriguez
Wed., June 11, 7 p.m., Pacific Place
Fri., June 13, 4 p.m., Pacific Place
Patricio and his friends are African immigrants living on the edge of Seville. One day, a wealthy man gives Patricio a brand-new suit, triggering a comic satire of Spanish xenophobia.
Sweden, 2002. Director: Erik Gandini
Thurs., June 12, 7 p.m., Broadway Perf. Hall
Sun., June 15, 1:45 p.m., Broadway Perf. Hall
Are we terrorized into being consumers? Is shopping our salvation? This Swedish muckraker is another must-see for the anti-consumerism crowd. Screens with X Marks the Spot.
Great Britain, 2002. Director: Ken Loach
Fri., June 6, 9:30 p.m., Broadway Perf. Hall
Sun., June 8, 6:45 p.m., Harvard Exit
Family is at the heart of this superb new film from SIFF regular Ken Loach, which won the European Film Award for 2002. Bright and caring, 15-year-old Liam (Martin Compston) struggles to see that his mother, who's in prison, gets far away from temptation when she's released. In this case, that means outwitting her drug-dealer boyfriend and her own ruthless father, who plan to have her push heroin in jail. Loach contrasts the beauty of the landscape around this Scottish town of Greenock-on-the-Clyde with the meanness of his characters' lives and pitifully narrowed choices. Liam's canniness attracts drug kingpins, but instead of eliminating him, they let him organize their deliverieswith stunning success. When Liam's dream of a "caravan" on the hills above the river is within reach, unpredictable forces endanger his hopes. Not to be missed. (Also, fortunately, the thick Scots dialect of the splendid ensemble is subtitled.) Sheila Benson
Swordswoman of Huangjiang
Hong Kong/China, 1930. Directors: Chen Kengran, Zheng Yisheng, and Shang Guanwu
Sat., June 7, 1:45 p.m., Egyptian
Watching this silent Hong Kong film is more than just cinematic archaeology it's a dashing adventure featuring two Robin Hood-like heroes. Live music from the Aono Jikken Ensemble will accompany the screening.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
Hong Kong/China, 1978. Director: Lau Kar-Leung
Mon., June 9, 7 p.m., Harvard Exit
Chamber follows a monk who designs a brilliant new weapon within the confines of the legendary Shaolin Temple, where ass-kicking is painstakingly studied, both in theory and in practice. Kung fu fans rejoice!
They've Got Knut
Germany, 2003. Director: Stefan Krohmer
Fri., June 13, 11:30 a.m., Pacific Place
Sat., June 14, 6:30 p.m., Broadway Perf. Hall
The titular Knut has a funny way of spoiling his sister Nadia's romantic plans with her boyfriend, Ingo. "Fun and skiing" are promised, along with emotional tension. North American premiere.
Brazil/Italy, 2001. Director: Aluzio Abranches
Thurs., May 29, 7 p.m., Harvard Exit
Mon., June 2, 4:45 p.m., Harvard Exit
Contrary to popular belief, three Marias are not a crowd. When the men of her household are slaughtered, an enraged matriarch sends her three daughters to exact vengeance.
Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion
U.S.A., 2002. Director: Tom Peosay
Sat., June 7, 1:45 p.m., Pacific Place
Sun., June 8, 6:30 p.m., Broadway Perf. Hall
It's Art-Wolfe-meets-Al-Jazeera in this glossy, coffee-table documentary about the sad history of Tibet, which punctuates a romantic depiction of Tibetan life and culture ("The power of the divine seems present everywhere . . . ") with brutal accounts of torture and starvation under the Chinese occupation. Narrated by Martin Sheen, the film is nothing if not one-sided, and it's hard to assess the credibility and authority of some of the American talking heads interviewed. But the film does an awfully effective job of drawing your heart to the Tibetan plight, and you can't help but think that if the Dalai Lama were a little less committed to nonviolence and a little more partial to suicide bombers, his cause would be getting a lot more world attention. Viewers with "Free Tibet" stickers already on their Volvos may not learn anything new here, but the cinematography is gorgeous. If you've ever wondered what those stickers were about, Snow Lion provides a lush, if schematic, introduction. M.D.F.
Time of the Wolf
Canada, 2003. Director: Rod Pridy
Cast: Burt Reynolds and Jason Priestley
Sat., June 14, 11:30 a.m., Pacific Place
After the death of his parents, young Aaron is taken to live with his only known relatives, where he finds kinship with a pack of wolves, as so many young Canadians do. World premiere.
To Be and to Have
France, 2002. Director: Nicolas Philibert
Sun., May 25, 6:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Tues., May 27, 4:45 p.m., Pacific Place
The question to ask yourself here is how much you'd enjoy watching cute little French schoolchildren learning how to write the number 7 and say "Jojo is my friend"for long, long stretches of time. If the answer is that you'd enjoy this very muchboy, has your ship come in. If you're unsure, you still might want to check out this small, weirdly engrossing documentary that puzzlesand ultimately charmswith its utter lack of polemic. There seems to be no social agenda here: All we do is witness a year in the life of a rural, one- room primary school, run by a gentle, gray-bearded, bespectacled instructor, a cerebral Mister Rogers in a black turtleneck. The children are unexceptional. Nothing much happens. And yet there's something in the slow pace and quiet gaze, something in the teacher's low-key but loving devotion, that is inescapably touching. The film isn't really about anything, but it ultimately feels like it's about something extremely important. M.D.F.
China/South Korea, 2002. Director: Chen Kaige
Fri., May 30, 9:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Sun., June 1, 4 p.m., Egyptian
A violin prodigy and his father journey from Suzhou to the brassy bustle of Beijing in hopes that the boy will be accepted into the state music academy. From the director of Farewell My Concubine.
Too Young to Die
South Korea, 2002. Director: Park Jin-Pyo
Sat., May 31, 11:30 a.m., Harvard Exit
Wed., June 4, 9:30 p.m., Broadway Perf. Hall
There's great temptation to reduce Too Young to its oddly steamy sex scenes, which is no disservice to its actors. Scenes of Park Chi-gyu and Lee Sun-ye, the seventysomething real-life stars of this real-life narrative, shagging on tatami mats are romantic and quite lovely; they definitely convey a strong sense of who these characters are. In one of their many moments of passion, Chi-gyu speaks to his beloved Sun-ye with a dry, matter-of-factness that correlates perfectly with their matchup: "Good fit," he says. "You like how it feels?" The tale, based on the actual life experiences of the two debut actors, is about falling in love late in life, when one's desire for companionship is much simpler but the need to remain an individual is more complex. Like all excellent love stories, the beauty of this romance is in the good fit. L.C.
Touching Wild Horses
Canada, 2002. Director: Eleanor Lindo
Cast: Jane Seymour
Sat., May 31, 11:30 a.m., Pacific Place
A kid from a troubled home is sent to live with his taciturn aunt on a lonely island. There, he sensibly bonds instead with the wild horses.
Traces of the Dragon:
Jackie Chan and His Lost Family
Hong Kong, 2002. Director: Mabel Cheung
Cast: Jackie Chan
Fri., June 13, 1:45 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., June 15, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian
This doc follows Jackie Chan's exploration into his own family line. As it turns out, the life of Hong Kong's favorite son embodies the history of modern China. North American premiere.
Tribal Journey: Celebrating Our Ancestors
U.S.A., 2003. Director: Scott Macklin
Sun., May 25, 4 p.m., Egyptian
More than 20 hand-built canoes, representing 25 Indian nations from the U.S. and Canada, travel from Vancouver, B.C., to Puget Sound in a quadrennial tribal celebration. World premiere. Screens with Alone Against the Sea.
The Trilogy: On the Run
France/Belgium, 2002. Director: Lucas Belvaux
Sun., June 8, 4 p.m., Pacific Place
Mon., June 9, 4:45 p.m., Pacific Place
The Trilogy: After Life
Sun., June 8, 6:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Tues., June 10, 4:45 p.m., Pacific Place
The Trilogy: An Amazing Couple
Sun., June 8, 9:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Wed., June 11, 4:45 p.m., Pacific Place
Each with a different story (but all set in Grenoble), these three films use primarily the same cast while highlighting different characters. The films should be viewed in order for maximum effect. Subjects include hypochondria, drug addiction, and dinosaurs.
Mexico, 2002. Director: Alfonso Rosas Priego
Sat., June 14, 6:30 p.m., Egyptian
Sun., June 15, 4 p.m., Cinerama
In this May-December romance, Martin is a widower who falls for Laura, a beautiful young woman who has just started working in his office. U.S. premiere.
The Turning Gate
South Korea, 2002. Director: Hong Sang-Soo
Fri., May 30, 6:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Sun., June 1, 11:30 a.m., Pacific Place
A chance phone call sends unsuccessful actor Kyung-Soo off on a trip to the country, where two encounters with women stand his expectations on their head. By the director of The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well.
Germany, 1998. Director: Hans-Christian Schmid
Sat., June 7, 4 p.m., Pacific Place
Based on the true story of young computer hackers in Hanover, Germany. Karl invests in a home computer. Soon, he and his friend, David, are breaking into government and military systems.
Under Another Sky
Algeria/France, 2002. Director: Ga묠Morel
Fri., May 23, 4 p.m., Harvard Exit
Mon., May 26, 6:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
When smuggler Samy accidentally hits a cop in a traffic incident, he's sent back to Algeria, where his relatives harbor secrets. Heavy secrets.
The 2000 Presidential Election
U.S.A., 2002. Directors: Richard Ray Perez and Joan Sekler
Mon., Mon., June 2, 7 p.m., Egyptian
Those living in Blue America will get outraged all over again about Florida's 2000 electoral debacle. Screens with Direct Order.
Hungary 2002. Director: Gyorgy Szomjas
Mon., May 26, 1:45 p.m., Harvard Exit
Wed., May 28, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Viewed purely as a fictional film, Vagabond is worthless. The saga of musically inclined orphan Karesz and his struggle to escape his no-account teenage burglar pals, win the hand of rich girl Zsofi, and parlay his passion for Transylvanian folk music into a career as a drummer is thin to the point of evanescence. Will Zsofi caress Karesz? Will she or he realize that the upscale home his pals just heisted paintings from is hers? Not even director Szomjas seems to care. His real subject is the folk-club scene and the folkways of the party-animal kids. Viewed as a faux documentary about this scene, Vagabond isn't too bad. The endless dance-and-music sequences successfully convey the fruitful collision of various ethnic traditions. They make one yearn to be young, to raise the roof until the cops come, and to live in a culture where the cops will join the party if you give them a free sandwich. No Teen Dance Ordinance in Hungary! T.A.
Argentina/Netherlands/Spain, 2002 Director: Alejandro Agresti
Thurs., May 22, 7:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre
What is it with SIFF and these opening-night-gala films? Why is it so necessary that they be premieres? Couldn't they simply be good? I caught shit at SIFF HQ recently for supposedly dissing every opener for the past several festivalsbut you know what? Igby Goes Down (SIFF '01) was about 10,000 times better than this insipid, sappy nostalgia exercise. Igby would hate this movie! It's the kind of twinkly piano paean to the lost innocence of youth that will appeal to viewers who found Cinema Paradiso, you know, too violent and intense. Our 9-year-old hero lives with his grandmother (Carmen Maura) in late-1960s Buenos Aires. Mom's gone, Daddy (director Agresti) drops by occasionally; meanwhile, four-eyed Valent???plays at being an astronautit's TV-cute, but we have TV for that. He develops a crush on his father's girlfriend, bonds with a bohemian pianist neighbor, and feels the pang of death. All this he narrates from his limited, childish perspective (unlike The Wonder Years, where this kind of thing worked). His big discovery? He's a Jew! But at least your $40 gets you into the opening-night party. You can tell Darryl I sent you. U.S. premiere. B.R.M.
Hong Kong/China, 1970. Director: Zhang Che
Sun., June 1, 11:30 a.m., Harvard Exit
SIFF sez, "This film is awash in blood, bright red pools of it drawn mainly by daggers and hatchets, although firearms do put in a brief appearance."