[SIFF Ewan McGregor Tribute]

Suppose I better start writing about SIFF before I get ridiculously behind. Or, I guess, more ridiculously behind. I am having a good festival, but it has been too full for much reflection, even with my lazy mornings. But I will try for you, my three loyal readers!

This weekend SIFF presented Ewan McGregor with the Golden Space Needle award for acting, so that seems like a good place to begin. As a part of that the festival screened four of his films (two new, two archival) and presented him with the award at a tribute event.

Because I’m poor, I opted to volunteer at the Tribute, which worked out perfectly: I got to see pretty much everything and I got film vouchers at the end!

So, the films! [The two archival choices are perhaps slightly less strange when you remember that SIFF just screened Trainspotting and Shallow Grave as part of their Danny Boyle weekend.]

+ I had never seen The Pillow Book before, and now I’m glad that I waited for the theater opportunity. The unique visual style, from the pages from the book to the various takes on picture-within-a-picture, would be wasted on DVD. It was my first Peter Greenaway film; which one should I watch next?

+ I of course have seen Moulin Rouge roughly eleventy billion times, but possibly only on DVD? I have an uncertain relationship with Luhrmann; I have Serious Issues with Romeo + Juliet (for all I love the universe of Verona Beach), but on the other hand Strictly Ballroom* is one of my favorite movies.

Moulin Rouge is of course great over-the-top fun, a Technicolor love letter to cinema & melodrama. It was a treat to see it on rich, beautiful 35mm. This time around I particularly enjoyed how beautifully smarmy Richard Roxburgh is as the Duke. There’s an art to that, and he is perfect.

+ Beginners was the film screened at the Tribute, a rather personal effort from writer-director Mike Mills. It was shot as two separate films as they really are two different stories about Oliver (McGregor) and they were then edited together.

The first is a film about the death of his father Hal (the impeccable Christopher Plummer) and the second is the start of a romance with Anna (Melanie Laurent). It’s pretty cute, though I rather wish I hadn’t seen the trailer beforehand as it gave away a lot of the quirk, as it were. Also, I wish the sound had been better, but that is the way of things at the Egyptian.

+ Perfect Sense is one of my favorites at the festival, and the first film I really feel the need to press on other people**. McGregor is a chef & Eva Green is an epidemiologist, and they meet in Glasgow as a world-wide epidemic begins which gradually robs people of their senses.

It’s beautifully done, the apocalypse made personal, and I strongly believe that it must be seen in the theater. The controlled environment is so key to the experience. It reminded me of my beloved Last Night in a lot of ways, so if you like one, check out the other.

*…speaking of movies they should show at Central Cinema (which, I pretty much always am).

** My true favorite is a favorite for personal reasons, so the recommendation cannot universally apply. I also really liked the first Secret, which I cannot tell anyone about. So it goes.