As some of you may recall, I have a few Feelings about the Egyptian theater, so it was fantastic if not altogether surprising news when SIFF announced at Opening Night that they had signed a 10 year lease and would be reopening it in the fall. (The purchase of the Uptown *was* a surprise; like any good Seattleite I’d been steeling myself for a condo conversion of that space.)
The Egyptian is, in particular, the home of the Midnight Adrenaline series and the Secret festival, which are two of my favorite things about SIFF. Both tend to be well attended, cultish hidden rooms of the festival; you’re in on an experience that most of the city is missing. It was thus rather perfect when it turned out that my first film of festival was going to be Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight Friday. RHPS played at SIFF lo so many years ago in the Secret festival; can you even imagine?
This presentation of Rocky descended at times into chaos, with more variation in callbacks than you get at regularly scheduled performances, but it was still the perfect way to kick off my festival experience. And I feel pretty bad for everyone involved in cleaning the theater afterward.
On to the rest of the weekend!
* Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang is a Goonies-esque Spanish film based on characters from a comic strip. At least, I have been told it is Goonies-esque; I personally have never made it past the first ten or fifteen minutes of The Goonies. Zip & Zap is a cute boys-in-boarding school story with the requisite Evil Headmaster, Strange Mystery, and of course only One Girl. Which is fine. It has fun visuals and stays close to its comic book roots.
* Burkholder is a follow-up (not a sequel) to SIFF fave Old Goats. Like its predecessor, it’s essentially an excuse for hanging out with the nontraditional actors who play the leads, and though it doesn’t work quite as well as the first, it does tell an important story about aging, particularly without the support of close family. Also, it’s charming.
* I kind of hated Words and Pictures. More on that later.
* We Are the Best! is, at least at the halfway point, my favorite film of festival. It’s the utterly delightful story of three seventh grade girls who form a punk band in 1982 Stockholm, and everything about it feels fresh and true, from the DIY fashion to the songs about hating sports (I feel you, ladies) to the fraught first steps with boys and the value of their friendship with each other. It’s getting a proper release in the States — in Seattle it’s coming to a Landmark theater soon — so don’t miss it.
* Witching and Bitching technically is a picture about how women are evil, but honestly, it’s so ridiculous that I can’t get that bothered by it. It opens with what is now one of my favorite film heists, pulled off by men in various mascot costumes, from Minnie Mouse to a living statue to Spongebob. During the getaway, they bond over the ways in which women have made their lives difficult, they accidentally recruit a cab driver to their cause, and they soon encounter a coven of witches, as if their experiences with the ladies were not challenging enough already. The coven features Almodovar regular Carmen Maura strolling upside down on the ceiling as she chats on the phone, which honestly is almost enough of a reason to watch it right there.
* Secret #1 was a delight.
* Regarding Susan Sontag is a straightforward documentary elevated by some creative visuals and a striking score. Coming to HBO soon, I think.
* Borgman is a dark comedy about a mysterious man who gradually takes over the life of a family. It reminded me Kill List crossed with Dogtooth, and maybe a dash of Leos Carax’s M Merde. It’s not for everyone, but this is true of all the best things.
…and that was weekend one!