[SIFF week four]

…which was really just four days.

* Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red [Tennis] Shoes. The thing about this documentary is that, though I enjoyed it, I still don’t feel as though I know anything about Mr. Keillor. Which I’m not particularly surprised by. I had added it to my schedule precisely because I find him pretty enigmatic. I guess I got what I deserved. It was really more illuminating regarding the other members of the PHC cast and the process of putting that show together than it is about Keillor.

* Cherry Blossoms: Hanami was the Golden Space Needle Audience Award winner, and deservedly so. It’s a wonderfully paced story of aging and the challenges of family, tender and moving, and difficult to talk about without giving too much away. One thing I can say is that I found it interesting to get a non-American outsider view of Japan for a change.

* The screening of Sunrise was one of those special SIFF experiences I get every few years. They showed it at the Triple Door, with a live score written and performed by The Album Leaf. So cool! It’s a fantastic movie anyway, one of the last silents, and ranked on the AFI 100. It’s utterly gorgeous, with dreamy cinematography, limited (but beautifully executed) title cards, and in-camera created effects of superimposed images that are just mindblowing when you consider the technology of the time. And the story’s great too — a fable of a couple losing each other and finding each other again.

* I’m not sure that I can say I liked Faces, but I can see objectively what is good about it. I just found it personally exhausting. I think this is okay.

* Jeremy Podeswa was one of the Emerging Masters at the festival this year. Fugitive Pieces is his new film, and my second Stephen Dillane movie of the festival. It’s based on the book by Anne Michaels, which I have not read, and is utterly gorgeous. It hit all my buttons of history and memory and storytelling, all wonderfully acted and beautifully shot. (Oh my goodness. Rachel Lefevre, who has a minor role in this film, is Annie in the American remake of “Life on Mars”. A show, by the way, which will definitely be terrible. Seek out the original — it’s worth the effort.)

* My last film of the festival, Triangle, is a basically-insane exquisite corpse Hong Kong action flick, told in three acts by three different directors. Johnnie To takes the final third, and though it is stretching it to suggest he makes sense of it, he certainly provides us with an entertaining ending.

[SIFF week two]

* Savage Grace was a late addition to my schedule, when I realized I had screwed up somewhere and needed something to fill out a 6 pack. What better than a Julianne Moore incest movie? Well. That’s how my brain works, anyway. It was disturbing, but not as much as it should have been. Which is weird. And it is, oddly, the first time I have *not* felt that Hugh Dancy was miscast. So apparently his other roles – even in Evening! – were Just Not Gay Enough. Good to know!

* Strangers, the love story of an Israeli man & Palestinian woman who meet during the 2006 World Cup, is flawed but endearing. The leads are wonderful & the politics are complex, but there is the occasional plot-wise suspension of disbelief that gave me pause. Still, one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while.

* Sparrow was the first of three Johnnie To movies I seem to have scheduled for myself. I am a sucker for Hong Kong action; I’m not gonna lie. This one is a lot of fun — it follows a team of four pickpockets as they all get involved in the life of a mysterious beautiful woman. Happens to the best of us. When the team works together, particularly in the final heist, as it were, it’s like a dance. Good times!

* It’s impossible to watch Mad Detective (my second Johnnie To flick) without wondering how long it’ll be before some American studio buys the rights to it for a crap remake. Because a remake will be crap. Mad Detective was much darker than Sparrow. It’s a dirty cop story with a twist — the detective of the title has a most unusual investigative method, as he can see people’s inner personalities. The ending was a little much for me, but the ride to get there was great.

* Finally, another local documentary, Good Food is about organic farming in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps not earthshattering — we can probably all agree that organic, local food is better for us and better for the planet — but beautiful and inspiring. And as it was the world premiere, it was pretty awesome to see a group of farmers taking the stage to a well-deserved round of applause.