[SIFF09, weekend one]

Apparently all the cool kids are Twittering SIFF reviews, but I hate Twitter with the fire of a thousand suns, so y’all will have to bear with me over here. (Also, I might have to unsubscribe from Publicola for the duration. Retweets are not blogging, you idiots, and they’re certainly not *politics*. Why no one can understand that if we wanted to read tweets we’d be on damned Twitter is beyond me.)

But anyway. I’ve had a slightly weird festival so far, having spent more hours volunteering than seeing movies, at least in the first two days. However, since I *have* seen movies, I am ahead of a lot of the festival staff, who tend to see the first five minutes of a feature and then have to go back to work.

My first movie of the festival was Sunset Boulevard, one of the unfortunately few revival screenings I am going to be able to make. I had never seen it before, which is ridiculous considering what a Wilder fan I am, but so it goes. I loved it, of course. It was part of a TCM festival-within-the-festival, and as such was introduced by Robert Osborne, which was nice. I am a sucker for that sort of thing, as only a girl raised on AMC by Nick Clooney can be.

Second up was my first Secret film ever, which I very much enjoyed. A fast-paced, snappily scripted start to the Secret fest. I’m looking forward to the rest. The big appeal for me is that it’s a film experience that’s impossible the rest of the year, where I know absolutely nothing about a film going into it. I read too much to have that in general, so it’s pretty cool to have it here.

Next was the first film I could actually vote on, Morris: A Life With Bells On. I was initially super annoyed about it, because I found out it was a mockumentary only after I bought my ticket. I, gigantic dork that I am, wanted an actual *documentary* on Morris dance, and if I had realized it earlier I probably wouldn’t have gone. Ah well. It worked out, as this is easily one of the best non-Guest mockumentaries I have seen, and starred quite a range of familiar UK faces, including the pinnacle, Sir Derek Jacobi, and others famous perhaps only to me (Ian Hart, Richard Lumsden who was the father in “Sugar Rush”, Dominique Pinon from City of Lost Children & Delicatessen). It was well-paced & very funny, and the Morris men in the audience were duly appreciative. So, good times.

Monday I was possibly the youngest person in the audience for Gotta Dance, which is unfortunate, as it was an utterly charming movie. If you want to be reductive, it’s Young@Heart but with dance, following the first senior dance team for the Nets. It deals with more body issues and yet fewer health ones than the chorus, which makes sense. I totally loved it, and it was one of those rare films where I realized that I never once wanted to check my watch.

I wound up the long weekend with a late showing of Warlords. If you like Hong Kong historical epics (and I do), then it’s definitely worth seeing. Unfortunately, it fell to the curse of the Egyptian, with botched sound at pretty much every reel switch. (The Egyptian is famous at the festival for … technical difficulties. The worst I remember was 3 Needles, where the first 10 minutes, all English voice-over, played without sound. At least Warlords was subtitled.) Anyway. Of the cast. I suppose you all just know Jet Li, but I was in it for Andy Lau & Takeshi Kaneshiro. Andy Lau is worth seeing in anything. If you aren’t familiar with him, you should rent Infernal Affairs, where he co-stars with my boyfriend Tony Leung.

And that is all for now! Let’s see if I can keep up like this for the rest of the festival. Heh.

[Long weekend]

Friday Deadline USA & Scandal Sheet kicked off the third Noir City series down at SIFF Cinema. I preferred the first for its several great women, particularly the reporter, but the second is the closest to straight-up noir. Both made for an awesome start to the festival.

Saturday I was eaten by the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival & didn’t make it back to the city in time for any noir. Woe. (I watched a little Dexter season 2, which certainly has its elements of noir. Well-lit, neo-noir maybe.)

Sunday brought Ace in the Hole, which was easily one of the most cynical movies I have ever seen. It certainly lived up to its billing. If it were released today, the script could be essentially unchanged, except maybe tidying up the portrayal of Native Americans (though, really, that was very much another point criticizing the majority) and the addition of a Twitter hashtag for Leo. Very good, unsurprising as it’s Billy Wilder, but I don’t need to see it again any time soon.

If Cry of the Hunted, the B reel, were to be released today, it would instantly have a LiveJournal community and a ficathon, and I would be on the sidelines of fandom complaining about how there weren’t enough stories about the women. It was basically on crack, but a lot of fun.

Sunday night I took a little break from noir, crime, and the freezing SIFF Cinema. Wendy and Lucy was picked up by the Northwest Film Forum for a week after its original Seattle run ended, so taken were they with it. And deservedly so. Michelle Williams (a criminally underrated actress, in my opinion) plays Wendy, a woman traveling from Indiana to Alaska with her dog Lucy. We meet her in Oregon, where things start falling apart. Some people are helpful. Some people are assholes. It’s a beautiful slice-of-life film, heartbreaking & true. I need to put other work by the director in my Netflix queue now.

First up on Monday was The Big Clock, which was great. It’s a pretty traditional noir, with an innocent person getting caught up in someone else’s nefarious plot or sleazy circumstances. It was also the second film in this series with Sherman Potter Harry Morgan (ahaha IMDb pulls up “Dexter” stories on his page). He was a cigar-chomping photographer in Scandal Sheet, but here he was a heavy with no lines at all, which is interesting for an actor with such a distinctive voice. Anyway, The Big Clock is available on DVD and definitely worth a watch for Charles Laughton’s twitchy media mogul & Elsa Lanchester as a totally loopy artist.

It was followed by Strange Triangle, which I have nothing to say about at all. It was very formulaic and it’s been a long weekend. So be it.