Movie Mondays: Coming-of-age films with an edge

Click here to view Mud in the SPL catalogI recently saw Mud (2013) – easily one of the best movies of the year, so far – and was struck by its multiple layers. It’s a thriller that stars Matthew McConaughey in the title role as a fugitive living on a remote island, hiding from bounty hunters and pining for the love of his life, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Its languid, atmospheric setting, along the Mississippi River in the Ozarks, is a character unto itself that is refreshingly free of stereotypes. But at its core is Ellis (Tye Sheridan), a young boy who decides to help Mud reunite with Juniper, despite problems at home. While I enjoy cheerful, predictable coming-of-age films as much as the next person, this movie made me think of some others with life-changing journeys for the young protagonists. Continue reading “Movie Mondays: Coming-of-age films with an edge”

Movie Mondays: Films about the Fourth Estate

This month, two highly anticipated TV series – Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom and  House of Cards, the critically acclaimed Netflix original series – are available on DVD. Both shows deal with journalists and the power of the news media, a topic that was the subject of three smart, classic award-winning films.
Click here to view His Girl Friday in the SPL catalog

His Girl Friday (1940), based on the Broadway play The Front Page, stars Cary Grant as Walter Burns, a newspaper editor who tries to get his ex-wife, reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) to write her last big news story, and maybe just prevent her from marrying insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) at the same time. Howard Hawks directed this screwball comedy to perfection, and the chemistry between Grant and Russell is on full display with witty, overlapping rapid-fire dialogue that you’ll want to watch over and over to make sure you don’t miss a single line. Continue reading “Movie Mondays: Films about the Fourth Estate”

Movie Mondays: (Good) movies I never want to see again

Every once in a while a movie comes along that I appreciate and admire, but don’t “like.” They are provocative and disturbing. I’m glad I saw these, but for me, once was enough.

Click here to view Kids in the SPL catalogKids (1995), written by then 19-year-old Harmony Korine (director of Spring Breakers), follows Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), a reckless teenager whose mission is to deflower virgins. When Jennie (Chloë Sevigny) finds out she’s HIV positive from an encounter with Telly, she searches for him through raves and the streets of New York City to prevent him from infecting another young girl. This portrayal of aimless, amoral teens – there’s hardly an adult to be seen – is bleak and depressing, yet remarkable for its realistic depiction of a world most of us have not seen, and extraordinary performances from first time actors Fitzpatrick, Sevigny and Rosario Dawson. Continue reading “Movie Mondays: (Good) movies I never want to see again”

Movie Mondays: Where are the women directors?

The film at SIFF’s closing night gala this year is The Bling Ring, directed by Sofia Coppola. I’ve known that women have been underrepresented as filmmakers, but when I stumbled upon this infographic recently, it was eye-opening: women directors have been nominated for an Oscar only 4 times in 85 years (Lina Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties, Jane Campion’s The Piano, Coppola’s Lost in Translation and Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker). Here are some other notable women directors whose films have earned praise.

See The Kids are All Right in the SPL catalogLisa Cholodenko earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for the screenplay to The Kids are All Right (2010). Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a lesbian couple raising two kids when Paul (Mark Ruffalo), their biological father who anonymously donated his sperm, enters into their lives. The film excels when the controlling Nic, the flailing Jules and the wayward Paul engage in some of the funniest and sharpest dialogue (especially their arguments) to reveal three well-drawn characters. Continue reading “Movie Mondays: Where are the women directors?”

Documentaries from SIFFs gone by

As I pore over the hundreds of screenings at the Seattle International Film Festival every year, I find myself focusing on two categories – documentaries and Scandinavian films. Here are some of my favorite documentaries from SIFFs gone by.

Click here to view Every Little Step in the catalogEvery Little Step is about the making of “A Chorus Line” on Broadway. Yes, it’s about actors auditioning for a musical about auditioning for a musical. Interviews with composer Marvin Hamlisch when the musical premiered in the mid-1970s are interspersed with actors auditioning for roles and the producers making casting decisions for the 2006 Broadway revival. It’s every bit as Continue reading “Documentaries from SIFFs gone by”