Monday, May 25, 2009

Day one @ SIFF

My 2009 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is officially up and running--although it got off to a slow start. First up was a screening of Departures, an acclaimed Japanese drama that was pretty popular, hence long lines down the block. Nancy (aka Hidden Staircase) hadn't pre-bought a ticket so it was unlikely she'd get I hawked mine to a woman and we chose to spend the afternoon walking around downtown/Belltown in Seattle. That meant record a  shop (Easy Street, where I got seven used CDs ranging from two Midnight Oil to Stevie Nicks' Bella Donna to a couple of Pet Shop Boys--their new one + an old one); various design shops (I got a great blue Lamy fountain pen at Paperhaus!); bought a new tie; hung out at a cafe on the street. Fun, but no movies.

I finally made it to my first film of the festival at 6.30 at the Harvard Exit (photo is of me standing in the long ticket holder line) with the South Korean film My Dear Enemy. This was a sweet, charming, subtle comedy that grew on me by the end. The story has two exes spending the day together after accidentally running into one another. He owes her money, she wants it, they spend the day calling and driving over Seoul meeting a variety of friends of his who might loan him money to pay back the loan he owes her. It's a simple story but done with a lot of restraint--some films might have taken the zany approach, but this doesn't try to make the characters anything other than what they are. There's a level of sadness undercutting the film that I enjoyed too.

After My Dear Enemy ended I hightailed it to my rental car and headed up to the U-District and the Neptune Theatre (search the CineRobot archives to see my post on this theatre) to see the Spanish film The Anarchist's Wife. This film, set during the Spanish Civil War, WW2 and post-WW2 was okay but I was expecting better. It unfortunately gets a little TVish melodramatic at times and the ending, which attempts to make a statement on the "healing" the Spanish have done as a people since their civil war was way too heavy handed for me. Sometimes the most effective message is one that doesn't browbeat you as you watch it. 

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