Archive for December, 2007

Free rides tonight!

December 31, 2007

That’s right, Black & Green is giving away free rides in Seattle all New Year’s Eve!

8pm-3am
206-228-8331

So give us a call or hail us on the street. The only requirement is good holiday cheer! No smoking, no food, no hating, no barfing. Yes, if you’re of legal age, you can drink in the back, but please be considerate and limit it to clear liquids. We don’t want to stain the interior, now do we?

http://www.myspace.com/biodieseltaxi

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2007 picks

December 31, 2007

Favorite releases of the year:
(in no particular order)

Wristcutters
An Unreasonable Man
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Zoo
Paris, je t’aime
Daratt
Getting Home
4 Elements
Guatemalan Handshake
Old Joy
Brand Upon the Brain!
King of Kong
Forrest, Lily and the Golden Bike


Favorite NWFF screenings of the year:

Manhattan
Czech Dream
The Sinking of the Hunley
Strange Culture
The Landlord
Killer of Sheep
The Sea Hawk
King Solomon’s Mines
Julie and Celine Go Boating
Rocky Road to Dublin
Air Guitar Nation
Nobody Waved Goodbye
Bonjour Tristesse
Half Cocked
Casa de Lava

This is what you saw this year

December 28, 2007

I see a lot of movies, but not all of them have been released in the year I see them. I don’t keep a journal of cinematic experiences (ahem, you know who you are) and I can’t think for myself, so a quick Google search for “movies released in 2007” yielded this:
http://www.movieweb.com/movies/releases/year.php

I suppose this will do, but does anyone have a better suggestion? I promise an inconsequential top 10 list will follow.

Top 10 of 2007

December 27, 2007

As the year draws to a close I wanted to give you my top 10 list of 2007. Most of these made their way to Seattle, several will appear in 2008, and hopefully the rest are on the way.

  1. Silent Light – Carlos Reygadas
  2. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait – Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno
  3. Killer of Sheep – Charles Burnett
  4. No Country For Old Men- Cohen Brothers
  5. Colossal Youth – Pedro Costa
  6. Persepolis – Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
  7. Zoo – Rob Devor
  8. Chop Shop – Ramin Bahrani
  9. Honor de Cavalleria – Albert Serra
  10. King of The Hill – Gonzalo López-Gallego

I’d be interested to hear others’ opinions from the year.

Holiday Bash!

December 18, 2007

Thanks to all who made the Holiday party so great last night. In particular, film critic Lester Gray, who was brave enough to come as Santa, and Jimmy Clarke of usnaps.com for the great photobooth, made the evening. All 730 pictures, with and without Santa, are online. And they’re offering free downloads right now as well. Just enter secret code NWFF on the home page.

IDFA – 20th international documentary film festival amsterdam – nov. 22nd – dec. 2nd 2007

December 13, 2007

There were four of us clattering and clanging through the drizzly dark streets of Amsterdam. We pedaled and weaved through the crowded evening commute on our rented bicycles – ringing the bells on the handlebars to avoid a head-on with a taxi, another bike or the neighborhood smoked-eel peddler. Head to toe in dark wool, ubiquitous scarves fluttering, we probably looked like a wet, ragged unkindness of ravens squawking through the alleys. The reality was only slightly less disturbing – four Seattle cinephiles/filmmakers – Jeff and Sue (red jet films) – my girlfriend Wenche and I (August Island Pictures) – flogging our way through the rain – on our way to another film at IDFA – and true to our Seattle roots, rain be damned – we had a movie to get to.

That night we saw “Jimmy Carter Man From Plains” – directed by Jonathan Demme. At 125 minutes and what seemed like endless sequences of President Carter climbing in and out of cars – promoting his book (released in 2006): Palestine: Peace not Apartheid– the film took its toll on jet-lagged eyes – (a lot of hand-held shaky-cam from inside limos.) There was compelling footage of President Carter explaining his message about the deterioration of conditions in the West Bank of Palestine into an Apartheid state. There was equally compelling material capturing visceral Jewish/American reactions to the term “Apartheid” specifically and his book as a whole – Yet the film’s finest moments to me were found in the glimpses of the human inside the great humanitarian. From observing his morning swim to eavesdropping on the man from Plains hosting a backyard barbecue – the humility and quiet, strong faith inside President Carter was apparent. Perhaps no more so than in an intimate sequence in the Carters’ small dining room, observing Jimmy and his wife, Rosalynn praying then silently eating a meal together. As he alluded to in the film – six years had passed since any meaningful peace talks between Palestine and Israel. Regardless of the content of the book – the existence of it, and the film, and the humble Man from Plains himself seemed to be the best chance at generating meaningful dialogue about a peace process in Palestine. A Middle East peace conference happened two days later in Annapolis.

Amsterdam is a beautiful city. The canals are lovely. The art (Van Gough Museum; Rijksmuseum alone) is exquisite – the people who live there are gorgeous. (Probably something to do with biking everywhere) It’s also very accommodating. IDFA’s main office was easy to navigate, staffed with competent folks who all spoke fluent English (Like everyone in Amsterdam) – and was nicely located on the University of Amsterdam campus with an adjoining Speakeasy. Get a Heineken or a coffee – get your tickets – go see films.

We saw nine more over the course of the week. Like most festivals – there was a smattering of inspired genius as well as…well, other fare. I still think using a tripod doesn’t make a filmmaker any less of a documentarian…or put barf bags under the theatre seats for the love of pity…Most notable to me in the inspired genius category were two: “Journey of a Red Fridge” and “Stranded.”

Set against the 8000-meter peaks of the Himalayan Mountains, 17 year-old Hari Rai has been hired to carry a huge, red Coca-Cola fridge from his home village in the mountains to a repair center in the neighboring city. “Journey of a Red Fridge” offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of local inhabitants in the Himalayas. The red, logo emblazoned fridge pops in stark contrast against the giant eternal peaks behind it. The cinematography was outstanding and the direction natural, unforced and not over stylized. The real charm comes from Hari, who doesn’t really want to be a porter anymore but like most of the children and many adults in the region – must take the work to survive. His journey winds through sacred Buddhist temples and rustic villages – where Hari observes an ancient ritual a Shaman performs on a sick child. In a painful, deeply personal story Hari reveals his life dream: to make enough money to go to medical school and start a clinic in his home village to ease the suffering of others. Lucian Muntean and Natasa Stankovic directed “Journey of a Red Fridge”.

This time set in the Andes Mountains, “Stranded” tells another story of survival – this one notorious and haunting – emotional and poetic. Directed by Gonzalo Arijon, “Stranded,” reveals the unbelievable story of the Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes Mountains in 1972. The survivors of the crash managed to live for 10 weeks at over 4000 meters, in large part due to their decision to cannibalize some of those who didn’t survive the crash. Those who survived and were ultimately rescued, come back together in this film 35 years later to revisit the crash site, face the ghosts they find there and ultimately find love and compassion through their life shattering experience. As sensational a topic as it was in 1972, it remains so now – you watch the 130-minute feature and scarcely blink or breathe. Gorgeously shot on Super-16 and HD Cam, the suvivors’ oral stories are filled in with understated and poignant reenactments – some performed by the actual children of the survivors. Yet while the topic of cannibalism may be sensational – the stories these people tell and the way they are weaved into the movie are anything but…”Stranded” is a story of deep friendship, unbelievable human endurance and a sacredness found in the human condition when hope is all but extinguished. “Stranded” won the VPRO Joris Ivens award 2007 – IDFA’s top prize.

One of the highlights of our week at IDFA was a chance to see Werner Herzog speak at an IDFA master class. Jeff and Kevin (KTVC Inc. – also from Seattle) and I sat near the rafters in the balcony at the packed Tuschinski Theatre and listened to Werner speak for two hours on topics ranging from the true terror of the ocean – to shooting his own material then inserting a famous DP’s name in the credits – to the true nature of what he calls a “movie-movie” – a porn-flick he stumbled on in his hotel room. Of course he answered questions about “Grizzly Man” and the tape he listened to in that film – and some inane questions from an American in the audience who insisted he must begin shooting “greener” in his movies. (Werner and the Rain blog). In the end Werner was engaging, endearing and wise and we were the better for it.

Our last night in Amsterdam found us pedaling through the rain again – this time to hear traditional Dutch music performed by a friend of Kevin’s at a Speakeasy near the Rijksmuseum. Despite a harmless but spectacular bicycle crash by an unnamed member of our ravens – we made it to the venue and were greeted by the folk-group – singing, as they should, in Dutch. They switched to English for us – and before each song – celebrated their “Friends and special guests from Seattle.” That’s the way it felt the whole week in Amsterdam. That’s the way it felt at IDFA.

Catholic Office of Film

December 12, 2007

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When I saw the print ad for the Golden Compass, I was surprised to see a positive pull quote from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  An official voice of the Catholic Church gave the movie the thumbs up, that was a blow to the movie’s boycott movement. Now it seems the Conference is not standing by it’s own review. According to Catholic News Service, the Conference pulled the review, and some are calling for the firing of the unnamed critics who wrote it. This political infighting was nothing new for the church. The revelation for me was finding the fairly lengthy film review page on the Conference website. It’s actually a decent reference, but does tend to focus on what is wrong or inappropriate in movies. The Legion of Decency would be proud.

Long? Maybe. But boring? Only if your heart is cold.

December 11, 2007

Kathy Fennessy makes her pitch for COLOSSAL YOUTH over at SIFF blog.

Velvets with live score

December 7, 2007

velvgmw.jpg

With all the great press A Walk Into the Sea is getting, be sure not to let it eclipse the fact that tonight and Sunday, Danny Williams films are playing with a live score. This is only the second time EVER that these films have played in the states, and tonight will be the US premiere of Danny’s film THE VELVET UNDERGROUND. Warhol’s films of the Velvets are great, but with a live score, tonight‘s might blow it out of the water.

Woody Allen Speechless?

December 7, 2007

In support of the writer’s strike. A funny man not so funny anymore.