Archive for January 20th, 2009


January 20, 2009

First I must apologize that it took so long to decide, but seriously everyone put SO MUCH EFFORT into their lists, they were all so good in their own special ways, I decided I had to be more creative myself in the judging (as I invented the DAMN thing, after all!).  Taking a leaf from the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS, for as much as they get made fun of (by me (and the SIMPSONS)) in particular, they do several things SOOO MUCH BETTER than the ACADEMY AWARDS.  Serving booze and dinner to their long-suffering guests as the ceremony goes on and on and on and people start thanking their agent’s 3rd cousin 6X removed is one.  MAKING DIFFERENT CATEGORIES is another.  (I’ve decided that the OSCARS share a lot with the Electoral College System of Voting (?!!).  Everyone in contention complains how antiquated the systems for them are are, until they win.  And then they comment no more.  In other words, hypocrisy, thy name is Kevin Spacey, etc., etc., etc.  (I happen to adore Kevin Spacey (the “smartest guy in the room”), too.  Sigh.) SO, even though only one contestant wins the Grand Prize, I have determined different categories that ALL OF YOU WON in, and will be awarded……………………………….a  Cookie.  WHAT THE HELL, you scream, OBAMA WON!!!  Civil rights are back!!!  You’re giving me a flippin’ cookie?!!!  Do you have ANY IDEA how long writing that stupid thing TOOK?!!  To which I reply (as I’m very good at making up conversations), ah, but you haven’t HAD one of my cookies.  They are slightly smaller than a dinner plate.  Or a Frisbee.  And they are DELICIOUS, if I do say so myself.  And I DO.  So, for those of you NOT in Seattle or it’s environs, you can leave a comment at the end of this article and leave your address for me, and one will come to you (starting Feb. 5th, the next 2 weekends I am baking treats for the CHILDRENS FILM FESTIVAL SEATTLE 2009 so I will be just a tad occupied until then, allowing for a short recuperative period.)  If that doesn’t seem private enough for you, simply send a postcard or a letter to:  NWFF 1515 12th Ave Seattle, WA   98122 to the attention of NormaBates666, and it will get to me.

A drum roll please…………………………………………………..

The Person Who Takes the (White Russian) Cake is:

DAVID HANNIGAN!!!!!!!!!!!TADA!!!!!!!!

For the list entitled:

DAVE’S TOP 10 OF 2008!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This list is so far out of the box (a list of Top 10 Film Stock of 2008!), so original, absurd and imaginative, it simply takes the conventional idea of a Top 10 List of Best/Worst Actor/Director/Film, and turns it inside out.  Paring it down to it’s absolute essence (kinda like that Robbie Williams video), rating the actual film stock all films are well, filmed on, itself– it’s just genius!  And the fact that probably only 6 other people in the world get the joke makes it even better!  (By the way, it upsets me greatly when someone is funnier than I am.  I’M the comic relief on this blog, Bobalooey, and don’t you forget it!!)

But then the rest of yours were brilliant too!  So, Cookies go to the following:

In the category of:  The Best List With The Largest Bucketful Of Cliches, That Was Unique In Talking About Films That Weren’t Released/Were Under-Appreciated:

CALEB, for the list entitled:  THE TOP TEN FILMS OF 2008 THAT COULDVE BEEN, SHOULDVE BEEN, BUT WEREN’T.  (I’ve never even heard of TRICK  OR TREAT, didja ever find out what happened there?  You showed a good knowledge of the industry, it was a very informative list to read, thanks!)

In the category of:  The List That Reflected The Best Taste In Films NOT Seen:

JOE, for the list entitled:  TOP TEN GREATEST MOVIES I TOTALLY MEANT TO SEE IN 2008 (HONEST!) (Seriously, excellent choices.  And on this blog, having someone compliment your taste in film actually MEANS a great deal, unlike all those other trivial blogs on the net!  Feel complimented!  Any non-attended films for this year so far ?  (I know it’s early, don’t worry, you literally have ALL year to miss stuff, from now on!)  (Thank God for Netflix, ehSeattles close to Canada, they make us put an eh in occasionally.)

In the category of:  The List I Was In Complete Agreement With In It’s Critiques:

SALVATORE, for the list entitled:  TOP TEN COMIC BOOK MOVIES THAT FALL SHORT BECAUSE THEY FAILED TO FOLLOW THE COMIC BOOK (Well, isn’t it cool Halle Berry was the ONLY actor to show up and get her RAZZIE for CATWOMAN?  And she even gave a speech!  Yours was an extremely detailed list, impressive!)

In the category of:  The List Of Film Characters That Could Alternatively Replace DEAR ABBY:

MARTHA, for the list entitled:  TOP TEN MOVIE CHARACTERS THAT COULD AND SHOULD WRITE A BEST-SELLING SELF-HELP BOOK (This is an insanely refreshing, inventive and amusing list that must have required a lot of thought.  Thanks for sending it in!)

In the category of:  The Sweetest List Submitted, By Far!:

N-LESS PENNIES, for her lovely list entitled:   MY TOP FIVE FILMS. (I have just loved Reese Witherspoon since I saw THE MAN IN THE MOON.  Good job, sweetie!)

In the category of:  The Only List Submission That Was Smart Enough To Be Accompanied By A Bribe (His Pix Of His 3 Year-Old Are Just Adorable!):

KIRSTOPHER, for his list entitled:  THE TOP 10 MOVIES THAT ARE ACHING TO BE MADE FUN OF BY ANYONE INVOLVED WITH MST3K (Good going!  I thought I was the only one who had suffered through IN THE NAME OF THE KING:  A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE. So now you can start working on that Sweep Pan list, eh?)  (I OWN MITCHELL, which I believe to be THE funniest MST3KEVER.  So, Joel vs. Mike?  What’s your opinion?)

In the category of:  The Most Versatile List, Brought To Us By The Mastermind Of NWFF Programming, Who Makes Coming To The Theatre Such A Educational Pleasure (Without Being TOO PBS!):

ADAM, for his list entitled: TOP 10 0F 2008  (VERTIGO is my fave Hitch of all time!)  (You’d think it’d be MARNIE, huh?)  (And how are things at Liberate EweAdam is also an amazing Video Artist–am I using the right term?)

In the category of:  Undoubtedly The Most Money-Making List Of All The Top 10’s, From Our Astute Mathematician:

SUSIE, for her list entitled:  TOP 10 GROSSING RUNS OF 2008 (The ones I came to were MISTER LONELY, TO THE LIMIT and MONSIEUR VERDOUX, by the way.  Which ones were your faves?)  (Has anyone spoken to you about your unhealthy obsession with box-office totals?  I’m sure there’s some sort of therapy for it available–God knows they’ll take your MONEY!)

In the category of:  The Biggest Showoff, With TWO Top 10 Lists To His Credit, Thereby Making The Rest Of Us Look Bad:

PETER, for his lists entitled:  POP TEN (The list most likely to put one into a diabetic coma–SPEED RACER? Really?!  Hmm.  However,  I would say to all who think they dislike WALK HARD:  THE DEWEY COX STORY that they need to know that the FUNNY version (and the one that actually makes sense, is the Director’s Cut–the theatrical version leaves out the ‘70‘s, and some of the funniest bits in the film, right?!  Gimme an AMEN, somebody!).  And thanks for BEST DEAD  2008! (When THE TABLET was still in Seattle, it had this great column, called (I think I have it right) THE HOLLYWOOD DEATH WATCH, that would keep one clued in on obscure deaths of notable Hollywood/entertainment figures.  (They started it because when Huntz Hall died, and they ran the dead people list that year on the OSCARS, no one in the audience knew who the hell he was, so they had to run his name TWICE.   (AAARRGGHH!!))  Now that THE TABLET is in Portland, they’ve discontinued the column, thanks for taking the time and trouble to do the list!)

In the category of:  The List Of The Chick With The Coolest Taste in Retro Film, From Someone Not Even A Twinkle In The Eyes Of Her Parents At The Time These Films Came Out:

MIZ RYAN, for the list entitled:  TOP 10 HERE AT HOME (I saw COMING HOME & BULLITT when they originally ran in theatres.  You’d figure that as Jon Voight won the OSCAR for COMING HOME, more people would know about it, huh?)

In the category of:  Instinctively Getting What Films Were Important In The 60’s List:

WEN, for the list entitled:  TOP 10 PICKS FROM THE 60’S (See above. Very perceptive choices!  I should know.)

In the category of:  Best List of YOUTUBE Videos To Sing Along To, Because They’re SIMPLY OBAMA-SISTABLE! (And The Only List You Could Actually Watch In An Hour-ish):

LIZ, for  the list entitled:  TOP 10 OBAMA YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF 2008 (Can you imagine how punishing the rehearsals must have been, to learn to sing  those lyrics to the beat of that song?!  This list was seriously clever fun!)

In the category of:  Definitely The List That Was The Most Cultured, Encompassing ALL Of The Arts, From Our New Fearless Leader!:

LYALL, for the list entitled (daringly):  TOP NINE (Clearly, I have ALOT to learn from YOU!)

In the category of:  The Film Expert Who Fearlessly Dared To Bare Her Fun Side (Which Naturally Ended Up Being The List With The Most Carbs!):

PAM, for the list entitled:  POPCORN MOVIES OF 2008 (You just know it’s Mickey and Heath for OSCAR gold this year!  I ADORED the THUNDER, and yes, aren’t HAROLD AND KUMAR just GREAT?!!)  (I recommend the Director’s Cuts, if you haven’t seen them yet–Neil Patrick Harris is just hysterical–I taped him on SNL last week– it was like an awesome, dude, show!  Actually funny for once!)

And, appropriately, we end with:

In the category of:  The List Of The Man Who Has The Best Perspective On Film Than ANYONE At NWFF, Our Master Projectionist!:

MATT, for the list entitled:  BEST OF THE YEAR FROM THE BOOTH (My ex and I used HAROLD AND MAUDE as a litmus test, if the people we were considering becoming friends with didn’t get it, we lost their phone numbers.  At this point I think I’ve seen it at least 20 times.  Perhaps we could lay down some sort of film law, give cinephiles a year to see it, or we laugh them out of the theatre, with a request they never return, and hand out a frying pan as a parting gift?  Whaddaya think?)  (And thanks for letting me bastardize your title for my own Top 10 List!)

So boys and girls, that’s it.  Please forgive if I spelled names or lists wrong, at this point I’m too exhausted to look any more stuff up.  Now to the After Party!!  (We’ll make fun of the clothes from the Red Carpet tomorrow.)

THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING!!!  Hope to see you next year!

Conceived, Written, Produced and Directed by THE LITHUANIAN BAKING COMPANY, Copyright 2009.


January 20, 2009

I’ve lived in Seattle for 3 decades now and have NEVER felt so much hope and energy in the air as I did walking around today.  Due to one circumstance (and about 24 others) this is the first time I have voted in a Presidential Election.  What a way to start!  (I used to work with someone who had only attended one music concert in her life.  When you would begin to commiserate with her, she’d smile slowly and proceed to tell you it was the Beatles in 1964.  That’s how I feel today!)   Congratulations, President Obama!  (Oh, and it’s about fuckin’ time!!!)

An Exciting 2009: Report from A Toronto Programmer

January 20, 2009

A report from Raymond Phathanavirangoon who worked for several years with international film sales outfit Fortissimo Films and is currently a programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival and Toronto’s Reel Asian Film Festival.

2009 already looks like a better year than the last, especially if you look at the upcoming titles. From masters like Alain Resnais (LES HERBES FOLLES) and Werner Herzog (BAD LIEUTENANT) to Lukas Moodysson’s highly anticipated MAMMOTH, there are, at least, a lot of big names to pick from. I have chosen 10 films (and a bunch of alternates) that are my most anticipated to highlight here. The list definitely gravitates toward the arthouse, because that is just my personal taste. So apologies in advance that I am not listing obvious titles like Park Chan-wook’s THIRST or Quentin Tarantino’s INGLORIOUS BASTARDS. Of course, since I have not seen any of them yet, I’m just making guesses as to whether they will turn out great or not. And who knows, maybe some of them will not even make ’09…

In no order:

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, PRIMITIVE
After making some of the finest films this decade with SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY and TROPICAL MALADY, Weerasethakul has a boldly experimental new film that is borne out of a multimedia project. It kicks off with a 5-screen installation at the Haus de Kunst in Munich, Germany in February. Following hopefully soon after is the feature itself, which extends the director’s themes of memory and reincarnation into a weird and wonderful world of humans and apes. Yes, apes.

Info and Images
After THE MAN FROM LONDON, Bela Tarr has decided to return to Hungary to make something smaller in scale. Not that this film, inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s breakdown later in his life, is any smaller in terms of subject matter. But Bela Tarr told me personally that this will be his final film. That will be a great loss to cinema, but I know that he will continue to be involved behind the camera. Just look at how Kornél Mundruczó (whose DELTA was in Cannes Competition last year) turned out.
Claire Denis’ last film 35 SHOTS OF RHUM was a huge critical success when it premiered in Venice and Toronto last year. She rapidly follows this up with WHITE MATERIAL, in which she returns to Africa to shoot this Kafka-esque story of a brewing rebellion and a white woman, Maria, who is caught up in mayhem. Isabelle Huppert, Isaach de Bankolé and Christopher Lambert are starring. And remember: the last time Denis was in Africa, she gave us BEAU TRAVAIL.

Info and Images
It has been a long time since the award-winning DIVINE INTERVENTION in 2001, but his contribution to 2006’s CHACUN SON CINEMA was a knockout. THE TIME THAT REMAINS purports to complete his trilogy of films about Palestinian identity that started with CHRONICLE OF A DISAPPEARANCE. Suleiman has nailed down the pitch-perfect comedic timing – here’s hoping that the visuals are just as bold and inventive and the politics as scathing as ever.
Tsai Ming-Liang, FACE
Director Tsai Ming-Liang has taken over the Louvre and turned it into his own little playground. His partner-in-crime Lee Kang-Sheng stars as a film director who is trying to adapt the story of Salomé. And talk about inspired casting: Jean-Pierre Léaud as John the Baptist, red-hot model Laetitia Casta as Salomé, and three names cinema lovers know well: Jeanne Moreau, Fanny Ardant and Nathalie Baye. No wonder, since Tsai states that François Truffaut is the inspiration behind this latest project.

Info and Images
Jean-Luc Godard, SOCIALISME
Admittedly, I have no clue what this film is about, except that it went into production last year. I’m glad that he is still as active as ever, and if it’s anything as good as the more recent IN PRAISE OF LOVE and NOTRE MUSIQUE, which were both stunning, it will be a godsend.


Lee Chang-Dong, POETRY
Lee Chang-Dong is, to me, the finest director in Korea. Though he hasn’t made very many films, each is a wonderfully crafted gem. His last, SECRET SUNSHINE, was an emotional rollercoaster topped by emotive performances and utterly controlled direction. His newest, about an old woman trying to find new meaning in her life, already sounds like another rich mine for a character drama.
Abbas Kiarostami, CERTIFIED COPY
A love story directed by Abbas Kiarostami??? As unlikely as it may sound, this film already has considerable interest due to its star: Juliette Binoche. The plot revolves around a middle-aged writer who meets Binoche’s character, and together they jet to Tuscany. How will Kiarostami, who has been making quasi-experimental films lately, approach something more conventional? We will see…

Images and details
Todd Solondz, LIFE DURING WARTIME (working title)
Described as part sequel/part variation of HAPPINESS and WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, Todd Solondz’s long-gestated project will finally be completed this year. But lest you think that Solondz is treading on his past successes, the film will, I believe, surprise a lot of people. For one, he doesn’t use any of the same cast as the previous films, though of course the “characters” themselves are the same. And boy, the script is great.
Vimukthi Jayasundara, FALLEN FROM THE SKY
Though definitely less known than the other filmmakers mentioned in this list, I am really eagerly anticipating this Sri Lankan director’s second feature film. His last work, THE FORSAKEN LAND (Camera d’Or, Cannes 2005) heralded a new cinematic talent with its sparse, allegorical landscapes and powerful war themes. If he manages to succeed in translating the excellent treatment for FALLEN FORM THE SKY into a film, then it is going to be an incredible piece of work – incredibly visual, surrealistic and mysterious.
Also greatly anticipated but just missed my list:

PERSECUTION (Patrice Chéreau)
MOTHER (Bong Joon-Ho)
NYMPH (Pen-ek Ratanaruang)
THE WHITE TAPE (Michael Haneke)
RED EAGLE (Wisit Sasanatieng)
KING SHOT (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
ANTICHRIST (Lars von Trier)
THE TREE OF LIFE (Terence Malick)
THE ILLUSIONIST (Sylvain Chomet)

Sundance V: Little Dizzle, Monday Night

January 20, 2009

At 5:15 we snake through the cattle lines into the Library Center Theater to see “Little Dizzle,” a film that took over three years to get made from start to finish. It has a wild plot: a young man is fired from his high-tech data management job and is forced to take a job as a janitor.  The new job involves cleaning a large building whose one wing is devoted to research into cookies that, as the janitors eat them, begin to alter the biological capabilities of the men – and by alter I mean cause to become, sort of, pregnant.   It’s a speculative fiction comedy with animation sequences and a great soundtrack (by the band, Awesome). The film received a warm and enthusiastic reception, and afterwards someone asked the director David Russo who his influences were. “The usual ones – Kubrick, David Lean,” Russo said, ticking off a couple of others. “But my real influences are literary:  Emerson and Thoreau, Whitman and Dickinson – the originals, the really fresh and independent voices in the country.” It was the last question of the evening and the crowd erupted with a standing ovation for Russo, for his own original and independent vision, and for the film itself.

It was at the after party that we all learned that “Humpday,” one of the stories of the festival, was sold to Magnolia Pictures – an amazing thing for a film with a teeny budget but a big imagination and talent behind it.

Sundance IV: Humpday

January 20, 2009

The Humpday condo shook all night, Monday night, with music, talk and dancing after the deal with Magnolia Pictures.

Sundance III: Monday afternoon

January 20, 2009


Around 2 p.m. the Filmmaker’s Lounge on Main Street offers a panel called “The New Fresh.” Four filmmakers are interviewed about making  their first films, and though the questions are a little talky and awkward – for such a polished festival Sundance does not push its programmers and moderators to shine in the introductions to films or in the panels – the filmmakers give the room a great vibe. One of the filmmakers on the panel is David Russo, who directed “The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle.” I met him for the first time at last night’s Seattle party and was struck by this: he grew up in Seattle, but if you were just looking at the way he talks you probably would not guess it. He speaks bluntly and directly, and talks at least some of the time with a propulsive kind of comedy.  On the panel, asked about “making the transition” from small to large films he holds the mike to his mouth and says to the moderator, “Look, no offense — really” – he kidney punches the word both to get a laugh and make a point –  “But size really doesn’t matter. I have spent six years getting one of my short films right, and this feature was shot in 20 days.” The laugh comes, but then he underscores how much he believes in the art of the films. A week ago he traded in the five screening dates around the city he was given for three in the Library Center Theater because, he says, “they have the best sound of any venue in Park City.”  Quiet gasps in the room suggested that audience members  wondered about his sanity, but it is worth repeating that he was happy with less exposure for his film if each screening met his exacting standards for quality. And in a way it was the gasps that were out of place: Sundance stands for the necessity of film and for new and fresh voices, even if those voices are sometimes really uncompromising.

The movie’s premiere is tonight at 5:30.