Archive for October, 2009

Movies you will want to have seen

October 30, 2009

Mumblecore haters beware!  Don’t write Beeswax off as just another post-post-modern, vapid hipster flick.  Andrew Bujalski’s third feature is a quiet, mature and humorous work of art, and the critics agree:

“A remarkably subtle, even elegant movie.” -Seattle Times

“A symphony of the ordinary…If Beeswax is part of the mumblecore movement, then it is one of its highest achievements.” -The Stranger

“a near-perfect little film”

Beeswax is pushing the little movement that could into the Amerindie mainstream.” -Seattle Weekly

“It is time the world stood up and took notice [of director Bujalski” -Seattle PostGlobe

Read more about Beeswax and watch the trailer here.



Also playing this week – and at risk of getting buried – is another little gem called Guy & Madeline on a Park Bench.  I think our synopsis is a pretty good sum-up:

Godard meets Cassavetes with a little Miles Davis thrown in for good measure in a fresh take on the musical by first time director Damien Chazelle. Within the first ten minutes, we meet Guy (Jason Palmer) and Madeline (Desiree Garcia) as they meet each other, embark on a brief romance and part ways. The rest of the film focuses on the mellifluous voice of Guy’s trumpet and Madeline’s charming tap dancing, creating an ode to Boston’s eclectic jazz scene. Shot in black and white on 16mm, grainy shadows and striking lighting combine with gorgeous music and heartfelt romance in this stunning debut.

“A surprise, a delight and a whimsical experiment, it could, despite its rigorous efforts to be noncommercial, end up a bona-fide cult hit.” —John Anderson, Variety

Read more & watch the trailer here.
(Guy & Madeline is playing as part of our annual Earshot Jazz film series)


Seeking a website manager – unpaid, but with perks!

October 29, 2009

Northwest Film Forum seeks a talented, independent person with experience in webpage development and back-end website management to write and engineer new webpages as well as to troubleshoot problems on the existing site. Work will be 2-10 hours per week in a creative, fast-paced, casual and hard-working environment.

Northwest Film Forum has one main website ( that runs on a content management system, as well as two satellite pages designed for individual events that are designed in HTML.  More information can be provided upon request.

Job hours can be worked from home, but you must be available to meet with NWFF staff as needed and remain in easy contact. Northwest Film Forum requests a commitment to the position of at least one year.

Job perks include unlimited free movie screenings at the Film Forum and $5 for every hour worked toward workshops and equipment rentals.

Applicants should send resume to by November 15, 2009.


Northwest Film Forum is Seattle’s premier film arts organization, screening over 200 independently made and classic films annually, offering a year-round schedule of filmmaking classes for all ages, and supporting filmmakers at all stages of their careers. NWFF brings together a community of individuals dedicated to great film in Seattle and beyond. You can learn more at

The Yes Men at it again

October 28, 2009

Did anyone else not get the update that the press conference of the US Chamber of Commerce reversing climate change policy and causing Nike and Apple to resign their membership was a hoax put forth by the Yes Men?

And now they are being sued.

If you are looking for more Yes Men antics, don’t miss the upcoming documentary The Yes Men Fix the World (not yet posted on NWFF’s website), screening November 27-December 3.

We’re working on getting the Yes Men here to accompany the film – stay tuned!

Guy and Madeline

October 28, 2009

Back in March I read Amy Taubin’s Film Comment review of Damien Chazelle’s debut feature, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench and knew I had to see it. About one month later the screener arrived in the mail and I realized it was everything I was hoping for.  This weekend I get the chance to share the film with others here in Seattle as part of our Earshot Jazz festival. Below you’ll find the original review, I hope it will also prompt you to join us for the screening.

March/April 2009

ALONE TOGETHER: Fred and Ginger meet John Cassavetes in Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

by Amy Taubin

Despite the hype from Sundance about this or that “Obama moment movie,” nothing at Park City sounded as if it fit the bill as nicely as Damien Chazelle’s debut feature, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (rumored to be premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival). An ingenious, enchanting hybrid of an old-fashioned Hollywood-style musical and a vérité cityscape, the film was shot in 16mm black-and-white on a shoestring budget that was stretched to accommodate the orchestral arrangements of Justin Hurwitz’s lilting tunes and swingy score. It’s the latest in a series of brainy, innovative fiction films displaying a bent for urban ethnography nurtured in Harvard’s undergraduate film program. Among the others: Gordon Eriksen and John O’Brien’s The Big Dis (89) and Andrew Bujalski’s Funny Ha Ha (02).

Set within Boston’s famed but far from economically thriving jazz community, Guy and Madeline is a desultory variant of the classic romantic meet-cute/break-up/reunite narrative. Here it’s boy meets girl, boy dumps girl, boy realizes he was an asshole and returns to girl, girl may or may not want him back. The “Guy” of the title is a jazz trumpeter (Jason Palmer), who begins and terminates his vaguely promising romantic connection to Madeline (Desiree Garcia) within the movie’s first 10 minutes on the park bench that is the title’s third term.

Madeline carries a torch for Guy for the rest of the movie, which doesn’t prevent her from briefly moving in with a New York–based French crooner (Bernard Chazelle, the filmmaker’s father). Guy, who is far more devoted to his trumpet than to any of the women in his life, is immediately distracted from Madeline by Elena (Sandha Khin), with whom he connects in the most erotic subway scene since Richard Widmark lifted Jean Peters’s wallet in Pickup on South Street. More wary than Madeline, Elena cocks an eyebrow when Guy tells her to cook up some pasta for his band, and turns off totally when he leaves for a couple of days to entertain his family, up from North Carolina for a visit.

Unlike the chatterboxes in Bujalski films, Chazelle’s characters barely communicate—except when they’re talking about or making music. Thus we are left to speculate whether, for example, Elena is pissed off because she doesn’t believe Guy’s story about his family or if she’s mad because he doesn’t offer to introduce her to them, and whether Guy doesn’t want her to meet them because he’s not that into her or because he thinks they’d be upset because she’s not black. Again, pure speculation. Where Barry Jenkins’s romantic talkathon Medicine for Melancholy puts the issue of African-American identity front and center, Guy and Madeline suggests a “post-race” Bohemia, at least as far as relationships are concerned. Art is another matter: Guy’s idols are Clifford Brown and Grandmaster Flash. Indeed, one of the ways to look at the movie is as a sequel to John Cassavetes’ Shadows; 50 years later, that film’s blow-out sequence about racial difference and passing as white is barely conceivable, and definitely not cool within this milieu. I’m a bit embarrassed that it even crossed my mind.

Chazelle has a light touch with his references—in addition to Shadows, Guy and Madeline footnotes Fred and Ginger musicals, Akerman’s Window Shopping, Godard’s A Woman Is a Woman, Rohmer’s Summer (aka The Green Ray), Rouch and Morin’s Chronicle of a Summer, and, closer to home, Bujalski’s Funny Ha Ha. And that’s just for starters. What keeps the film from becoming mere pastiche is the handheld shooting style, which resembles Ricky Leacock’s with a bit more panache. In addition to directing and writing the script and the lyrics, Chazelle is the film’s uncredited cinematographer and editor. The camera moves smoothly from lingering close-ups to wide shots, and it’s every bit as interested in chance happenings at the real-life locations as in the fictional narrative. One of the best musical sequences involves a jazz performance in what looks like an apartment converted to a club by dint of a single illuminated exit sign. Stuck in a hall next to the minuscule main space, the camera covers the action by panning back and forth between two narrow doorways, the repetitive movement defining the music rhythmically and spatially. Chazelle is an exceptionally talented filmmaker. Let’s hope the independent film world has enough life left in it to do him justice.

See Isabelli Rossellini – with your NWFF member discount

October 27, 2009

Courtesy of Seattle Arts & Lectures:

Isabella Rossellini
7:30pm, November 18, 2009, Benaroya Hall

Isabella Rossellini, daughter of Italian neorealist film pioneer Roberto Rossellini and legendary Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, was born to be creative. As a child living in Rome, she eschewed the daily siesta to daydream of the “full and interesting life I promised myself.” Known as the face of Lancôme cosmetics and as a film and TV actress (Blue Velvet, Fearless, Alias, 30 Rock), Rossellini is also the creator/writer/director of Green Porno (Sundance Channel). Not your typical Nat Geo nature feature, these short films about the fascinating reproductive habits of insects and marine animals star Rossellini garbed in fantastic creature costumes of her own design. Ms. Rossellini will talk about her life and career and show clips from her latest work. More info at <>

Richard Price
7:30pm, December 1, 2009, Benaroya Hall
Richard Price’s latest novel, Lush Life, reads like the best Law & Order episode you’ve ever seen, drawn out over the length of a novel and deepened by the time, space, and thoughtfulness of the form. Lauded for his impeccable dialogue, seamless storytelling, and crackerjack wit, Price works like a detective: watching, listening, and recording carefully, at a distance, the stories of a city. His novel Clockers was adapted into the 1995 movie directed by Spike Lee, on which HBO’s The Wire was later based. In addition to those TV screenplays, Price also wrote the films The Color of Money and Sea of Love. Mr. Price will discuss his life and work in literature and film. More info at <>

Special Discount for NWFF
NWFF members receive a 15% discount on all ticket levels, except Student/U25, for both Rossellini and Price talks. Discounted prices range from $21.25 to $63.75; patron-level tickets include post-lecture receptions with the author. Phone orders only: call 206-621-2230, up until the day before the performance.

More photos from the Local Sightings Big Opening Night Party

October 20, 2009

At Flickr.

STINGRAY SAM creator/star Cory McAbee interview

October 20, 2009

Here’s an interview just posted by Karina Longworth of Spout blog with Cory McAbee, who will be at NWFF in person on November 20 for the Seattle premiere of his film STINGRAY SAM.

If there’s a single crippling irony to the explosion of web video over the last half decade, it’s this: no single piece of media created specifically for online distribution has so far engaged the masses as deeply as the bits of cultural detritus, from cat videos to classic films, that end up online unofficially, accidentally and/or illegally. Taking into account his own viewing habits and those of the post-internet generation, with Stingray Sam Cory McAbee set out to make a film that could be watched in discreet ten-minutes segments while still maintaining the narrative and image quality of the widescreen experience.

And so several months after premiering at Sundance, Stingray Sam became available for purchase in a variety of different formats from McAbee’s website, while the filmmaker continued to tour the world accompanying the film to festival screenings and other theatrical events. When the six-part musical space western screened last month at Fantastic Fest, McAbee and I met up at the new Alamo Drafthouse-adjacent clubhouse The Highball to talk about science fiction as political allegory, the peaks and valleys within the landscape of web video, and the further adventures of Stingray and the Quasar Kid.

Read the interview here.

Wheedle’s Groove Wins Indie Memphis

October 19, 2009

Seattle scored big yet again on the festival circuit this weekend as Jennifer Maas’ WHEEDLE’S GROOVE took the audience prize in the documentary category at Indie Memphis.

Congrats to Jennifer and her outstanding crew!

Headless Woman has critics talking

October 18, 2009


Seems like every time I try to catch up on some film reading, I run across a reference to The Headless Woman, a dramatic feature from Argentina’s Lucrecia Martel playing at NWFF next week. It’s emerging as one of the most talked about foreign films of the year.

I saw THW several months ago at SIFF, and remember it vividly. A middle-aged, bourgeois dentist (Maria Onetto) claims she hit a dog with her car while distracted by her cellphone. The film charts her gradual admission, over the course of several days, that she might actually have hit a child, and the efforts of the men in her life to cover up what happened. What makes the film noteworthy is its narrative subtlety. The story is told partly through the constrained facial expressions of the excellent Onetto, and partly through bits of key information revealed to the viewer in an almost offhand manner. You have to do some work to follow what’s going on.

Film Comment’s Amy Taubin writes of the film’s “disturbing intimacy” in its “description of a condition of consciousness.” The New York Times’s Stephen Holden calls it a “brilliant, maddeningly enigmatic puzzle of a movie,” and compares it to Antonioni’s L’Avventura. In the same vein, New York’s David Edelstein says it is “so arty, enervated, and allegorical it might have been made by a European in the early sixties.” (In case you can’t tell, he liked it.) My favorite film blogger, Seattle’s own Jim Emerson, likens THW to Repulsion, but in reverse.

See for yourself, then read the interview with Martel on Film Comment’s website.

We did 69; BAM does 62

October 17, 2009

The New York Times has a great piece on Brooklyn Academy of Music’s series of 12 films from 1962. I can’t help but compare the connections made between films in the article to those we have hoped audiences would draw in our year-long 69 series (in which we have already shown about 40 movies from that year).

Here’s the great final line from critic A.O. Scott:
“But one lesson of the great films of 1962 is that the old is always sending out a few flickers of glory even as the new is restlessly being born. The moment of change is always now.

I urge you to read the entire thing, and to come to the final few films in our 69 with similar themes in mind. And you never know, it’s not too late for the Seattle press to write something up like the Times about our series!