My picks for the 2004 Seattle International Film Festival

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My picks for the 2004 Seattle International Film Festival

Post by Chris Slack » Thu May 06, 2004 6:42 pm

These are the movies I'm going to see and review this year. For a full listing see http://www.seattlefilm.com/

I hope to see some of you locals at some of these films. Tickets go on sale the 9th and tend to sell out quickly for some films.


Torremolinos 73
SPAIN, 2003, 90 minutes
Language: Spanish
Friday, May 21, 9:15 PM
Egyptian


A sexed up, hilarious answer to Boogie Nights. It's 1973 and Alberto Lopez is a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman in Madrid, on the verge of financial collapse. When his boss offers him an opportunity to make Super-8 “educational” porn for randy Scandinavians, making a star of his wife, his dream of a Bergman-inspired porn film seems close at hand...

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The Locals
NEW ZEALAND, 2003, 88 minutes
US Premiere
Friday, May 21, MIDNIGHT
Egyptian


Recalling the early horror films of fellow Kiwi Peter Jackson, Greg Page's debut follows two friends as they hit the road for a weekend of surfing, booze and (hopefully) girls. With night falling, they find a shortcut, where they meet Lisa and Kelly. Lust leads to a deadly game of cat and mouse with...the locals.

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Perfect Strangers
NEW ZEALAND, 2003, 96 minutes
Sunday, May 23, 9:00 PM
Egyptian


Gaylene Preston has made an intriguing, virtually unclassifiable film that is part romantic thriller, part fantasy horror. Melanie decides to go on a blind date one boozy evening, and wakes up at sea, kidnapped by her suitor. Improbably, the pair develop an uneasy trust, until events take a sinister turn and threaten to spiral out of control.

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Bright Future
JAPAN, 2003, 92 minutes
Language: Japanese
Wednesday, May 26, 7:15 PM
Harvard Exit


Yuji and Mamoru are working dead-end jobs in an industrial laundromat. Mamoru invites Yuji home to see his poisonous pet jellyfish. After a shocking turn of events, Yuji inherits the jellyfish and is haunted by specters of Mamoru's disturbing actions. Director Kurosawa (CURE, SÉANCE) deftly explores the banality

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Doppelganger
JAPAN, 2003, 107 minutes
Language: Japanese
Wednesday, May 26, 9:30 PM
Harvard Exit


Japan's reigning master of paranoia injects wild plot twists and a touch of humor into his latest psycho-thriller, a story about an obsessed scientist whose life takes on unanticipated complications when he confronts his psychotic double. From the director of previous SIFF hits Séance (2000) and Cure (1997).

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A Tale of Two Sisters
SOUTH KOREA, 2003, 114 minutes
Language: Korean
Saturday, May 29, MIDNIGHT
Egyptian


After being treated for an unspecified illness, Su-mi and Su-yeon' father drives them to an idyllic lakeside home. They are not pleased to meet their new stepmother, and their discontent seems to be echoed by odd occurrences at the remote house. Director Kim Ji-woon's classy chiller is delightfully reminiscent of The Shining.

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Running on Karma
HONG KONG, 2003, 93 minutes
Language: Cantonese
Wednesday, June 02, 9:15 PM
Egyptian


Hong Kong action-meister Johnnie To teams up with two of Asian cinema's biggest stars to deliver a wildly comedic head rush. Both plainclothes, detective Lee (Cecilia Cheung) and Buddhist monk-turned-stripper Big (Andy Lau) need to track down a malevolent killer in this action-packed film.

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The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi
JAPAN, 2003, 116 minutes
Language: Japanese
Friday, June 04, 6:45 PM
Cinerama


An old blind masseur wanders from town to town revealing to no one that he is in fact the master swordsman, Zatoichi. Based on the popular movie series from the '60s, legendary filmmaker Takeshi Kitano directs, but also stars as the white-haired Zatoichi, who stumbles into a gang war and ends up taking on an entire mob.

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Natural City
SOUTH KOREA, 2003, 112 minutes
Language: Korean
US Premiere
Friday, June 04, 9:00 PM
Cinerama


Visually astonishing, with elements of BLADE RUNNER, THE MATRIX and MINORITY REPORT, fused with a story of AMOUR FOU. The year is 2080 A.D. Agent R is in charge of eliminating runaway cyborgs, but when he falls in love with a female cyborg scheduled for destruction the renegade couple takes flight, hotly pursued by Agent R's erstwhile colleagues.

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Haute Tension
FRANCE, 2003, 89 minutes
Language: French
Friday, June 04, MIDNIGHT
Egyptian


This highly evolved slasher pic with a Sapphic twist is as intense as the title suggests. After Marie accompanies Alex to her family's remote country house, a murderous trucker intrudes. Marie manages to gain the advantage in a gruesome battle for the fate of Alex, for whom Marie and the killer both lust after.

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Hero
CHINA, 2002, 109 minutes
Language: Mandarin
Saturday, June 05, 9:15 PM
Cinerama


From renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou, comes the story of a master swordsman who wins an audience with the king after bravely defeating the region's three deadliest assassins. Hero is gorgeously filmed and features thrilling fight scenes and a powerhouse cast of contemporary Chinese actors.

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Save the Green Planet
SOUTH KOREA, 2003, 116 minutes
Language: Korean
Saturday, June 12, MIDNIGHT
Egyptian


Genre-busting comedy. Lost in a world of conspiracy theories and psychotic delusions, a simple country beekeeper and his dimwit girlfriend kidnap Kang, a top industrialist. They believe he is a spy for the planet Andromeda, which is about to conquer the earth. But Kang is not about to take his punishment lying down...
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Post by ROBERT » Thu May 06, 2004 11:21 pm

A Tale of Two Sisters ,Haute Tension, Save the Green Planet


Those are MUST sees.


The other Asian films like Bright Future, Hero, The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi I had mixed feelings about. Biggest diappointment was Zatiochi. You may like aspects of it. Dig the crazzeee stomp like dance number at the end. Perfect Strangers has been getting good notices. Probably that and The Locals are the only two that haven't been screened in other North American Film Festivals. Maybe Doppelganger as well.
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Post by Kimberly » Fri May 07, 2004 1:36 am

Zatoichi opens here June 4th!!! Besides Beat it also stars Tadanobu Asano!! I've really been looking foward to this. They were showing the trailer for this before screenings of Shaolin Soccer.

Hero I just adore that movie to bits. A favorite of mine...

I look foward to reading your thoughts on A Tale of Two Sisters and Bright Future.

Zatoichi was the closing film this evening for the VC Film Fest...

VC Film Fest

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Post by Kimberly » Fri May 07, 2004 1:40 am

Originally posted by ROBERT

Biggest diappointment was Zatiochi.


I'll pretend I didn't read that :(

Besides... it can't be as bad as Brother was and that's my least favorite film of Beat's.

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Post by Latte Thunder » Fri May 07, 2004 6:16 am

I've seen the trailers for Natural City and it looks incredibly awesome! There's a ton of CGI in it and it really looks like the east is surpassing Hollywood CGI in terms of quality and imagination.

I suppose it was only a matter of time.
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Post by I am 138 » Fri May 07, 2004 5:04 pm

are you going to go to The Undead, Chris?
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Post by Chris Slack » Fri May 07, 2004 6:40 pm

Originally posted by I am 138
are you going to go to The Undead, Chris?


I may but probably not as I have already seen it and tickets are gonna cost me enough as it is :)
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Post by kipper » Sat May 08, 2004 11:45 am

Originally posted by Chris
I may but probably not as I have already seen it and tickets are gonna cost me enough as it is :)



So... having seen it ... was it worth it?

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Post by Chris Slack » Sat May 08, 2004 12:20 pm

Originally posted by kipper
So... having seen it ... was it worth it?


Yeah, it's a fun little zombie flick, funny and gory.
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Re: My picks for the 2004 Seattle International Film Festival

Post by I am 138 » Sun May 09, 2004 12:45 pm

Originally posted by Chris
The Locals
NEW ZEALAND, 2003, 88 minutes
US Premiere
Friday, May 21, MIDNIGHT
Egyptian

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi
JAPAN, 2003, 116 minutes
Language: Japanese
Friday, June 04, 6:45 PM
Cinerama

Natural City
SOUTH KOREA, 2003, 112 minutes
Language: Korean
US Premiere
Friday, June 04, 9:00 PM
Cinerama

Haute Tension
FRANCE, 2003, 89 minutes
Language: French
Friday, June 04, MIDNIGHT
Egyptian

Save the Green Planet
SOUTH KOREA, 2003, 116 minutes
Language: Korean
Saturday, June 12, MIDNIGHT
Egyptian


Jackie and I will be at these, plus the 7/11 Midnight show of Undead
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The Locals

Post by I am 138 » Sat May 22, 2004 10:34 am

Got to The Egyptian and got in line, only to find Chris had joined the queue right behind Jackie. Everyone had a laugh at how bad I am at picking Netflix movies, then we went in.

The Locals was preceded by a short film called The Catskill Chainsaw Redemption. This starts out as a funny pastiche of horror films, with some good satire and a decent Leatherface lead. However, the film wanders off and begins drawing its comedy from placing characters in situations you wouldn't expect, before veering back into horror satire for the finale. The change in tone left the ending not really working for me. The director was in attendance, but really said fuck all to introduce it other than he had a neighbor who ran a chainsaw all day once. I gave it a 3 out of 5 on the card.

The feature followed. The Locals is one you have to let get started. It starts w/ two young guys going on a surfing holiday, and seems like it thinks they're funny and interesting characters. They're not, really. You get about 15 minutes of them getting to where they need to before the story kicks in. While taking a "shortcut," the boys encounter two girls on the way to a party, and try and con their way to an invite. However, while following them to the party, the guys end up in an accident. Unable to get the car moving again, they set out on foot. They come to a house just in time to see a girl get her throat slit, and from that point on are stalked by a group of "locals" lead by the murderer.

Despite the claims in the SIFF synopsis, this film isn't particularly reminiscent of Peter Jackson, though it does feature nods to his work. There's a fence/cliff dive that I thought may be inspired by Bad Taste, as well as an exploding car of the same make as Ozzy's from BT, and an explicit, dialog, mention of a Jackson film is made too. I think it was wise to not try and mimic Jackson's style, because even w/o doing that, the director is being compared to Jackson.

Once the plot gets moving, it's a quick, entertaining bit of horror, even if the actual story is a bit bland and predictable. Many of the situations can be found in Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chain Saw, Groundhog's Day, and pretty much any Asian horror movie ever made. Because it reminded me mostly of a few classic 70s movies, I began comparing it to Cabin Fever (which isn't entirely fair since they're very different), and I would rate The Locals as better. There are a few good shock/jumps, and the whole movie (after the dreary beginning) is presented with style and talent. The film is well shot, with the exception of being overlit in areas that evidently are suppoused to be really dark. The Locals earned a 4 out of 5 on the SIFF card rating scale.

PS - sorry if this is weird or incoherent. A loud storm woke me up long before I should've been after being at a midnighter.
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Post by Chris Slack » Sat May 22, 2004 11:34 am

I gave "The Locals" a 3/5, probably because I dozed off for brief periods of time throughout the movie :)
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Post by I am 138 » Sat Jun 05, 2004 5:33 pm

Yesterday was the marathon...

Started off with Zatoichi. I didn't have high hopes for this because I generally tend to agree with Robert. However, I really liked it, and it's the best film I've seen at the fest so far this year. I wasn't fond of the CG blood, would've prefered the traditional approach. The CG just didn't do it for me, though because the film was sold out, we did have to sit way up front, so that might've hurt the effects. There was more gore than I expected. I haven't seen too many of the original series, but this played like a cross between Zatoichi and Katsu's other series, The Razor. I'm not sure if Japan's answer to Michael Flattely was the appropriate way to end the film, but it was pretty cool. I didnt' rate this film 'cause I didn't get a card, but it would've gotten a 4 out of 5. 5 if it hadn't used CG.

The opening had a Miramax title, so while that does mean the film's probably been tampered with, it might also get a wider release.

Out of the theatre and back in line for Natural City. Despite having a line about half the length of Zatoichi, it was harder to find a seat for this one. Why? It seemed that there were pockets of film geeks that came by themselves, yet didn't want to sit by anyone. They scattered themselves throughout the theater, making it appear like there were no pairs of seats available for Jackie and I. Fortunately we found some up the back, so my neck wouldn't fall off.

Natural City is crap. I hated it. I've never fallen asleep in a cinema before, but this nearly put me under about eight times. It should've just been called Matrix Runner. If the gratuitious slow mo had been played in real time, the movie would be probably 20 min. shorter. The whole thing dragged. When we caught up with Chris in line for our next film, he said he hadn't minded it. Obviously the years of bad movies had taken their toll, and Natural City actually melted his brain. This got a 2 out of 5, simply because it had a few good visuals.

Next was Haute Tension. Chris sat behind us, and I explained Natural City must've melted his brain. Haute Tension reminded me quite a lot of In The Woods, which makes sense since their both French slashers. A throwback to the 80s slasher flick, with some good gore. It's not the bloodbath it's made out to be, but it certainly has some meat. The killer is probably the strongest crazy since Madman. The killer also appears psychic, but that is explained. Unfortunately, the explanation creates a whole new set of questions like where did the killer get his truck and why was does he only occasionaly show flashes of self awareness? This got a 3 from me, but would rate a 4 with a different ending.
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Post by Chris Slack » Sun Jun 06, 2004 12:40 pm

I just haven't been in the mood for writing up any of the movies I have seen in any sort of detailed fashion, this is more than likely due to the huge amount of documentation I have been doing at work making me not feel like writing anything when I am off :)

"Torremolinos 73" was a riot, not too complicated or anything but a nice simple European sex comedy that had me rolling with laughter ona number of occasions. My only complaint is that the women in the movie had way too little pubic hair for a movie set in 1973 :)

"Perfect Strangers" was pretty interesting, kind of a mentally ill love story with some very unusual elements. Not gory, scary or anything, but an entertaining film which the viewer really had to think about to catch some things.

I got off work too late to catch "Bright Future", I heard it was interesting though.


"Doppelganger" was funny as hell, not really a horror movie in any way. I'm definitely gonna pick this one up as soon as they get an overseas (KOR or HK) DVD release, the Japanese disc just costs too damn much.

"Tale of Two Sisters" rocked, great film all the way around with some genuinely scary moments. There was a plot twist at the end that was a little too Hollywood for me but it didn't stop the film from being completely enjoyable. I got the HK DVD (from Panorama) in the mail yesterday.

"Running on Karma" was pretty entertaining but definitely not the over-the-top comedy I was expecting. Andy Lau was a riot in his muscle suit.

I missed "Zatoichi" because shit happened at work and I couldn't make it to the theater in time.

"Natural City" was OK and nothing more. There was a ton of killer CGI and some decent violence but as Devon said it did drag on. My girl really enjoyed it though and wants to buy the disc but she's a sucker for CGI and really enjoyed the Matrix moves so...

I thought "Haute Tension" was great, it was awesome to see some Gianetto De Rossi gore on the big screen once again. It was also cool to not have the motivations for all the killing to be morality based for a change. The ending did leave a little to be desired but no matter, it kept my attention and delivered the goods as far as gore goes. If this gets the theatrical distro that I have heard rumored it will definitely have to be trimmed for an R.

"Hero" was pretty much a dud as far as I am concerned. While there was some cool wire-swordplay (and some bad as well), a cast of thousands and some truly beautiful scenes the movie was just too long for it's own good and way too artsy for my liking.
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Post by ROBERT » Mon Jun 07, 2004 3:11 pm

Unfortunately, the explanation creates a whole new set of questions like where did the killer get his truck and why was does he only occasionaly show flashes of self awareness? This got a 3 from me, but would rate a 4 with a different ending.



I initially had similar feelings on the ending of Haute Tension. They were alleviated somewhat after a Q+A with the director after the screening.


Possible spoilers.





The killer had a severe case of split personality brought on by a supressed homosexuality. Blocking that alternate persona after "he" kills, but still retaining a third person awareness, as you would when events are precipitated by those around you. When the kidnapped girl is with the killer the actions of the girl chasing them are only occuring in the killer's mind.


I still have a few reservations but I thought it worked better after dwelling on it. I can understand why some would consider it a copout.




The Zatiochi re-imagining was just passable to me. But that the confrontation with the rival at the beach was lackluster and the plot contrivance regarding the Yakuza boss hiding in plain sight seemed like it was taken from an old Italian gangster film. The original Zatiochi series is so much better. Hence, I'd classify this remake as a disappointment.
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Post by I am 138 » Mon Jun 07, 2004 4:43 pm

I think you may have just lowered my expectations enough that I was able to fully enjoy it. I didn't think it was that true to the original series (or the few I've seen from it), but I didn't mind that. I thought the boss thing was a bit tacked on, but overall I found it a fun, enjoyable movie.



*possible spoilers*



I got a bit worried with the not really blind trick, but then it was just a trick after all. I didn't mind the beach showdown, since a lot of samuari movies have final fights of about 2 seconds.






* Haute Tension possible spoilers *




I'm not sure that that explanation works in terms of psychology. The overall person would need some sense of self-awareness/preservation. Giving your kidnappee a knife just seems silly. Also, and perhaps this is more of what bugged me about it, they didn't seem to stick with it in the end. For example, the guy that crashes on the side of the road looks and sees the trucker coming. The trucker was only part of Marie's reality, yet kept appearing from what looked like Alex and that guy's perspective. Without the twist, it's just a fun splatter flick. With the twist it seemed like the film was trying to pull off more than it needed to. The mother attempting to call for help scene was worth the price of admission alone, though.
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Post by I am 138 » Sat Jun 12, 2004 12:42 pm

So, last night was Undead.

The film was preceded by some Scottish short about a guy, a woman, and a pair of shoes. It was boring. I would've given it a one, but I realized I gave Natural City a two, so pretty much EVERYTHING has to rank higher than that.

Undead starts VERY well. Some excellent comedy and funny grue. Nods to lots of other dead films: Night of the Living, Brain, Evil, and at the end Day of the. There's also one character that's been watching a LOT of HK action cinema, and who obviously quite liked Luc Besson's Leon as well. Unfortunately, the film also seems to have gotten a few ideas from Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. The film is also overlong. I found I needed to remind myself just how good the first half was so that I didn't think I'd been bored by the end.

I think this has more gore than Haute Tension, but nothing quite as nasty as the phone call for help scene in that. Bloody odes to Void from Braindead, and perhaps the cranial punch from Demon Knight. Actually, Demon Knight is a pretty comperable picture in terms of style, wit, and bloodshed...if not pacing. The zombies are somewhat similar to those pesky Kandari possessed people found in Evil Dead I and II. I also liked the umbrella redux of a famous shot from Night of the Living Dead. Best movie since Piranha to feature killer fish. 4 out of 5.
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