The Seattle International Film Festival continues apace. Out of the many films screening during week three, here are the ones we loved.
The Seattle International Film Festival continues this week with a packed slate of screenings running through June 10. For week three, here are the highlights from movie reviewers Moira Macdonald, Brent McKnight, J.R. Kinnard, Crystal Paul and Shirley Qiu. For more information, see siff.net.
“Bodied” ★★★ ½
SIFF missed the boat. Joseph Kahn’s “Bodied” should be a midnighter, no doubt. Like “Scott Pilgrim” for the battle rap set, it’s tailor-made for a rowdy, raucous late-night audience. It doesn’t always hit its mark and meanders too far afield in the middle, but when the story — about an awkward white college student with a proclivity for sharp-tongued rhymes — is working, it crackles with electricity. With an eye toward skewering everything from the hypocrisy of political correctness to misogyny and racism, “Bodied” isn’t for the easily offended, it’ll make you squirm, and it’s a total banger best seen with a crowd. Kahn will attend both screenings. (9:30 p.m. June 9, Egyptian; 9:15 p.m. June 10, Egyptian) — Brent McKnight
“Breath” ★★★ ½
Most Read Entertainment Stories
- An ice skating trail in Safeco Field? Yep — it's coming this winter
- 'Beautiful Boy': an honest look at an ugly addiction WATCH
- 'Come From Away' at 5th Avenue Theatre is openhearted and exhilarating
- The music and life stories of Gloria and Emilio Estefan aim to get you 'On Your Feet!'
- Seattle Art Museum's new curator of American art aims to bring creativity to continuity
“The Mentalist” star Simon Baker makes his directorial debut with “Breath.” Two young Australian surfers discover freedom on the waves and adopt a mysterious local (Baker) as their guru. He pushes the boys to their limits, physically and emotionally. Think a more thoughtful “Point Break” with less bank robbery — it displays quieter machismo. With elegant surf photography and a confident hand, Baker proves adept behind the camera. Strong performances by Samson Coulter, Ben Spence and Elizabeth Debicki anchor a delicate coming-of-age story that explores masculinity and fear, and, like surfing, is equally about what’s beneath as on the surface. (8:15 p.m. June 3, Kirkland Performance Center) — B.M.
“C’est la vie” ★★★ ½
A bitter, laconic wedding planner; his chip-on-her-shoulder protégé; an egomaniacal groom; a post-nervous breakdown waiter who can’t stop can’t stop hitting on the bride: These are but a few of the pieces that form the rollicking French farce, “C’est la vie.” Manic and earnest, the meticulously constructed plot whips by at a breakneck pace. Look closely and the machinations are obvious, but the script balances a startling number of narrative threads, giving each its due and rarely losing sight of any. While not the most substantial comedy, it has off-kilter characters and a sweet, sentimental heart, and builds to a good-natured, ludicrous high. (6:30 p.m. June 1, Shoreline; 3:45 p.m. June 3, Egyptian) — B.M.
“Constructing Albert” ★★★ ½
While it may be difficult to relate to eating a $200 meal with an unpronounceable name, there’s something universal about a younger brother trying to escape his big brother’s shadow. Chef Albert Adrià and his older brother Ferran rose to prominence with the wildly experimental restaurant, el Bulli. After 25 years with his famous sibling, Albert left to forge his own vision of gastronomic brilliance. Directors Laura Collado and Jim Loomis’ cleverly edited and deliciously photographed food porn is a tasty peek at the cutthroat culinary world and one of its most mysterious figures. Director Jim Loomis will attend both screenings. (4:30 p.m. June 1, Kirkland Performance Center; 6:30 p.m. June 3, Pacific Place) – J.R. Kinnard
“Dark River” ★★★ ½
You might wish for subtitles during Clio Barnard’s moody British drama — those Yorkshire accents are often as thick as a moorland fog — but there’s no mistaking its impact. Ruth Wilson, wound so tightly that every breath seems startling, plays Alice, an itinerant sheepshearer warily returning to the family farm after her father’s death to confront the darkness of her childhood. Flashbacks, overlapping and interacting with the present, tell the story; they’re punctuated by the tinny bleat of sheep, the endless green damp of the fields, and the resolute fear in Wilson’s eyes. Dark fare indeed, and you won’t shake it off easily. (9:15 p.m. June 2, Uptown; 9:30 p.m. June 9, Pacific Place.) — Moira Macdonald
“Doubtful” ★★★ ½
Think an Israeli “Stand and Deliver.” It doesn’t blaze many new trails as far as inspiring-teacher narratives go, but based on a real-life incident, the story of a filmmaker sentenced to community service with a group of delinquents packs an emotional punch. This is thanks primarily to performances from Ran Danker as the teacher who’s just as broken and lost as the kids, and Adar Hazazi Gersch, who plays the student with whom he forms an unlikely bond. It’s an exposed open wound of a performance and it’s absolutely gut-wrenching. Writer/director Eliran Elya will attend both screenings. (6 p.m. June 3, Uptown; 3:30 p.m. June 4, Uptown) — B.M.
“Eighth Grade” ★★★ ½
A charmer that aspires to be “Lady Bird Jr.” (and almost gets there), Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” follows 13-year-old Kayla (Elsie Fisher) through a godawful final week of middle school. (She’s named “Most Quiet,” and things go downhill from there.) Fisher delivers a glorious symphony of awkward poignancy, from Kayla’s cringe-worthy attempts to chat up a popular girl (“I like your shirt! I have a shirt too!”) to her ultimately sweet connection with her kind, befuddled single dad (Josh Hamilton). Along the way, she perfectly sums up that feeling of being 13: “I’m nervous, like I’m waiting in line for a roller coaster. I never get the feeling of after you ride the roller coaster.” Burnham and Fisher are scheduled to attend both screenings. (6:30 p.m. June 9, Egyptian; 12:30 p.m. June 10, Uptown.) — M.M.
“Killing Jesus” ★★★ ½
Filmed in an intimate, handheld style, with a cast of non-professional actors, director Laura More Ortega’s debut, “Killing Jesus,” paints a gritty, raw portrait of grief, revenge, systemic poverty, and inescapable cycles of violence. When her activist father is gunned down before her eyes, photography student Paula runs into a wall of corrupt, disinterested police. Following a chance encounter with the killer, a young hood named Jesus, she sets out on a mission of retribution. She enmeshes herself in his world of rugged flop houses, aimless wandering, and reckless despair, only to find they’re both stuck in the same grinder. (9 p.m. June 4, Pacific Place; 7 p.m. June 10, Pacific Place) — B.M.
“The Last Suit” ★★★ ½
Seventy years ago, in the filthy basement of a Polish tenement, Abraham Bursztein promised a dear friend that he would one day return. With dry humor and unflinching candor, director Pablo Solarz shows us exactly why it took Abraham — a Holocaust survivor — 70 years to fulfill his promise. Much like David Lynch’s “The Straight Story,” a broken-down Abraham is forced to accept the kindness of strangers along his journey. In return, this proud Jewish tailor bestows the life wisdom that came at a terrible price. Bring a full box of tissues. (6 p.m. June 3, Kirkland Performance Center) — J.R.K.
“Leave No Trace” ★★★ ½
Director Debra Granik’s survivalist tale of a father and his teenage daughter living in the Pacific Northwest wilderness isn’t about surviving, but escaping. Theirs is a world unconstrained by time or rules. When society encroaches upon their freedom, they withdraw even further; the troubled father into his growing paranoia and the restless girl into her dreams of being a normal teenager. Minimalistic, deliberate and largely silent, “Leave No Trace” clings to each word like an endangered species. It demands patience from the audience, but that patience is richly rewarded. Producer Anne Rosellini will attend both screenings. (6:30 p.m. June 1, Egyptian; 1:30 p.m. June 2, Pacific Place) — J.R.K.
“Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” ★★★ ½
After surviving an attack from a group of entitled local men — and making short work of them in the process — recently widowed Marlina sets out on a quest for justice and retribution, a dangling severed head and very pregnant sidekick in tow. In this spare, stunning Indonesian neo-spaghetti western, Marlina discovers that entrenched patriarchal power structures aren’t easy to topple in a world where cops care more about stolen livestock than sexual assault. With a Morricone-inspired score, gorgeous cinematography that screams to be witnessed on a big screen, and bleak humor, this film’s tightly executed, meticulously controlled surface barely contains the seething fury within. (9:15 p.m. June 1, Pacific Place) — B.M.
“Naples in Veils” ★★★ ½
After a torrid night of passion with a much younger man she just met, coroner Adriana (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) sees his mutilated body on the autopsy slab at work. So begins “Naples in Veils,” Ferzan Ospetek’s engrossing, sumptuous murder mystery. The sensual, gorgeously filmed psychological thriller roots around in the hidden corners of the titular city, digs into long-buried family secrets, and weaves a tense, noir-inspired narrative trap as Adriana pursues the case and begins to unravel. Just a warning, you might have the sudden urge to book a trip to Naples after this film. (6 p.m. June 2, Kirkland; 6:30 p.m. June 5, Egyptian; 4 p.m. June 2 6, Uptown) — B.M.
“Number One” ★★★½
The French film “Number One” leaves no doubt that a woman can compete with even the most conniving man in the corporate world. Director Tonie Marshall is more concerned about women having more to lose in a game where family ties become just another bargaining chip. The dynamite Emmanuelle Devos stars as an ambitious executive angling for control of a government-owned water company. Her competition: an unscrupulous womanizer who knows where all of the bodies are buried. Taut and merciless with a whip-smart script, this story leaves you wondering if Emmanuelle can truly afford to win this prize. (5:30 p.m. June 3, Uptown; 4:00 p.m. June 5, Egyptian) – J.R.K.
“On Chesil Beach” ★★★ ½
The great Saoirse Ronan, whose delicate voice here contains a universe of pain, turns in another heartbreaker of a performance in Dominic Cooke’s quiet British drama, set in 1962 and based on Ian McEwan’s novel. She’s Florence, a very young newlywed; Billy Howle is Edward, her also very young husband. Their wedding night turns into an excruciating symphony of awkwardness; flashbacks show us, subtly, the overwhelming baggage each of them carries. “It’s a series of questions,” Florence says, describing a piece of music; so, hauntingly, is the film — you wish Billy could just lose himself, as we do, in her eyes. (3 p.m. June 2, Uptown) — M.M.
“Ruin Me” ★★★ ½
Initially, Preston DeFrancis’ debut horror feature, “Ruin Me,” unfurls as expected: A nonhorror fan reluctantly accompanies her boyfriend on a “slasher camp” weekend, but the game may be all too real. Genre fans are well-acquainted with similar set-ups. But around the midway point, “Ruin Me” takes interesting turns with both plot and protagonist, ratchets up the mystery, and treks into unanticipated territory. It may not blow any minds, but horror fans should add it to their SIFF must-see list. “Ruin Me” screens with horror short “The Real Santa.” Writer/producer Trysta A. Bissett, producer David Hendleman and “The Real Santa” director Robert O’Twomney will attend both screenings. (11:55 p.m. June 8, Egyptian; 8:30 p.m. June 9, Uptown) — B.M.
“Sadie” ★★★ ½
Local filmmaker Megan Griffiths (“The Night Stalker,” “Eden,” “Lucky Them”) returns to SIFF with another beautifully acted contemporary drama; this time, it’s set in a weary trailer park, where the adolescent title character (Sophia Mitri Schloss, perfectly capturing the quicksilver ice of being 13) lives with her mother, Rae (the always-splendid Melanie Lynskey). Sadie idealizes her military father, who’s been gone for years; the lonely Rae is ready to move on. An electric clash ensues between mother and daughter, and Griffith puts us right up in it; you live among these characters, aching for them. Griffiths and three of the film’s producers will attend the screening. (6:45 p.m. June 6, Egyptian.) — M.M.
“Sorry to Bother You” ★★★ ½
Director Boots Riley’s debut feature is the ferocious satire that America needs right now. Our young black hero, Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield), tries to stay true to his ideals while still scratching out a living as a soulless telemarketer. His economic fortunes explode when he adopts a “white voice” to peddle his products, thrusting him into the power elite. Riley’s film starts weird and ends in utter madness, as Cash uncovers his employer’s sinister plan for world domination. A provocative, fearless commentary on the clash between racial identity and economic necessity. Director Riley is scheduled to attend. (5:30 p.m. June 2, Egyptian) — J.R.K.
“Supa Modo” ★★★★
I’m glad movie theaters are dark because I ugly-cried my way through all 74 minutes of “Supa Modo.” I straight-up bawled my eyes out. Obsessed with movies and terminally ill, young Jo (a stunning Stycie Waweru) inspires her small, tight-knit Kenyan village to come together to realize her dream of becoming a superhero. Brutal and beautiful, melancholy and joyous, “Supa Modo” is simultaneously crushing and uplifting. With more depth and emotion than some much longer movies, it illustrates the power of film and imagination to unite and heal. As the movie says: “What’s the harm in a little pretending?” (4:30 p.m. June 1, Shoreline) — B.M.
Seattle International Film Festival
May 17-June 10 at SIFF Cinema Uptown, SIFF Cinema Egyptian, SIFF Film Center, Kirkland Performance Center (May 31-June 3), Shoreline Community College (May 25-June 2). Individual tickets are $11 for weekday matinees ($9 SIFF members), $14 evening/weekend shows ($12 SIFF members); various ticket packages available. Box office: 206-324-9996, siff.net or at festival venues.