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Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal
10 am
Concerto: A Beethoven Journey
Amazing camera work; exceptionally deep depth of field in some shots
Great music C 1 M 1. C 2 and C 3 somewhat familiar.
Good readings from Beethoven letters
Pianist talk about the music sometimes like a wine critic, but sometimes very good.
Rosendal small shows
Amber alert

Noon
Violators
Needed subtitles.
Needed better storytelling.
Bouncing camera every time someone went for a walk.

2 pm
Truman
Argentina Spain

Biersch.

Platinum reception

6:45 pm
Carl Spence
Eddy Dughi

Carl
The Dressmaker
Paul à Quebec
Captain Fantastic
Truman

Beth Barrett
Mountains May _? (China)
Pimento.ca
The Architect

Megan Leonard
Sonita

Dan Doody
Dustin Kasper
Middle Man
Lamb (Cape Verde)
Slash

Marjna Ajaja
Sound alike

Stan Shields
Presenting Princess Shaw

Clinton McClung
Tag (Japan, WTF)

Carl

Break

90 minute trailer marathon, we skipped
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6:45 pm
Carl Spence
Eddy Dughi

Carl
The Dressmaker
Paul à Quebec
Captain Fantastic
Truman

Beth Barrett
Mountains May _? (China)
Pimento.ca
The Architect

Megan Leonard
Sonita

Dan Doody
Dustin Kasper
Middle Man
Lamb (Cape Verde)
Slash

Marjna Ajaja
Sound alike

Stan Shields
Presenting Princess Shaw
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This morning we shared a treat. We tried a little variety, but it turned out pretty much like the usual: nice.
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Today I made what seemed like some real progress getting CrashPlan working on the server. It went through the synchronizing phase – and stalled.

Frustrated, I went back to working on the taxes.

In the late afternoon, "J" and I and "T" went to a local park to enjoy the nice weather.

For dinner, J combined a standard – salmon burgers on cheese bagels – with an experiment – stir fried bok choy. It was good – a successful experiment.
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Landscape crew

Trip to Molbak's
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My caucus experience

I live in a caucus state. The rules for participating are pretty simple: sign a pledge that you are registered to vote in Washington, live in the precinct, and – for at least the day of the caucus – identify as a Democrat. As a precinct committee officer (PCO), I automatically presided over my precinct's caucus.

Each of the people present signed a page stating their initial preference: Clinton, Sanders, "uncommitted", or other. Using a formula, the votes were used to calculate preliminary delegate counts. (Five Sanders, one Clinton, zero uncommitted, zero for the guy who wrote in his own name.)

Next, up to three people per preference group could speak on behalf of their choice, and then everyone was allowed to state their final preference, if the speeches changed their minds. (No one did.) So the five-one allocation stood.

I spoke for "uncommitted", on grounds that I mostly preferred Sanders's vision, but felt Clinton would be more likely to win in November, and "uncommitted gave me the opportunity to keep Sanders in play long enough to pull Clinton further left, but still vote for her in the end.

After the delegate allocations were settled, the caucus split into Clinton and Sanders groups. Since there was no "uncommitted" group, I joined the Clinton group, as did the other uncommitted. Because I was the only one in the Clinton group who had the next-level caucus day free, I was elected the delegate by default.

I don't know what happened in the Sanders group, except that the Sanders delegates were mostly first time voters, plus one 60ish woman. I signed everyone's delegate and alternate credentials, signed the precinct envelope, and returned it to the site coordinator.

At the next-level caucus, the check in line took two hours. My name was not on record as a delegate. I was sent to a supervisor, who searched for my precinct envelope – which was missing. The supervisor knew me as a PCO (and thus the person who signed the envelope), and approved me, but by then initial check in had closed.

I could have stuck around and tried to check in before the final check in, but I had thing to do at home, and I knew (from previous caucuses) that the actual business of the next-level caucus (after final check in) would take a long time. (I later heard that it ran almost two hours past the scheduled end, four hours after I left.) I found a crowd of eager alternates, and told them a caucus rule most didn't know: if a precinct doesn't have enough delegates or alternates to fill its allocation, alternates for the same candidate from other precincts may be selected (by lot) to fill the vacancies. Then I went home.

Thus, I was a disenfranchised caucus voter. Maybe an alternate filled in, maybe not; maybe my precinct's lost envelope wiped out its representation. And if I had stuck it out for four more hours, I could have been counted. But I was not.

A lot of stories in the news report voting problems. In Republican states, it's often by design, to disenfranchise people who tend to vote for Democrats. But here, because I could see a lot of the process, I trust that it was not by design – it was a screw-up by a volunteer in a volunteer operation. And, I trust, an honest screw-up.

My point? Although some voting problems are intentional disenfranchisement, in a lot of cases it's a simple, honest screw-up.


Why I favored ClintonCollapse )

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This is my edited version of this blank Oscars ballot with my picks and predictions filled in.

Click here to view the table. It"s fairly large.Collapse )

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There are a lot of Oscar ballots around, but I have my own way of doing it: with columns to check for personal favorites, picks for guesses about what the Academy will choose, and a blank space to fill in the actual winners. I've been doing it this way for several years, with various revisions along the way. This one is all blank; you can print it and use it if you like.

Later I'll share my own selections, so I'm on record before the winners are announced, but I've seen uncommonly few of the films this year so I'll have quite a few " — " ("I haven't seen it") marks on my own ballot unless I can make it to the Oscars marathon screenings, and even that will only cover the best-picture nominees.

Click here to view the table. It"s fairly large.Collapse )

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For this Festivus, I offer this small airing of grievances:

I don't like gift cards.

Sure, I appreciate a gift. I appreciate receiving a little extra money that I can spend on things. I even like them, to a point, as a last resort for when I have to give someone a gift, but can't think of anything that they'd like.

But gift cards are not my favorite kind of gift.

The worst problem is when a gift card is for a business that I wouldn't normally shop, either because it's out of the way, or doesn't sell things I'd want to buy.

If it's for a business where I shop, but not frequently, it's something I need to keep track of until I have a reason to go there, or until I decide to make a special shopping expedition just to use up the card.

Another problem is that the amount on a gift card rarely matches the amount of an actual purchase. If the amount on the card is less than what I'd spend at a given business, it's either worthless, or it's an obligation to spend more money just to use up the card. If the amount on the card is more than I'd spend at a business, it's something I have to keep track of for several visits – and eventually it will end up with a small balance that requires spending more money to use up the card.*

The only time when gift cards really work out adequately is if they're for a business where I shop often enough that I will use up the card promptly enough that I don't misplace it.

So what are the alternatives?

One is to thing up a gift that's actually something I'd like, but that I don't already have. That's difficult. Usually if I'd like to have something, I'll buy it myself. The main reason I wouldn't buy it myself is that it's too expensive, and in that case, it's probably too expensive to expect as a gift too. A big risk with physical gifts is that they are not something the recipient would like. That leaves the recipient with something that they need to either re-gift, try to return (and then spend the store credit, if the store doesn't offer cash refunds), or donate. And if they go through the mail, they cost the giver more to send.

Another possibility is the universal gift card: money. Sure, it doesn't show any creativity. In an exchange of gifts, it can lead to the silly outcome of each person giving the other the same thing. But at least it's something that will always be useful to the recipient.

Yet another possibility is to give gifts on occasions when one knows what the recipient would like, and give them then, instead of feeling an obligation to think of a gift on traditional gift occasions.

People often say that it's the thought that counts. Sometimes just expressing the thoughts in a nice way is as good as a gift.

* At least some businesses are nice enough to give out change in cash when the remaining balance on a card after a purchase is too small to be useful.

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In 2001, reporters at the Boston Globe started to suspect a pattern of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Only a few incidents had come to light, but were there more cases that were disappearing under cover of confidential settlements? Was there a cover up, and if so, how high did it go in the hierarchy? All the way to the cardinal? Could they find proof strong enough to publish the story?

This film is partially about the abuse cases, but it's more about the investigative news reporters who pursued the case. The title, Spotlight, is the name of the investigative journalism team that pursued the case.

The directing, by Tom McCarthy, is excellent, particularly in presenting the ensemble cast that keeps it clear what each one is doing. The pacing and suspense are solid, and the emotional impact of the abuse stories. The screenplay, by Josh Singer & the director, is also excellent, compressing years of work by the Spotlight reporting team on a complicated case into just over two hours.

Each of the individual contributions by the cast was solid, but what was really impressive about the acting is how well the cast worked as a team, with no one trying to upstage anyone else. If anyone stood out, it was Rachel McAdams, the only woman in the film with significant screen time. Most of the acting was excellent, or at least very good. Only a couple of the name actors (John Slattery, Paul Gilfoyle) are from Boston, and rather than trying to fake a Boston accent and getting it wrong, they wisely stick with neutral accents. Instead, various bit players provide the Boston accents.

The period details all looked on target. (One, featuring a large billboard, was one of the film's few comic relief moments.) The score, by Howard Shore, supported the mood of the film without intruding.

9 Excellent The film gets just about everything right. It's excellent, and one of the best films of the year.

As a newspaper film, Spotlight is on a par with All the President's Men. There's a link between the two films: the Globe editor who oversaw the priest, Ben Bradlee Jr, is the son of the late Washington Post editor Ben Bradleee, who oversaw the Watergate investigation portrayed in All the President's Men.

Language: English.

Rating: This film has a US rating of "R", for bloody violence.

Screening: 4:15 pm, SIFF Cinema at the Uptown (medium screening room).
Audience: I counted 17 people, of 284 seats (posted capacity). Small crowd, but it was a Tuesday matinee.

Snacks: a glass of wine.

Ads:

  • TV5 Monde — This French-language television channel is a long-time SIFF sponsor.
  • Keep film in Washington — This clip advocates continuing Washington state's film production incentives.
  • SIFF education — This clip promotes SIFF's education programs.
  • "SIFF members get it" — I know most of the people in the background of this clip (and Carl, of course), though not the three actors.
  • No talking or texting — An on-screen request for good behavior.
  • The Princess Bride — The quote-along returns.
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — The sing-along returns.
  • Fiddler on the Roof — Tradition! The sing-along returns.
  • Moulin Rouge — Yet another sing-along.
  • Out 1 — This 1973 French New Wave film looks pretty trippy.
  • The Danish Girl — Having seen the film now, I can warn that this preview is pretty much a spoiler.
  • Carol — This film about a semi-closeted 1950s bisexual woman is a winner.
  • SIFF film projector clip — "Discover extraordinary films every day of the year."

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Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) was a Danish artist, married to Gerda Gottlieb (Alicia Vikander). Einar adopted the new identity Lili Elbe, and later became one of the first known people to undergo sex change surgery.

The film was mainly based a novel of the same title (by David Ebershoff), which was loosely based on the historical people, set in the US instead of Europe, but the film returned the setting to Europe and made some other changes to bring the story back closer to the historical people. I didn't read the book or anything more than the Wikipedia articles about Einar-Lili and Gerda, so my knowledge of how the film compares to the historical people or the novel. One obvious element the film retains from the novel is the English language: although the major characters are all Danish, they speak English throughout the film. It would make sense for them to speak English with others while traveling outside Scandinavia, their British English felt like Hollywood.

The lead performance by Redmayne is excellent, and likely to draw quite a few award nominations (in addition to the SAG award nomination he's already received). The female lead performance by Vikander is very good, but the script limited her somewhat. Supporting parts are solid too.

The directing by Tom Hooper is good, with solid pacing, interesting use of the camera, and so forth, but not in the same class as his previous Les Misérables or The King's Speech. The worst directing moment is the concluding scene, which floats away into cliche. However, the film's largest weakness is the screenplay (by Lucinda Coxon), which combines the inner struggle between Einar and Lili with the love story between Einar-Lili and Gerda, with negligible character development by the latter. I rate it fair.

The score by Alexandre Desplat is solid and doesn't intrude. His productivity is amazing. The 1920s scenery, sets, clothing, props, and so forth is another strong point.

7 Good Although the script is merely fair, this film manages to rise above it on the strength of Redmayne's acting. It's still merely good, but that acting elevates the entire film.

Languages: English, except for one scene where bit-part characters speak French; no subtitles.

Rating: This film has a US rating of "R" for a fairly mild sex scene (with female nudity), a scene with male nudity, and the MPAA's usual unease about anything involving sexual minorities.

Screening: 7 pm, Pacific Place.
Audience: I'd guess about 300 seats, around 80% full.

Snacks: Thai before, a huge "small" drink during, and a tasty dessert after the film.

Ads and announcements: no ads, just an in-person announcement that people would not be allowed to use phones.
As it turned out, a bunch of phones (even mine) chimed with an Amber Alert during the film, because Amber Alerts apparently ignore phones' "silent" setting. Sometimes even an audience that respects the rules by switching phones to silent can't win.

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The film begins with a scene absent in the original: the funeral of a young child. Although the scene is not Shakespeare, it's one of the strongest in the film, and it fits into this adaptation well.

The rest of the film is an abridged version of the play: Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) and Banquo (Paddy Considine) defeat an alliance of invaders and traitors. Three witches speak prophecies to Macbeth, and one comes true. Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) encourages him to commit a murder, and then he keeps on killing.

Another divergence from Shakespeare has to do with the Birnam Wood; without describing it, I can say that it fits into the film well.

The director (Justin Kurzel) is at his strongest when he lets the wonderful, bleak Scottish wilderness locations and scenic composition set the mood; such scenery doesn't fit on a stage, and it takes advantage of the big screen. Another strength is the fight choreography, and the mood of the battlefield as a place of misery and death. On the other hand, sometimes there's so much blood (in mercifully muted color) that it's difficult to tell who is killing who. Another weakness is the the director let the editor (Chris Dickens) run wild with rapid-fire editing that detracts from the wonderful composition of shots, and distracts from the flow of the scenes.

The cinematography is beautiful. It appeared that there was supposed to be a lot of symbolism in the use of color, but I couldn't see a clear pattern. I assume that the cinematographer (Adam Arkapaw) was realizing the director's color choices. Sometimes the camera is hand-held for no obvious reason, which is distracting and annoying.

The screenwriters (Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie, Todd Louiso) added the opening funeral and modified the Birnam Wood, but their main job was shortening the play from over two hours of dialog to 113 minutes, which includes a number of scenes that are visual and have little or no dialog. It seems like a good abridgement.

The acting is solid. Fassbender is very good, though sometimes the jittery editing undermines his performance. Most of the time, Cotillard has nothing to do except look beautiful and severe, which she does well. In her few moments out of the background, she's excellent. The other performances are also solid, but again sometimes undermined by the editing.

The score (by Jed Kurzel, the director's brother) is a mixed bag. In battle and other scenes of violence, it's excellent. But in scenes with dialog, it sometimes obscures the language.

The locations, sets, props, etc. are excellent. It's refreshing to see Early Middle Ages soldiers equipped with Early Middle Ages armor, rather than modern fantasies like stainless steel plate armor. A lot of other details looked good too.

5 Fair In spite of the admirable points – scenery, acting, battle scenes, etc., the choppy editing dragged down my opinion of the film. Overall, I rate it fair.

Language: English.

Rating: This film has a US rating of "R", for bloody violence.

Screening: 2 pm, SIFF Cinema at the Uptown (large screening room).
Audience: I'd guess about one-third full, of 515 seats (posted capacity).

Snacks: a glass of wine.

Ads:

  • TV5 Monde — This French-language television channel is a long-time SIFF sponsor.
  • SIFF education — This clip promotes SIFF's education programs.
  • "SIFF members get it" — I know most of the people in the background of this clip (and Carl, of course), though not the three actors.
  • Silence — An on-screen reminder to turn off mobile devices.
  • The Princess Bride — The quote-along returns.
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — The sing-along returns.
  • Fiddler on the Roof — Tradition! The sing-along returns.
  • Spotlight — This film about the Boston abuse-by-priests scandal is on our list.
  • Out 1 — This 1973 French New Wave film looks pretty trippy.
  • The Danish Girl — We'll see this film about a transgender person soon.
  • Carol — This film about a semi-closeted 1950s bisexual woman is a winner.
  • SIFF film projector clip — "Discover extraordinary films every day of the year."
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I'm including the introductory letter, because it has some interesting announcements other than just the films.


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After the film concluded, I slipped in from the lobby to attend a question-and-answer session with Camila Márdila, an actress who was in The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta?). She responded to the questions gracefully; she even handled a long rambling question well.

So, how was the Renton opening night party?

The setting was good for a party: an open space large enough to accommodate everyone so that it was neither overcrowded nor sparse. The music was good: a cover band that played a mix of material likely to please most of the audience, a bit on the loud side though not so loud to interfere with conversation. The catering was good: none of the food donors ran out of treats, and everything I tasted was good. As is almost always the case at SIFF events, the bar was well-stocked.

The real fun of a party, however, is the people who attend. There were a lot of people "J" and I had never seen before, as we expected, given that it was in Renton rather than Seattle proper. There were fewer people we know from Seattle events too. But there were still plenty of nice people we did know, and it was nice to talk with them. And since it was an opening night event, there were a lot of SIFF staff people. I even got a chance to exchange a few words with Camila Márdila.

It was a nice party, but we didn't stay as late as usual.

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This morning, "J" and I had another early appointment in Issaquah. Both of us were pretty tired, so we took a nap when we got home.

Tonight we went to Renton for a film and a movie. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, so J searched Yelp for a restaurant idea. We selected a place called Afghan Cuisine. I ordered Qurma-Murgh (described as a chicken curry dish) and J ordered chicken kebab; both were delicious. The service was nice too. The place looked like a dive from the outside, but it was quite nicely decorated inside.

Tonight was opening night for SIFF in Renton. We only have one pass because we are mostly lending our second pass to a friend this year. This time I was the one who waited in the lobby (where I'm writing this) while J attended the film. We'll both attend the party, however.

In addition to sitting around, I went for a walk along the river. It's a nice little park. I think I walked about one mile.

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SIFF's capsule summary: "Sergei Parajanov's empirical masterpiece loosely follows the life of Sayat Nova, 'King of Song", an Armenian poet and musician born in the 18th century, through vibrant sets and costumes and hypnotic shots. This colorful and avant-garde masterpiece provides an utterly transformative cinematic experience." (Armenia, 1969, 77 minutes)
SIFF link: The Color of the Pomegranates (Sayat Nova)

This film is meant to illustrate something about the Armenian poet Sayat Nova. The style is visual poetry.

5 Fair This film is a real head-scratcher. The narrative is very sparse. It is a sequence of images shot with a static camera, often aimed level and perpendicular to a wall, showing scenes in and around an orthodox monastery. Monks go about their business. Common people in vibrant clothing go about their business, particularly hand-spun and hand-woven clothing and rugs. Sheep completely fill the monastery, including the stairs. There's almost no dialog.

What do I make of it? I can't say I understand anything more about Sayat Nova than I did before seeing the film. I have a few impressions of what I take to be the part of Armenia where he lived. The colors in the imagery are vibrant, and some of the music is good.

I don't expect a film to spell everything out, but this one hardly spells out anything. Given its acclaim, I want to understand it as a masterpiece. But I don't. To me it's a muddle. (Two of my friends found it just as inscrutable, but enjoyed it anyway.)

Overall, I rate the film fair.

Digression:
Peeking at Wikipedia for information about director Sergei Parajanov, I see that he was a good friend of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. I've seen a couple of Tarkovsky films: Andrei Rublev and Solaris; the latter was remade by Steven Soderbergh, starring George Clooney. Although those films are sometimes head-scratchers too, I found that they made a lot more sense than this one.

More than Tarkovsky, this film reminded me of the SIFF 2013 film The Celestial Wives of Meadow Mari.

Languages: Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, with English subtitles.

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating, but I'd guess it would rate a "PG-13", unless a single brief glimpse of a female nipple was enough to bump it to an "R".

Screening: 7 pm, Harvard Exit (main floor).
Audience: full house (not sure about the balcony), about 500 seats.

Snacks: salty popcorn.

Ads and announcements:

  • KING 5 — This local television channel seems to be new as a SIFF sponsor.
  • SIFF 2015 short trailer — I only recognize a few of the films featured in this one, so far.
  • Eisenstein in Guanajuato — This Peter Greenaway film doesn't look as weird as typical Greenaway.
  • Kurmanjan Datka Queen of the Mountains — The title character seems to be the Joan of Arc of Kyrgyzstan. The film looks impressive.
  • Thank you volunteers — Cute clip showing a waterfall scene I couldn't identify. Time for applause.
  • in-person announcement — SIFF programmer Maryna Ajaja read a few note cards worth of introduction about the movie: Martin Scorsese said the film was like nothing else. The director was arrested soon after the film was completed, it was re-edited and re-titled, and his version was only recently restored. Director was jailed twice for homosexuality, and was probably bisexual. His first was was killed by her own family for marrying outside her tribe. His second wife was Ukrainian.
  • Ants clip — This 2015 pre-film clip features ants with sunlight focused on them by binoculars.

Bonus: a small party

Before the film, there was a SIFF party around the corner from the Harvard Exit, to celebrate its final year as a movie theater. The party was hosted by First Security Bank of Washington. It was a small party, apparently not widely advertised, but it had quite a few SIFF staff people. The food was good, the drink (including a delicious pomegranate cocktail inspired by the title of the film) was good, and the conversation was good. I think I knew almost everyone there, except for the bank people.

Among the bank people there was a top executive of the bank, who was the person who made the decision to be a SIFF sponsor. We thanked him for the bank's sponsorship.

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This morning, "J" and I had a a surprise on the front porch: a new waffle grill. We had ordered it a few weeks ago, but it was on back order.

I plugged in the grill, and it heated up. Then I read the instructions, and they said that the cooking surfaces should be washed before using it, and that the first few waffles (after washing it) might taste strange. So, I switched it off again and waited for it to cool down. While I waited, I mixed up some waffle batter, using a simpler recipe than usual, since I figured I'd be tossing some of the waffles.

Once the grill was cool enough, I washed it as directed: wipe the cooking surfaces with warm soapy water, then wipe it clean – and do not immerse!

I plugged it in again. And nothing happened. The power indicator light did not come on. The ready light did not come on. The grill did not warm up. It was dead.

I looked at the reviews for the grill, and some said that some of them died pretty quickly, but one review said it could be revived by replacing a very inexpensive fuse. However, since the grill was still within the return period, I didn't want to bother. I packed it up for return.

What about the waffle batter? I heated up a non-stick frying pan and made pancakes with it. However, as similar as pancakes and waffles seem to be, pancakes made from waffle batter just aren't very good. I ate them anyway; I was pretty hungry by that point.


In the evening, I went to SIFF to see the silent film Son of the Sheik, with a score performed live by Alloy Orchestra. I've seen Alloy perform silent film scores before, so I had to go. I was not disappointed. The film was very good, and Alloy was excellent.

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SIFF's capsule summary: "This 1926 silent adventure film tells of the young and handsome son of Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (both played by 1920s heartthrob Rudolph Valentino) and his romance with a beautiful dancer who eventually betrays him. With live score performed by Alloy Orchestra." (USA, 1926, 86 minutes)
SIFF link: The Son of the Sheik

The title character Ahmed (Rudolph Valentino, clean-shaven) is camped in the desert, "Not east of Suez, south of Algiers", according to the peculiar introductory title card. A roving band of traders pass through, and in spite of his father's (Valentino with a beard) orders to be cautious, he goes to check them out. Among them is the beautiful dancer Yasmin (Vilma Bánky), whose role is to entice men to part with their money, or possibly set them up for robbery, since they are bandits as well as traders. However, Yasmin falls for Ahmed, complicating things for the bandits.

8 Very Good The directing, by George Fitzmaurice, is excellent. The story (novel by Edith Maude Hull, screenplay by Frances Marion and Fred De Gresac, titles by George Marion Jr, and Paul Girard Smith) feels a bit simplistic and melodramatic, but I suspect it felt pretty fresh and dramatic in 1926; I think it's good.

The acting in silent film is necessarily stylized. Valentino is very good, and he's strikingly good looking. Bánky is excellent, and has a wonderful 1920s charm. The supporting cast are mostly good.

Although the film is a bit choppy near the conclusion, it has a solid blend of spectacle, romance, action, and a view of exotic North Africa as viewed through the eyes of 1920s outsiders (the British author, French director, and Hollywood film milieu). Overall, I rate the film very good.

Alloy Orchestra

9 Excellent The real treat was the score, performed live by Alloy Orchestra: percussionists Terry Donahue and Ken Winokur, and keyboardist Roger C Miller. Silent films were typically distributed with suggested musical scores, but Alloy develop their own scores. I saw them before, performing their amazing score for the silent masterpiece Metropolis. This performance was a winner too. I rate it excellent.

Incidentally, silent film scores had a part in my family history: my maternal grandmother played piano for silent films, before sound films pushed silent films into a niche market.

Languages: silent, with English subtitles.

Rating: The film is from long before the modern ratings system; it even predates the Hays Code. The film has some violence, but no blood or obvious deaths. There's no sexual contact stronger than kissing, and no nudity. That's probably comparable to a modern "PG", possibly "PG-13".

Screening: 7 pm, SIFF Cinema at the Uptown (large screening room).
Audience: a disappointing one-third of capacity or so, of 515 seats (posted capacity).

Snacks: none.

Ads and announcements:

  • When Marnie Was There — This Studio Ghibli film looks a lot like Miyazaki; it lives on without him. It looks like a boy falls for a girl who is confined to the grounds of a ghost house.
  • Virtuosity — This documentary about a musical competition looks like if one is in the mood for that sort of film.
  • Thank you volunteers — "She's alive!" Time for applause.
  • in-person announcement — SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence introduced the film. Alloy Orchestra owns a copy of the film, and participated in the restoration. Rudolph Valentino died just as he was beginning a promotional tour for the film. He was so popular that his funeral was the largest movie star funeral in history, with the exception of [an audience member chimed in] Ruan Lingyu. The film inspired a number of women to travel to North Africa in hopes of meeting a sheikh.
  • Ants clip — This 2015 pre-film clip features ants with sunlight focused on them by binoculars.

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This afternoon, "J" and I went to a meeting that we haven't attended in a while. They had an instructor for something kind of like yoga, but I forget what it was called. J found it very relaxing, and she was glad we went. That pretty much clashed with SIFF press screenings, so I didn't even bother to look up what was playing.

In the evening, J had a meeting with friends. That clashed with the evening show I had wanted to see, but when I looked it up on IMDB it wasn't rated all that well, so maybe I wasn't missing as much as I thought.

In spare moments scattered through the day, I worked on two blemishes on the floor, dabbing on a little urethane varnish, waiting for it to dry, sanding it down a little, and putting on another layer. Sooner or later – I hope sooner – it will look finished.

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Today "J" and I decided not to attend brunch, because several of the regulars would be absent to see SIFF films anyway. I had planned to see Snow on the Blades in the afternoon, but I somehow lost track of time and missed my chance. Oops!

J had a lot of her film schedule mapped out already, so I spent some time picking films for myself too, though clashing activities limit the time available for films somewhat.

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