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Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal

This afternoon I ran a bunch of errands to about six different places. It took quite a while. Meanwhile, "J" was busy at home.

In early evening, J and I and "T" migrated to my parents' place in Bellevue for our idiosyncratic family tradition Christmas Eve dinner: beef in oil fondue, with some good side dishes. My brother and sister-in-law were also there.

The meal was delicious. But before all the food was eaten, and the smoke alarm went off in their unit from the smoke fromthe fondue kettles. Fortunately it didn't get so bad that the alarms turned into a general alert for the whole building. Still, it disrupted the mood of the meal and we adjourned a bit early. But the food was delicious and the company nice.

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There are only a few minutes left in Festivus. All we did to recognize it was say, "Happy Festivus" and put up the little table-top Festivus pole. No formal airing of grievances, no feats of strength. My Festivus miracle was free parking in Seattle. Overall, it was mostly just an ordinary day, midway between the solstice and Christmas.
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Today I needed more moisture barrier for the floor project, I might have been able to stretch what I had left to cover the west bedroom closet, but I still have the north bedroom, master bedroom, and their closets, so buying a whole roll isn't going to leave a huge amount of excess. And besides, "J" had an errand close to the big box home improvement store where I get the moisture barrier, so it's not a special trip.

We went to the store for the moisture barrier, and I noticed that the price was up quite a bit from last time I bought it. I did a web search and found that Sears had it for roughly the old price. Inconveniently, it's an order for pick-up product, not a stocked item, and I wanted it right away. I took the roll of moisture barrier to the cashier and asked about price matching.

The cashier said they do, but had to check the other price. I showed my phone, and made sure it was the same product. He put in a price match override, and it didn't just grant a match, it beat the other price. I got the stuff from Home Depot today for less than the Sears pick up later price.

So, it's another price match success. Maybe it's a good idea in general to check for better prices on-line, and ask for a match to avoid the drive.

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I needed another gallon (3.78 liters) of Elmer's glue for the floor project. (How often does one read, "I needed another gallon of glue"?) I was already at a big box home improvement store returning 310 pounds (141 kg) of floorboards, so I checked there first. No luck; they only had eight-ounce (237 ml) bottles. So I did a web search.

Best price for the gallon was at a Walmart. I didn't want to go to Walmart. For one, it's a longish drive. Two, it's Walmart.

But some businesses have price match policies. A Staples that was on my way home had the same glue, priced for 56% more – but they do price matching. I went there, picked up their last gallon, showed the cashier the Walmart price, and suddenly I had the glue for cheap, without a tedious detour.

That's a small win, but it's still a win.

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On Veterans Day, I am remembering our veterans, particularly my grandfather, a colonel in the Army Air Corps, and my wife's grandfather, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy who went down with his ship. Both fought in World War II, to defend the world from dictators.
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As of now, the results are four electoral votes short of a President-elect Trump. How could this happen? I am in shock.

Given the disaster at the top, it's not a big surprise that the Republicans have retained control of both houses of Congress. Although that's not a disaster on on the scale of the apparent election of an ignorant, vindictive, narcissistic, misogynistic bigot, it's more bad news.

The consolation prize is Washington state's sanity. But I need to sleep to get my mind off the terrible federal results.

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Today I did a bonus to my civic duty. I have already voted, and I did some door-knocking last weekend.

Today I did some get-out-the-vote phone calls through the Clinton campaign's phone bank page. I placed 40 calls: 20 in the morning to New Hampshire, and 20 in the evening to Nevada.

It wasn't a very productive day; I reached only three people in the morning, and nothing but voice mail in the evening. One of the three said she and her husband were voting for Clinton, and two were displeased at receiving political calls at all.

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Trump announces cabinet nominees.

Secretary of State Paul Manafort 1
Secretary of the Treasury Sam Brownback 2
Secretary of Defense Tom Cotton 3
Attorney General Pam Bondi 4
Secretary of the Interior Don Blankenship 5
Secretary of Agriculture Undecided 6
Secretary of Commerce Eric Trump 7
Secretary of Labor Scott Walker 8
Secretary of Health and Human Services Pfizer Corporation 9
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Donald Trump Jr 7
Secretary of Transportation Chris Christie 10
Secretary of Energy James Inhofe 11
Secretary of Education Bobby Jindal 12
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Mark Kirk 13
Secretary of Homeland Security Joe Arpaio 14
Surgeon General Ben Carson 15

Transcripts of statements:

1 "My former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has worked with foreign leaders around the world. Jonas Savimbi of Angola, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaïre. Do they still call it Zaïre? Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine, Siad Barre of Somalia, and all the best people Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, and Kenya – Obama's homeland. He'll be the greatest Secretary of State ever!"

2 "Sam Brownback cleaned up the financial disaster the Democrats left him in Kansas. He knows all there is to know about balancing budgets. Since I can't be both Secretary of the Treasury and President, he gets the job."

3 "I can't think of anyone better qualified for Secretary of Defense than Tom Cotton. He has a great plan to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He can put the military in charge of the Mexican border until the Wall is finished. He fought ISIS in Iraq and Afghanistan for his entire military career. He's just the guy to wipe them out."

4 "I work with all the best lawyers, and Pam Bondi is one of my favorites. And she's a pretty hot [unintelligible], for her age. She'll be a great Attorney General."

5 "Don Blankenship is the best guy I know to make our public lands the greatest in the world, as Secretary of the Interior. He's made a lot of money making American coal great again, with the safest coal mines in the world, and he can make all American mining great again."

6 "I don't know. Mike [Pence] can figure that one out."

7 "Nobody knows commerce and housing better than the Trump family, so my son Eric will be Secretary of Commerce and my son Donald Junior will be Secretary of Housing [and Urban Development]. Ivanka will run the Trump Organization, including our new 'Trump Projects' subsidiary for the blacks."

8 "Scott Walker did the best job with labor problems in Wisconsin, so he's a great fit for Secretary of Labor. I talked with Governor Snyder of Michigan too, but I think he'll be a better fit for the EPA."

9 "The Citizens United decision proved that corporations are people too, so I'm nominating the Pfizer Corporation to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. They'll be great. And they're giving me a lifetime supply of Viagra as a thank you gift."

10 "Chris Christie is a great friend and one of my earliest supporters, so I owe him a big favor. He really knows how to deal with traffic, so he'll be a great Secretary of Transportation."

11 "James Inhofe is from Oklahoma, an important energy state, and he hasn't fallen for that Chinese climate change propaganda stuff. He's fantastic for Secretary of Energy."

12 "Bobby Jindal made education great in Louisiana, and I couldn't find a Mexican who wanted the job, but he's close enough. He can do great things as Secretary of Education."

13 "Mark Kirk has a Purple Heart and Officer of the Year from his service in Iraq, and it looks like that crippled Chinese girl is going to steal his Senate seat, so I'm going to make him Secretary of Veterans' Affairs."

14 "Joe Arpaio is the most famous Arizona sheriff since Wyatt Earp, and he doesn't let political correctness get in the way of border security, so if he wants the job of Secretary of Homeland Security, it's his."

15 "Ben Carson is a great doctor and a credit to his race. I'm even going to declare Surgeon General an honorary cabinet office because he's the best black I know."

In case it isn't obvious, this is satire. I wish it were not so vulgar, but it's impossible to properly satirize Trump without including some bigotry. I've marked a lot of the satirical points with links; I hope the ones that aren't marked are obvious.

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Tonight I watched the first presidential debate with "J" and the in-laws. If I had more time, I would have done a more detailed commentary, but this time I'll make do with a general impression.

Scoring straight, Clinton won big. The only point where I thought Trump scored was blaming NAFTA for US job losses, and linking it to her. (George HW Bush signed the agreement and tried hard to push ratification through, but only saw it finally pass during the Bill Clinton administration.)

Although NAFTA was a big win for the US economy as a whole, and that people whose jobs were moved to Mexico would have lost them to China or to automation if not for the deal, a lot of people still blame it for job losses. Because that's a complicated point, she couldn'trespond without using way too much time (and strategically, she had the sense not to). He got a bonus for that because it was early, before people gotdisgusted and gave up.

The only other way Trump won was in exceeding his abysmal expectations. But take away that giant golf handicap and his score was terrible. His only coherent point was to advocate the unconstitutional, ineffective practice of stop and frisk. He tossed out the weird boast about the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, and the ugly ad hominem against Rosie O'Donnell. He was sighing and grunting when not interrupting. His nuclear weapons ramblings were scary.

I know most people watching were undecided, but surely some undecided shifted toward Clinton, And with her solid showing, She'll pick up some undecided voters, and energize some supporters to get out the vote.


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This morning, "J" and started with breakfast at our hotel in Kittery Maine.

Next on the agenda, we went to her parents' house, a few towns away. There we spent time with her sister "C" and their father "R" and mother "L".

The reason for scheduling the visit now, as opposed to some other date, is that L was celebrating a birthday with lots of guests invited (about 45 made it, J told me). C hosted the party. A quirk of the party is that it was a women only event.

It was nice spending time with J's family. Unfortunately, C was only visiting for today, because she couldn't spare much time away from her family in New Jersey.

Around the time when J, C, and L left for the party, R had a visitor, I think someone interested in his antique shop.

I probably could have hung around until R returned, but I had an errand. J had asked me to pack her headphones, and I mistakenly packed her good old headphones, not her fantastic new ones. I had even noticed that they didn't fit very well into the case for the new ones, but J didn't jump to the conclusion that I was packing the wrong ones. We only discovered the mistake when J tried to use them last night.

That in itself would not have been a problem; the old headphones are good. The problem was that the old ones use a Mini-USB charging cable, the small "D"-shaped connector most commonly used with old flip phones and "candy bar" phones. Although I had packed a bunch of charging cables, I had not packed a Mini-USB cable – thus the need for an errand.

So, J and I did some phone research to find a place that still stocks Mini-USB, and found a box store in New Hampshire. An employee told me they had them for $5 to $50 or more, depending on length and other details, and that they were in stock.

Unfortunately, the only J cable they actually had in stock when I got there (after a long but easy drive into New Hampshire) was $15, triple the cheapest price mentioned on the phone. I bought it anyway.

The return trip to the in-laws' house was an odyssey. I looked for a no-toll route on my phone, and it showed me a route that disagreed with road signs


Back to the in-laws'grandparents

Mix up about the location

Drive back to New Hampshire

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Father gave us a ride to the airport so we don't have to park.

Airport very busy, TSA not as on the ball as usual in Seattle.

Airline very helpful. Flight on left on time, but delayed by airport congestion to about when we were originally scheduled.

Airport in Boston rental car smooth


Almost lost wallet

Nice hotel in Maine
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Press Screenings May 31 - June 2

Seattle International Film Festival
Press Screenings

Good afternoon!

Folklife is in full swing here at Seattle Center, so there's plenty of fare food to be had if you're braving the crowds to catch some Uptown and Film Center screenings this weekend. Due to the holiday weekend, we are starting our press screenings for the week on Tuesday, but we have public screenings starting at 11:00 AM on Monday morning, so there's no shortage of films to watch!

See you at the movies,

Eddy Dughi
Membership Coordinator

Press screenings for the 42nd Seattle International Film Festival take place Monday through Thursday at 10 AM, 12 noon, and 2 PM (unless otherwise noted) at AMC Pacific Place (600 Pine St). Screenings will not take place on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day). Screenings are open to all credentialed press on a first-come, first-served basis.

When attending press screenings, please bring your SIFF-issued pass and check in with SIFF staff before entering the theater. Late seating is not permitted.

Click through to see the list.Collapse )

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SIFF's capsule summary: "The Secret Festival is exactly what it says-all screenings are secret. What we can tell you is that you need to purchase a special Secret Festival pass to attend the screenings that occur on the four Sundays of the festival at 11 a.m. sharp."
SIFF link: Secret Festival

Because of the rules of the Secret Festival, I can't tell what we saw. 6 Almost Good

Review: I enjoyed the movie, but I can't say it was a great film. And because of the rules of the Secret Festival, I can't say what it was. Yes, I know it's a wicked taunt to tell about it with no more details than saying I was there and can't discuss it. But that's how it works.

One slight hint: some people who were present for the announcements before the film started said that it was screened in honor of SIFF co-founder Dan Ireland.

Language: I'm not telling.

Rating: I'm not telling.

Screening: Sunday 11 am, started a little late because the line was checked into the theater slowly, SIFF Cinema Egyptian.
Audience: 95% full, somewhere between 476 and 590 seats, depending on what sources I check.

Goodies: Indian buffet right after the film.

Ads: I don't know; I didn't get into the theater until after the front credits, so I didn't even know the title of the film until afterwards.

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SIFF's capsule summary: "Set in the vast snowy wilderness of 11th-century Norway, this epic action adventure, based on historical legend, is like "Game of Thrones" on skis, as two members of a warrior clan raise swords and arrows to protect the infant heir to the throne." (Norway, 2015, 100 minutes, Nils Gaup)
SIFF link: The Last King

In 1204 Norway, King Håkon is killed while his heir Håkon Håkonsson is a toddler. King Håkon is a Birkebeiner – the political party that favored the common people and rule from the northern city of Trondheim – and the Bagler party – favored by the church, petty nobles, and merchants – want Håkon Håkonsson dead too. His mother and a band of Birkebeiner men sneak him away to safety of a remote farm, until a ruthless Bagler and his men figure out the hiding place, forcing another escape through forests, mountains, and harsh weather.

Although knowledge of history provides a spoiler for the end of the story, the adventure is how they get there.

8 Very Good Director Nils Gaup has done several early Scandinavian history films, including the Oscar-nominated Pathfinder. This isn't quite that good, but it's a solid, entertaining adventure film with plenty of medieval spectacle. Writer Ravn Lanesskog changed some historical details (Håkon Håkonsson was born shortly after his father's death, another Håkon was renamed "Gisle" to reduce name confusion, etc.) and invented lots of details that weren't covered in the first written records (some 60 years later) of the events, but he started from a story with a lot of drama – and lots of skis, horses, axes, swords, and snow. The main adult character follows a classic hero's journey.

The acting is generally solid but the story tends to overshadow the acting. The props and sets look good, but I'm not sure they're entirely historical. The camera work is excellent, and the scenery is beautiful. The score is sometimes too much, exaggerating the drama rather than staying subtle and supporting the action on-screen.

The film has its flaws, but the adventure is solid enough that the film works well as an action movie. On that basis, I rate it very good.

Language: Norwegian

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating (yet), but I'd guess it would rate a "PG-13", on the basis of extensive but not-too-graphic violence.

Screening: 1:30 pm, Egyptian.
Audience: less than one-third full, somewhere between 476 and 590 seats, depending on what sources I check.

Snacks: lots of party goodies.

Ads and announcements:

  • SIFF 2016 trailer — This trailer has a disco theme, and it's a lot of fun.
  • Last Cab to Darwin — This looks like a good old-age drama.
  • Tanna — This is a drama about a war between two hunter-gatherer tribes that is settled by a planned marriage between a young woman from one tribe to someone in the other tribe. Unfortunately, the young woman was planning to marry someone in her own tribe.
  • Thank you volunteers — Time for applause. This clip had a funny disco theme.
  • In-person announcement — I think SIFF Programming Assistant Shruti Swaminathan was the one who introduced the film and the house rules.
  • Short pre-film clip — This was yet another with the disco theme.

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Press Screenings May 23-26

Seattle International Film Festival
Press Screenings

Dear [pass-holder or press member],

Festival is officially rolling! I hope you've seen a few screenings, complete with our full kit of Festival trailers and bumpers– I think our creative team has outdone themselves this year. I'm hoping to see some of our new dance moves at some parties this year.

We have so much more excitement in store!

See you at the movies,

Eddy Dughi
Membership Coordinator

Press screenings for the 42nd Seattle International Film Festival take place Monday through Thursday at 10 AM, 12 noon, and 2 PM (unless otherwise noted) at AMC Pacific Place (600 Pine St). Screenings will not take place on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day.) Screenings are open to all eligible passholders on a first-come, first-served basis.

When attending press screenings, please bring your SIFF-issued pass and check in with SIFF staff before entering the theater. Late seating is not permitted.

Click through to see the list.Collapse )

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SIFF's capsule summary: "Woody Allen's new film, set in 1930s Hollywood and New York City, is a bittersweet romance starring Jeannie Berlin, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll and Ken Stott." (USA, 2016, 96 minutes, Woody Allen)
SIFF link: Café Society: Opening Night Gala

Jewish New Yorker Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) moves to Hollywood to work for his uncle Phil (Steve Carrell). He falls for Phil's secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), in spite of Vonnie's warning that she has a boyfriend. Meanwhile, back home in New York, his family gossips about his gangster brother Ben (Corey Stoll), who runs a night club that eventually provides the title of the film.

5 Fair Woody Allen wrote and directed the film. On the directing side, he's excellent; it seems he can direct films like this one in his sleep. The shots are composed very nicely, and the cinematography (by Vittorio Storaro) is beautiful. The sets and costumes are nice, but they don't try to compete with Downton Abbey or the Baz Lurhmann Gatsby. The music is wonderful. The acting is excellent throughout.

But although Allen is spot-on as a director, this is not one of his showpieces as a writer. The story just doesn't go anywhere – or at least not anywhere all that interesting. The jokes are generally funny, but not numerous enough to carry the film through the dead spots in the story. The bit-part actors get the best jokes, particularly the death jokes. There are quite a few older-man, younger-woman jokes, and although they're mostly funny, I often cringed after laughing because of Allen's personal history. For this to be a good film, it needed either a better story, or so many laughs that the story didn't matter. The comedy is almost-good, and the story is poor; overall the writing is lackluster.

In spite of the first-class directing, acting, cinematography, period details, and music, the film fails on the weakness of the writing. Overall, I rate the film fair.

Maybe Woody Allen should think about slowing down his pace to give his writing more time, or if he wants to crank out a film every year, he might consider alternating between directing someone else's writing and directing his own.

Language: English.

Rating: This film has a US rating of "PG-13", which seems on target.

Screening: 7 pm, McCaw Hall (Seattle opera house). The opera house is wonderful for opera, but it's just not a good place for film. The sound doesn't fill the space evenly, and the screen's aspect ratio looked squashed (from the 2.0:1 it was shot in down to maybe 1.85:1). At least the shortcomings of the venue didn't spoil a great film this time.
Audience: mostly full, 2963 seats (advertised capacity).

Snacks: lots of party goodies.

Ads and announcements:

  • SIFF artistic director Carl Spence spoke.
  • SIFF board chairman Brian LaMacchia spoke.
  • Seattle Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas presented the Mayor's Award to Washington Film Works and Amy Lillard.
  • SIFF 2016 trailer — I recognize hardly any of the film clips in this one, but it's cool.
  • Presenting Princess Shaw — I already saw this film in a press screening. As a documentary, it's OK, but as a collection of music, it's wonderful.
  • Thank you volunteers — Time for applause. This clip had a Lord of the Rings theme, appropriate because Viggo Mortensen is one of this year's guests of honor.
  • (More that I don't remember; I didn't take notes this year.)

Presenting Princess Shaw – Live

One of the films featured at this year's SIFF is Presenting Princess Shaw. I saw the film, and as a documentary it tells a good story, but doesn't tell it very well – but the music is so good that I enjoyed the film anyway.

The true highlight of this Opening Night Gala was a live performance by "Princess Shaw" (Samantha Montgomery) herself. She sang with an off-stage (presumably recorded) accompaniment, and she was excellent. Her singing was right on, and she had stage presence that held the attention of the almost-3000 audience.

I wish we could have had 96 minutes of her singing instead of the film.

The Red Carpet Experience

Like most years, "J" and I support SIFF. This year, we did so mainly by buying the "Red Carpet Experience" upgrade for the opening night party. We arrived through a mess of rush hour traffic (fortunately light, by Seattle standards) and a valet parked our car. (I forgot to give the driver my wireless key, and had to give it to a valet supervisor so they'd be able to lock up the car during the evening.) We checked in, and straightened out a small ticket mix-up (SIFF sent us two copies of one ticket, rather than two different tickets) with a volunteer, then stood in a short line to be photographed on the red carpet. I look forward to figuring out where to view the pictures.

Inside, we got our gold wrist band and went in to the fancy area of the party. Treats included a tasty pasta salad, a nice fresh spinach salad, cheese and crackers, and probably some less healthy goodies that I didn't seek out. Beverages were abundant, as usual at SIFF parties; I indulged on a little merlot.

We mingled, and met lots of perennial SIFF acquaintances and friends. One introduced us to the acting managing director of SIFF; I had met her before at the members' preview event, but didn't realize that until we met her again. We saw an assortment of SIFF staff, including the programmer credited with bringing my favorite-so-far SIFF 2016 film, The Lure, to Seattle.

As usual, my film-themed necktie drew quite a few compliments, even though I didn't make a new one this year.

At the appointed time, opera house staff started herding us into the main hall for the announcements, the singing, and the film.

After the film, we returned to the fancy party area. They had some of the same treats as before, plus some additions: sliders (tasty, but not one of my usual indulgences), spicy gazpacho (yummy), and desserts (including some very good cheesecake). The space was more crowded than it had been before the show, so it was harder to spot people we knew.

While we were there, we picked up our Red Carpet gift bags. The contents included the big SIFF book, a hard-cover 50-year retrospective book about the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, a portion bottle of tequila, a larger bottle of vodka, some sample items from Babeland, a really nice camera strap, a DVD about Chihuly glass art, assorted smaller trinkets, lots of coupons, and lots of snack foods. It all came in a nice black SIFF-logo bag. And because there were two of us, we got two of everything.

Although the food was (presumably) better and the lines almost certainly shorter than the main party for the hoi polloi, my guess is that the main party was more fun. We probably would have migrated there if we had stayed later, but unfortunately J's feet were killing her; she was wearing new shoes, and they just didn't agree with her feet. So we called it a night fairly early, bringing home some samples of cheesecake for "L", who had spent the evening at our house with "T".

In spite of the dud film and our (relatively) early departure, it was a very fun evening. Just dressing up, going out, and playing it fancy was nice. And the "Princess Shaw" song was a treat – live singing in a venue that's meant for live performances.

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Press Screenings May 16 - 19

Seattle International Film Festival
Press Screenings

Dear [pass-holder or press member],

I hope you've been enjoying the press screenings so far! We're all incredibly busy preparing for Opening Night, where I hope you'll join us to usher in the Festival properly with an exciting film and fantastic party.

I would like to remind you once more that we will not be using queue cards for line management at any SIFF 2016 screening. Passholders will be required to be in the designated Passholder line, which will open 60 minutes prior to the scheduled screening time. The Passholder line may enter the venue 25 minutes prior to the scheduled screening time, or when the venue staff is ready to load the house. Please note there is no holding space in line for late arriving Passholders. We feel this will improve your venue experience – no more tracking down queue cards, just finding your place in line and enjoying the screening.

See you at the movies!

Eddy Dughi
Membership Coordinator

Press screenings for the 42nd Seattle International Film Festival take place Monday through Thursday at 10 AM, 12 noon, and 2 PM (unless otherwise noted) at AMC Pacific Place (600 Pine St). Screenings will not take place on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day.) Screenings are open to all eligible passholders on a first-come, first-served basis.

When attending press screenings, please bring your SIFF-issued pass and check in with SIFF staff before entering the theater. Late seating is not permitted.

Click through to see the list.Collapse )

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Press Screenings May 9 - 12

Seattle International Film Festival
Press Screenings

Dear [pass-holder or press member],

It was great seeing everyone that made it to our events on Wednesday! We've been working really hard on this year's Festival, and it's really exciting to see that work begin to pay off as everyone gets back together.

This week has a fantastic lineup, and I hope you enjoy!


Eddy Dughi
Membership Coordinator

Press screenings for the 42nd Seattle International Film Festival take place Monday through Thursday at 10 AM, 12 noon, and 2 PM (unless otherwise noted) at AMC Pacific Place (600 Pine St). Screenings will not take place on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day.) Screenings are open to all eligible passholders on a first-come, first-served basis.

When attending press screenings, please bring your SIFF-issued pass and check in with SIFF staff before entering the theater. Late seating is at the discretion of theater management and subject to availability.

Pass pickup will be available for pickup at press screenings beginning May 4th.

[Update] Unfortunately the price that we were quoted for the Seattle Center Community College garage was incorrect. Parking passes for this garage will be $125 instead of $100.

Press Screening: 10:00 am
Mood: Open My Eyes

USA 2016 (88 min)
Director: Kathlyn Horan
Featuring: Kim Bogucki, Renata Abramson, Tiffany Doll, Angela Vargas, LaKeisha "KeWee" Hamilton

A compassionate Seattle police officer creates a unique writing program along with a group of inmates at a maximum-security women's prison, challenging them to answer a simple question with a difficult answer: What if things had been different?

Festival Screenings:
Sat May 21 | 3:30pm | AMC Pacific Place
Sun May 22 | 11:00am | AMC Pacific Place
Director Kathlyn Horan scheduled to attend both screenings

US Distributor: Strand Releasing
Press Screening: Noon
Mood: WTF

CANADA 2015 (90 min)
Director: Stephen Dunn
Cast: Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Joanne Kelly, Aliocha Schneider, Jack Fulton

In this imaginative, sometimes shocking, and unexpectedly funny coming-of-age story, an aspiring special-effects makeup artist struggling with his sexuality and his fear of his macho father turns for advice to his pet hamster Buffy (named for a certain Vampire Slayer), who hilariously speaks to him in the voice of Isabella Rossellini.

Festival Screenings:
Fri May 20 | 9:30pm | SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Mon May 23 | 8:30pm | SIFF Cinema Uptown

US Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Press Screening: 2:00 pm
Mood: Love

UNITED KINGDOM 2015 (135 min)
Director: Terence Davies
Cast: Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan, Kevin Guthrie

Epic, emotional, and filled with both captivating period detail and painterly visual landscapes, the latest from director Terence Davies (The House of Mirth) looks back at the life of a peasant farm family's life in pre-WWI Scotland.

Festival Screenings:
Fri May 20 | 4:00pm | SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Sat May 21 | 6:30pm | Majestic Bay Theatres

Press Screening: 10:00 am
Mood: Creative Streak

IRAN 2015 (90 min)
Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Featuring: Sonita Alizadeh

Winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Sonita is a feisty teenage refugee and aspiring rapper from Afghanistan who, after her mother announces an arranged marriage, upends the foundations of documentary filmmaking with a bold request to her filmmaker: Will you buy me?

Festival Screenings:
Thu May 26 | 6:30pm | SIFF Cinema Uptown
Sat May 28 | 1:00pm | Lincoln Square Cinemas
Sat June 4 | 3:30pm | Shoreline Community College

US Distributor: Lightyear Entertainment
Press Screening: Noon
Mood: Love

AUSTRALIA 2015 (99 min)
Director: Martin Butler & Bentley Dean
Cast: Marie Wawa, Mungau Dain, Marceline Rofit, Chief Charlie Kahla

In this lush, visually breathtaking film, the first shot entirely on the island nation of Vanuatu, rebellious Wawa must choose between loyalty to her clan and her own heart when she is betrothed to a man from another tribe.

Festival Screenings:
Fri May 20 | 1:30pm | AMC Pacific Place
Mon May 23 | 8:30pm | Majestic Bay Theatres

US Distributor: Screen Media Films
Press Screening: 2:00pm
Mood: WTF

CANADA/BRAZIL 2015 (96 min)
Director: Pedro Morelli
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Alison Pill, Tyler Labine, Mariana Ximenes, Jason Priestley, Don McKellar, Jennifer Irwin

A comic-book artist insecure about her chest size, an action-movie director lacking his cocksure advantage, and a melancholy Brazilian model-turned-novelist share an interconnected fantasy world in this delightfully meta comedy featuring original songs by Kid Koala.

Festival Screenings:
Tue May 31 | 9:15pm | SIFF Cinema Uptown
Wed June 1 | 9:30pm | SIFF Cinema Egyptian

US Distributor: Participant Media
Press Screening: 10:00 am
Mood: Open My Eyes

USA 2016 (80 min)
Director: Lloyd Kramer

In a testament to the healing power of art, a theatre director unites the community of Newtown, Connecticut one year after the tragic school shooting of 2012 to help produce a rock musical version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Festival Screenings:
Sat May 21 | 3:30pm | Majestic Bay Theatres
Sun May 22 | 5:30pm | SIFF Cinema Uptown
Director Lloyd Kramer scheduled to attend both screenings

Press Screening: Noon
Mood: Show Me the World!

SPAIN/GERMANY 2016 (98 min)
Director: Icíar Bollaín
Cast: Anna Castillo, Javier Gutiérrez, Pep Ambros

A determined young woman journeys from Spain to Germany to retrieve a gnarled, thousand-year-old olive tree that is precious to her ailing grandfather after it has been sold to an energy company, in Icíar Bollaín's earthy, bittersweet fable.

Festival Screenings:
Sun May 22 | 8:30pm | Majestic Bay Theatres
Sun May 29 | 5:00pm | Renton IKEA Performance Arts Center
Wed June 1 | 6:00pm | SIFF Cinema Uptown

US Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Press Screening: 2:00 pm
Mood: Love

USA 2016 (80 min)
Director: Richard Tanne
Cast: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway

Spend a disarmingly romantic 1989 summer afternoon with the future president of the United States, Barack Obama, as he woos his future First Lady on an epic first date across Chicago's South Side in a real-life version of Before Sunrise.

Festival Screenings:
Sat June 11 | 7:00pm | SIFF Cinema Uptown
Sun June 12 | 7:00pm | SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Director Richard Tanne scheduled to attend both screenings

US Distributor: Screen Media Films
Press Screening: 10:00 am
Mood: Make Me Laugh!

FRANCE 2015 (105 min)
Director: Michel Gondry
Cast: Audrey Tautou, Ange Dargent, Theophile Baquet, Diane Besnier

Michel Gondry's wildly inventive and sweetly comic celebration of friendship joins two teenage misfits—Microbe, an artist, and Gasoline, a mechanic—on an unconventional road trip through the French countryside in a homemade house on wheels.

Festival Screenings:
Sat May 21 | 1:00pm | Majestic Bay Theatres
Mon May 23 | 7:00pm | SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Press Screening: Noon
Mood: Creative Streak

BRAZIL 2015 (100 min)
Director: Sérgio Machado
Cast: Lázaro Ramos, Kaique Jesus, Elzio Vieira, Sandra Corveloni, Fernanda De Freitas

A former child prodigy reluctantly begins teaching music to youth in a troubled São Paulo neighborhood and discovers the transforming power of music, passion, and purpose in this inspiring Brazilian film based on a true story.

Festival Screenings:
Fri May 20 | 9:30pm | Majestic Bay Theatres
Sat May 21 | 12:00pm | SIFF Cinema Uptown
Wed May 25 | 7:00pm | SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Press Screening: 2:00 pm
Mood: WTF

POLAND 2015 (92 min)
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Cast: Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska, Jakub Gierszal, Kinga Preis, Andrzej Konopka, Zygmunt Malanowicz

A fanciful horror-tinged New Wave rock opera transpires when a pair of bewitching mermaids emerge from the sea to join a Warsaw nightclub act, then face some cruel, bloody choices when one of them falls in love with a handsome young bass player.

Festival Screenings:
Fri May 27 | 9:30pm | SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Sat May 28 | 4:00pm | SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Sun May 29 | 9:15pm | Shoreline Community College
Director Agnieszka Smoczynska scheduled to attend all screenings

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SIFF's capsule summary: "A wise and tender ode to friendship of man and dog, two middle-aged men reunite in Madrid and spend four days taking unexpected detours, reflecting on loves, losses, triumphs, and regrets. Winner of five Goya Awards including Best Picture." (Spain, 2015, 108 minutes, Cesc Gay)
SIFF link: Truman

For a film made in Spain and Argentina, it had an odd start: people speaking English somewhere in North America (later identified as Canada). But soon Tomas (Javier Cámara) heads to the airport and flies to Spain to visit his dear friend Julian (Ricardo Darín), the dog Truman, and their common friend Paula (Dolores Fonzi). Why the sudden trip? Tomas has health problems, and wants to see his friend in case he doesn't make it.

8 Very Good The film was directed by Cesc Gay and written by Tomàs Aragay and the director. The pacing is solid and there's plenty of comedy, without slighting the drama. But it's the acting that really makes the film a winner; everyone is excellent.

Overall, I rate the film very good.

Languages: Spanish, with English subtitles, and some English.

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating (yet), but I'd guess it would rate a "R", because the MPAA is prudish about even mild nudity and sex.

Screening: 2 pm, Pacific Place (room 11).
Audience: a typical SIFF press screening crowd, I'd guess fewer than 100, in about 400 seats.

Snacks: tea from home.

Ads: none at press screenings; SIFF volunteers provide announcements.

Mostly notes to myselfCollapse )

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SIFF's capsule summary: "A teenaged girl struggling to support her siblings in a dingy British housing project gets the news that her abusive father is about to be paroled in this gritty tale of adolescence evoking the teen narratives of Andrea Arnold and Pawel Pawlikowski." (UK, 2015, 97 minutes, Helen Walsh)
SIFF link: The Violators

Teenager Shelly (Lauren McQueen) cares for her adult brother Andy (Derek Barr) and younger brother Jerome (Callum King Chadwick), worrying about the possibility of parole of their dangerous and abusive father. Pawn shop owner Mikey (Stephen Lord) takes an unhealthy interest in her. Late-teen Rachel (Brogan Ellis) seems to be watching over her, though it's not clear whether she's a stalker or a protector.

4 Lackluster The first problem with this film is the sound. For one thing, the UK accents are often thick enough that they should have subtitles for US audiences (and possibly for UK audiences in other regions). For another, the sound isn't always mixed well enough to make the dialog clear.

The second problem is that the film had a number of tracking shots that needed a steady-cam (or something comparable), but lacked it. A bouncy camera gives some audience members vertigo, and tends to annoy even those who don't get dizzy from it.

A third problem is that the story (by writer-director Helen Walsh) fails to reveal enough about the mystery of Rachel's interest in Shelly until a sudden ending. It feels like the third quarter of the plot is missing; there's no gap in the chain of events, but there is a gap in what the film has revealed to the audience.

On the other hand, Shelly is a very strong, well-developed character, and the acting is solid throughout. Most UK films featuring desperate working class settings center around violent male characters, and the focus on a young woman trying to survive a difficult situation is a worthwhile twist. Still, the story would have benefited a lot from a few more drafts.

Overall, I rate the film lackluster.

Languages: English (with some very thick accents)

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating (yet), but I'd guess it would rate a "R", due to moderate violence and a troubling sex scene.

Screening: noon, Pacific Place (room 11).
Audience: a typical SIFF press screening crowd, I'd guess fewer than 100, in about 400 seats.

Snacks: tea from home.

Ads: none at press screenings; SIFF volunteers provide announcements.

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