Watching The Tales of Hoffmann (2005-05-20)

Dinner was a disaster due to delays (which nearly led to standing outside McCaw Hall for Act I), but Seattle Opera's Les Contes D'Hoffmann was a good first opera for Ryan and first-opera-in-a-long-time for me. The storyline was straightforward, consisting mostly of three short stories of the poet Hoffmann's ill-fated love for a mechanical doll, a sick singer, and deceptive courtesan. Connecting these stories is the story of Hoffmann's relationship with his Stella and his disguised Muse.


Watching Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005-05-19)

After an interminable introduction, we saw the film and attended the party for the Opening Night Gala. Production managers, mayors, marketing directors, SIFF directors, and program managers spoke for nearly an hour first. Here's advice for speakers: after you've spent time writing your speech, practice it to see how long it is. Then spend additional time making it half as long. Do you really want to sound unprepared to the 2800 people that the Paramount holds? You know who you are. (Dan Webster from Movies and More thought the introduction was long, too.)

In her speech, festival director Helen Loveridge answered a question that an audience member at the SIFF Preview event had asked: This was the first opening night film by a woman director.

Even Miranda July spoke, briefly, of her Pacific Northwest history with the Film Forum and the Seattle Art Museum. I looked to see if she had problems with her shoes like in Cannes (as Movie City Indie noticed in Miranda July's blog), but I couldn't tell from the balcony.

The 2005 Opening Night film wasn't the sentimental cinematic Hallmark card that the 2004 Opening Night Film The Notebook was. Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know was an arthouse collection of contemporary vignettes connected in surprising (and not always plausible) ways. I think it was a better introduction to independent and foreign film than the previous year. However, the film flirted with sexual boundaries without quite crossing them (offensive opportunities remained fantasy). This bothered some in the audience.

The quirky relationship between Miranda July's Christine Jesperson and John Hawkes' Richard Swersey ties the film together and makes it almost as much comedy as drama. (John Hawkes, by the way, looks a bit like a thin Sean Penn, as though someone had permanently squeezed Sean's face.) Nevertheless the kids carry the story as much as Miranda July and John Hawkes.

The party afterward at the old Seattle Public Library was crowded and loud, with long lines for food and drink. This year, however, the food was much better than last year. We sat next to the owners of one of our favorite haunts, the Trabant Chai Lounge and had a nice conversation. I recognized an employee from Scarecrow Video, but never caught his eye. We left the film and party happy.


Not Watching Episode III (2005-05-20)

GoTech has again generously invited us to a free movie; this time it's Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Friday at 3:15 PM at the Cinerama. Unfortunately, this again conflicts with previous plans; this time it's with cooking dinner for six at 4:30 PM in our apartment. After dinner, Jason and Tiffany, Richard and Roshelle, and Ryan and I will see The Tales of Hoffmann at the Seattle Opera McCaw Hall.

The Episode III trailers look good. Hayden Christensen even looks like Mark Hamill did. We'll probably see it another day.

Not at Cinerama? (2005-05-19/06-12)

Unlike previous years, this year the Seattle Cinerama and AMC Pacific Place 11 are not in the list of venues for SIFF. Those venues are showing some other movie. If you think that movie is bad and don't like the acting, don't blame Hayden Christensen; he did well as the brooding, intense rebel in Life as a House. (Thank Movie City Indie for the link to the review.)