Watching Adam & Steve (2005-05-26)

Director Craig Chester wanted to make a gay movie that wasn't depressing. This reminds me of the then-unacceptably happy ending of Maurice, a novel by E.M Forster (author of A Passage to India, and Merchant-Ivory productions A Room with a View, and Howard's End). Craig Chester aimed for a romantic comedy comparable with the quotable When Harry Met Sally or the sentimental Sleepless in Seattle. In Adam & Steve, Craig Chester succeeded in making a funny film, though since his gags ranged from campy to raunchy to silly, not every joke is for everyone. Award-winning comedies (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) or even romantic comedies (Bedrooms and Hallways, The Broken Hearts Club) with gay main characters aren't a new type of film, however. Craig Chester was present for a question-and-answer session as well as an invitation-only queer after-film party at Rosebud.

Watching Three...Extremes (2005-05-26)

Three...Extremes was a collection of three unrelated short horror films from Hong Kong (Dumplings), South Korea (Cut), and Japan (Box). Those more familiar with the genre may have seen previous films by the three directors, Fruit Chan, Chan-wook Park, and Takashi Miike. I had only seen Takashi Miike's enjoyable horror-comedy musical Katakuri-ke no kôfuku/The Happiness of the Katakuris, though the trailers for Chan-wook Park's Oldboy looked intersting.

Blood and human tissue are part of what make Fruit Chan's Dumplings and Chan-wook Park's Cut horrific. Dumplings, however, has both a moral about the price of vanity and an ending ambiguous about just how high the price is. I found Cut's discussion of the genesis of good and evil less compelling, and its plot twist less logical. Takashi Miike's Box was less gory and more compelling than the others. However, I didn't like the resolution.

The horror of Three...Extremes and the horror-comedy of Die Nacht der lebenden Loser/The Night of the Living Dorks are my dose of this genre for the Festival. Fans of horror may want to consider Marebito, though Ryan and friends do not recommend it.


Listening to Rock School Jam (2005-05-25)

Movie City Indie links to the New York Times article on a current boom in documentaries. Rock School is part of this boom, covering in nonfiction what Richard Linklater's The School of Rock portrayed in fiction. (Unlike nearly every other movie I mention in this blog, I haven't seen The School of Rock.)

I enjoyed the documentary quite a bit; I enjoyed Paul Green's teaching style very little. I doubt that speaking to kids on their level requires berating them. Also, I wondered about their eventual goal to be rock stars. Does anyone become a star in a cover band? Is composition ever taught? The one girl in the documentary that mentioned composing her own songs appeared to stop doing so when Paul belittled her Sheryl Crow style.

Apparently I need to go to rock night school, because I didn't recognize many of the songs in the jam at Neumos after the film. I did recognize Santana's "Black Magic Woman," Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell," Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Heart's "Barracuda" (performed with Ann Wilson), Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder (also present), B-52's "Rock Lobster", and Eminem's "8 Mile." Eddie Vedder said that Paul Green told him which song to play, and told him he'd better play it well since the Seattle audience was his neighbors!

While C.J. Tywoniak is the guitar-playing child prodigy of the group, recent Rock School graduate Louis Graff played excellent guitar while also acting like a rock star, complete with facial expressions and jumps into the audience. After the concert I congratulated Louie (and his "adopted mother" Robin Slick). The lead singers, in contrast, were often expressionless (despite their vocal intensity) and occasionally looked a little bored. I again wondered if technical perfection is enough to become a star.

Watching Sommersturm (2005-05-25)

After a minor role in Enemy at the Gates, Robert Stadlober again stars in a coming-of-age romance, this time as a coodinated gay boy (Sommersturm) rather than a spastic straight boy (Crazy). I liked Sommersturm, but I don't expect much from teen comedies in general. For coming-out romances, perhaps Britain's Beautiful Thing or Get Real were better; for teen comedies with gay characters, America's Saved! (which I saw at SIFF last year) was better. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Germany's Summer Storm for its portrayal of the anguish of falling in love with someone who will likely never feel the same--or someone who loves someone else. Though in Seattle many in the audience might call themselves gay, nearly anyone can identify with some role in this teen triangle.

Getting More Tickets (2005-05-24)

Ryan bought me two "threes" to add to my SIFF Schedule, a South Korean horror thriller and a French gay drama:

At Secret Festival #1 (2005-05-22)

At the first Secret Festival I stood at the head of the line with friends of Steven and Dan, and discussed what Peter Sarsgaard had said about The Dying Gaul. Then we watched...

...a movie I'm not going to name. Below is the text from the back of my Secret Festival pass:

I, the undersigned, do hereby solemnly swear that I will never divulge the titles or discuss any of the films screened at the 2005 SIFF Secret Festival. Furthermore, I agree that I will not commit to print, broadcast on radio / television, on-line service or any other media form information regarding any of the 2005 Secret Festival screenings. I understand that the Seattle International Film Festival can and will pursue legal action against me in order to recover punitive and financial damages caused by my breach of this contract. I understand that no recording device of any kind is allowed into festival venues and that I may be subject to physical search of my person or personal property upon entrace to festival venues.
Below that is my signature. I would give the movie a 2 out of 5.

Watching Ladies in Lavender (2005-05-22)

As we anticipated, Daniel Brühl was beautiful in Ladies in Lavender, but so was Natascha McElhone. The movie had less political paranoia than I expected; at its gentle heart it was a leisurely comedy on romantic regret. While Ryan cried, I gave it a 3 out of 5.

Watching Saint Ralph (2005-05-21)

The second film in my SIFF schedule (after Me and You and Everyone We Know and before The Dying Gaul with Peter Sarsgaard) was the Canadian movie Saint Ralph. Set in a Catholic high school, against the backdrop of hormones (an interest in sex and the opposite sex), Saint Ralph is about impossible dreams, faith, and the things that give the stamina to survive suffering. Movies with mothers in comas can make me cry more easily than many. However, I heard a handful of sniffles from elsewhere in the theater during key moments of character development. I gave it a 4 out of 5.

Gordon Downie's cover of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" was nice. ("I heard there was a secret chord/That David played and it pleased the Lord/But you don't really care for music, do you?/Well it goes like this the fourth, the fifth/The minor fall and the major lift/The baffled king composing hallelujah.")


Watching Peter Sarsgaard (2005-05-21)

Tonight at the Gala Reception at the Red Lion Hotel we met Peter Sarsgaard, in town for "An Evening with Peter Sarsgaard" and the screening of The Dying Gaul. The Dying Gaul was preceded by short film selections showing why Peter received the Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting. His recent parts are much more significant than his earlier roles as Walter Delacroix in Dead Man Walking or Raoul in The Man in the Iron Mask (which I unfortunately watched to see Leonardo DiCaprio)! One of my favorite movies in which Sarsgaard played is Garden State.

The introductions began when Karen and SIFF membership coordinator Tara Morgan left the table at which Ryan and I had been catching up with Steven and Dan, whom we met at last year's SIFF. Kevin and Lisa sat down in Tara's and Karen's places, and later told us about their big trip. Before that, however, we learned that Kevin and Lisa attended the interview, film, and party because Kevin went to Jesuit high school in Connecticut with Peter Sarsgaard. When Peter walked in with Maggie Gyllenhaal (Who knew they were dating?), Kevin and Lisa stood up to talk to them. Ryan and I later joined them.

I remarked to Peter that his character's roles as lover of a married man was similar in Kinsey and The Dying Gaul. He replied that Robert in The Dying Gaul was much more aggressive than Clyde Martin in Kinsey. Ryan complimented Peter on his portrayal of a gay man, particularly a scene in The Dying Gaul in which he grieves his lost lover. That scene reminded Ryan of his best friend Mika. Ryan also touched Peter's very short, low-maintenance hair.

Partygoers continuously asked for Peter's and Maggie's autographs. When Peter stepped away with Tara, Kevin asked Maggie if she made movies as well. Maggie mentioned Secretary and Criminal. Ryan took the opportunity to discuss Maggie's movies, particularly Mona Lisa Smile (a sort of Dead Poet's Society for girls). He also complimented her on her style, asked if she had fashion help, and asked if she followed magazine comments on her dress. She dresses herself and doesn't care what the press says.

Finally, Ryan told her that he thought both she and Jake were beautiful, and asked her to tell her younger brother that at least one person in Seattle thinks he's hot. Momentarily thinking only of Jake Gyllenhaal--and forgetting that Maggie was in the same movie--I remarked that we were sorry Jake didn't attend the Donnie Darko director's cut screening at SIFF last year. (It had been nice to chat with Jena Malone and Mary McDonnell last year, however. Jena Malone--who also played in Life as a House--had been in two other SIFF films I saw: The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and Saved!) I'd love to meet the star of October Sky and Jordan from Lovely & Amazing. Jake, come to Seattle!

Back to Peter Sarsgaard, The Dying Gaul will be interesting in distribution, given that the story of a gay couple--revolving around Peter's character--is a major plot element. In fact, The Dying Gaul is self-referential, discussing at length how difficult it is for such a film to attract theatergoers, despite the success of Philadelphia. The box office will tell if this is true.