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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SIFF 2008: Day 20 Recommendations

posted by on June 10 at 10:43 AM

OK, who scheduled The Secret of the Grain (6 pm at the Egyptian) opposite In the Land of the Headhunters (7 pm at the Moore)? So tough! It’s making me resort to strategy.

If you’re available in the middle of the afternoon on Thursday—and don’t want to see the terrible movies Theater of War or Fields of Fuel, or the perfectly decent movie Postcards from Leningrad—then you should see The Secret of the Grain on Thursday. But remember, it’s a don’t, don’t, don’t miss! If you’re not available Thursday, I say start at the Egyptian today for Abdellatif Kechiche’s Games of Love & Chance (3:30 pm, has distribution and has played in Seattle before) and stay for his new masterpiece, The Secret of the Grain (which has distribution, but won’t open for a while and probably won’t remain in Seattle very long, 6 pm at the Egyptian).

The Secret of the Grain

If you’ve already seen Games of Love & Chance and can wait till Thursday for Grain, I recommend starting with the sloooow and indifferently photographed and mildly pretentious (but only if you can read the French at the end!) Combalimon (4:30 pm at the Harvard Exit). It’s about an old farmer from the Cantal, without wife (well, there was a wife, from the Camaroon, but she left him) or children, who must decide what to do with his farm after he retires. It’s pretty great, if you like movies about cows.

Next, head to the Moore for an extraordinary screening of the 1914 feature In the Land of the Headhunters (7 pm at the Moore), by Seattle photographer and ethnographer Edward S. Curtis. The film, which premiered simultaneously at the Moore and a NYC theater, used an all-Native cast from British Columbia’s Kwakiutl tribe (now known as the Kwakwaka’wakw). This screening will be accompanied by descendents of the original cast. For more, see the project’s webpage and David Jeffers at SIFFblog.

Whichever route you start out on, enjoy a nice bedtime story with the cannibalism documentary Stranded: I’ve Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains (9:30 pm at SIFF Cinema).

For complete guide, recommendations, and discussion, see

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I'd also recommend The Island of Lost Souls ... and Lady Jane.

Tomorrow you can catch Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, Trouble the Water, Perfect Match ..., and Villa Jasmin.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 10, 2008 12:08 PM

thanks will

Posted by pretty sure annie will tell us, but o.k. | June 10, 2008 12:17 PM

Annie didn't mention either of the first two.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 10, 2008 1:29 PM

Why in the world would you call Fields of Fuel a terrible movie, Annie? I saw it, it was all about things we can do to make a difference for the planet. It was really uplifting, entertaining and inspirational. I assume you make this judgement without having seen it.

Posted by R. Reynolds | June 10, 2008 3:14 PM

@4: Correct, I make this judgment based on the judgment of our reviewer (that'd be Erica C. Barnett), whose capsule I linked to. As I said at the outset, I can't see all of the movies in SIFF, so my recommendations are based on the opinion of Stranger reviewers in general, not my personal opinion.

I believe Erica's primary complaint is that the film fails to offer a critique of American car dependence, and secondarily that it fails to acknowledge that biofuels have problems of their own (because of the energy used to grow the crops, and because diverting crops to biofuels increases food prices).

Posted by annie | June 10, 2008 3:40 PM

SPOILER ALERT: three hours later and I don't even know if the couscous turned out ok?!

Posted by josh | June 11, 2008 12:46 AM

Well, look who's cooking it! I think, barring divine intervention, we can know how it turned out.
However, after the floor show, I don't think anyone will mind.

Posted by ratzkywatzky | June 11, 2008 8:47 AM

Somewhere within this ten-thousand minutes of family arguments, stifling close-ups and interminable belly dancing is a decent film. I donít know where exactly, but itís there. Towards the end, as the restaurant patrons have been waiting hours to be fed the enchanted couscous (which has disappeared in a completely mundane twist of fate), I thought how appropriate it was that the audience was competing with actors to see who would crack first from the ruthless boredom. Yes, I get it. The movie wasnít about the magic of couscous, or the triumph over adversity or anything (interesting) like that. Itís about the minutiae of inter- and extra-family relationships. However, through the cunning use of completely unedited, self-indulgent filmmaking techniques, Abdel Kechiche has succeeded in removing any sort of tension or payoff from this masturbatory exercise.

Posted by rbnorton | June 11, 2008 8:53 AM

@7 : BUT DID THE MAGIC OF THE OCCASION TURN HER INTO A GOOD COOK? after all, she didn't make the sauce, vegetables, or fish. how hard can it be to cook "the grain"?

@8 : Yes, this could have been easily shortened to

Posted by josh | June 11, 2008 8:01 PM

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