For Your Consideration: SIFF Selections for Memorial Day Weekend

An embarrassment of cinematic riches awaits film fest attendees this Memorial Day Weekend, so let’s just hop right in, shall we? For all film screenings, the general/member ticket prices are $11/$9 (and matinees $8/$7), except for special presentations, which cost more.

Visionaries: Jonas Mekas and the (Mostly) American Avant-Garde Cinema  Ace documentarian Chuck Workman serves up a great primer on Underground Cinema, with Anthology Archives curator and filmmaker Mekas functioning as a charming epicenter. Marilyn Brakhage (widow of underground film legend Stan Brakhage) and Workman will be attending. (May 28, 4:30 p.m. @ SIFF Cinema)

Wheedle’s Groove  Seattle’s long-overlooked 1970s funk/soul scene gets some overdue props in this documentary, with everyone from Quincy Jones to Mark Arm to Sir Mix-a-Lot weighing in. (May 28, 4:30 p.m. @ Everett Performing Arts Center; May 30, 9:30 p.m. @ SIFF Cinema–the latter screening is sold-out, but rush tickets may still be available)

Farewell  In SIFF’s Centerpiece Gala film, an unassuming French engineer working in Moscow gets pulled into big time international espionage, thanks to a high-level comrade disaffected with the course of communism. The spycraft hovers on the edge of untrained sloppiness, infusing the whole endeavor with a growing sense of dread as the consequences of their subterfuge take a toll on their personal lives. The build to the suspenseful finale is a slow burn, but well earned. (May 29, 6:30 p.m. @ The Egyptian; May 31, 3:00 p.m. @ Everett; June 12, 6:30 p.m. @ Uptown)

Cane Toads: The Conquest–in 3D  They’re louder, they’re fatter, they’re wartier, they’re peskier…and they’re in eye-popping 3D, for God’s sake! (May 28, 7:00 p.m. @ The Neptune)

Restrepo  Described as a non-fiction companion piece to The Hurt Locker, this doc follows the progress of several U.S. soldiers doing battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan’s peril-fraught Korengal Valley. (May 28, 6:30 p.m @ Harvard Exit; May 29, 3:45 p.m. @ Harvard Exit)

Southern District  Director Juan Carlos Valdivia tells a Bolivian Upstairs, Downstairs tale with languid circular shots and a largely amateur cast. The trailer portends a most visually stunning feature. (May 28, 6:30 p.m. @ Pacific Place; May 29, 1:30 p.m. @ Pacific Place)

The Hedgehog  Cute but imperfect film version of the popular novel about a twelve-year-old French girl with a video camera and a suicide pact with herself, the apartment building’s reclusive janitor, and a mysterious new neighbor. [spoiler: attempts to gain gravitas with a surprise death] (May 28, 7:00 p.m. @ Uptown; May 30, 4:00 p.m. @ Uptown)

Senior Prom  World premiere of Mountlake Terrace high school student’s feature film; take that, Shoreline/Shorecrest lipdubbers! (May 28, 7:00 p.m. @ SIFF Cinema; June 1, 4:30 p.m. @ SIFF Cinema)

Ride, Rise, Roar  David Byrne and Brian Eno present their musical stylings in a live setting. Given that Byrne’s last foray into feature-length concert films was one of the greatest ever made, it’s understandable that expectations run high. (May 28, 9:30 p.m. @ The Egyptian; May 29, 1:30 p.m. @ The Egyptian)

Winter’s Bone  A young girl searches for her ne’er-do-well dad in the Missouri Ozarks and discovers lies, secrets, and peril in this much-buzzed-about, Sundance-winning drama-thriller. (May 28, 7:00 p.m. @ The Egyptian; May 30, 1:30 p.m. @ The Egyptian)

RoboGeisha  Sibling rivalry between mechanically-augmented Geisha Girls; enough arterial spray to put the Icelandic volcano to shame; Japanese robo-chicks with circular saws popping from their mouths; swordfights by the score; and acid-spurting mammaries? If that doesn’t read MUST-SEE in bold letters, you’ve stumbled into the wrong SunBreak columnist’s SIFF recommendation list by mistake, Bucky. (May 28, midnight @ The Egyptian; June 8, 10:00 p.m. @ The Neptune)

Life During Wartime  Todd Solondz gilds his sixth film (a semi-sequel to 1998’s Happiness) with an interesting cast (Allison Janney, Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens, Ally Sheedy) and a reportedly more-accessible timbre; though with Solondz, “accessible” is likely a relative term. (May 29, 8:30 p.m. @ Uptown; May 31, 8:45 p.m. @ Harvard Exit)

Amer  It’s hard to figure how this strange art-film disguised as a giallo will play with a Midnight Adrenaline crowd. It’s likely too deliberately-paced and arty for cheap-thrill-seeking midnighters, yet too odd and gruesome for the arthouse set. If you’re in the right mindset, though, it’s utterly captivating. (May 29, midnight @ The Egyptian; May 30, 9:30 p.m. @ The Egyptian)

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls  The one-sentence description on the SIFF website pretty much clinches it: “Finally, a documentary film about yodeling lesbian twins.” (May 30, 7:00 p.m. @ The Egyptian; May 31, 11:00 a.m. @ The Egyptian)

Gerrymandering  The time-(dis)honored political tradition of carving out voting districts to favor specific candidates is put under the magnifying glass in this documentary. (May 30, 6:45 p.m. @ Harvard Exit; May 31, 11:00 a.m. @ Harvard Exit)

Marwencol  Truth is stranger–and more emotionally resonant–than fiction in this documentary about a man who works through a memory-destroying and nearly fatal assault by constructing dioramas with GI Joe figures. (May 30, 4:15 p.m. @ The Egyptian; May 31, 6:15 p.m. @ The Egyptian)

Some Days Are Better Than Others James Mercer (the Shins) and Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney) make their surprisingly successful acting debut in this mildly mumblecore meditation set in Portland. He slacks between terrible temp jobs; she volunteers at an animal shelter and dreams that a reality television audition might salvage her from obscure heartbreak. These plots tangentially linger along with those of an elderly experimental filmmaker and a quiet thrift store employee shaken by a particular donation. (May 31, 9:00 p.m. @ The Egyptian; June 1, 4:00 p.m. @ The Egyptian)

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