SIFF '12, the 38th edition of the Seattle International Film Festival, began on May 17th with Stranger Genius Award winner Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister and ended on June 10th with veteran television director Stephen Gyllenhaal's Grassroots, an adaptation of former Stranger staffer Phil Campbell's Zioncheck for President: A True Story of Idealism and Madness in American Politics (for which KEXP's John Richards served as one of the music supervisors).
Over the course of 25 days, SIFF screened 460 films, of which I saw as many as I could. I have a slight advantage and a significant disadvantage. Since I write for the program guide, I start watching movies in April, but my freelance schedule makes it impossible to see as many as I'd like. Though I'd planned to catch most of the Face the Music entries, I only caught a few. Fortunately, all were quite good, especially Bad Brains: A Band in DC and Paul Williams: Still Alive.
I'm sure Oscar-winning songwriter Paul Williams has a few young fans scattered here and there, but if you're a person of a certain age, like me, he's an icon. Not "kind of an icon" or "sort of an icon," but an icon. Full stop. And the reason is simple: he ruled the 1970s. His songs, like the Carpenters' "Rainy Days and Mondays" and "We've Only Just Begun" were all over the radio, and every time you turned on the TV, there he was: guesting on Baretta, Police Woman, and The Tonight Show. Johnny Carson was such a fan he had Williams on 50 times.
Though I lived just outside Washington DC for a few months back in the 1970s, when my Dad was located in Falls Church, VA, I never got to see the DC-based Bad Brains live. They formed in 1979; we moved to the Bay Area in 1975, and I've never been back. In retrospect: I couldn't have handled the Bad Brains of the late-'70s. I grew up on classic rock and Top 40. The minute I heard the group, not long after I moved to Seattle, I fell in love, but by the late-'80s, I was ready for their super-charged sound. The first thing I bought was the tape above.
I still love the Bad Brains, I always will, and Benjamen Logan's documentary, A Band in DC, which premiered last night at Pacific Place (as part of SIFF's Face the Music series), makes a good case for their influence on a number of other hardcore and hip-hop artists, including Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, and the Beastie Boys. I cannot lie: when Adam Yauch* appeared on screen, I started to cry. And it isn't just a cameo appearance; he goes into a lot more detail than Mike D or Ad-Rock (the latter spends most of the interview chewing gum).
* Yauch produced the Bad Brains' eighth album, Build a Nation (Megaforce, 2007).
Actor Matthew Lillard's directorial debut, Fat Kid Rules the World, pivots on a Renton high school student who finds himself through punk rock. Although Jacob Wysocki, who plays Troy, wasn't in attendance at last night's Egyptian screening, most of the rest of the cast and crew showed up, including Lillard, Matt O'Leary (who also stars in Megan Griffiths' Eden), and Billy Campbell, who's been working on The Killing in Vancouver. Unlike the AMC series, which claims to take place in Seattle, Lillard's adaption of the K.L. Going novel was actually shot here.
More pictures below.
Oh, just shoot me. The Last day of SIFF. So depressing.
Today, my friends, the free wine goes away. I don’t know whether to cheer or weep.
(Well, it was Barefoot Wine, if that makes a difference. And it does. Woohoooo!)
A brief, sad wrap-up: This year was possibly my best SIFF in history (well, maybe not as good as 2003, forever remembered in my heart as the “Donnie-Darko-slash-Jeff-Goldblum-picked-up-a-hooker-maybe” SIFF, or my "Famous Actress Snorts Coke Off The Toilet At Lynda's" SIFF, or my, "Went Dancing With Almost The Entire (Good) Cast of Saturday Night Live" SIFF...but still...), with many fresh and surprisingly new thises and thats that delighted my little soul.
Weird though: There was absolutely no sign of: Tom Skerritt (I hope the little bugger's okay!); Mark Finley (um…), Sean Nelson (where are you?!); and for the first time ever, I didn’t have to completely ignore the Mayor on principle. (On red carpet night, I asked Mr. New Mayor, “Who are you wearing?!” and of course he answered, “Nordstrom Rack!” Top drawer, Mr. New Mayor. Top drawer.)
And Deb Jacobs, of course, SIFF Directress, is always wearing Peggy Lutz, who also designs for Kathy Bates, dontcha know.
I interviewed Jenna Fischer from “The Office” (but I wasn’t supposed to mention, um, “The Office”), Rob Benedict from Supernatural (who gave me dark secrets about Supernatural), young Daniel Yelski, (an awesome little actor who was in two completely unrelated SIFF films “A Little Help” and “Meet Monica Velour”) and speaking of that, I also interviewed Keith Bearden, the brilliant writer/director of Monica Velour (and The Stranger expat, ) and its star, Dustin Ingram. I took "Violet Tendencies" director Casper Andreas back to his hotel after the Gay-La sorta, but that's all I'm going to say about that. (Plus, that Mindy Cohen was "difficult." Like I THOUGHT.)
I had deep serious sit-downs with knock-me-down-and-skullfuck-me gorgeous director Anthony Burns, who directed a good film called Skateland that has that awesome kid who plays The Flash on Smalleville in it, and Alice from Twilight too. Oh! And
Ugly Betty America Ferrera, and director Ryan Piers Williams and Ryan O’Nan from the excellent film The Dry Land. And the awesome local high school kid who produced and directed the movie about the prom! And the Topp Twins! Australia’s famous yodeling lesbian twins! (Call me!) And Paul Dano! And Becky from Roseanne...and Jesus! I don't even know who.
Hold me. I quiver.
Well it all wraps up in moments, with the Closing Night Gala at the Pan Pacific Hotel. (Where?) If you don’t have tickets, you probably never will, so I won't push. So maybe instead it might be a fantastic idea to check out the sure-to-be memorable film Ticked Off Trannies With Knives, the grindhouse-trannie spectacular which concludes this year's SIFF!
Here are a few words from T.O.T.W.K.’s writer/director and fabulous, kick-ass trannie star on why you should rush out to see the film, right now!
The screening is at 9.30pm at The Egyptian, and the real interview will be up tomorrow, in its complete, non-ridiculous form. ("Some bitch threw a quarter at me!")
Come! Cheer the righteous trannies, and kiss sweet SIFF goodbye!
Sometimes, you get the interview you dreamed about. And sometimes...you really just don’t. Ladies and gentlemen, American Ferrera!
I was coming to America. (Today!) It’s true. And I was oh so-very worked up about it, too. I had it all mapped out in my little brain—which was full of absurd expectations, as usual.
I was going to dish it with Ugly Betty! I was going to get thoroughly debriefed on the current state and whereabouts of the traveling pants! We were going to bounce up and down and squeal and start having sleepovers and making crank calls, forthwith! She was to braid my hair and freeze my bra. We were to hug and be BFFs and get plastered on tequila body shots that one time in Cabo and nurse each other through the particularly hard break-ups. This was obviously the will of God.
But, no. Noooo. No, no. She wanted to be all “serious”. She wanted to talk about her “film”. (The Dry Land.) To “discuss.” And she seemed to find my ebullient little self quite annoying from the word go.
Clearly, our relationship would brook no bra-freezing at this juncture. (And she kept going to the bathroom? What up with that?)
It’s a story about a skinny boy and his crusty porn star, about Brian Dennehy’s floppy septuagenarian ass (surprise!), and an old truck with a big rusty weenie on top. It is the best film I’ve seen at SIFF this season. And it was written and directed by an early Stranger writer called Keith Bearden. If you can imagine that.
Keith’s film is called Meet Monica Velour. It took six years to make, soup-to-nuts. You can watch a clip of it here, but I don't suggest that you necessarily should, because I don’t feel this particular clip captures the quality and sparkle of the film in toto (as it were), and it might lead you to strange ideas. And please don’t think there’s any soup or nuts. That’s merely an expression.
Meet Monica Velour is a wonderful movie! It is funny and smart and sad and smart and sexy and smart and smart and smart and smart. The story begins with overwhelming post-pubescent angst, drives its rusty weenie through a corn field, and lands somewhere in between true love, Kim Cattrall’s vagina, and a portly Asian chick.
In it, we follow the journey of one young Tobe (Tobe? Or not Tobe? That is the question,), a beautiful and tragically unlaid geek, fresh outta high school. Said unlaid Tobe harbors a relentless and passionate adoration for an old 70s porn star called, you guessed it, Monica Velour.
Tobe is a connoisseur of Monica, a collector of her, and to her image he masturbates furiously, constantly. Through circumstances both fateful and weird, he is lead straight to her—after driving is rusty weenie across the entire damn country, of course. Fist fights in dirty bars and corn-field cherry poppings and petty whore larceny and sweet romance and hard lessons ensue, en masse.
Monica is played by Kim Cattrall. It is the best performance she has ever given, as a whore or otherwise. (Also, her vagina’s best performance. On screen, at least.) Her Monica is tough and brave and broken and blazing with tragic integrity. (Shut up.) Ironically, she wasn’t even first pick for the role, but Mr. Writer/Director Bearden has a story all about that, below. Please be patient!
I “sat down” (as it were) with Keith and with the star of the film, Dustin Ingram, who was honest and brave and dashing in the film, but who unfortunately kept his clothes on throughout the interview. (Geek fetishists, Heed me! Bow thee low! Your Glorious New Sexy Geek Overloard has RISEN! Worship! WORSHIP!) Keith is an interviewer’s wet dream: he drops 30 brilliant quotes per second. I barely had to exist.
About the film:
“I love the idea of a “page turn” in life. That’s what this movie’s about. And these two misfit characters go through this page turn together that finally lets them move on to the next stage of their lives.”
On Kim Catrall for the role of Monica:
“Kim kinda blew my mind. I knew her like everyone else knew her: as Samantha, and from Mannequin, and I knew she had a great persona and a lot of jazz on screen. But I never ever thought to myself, “Here is an actress who will go all out for a role. But she wants to be known as an actress now, and not just a celeb, and she put her money where her mouth is. And I’d like this movie to be that page turn for her, too, where people can still enjoy Sex in the City, but they can also say, ‘Wow…She's a real actress, she can really be another character—she can really be another human being.”
“When she auditioned, I told her that she was too beautiful for the role; that she'd have to gain weight and we’d have to make her look really, really awful. She took my face in her hands and said, "Listen: I'm rich, I don't have any children, and I want to dedicate the rest of my life to the craft of acting."
“To a certain extent all art must wear the face of the artist. And obviously, I’m all over Monica Velour: there’s me in the Kim Cattrall character, there’s me in the Tobe character, there’s me everywhere. But autobiography is not art. It’s home movies. It’s only interesting to you and a select few. I’d rather make love to an audience than jerk off in front of it. Nothing against jerkin’ off.”
On Brian Dennehy (oh my god! His ASS!)
“Brian Dennehy had two modes: Sleeping and not listening to me.”
On the real-life inspiration for Tobe:
“He was a kid who auditioned for my first film The Rathman’s Razor. He’d show up at auditions in a three-piece suit in the middle of summer, with a huge pompadour. His favorite musician was Dean Martin and he was like 17 or 18 years old. He was a virgin…and his idol was Sylvester Stalone. Who he thought was a genius. And I just said to myself, “You are a weird fucking kid.” It was very interesting me to find this beautiful good-looking geek who never had a girlfriend, who lived in this hothouse of teevee and music and media…”
On Roman Polanski and other asshole directors:
[Redacted: Possible libel.]
On where the heck the idea for Monica came from:
“I kind of wanted to talk about male fantasy VS female reality, and I began to collect these stories about these old triple-ex movie stars, and their really sad declines. They’d make a lot of money for producers for a short while, millions and millions of dollars, and they don’t have residuals and they don’t have a union. They’ve all got an expatriation date stamped on them. And, you know, what happens? We are such an anti-sex society, we can’t except those women as human beings, so when they’re “done”, they’re just pushed off a cliff.”
“I actually contacted an old B-porn star for an interview back when I worked at The Stranger. She wrote me back and said, “No, sorry, that wasn’t me…that was another actress who looked like me…but I love my fans, and if you’d like to spend the night with me, it’s $250.”
On his own first sexual experience:
“I kinda think that’s between me and my therapist.”
Sadly, Meet Monica Velour has fled SIFF, and won’t be showing during the festival again. Keith plans for a fall release. I'll keep you updated.
Hello. HELLO, I say! Listen! There is something you must do. And what you must do is THIS:
Violet Tendencies/SIFF Gay-La at The Egyptian Theater/Re-Bar!
I know. I hardly ever go around recommending movies. If it doesn't have booze, wall-to-wall fags, and a guest DJ, I usually just ignore it. But Violet Tendencies and its corresponding SIFF after-party at Re-Bar DO INDEED have wall-to-wall fags, and booze, and guest DJs! So everyone wins! Hooray!
The movie is the feature of this year's SIFF Gay-la (the big, faggy mid-SIFF ho'-down). It stars Natalie from Facts of Life! She plays a big fag hag suffering through a messy mid-fag-hag-life crisis. (Not that Natalie herself is old or anything. It's just that in real life, fag hags have short life spans.) You can watch the trailer here.
Almost local producer/actor Jesse Vernon will be there, as will the director, Caspar Andreas. No Natalie, however. Which totally SUCKS. (Don't worry, I'm conspiring to make a phone interview happen, at least.) You can get tickets for the movie and the party here. The film starts at 7pm, the party starts after the movie. It's the gayest thing happening in town tonight.
They were forged in the era when gay female (or "femasexual") comedy duos ruled the world: French and Saunders, Rita and Inez (you don't remember them), Platt and Koch (you remember them) and so forth (I can't think of anymore). Solid, honest, salt-o-the-earth women with their hearts and their heads and their politics and their senses of humor alll in the right places: Women who could charm and thrill and save us all.
This particular lesbian comedy duo is known as the Topp Twins (Jools and Lynda): the famous yodeling lesbian twins from New Zealand. They just blew through town to share with us the doccumenary of their lives: Untouchabe Girls which just played at SIFF, the brave and brilliant story of their brave and brilliant lives on stage, personally, and as serious political activists. Here is the film's trailer:
I was fortunate enough to sit down and get to know them a little better, and now—via the magic of technologies!— you can get to know them a little better, too. Prepare to behold! (Sorry about the sucky audio—turn. it. up!)
The Topp Twins are going to LA now to screen their movie and hang out with Ellen. "Have a good time with Ellen, get drunk, fall down..." says Jools. Sounds like a deeply worthy goal to me. And if you get a chance, check out Untouchable Girls. These untouchable girls are very worth getting to know.
My SIFF adventure becomes officially pee-myself today, as I toddle off now to meet THE Ugly Betty (hold me!) and then interview these fantastic chicks...
Damn right! Yodeling lesbian twins from New Zealand! (Super awesome!) But before all that, there is a thing of must be doing that I need to tell you about forthwith. Listen quick!
The Tinniest Tea Dance! at Pony!
This is my pick event for the day—all sorts of beautiful and wonderful perverts hole up in Pony, where they hide from God's wrath and dance around to the singular spinnings of Kurt B. Reighley, and others also too! It starts at 4pm, there is no cover, God can't see through roofs, so everybody's happy! 1221 East Madison. PONY!
In fact, Rob first snapped me out of my ADD hysteria long enough to take notice of him and his astonishing blue eyes just over a million years ago now, when he played the long-suffering dorm mate on Felicity. This character was called “Richard”. I don’t remember two collective seconds of Felicity, frankly, but, dang. I never forgot Rob’s ferocious x-ray eyes. (Google that shit! Feel the power of the eyes!!)
Rob has appeared in many things that you will surely indeed recall, like the movies, “Waiting”, and, um, “Still Waiting” (spoiler! I do not bring up Still Waiting during this interview!), some episodes of Buffy (oh, Jesus! Hold me! I’m serious!), some House, some Monk, and you get the picture. His most recent and perhaps most famous work is on the teevee show Supernatural. He plays The Prophet. “Chuck.” (Yes, The Prophet Chuck.)
The point is, you might be laboring under a tragic misconception about Rob Benedict. This is probably because the characters that Rob Benedict often plays might seem a little greasy. And slightly psychotic! And even a little alcoholic. And you perhaps buy into that shit, and so begin to think absurd things like, “Dang! Rob Benedict clearly isn’t nearly so much of a total sexmuffin as, say, those two widely confirmed sexmuffins Jensen Eckles and Jared Padaslecki or whatever, who play his ever road-tripping boy-Buffy co-stars on Supernatural! Which you totally knew, right?! RIGHT?!” Right?
Well, that’s just foolishness talking. Rank ignorance! Also, it’s a testament to Rob’s super-acting powers. Because let me tell you, sister-mister, I’ve just lately beheld his, “I’m not acting, I’m just hanging out and being my regular super-hot super-hot self,” super-hotness in the flesh—with the very BALLS of my own EYES!—and allow me assure you: he is each and every inch as 100-percent relentlessly gorgeous as that Jensen Eckles fellow and/or What’s-his name Padalecki, combined. Squared. Cubed, possibly! Percentier, even!
Really. YE-OWCH. And I’m exaggerating only very slightly here.
So there I was, summoned, as indeed I tend to be, to the W Hotel, to interview four people: Jenna Fischer (whom you shall remember from lots of Will Farrell Movies and a pop-pop-popular Teevee show called, “The Orifice” or something); an awesome little kid from Jersey whose name I didn’t know at the time; a famous writer from L.A. (as it were); and Rob Benedict.
This quartet of fabulousness was doing “press junkets” (as we hacks like to say) for the SIFF premiere of their aforementioned new film, A Little Help, which “screened” (wait…did you just call me a hack?) last Friday at the Egyptian. It is a charming film about a frazzled, newly-widowed, woman-on-the-brink (if you will), her tortured son, her newly-dead cheater-pants of a husband (Chris O’Donnell) and, inevitably, her new love-interest, who is coincidentally his sister’s sad and unfulfilled husband. (Tres Jerry Springer! Watch for flying chairs!) Rob plays the slightly incestuous love interest.
I spoke to each of them in turn, beginning with Michael, the famous writer. (You’ve never heard of him.) For the stars of the film (Jenna and Rob and The Kid—the writer just wrote it, of course), the Egyptian premiere was the first time seeing it themselves. I was indeed quite eager to talk with all of them about it. Because I’m just cool like that.
I spoke with the writer/director, Michael Weithorn (Family Ties! The King of Queens! BENSON!), first, then Jenna (who they fussed over like the Queen of flippin’ England), then Rob, then The Kid. Of the four, Rob Benedict was by far my favorite. (Or as I get to call him, just, “Rob”.) Who knows why? WHO KNOWS? (Hot.)
Anyhoo. The interview.
(After the jump.)
Last night’s Fringe Presents? Spectacular. Lisa Dank? Electric. (As it were.) You missed it?
You’re dead to me.
But, now! I am just minutes from interviewing teevee/movie people/stars Jenna Fischer, who is lovely and hilarious and whom you’d most certainly recognize from lots of Will Farrell movies and also possibly a very popular teevee show that I haven’t been bribed enough to mention at all at this juncture, and Rob Benedict, whom you would indeed recognize from movies like Waiting and WB shows like Supernatural (he plays the prophet! He’s touched Jason Padeleki! In the FLESH!) and his piercing blue eyes.
They are in town for SIFF, naturally. Their movie is called “A Little Help”. We're scheduled to sit down at The W Hotel, and that’s mostly what we’ll be discussing. The video will be going up later this afternoon.
In the meantime, here is an effusively gay thing that might be good to do tonight…
CabarGAY at the Rendezvous!
A new thing! It apparently intends to, "focus on the multi-faceted queer performers of the dazzling Seattle Cabaret scene." Sounds good to me, lady. Ade, Pidgeon Von Tramp, Cherdonna and Lou, and more, more, MORE! Show starts at 8pm, and it's $15 at the door, unless you're secretly blowing one of the stars, in which case it's cheaper. (At least in the short run.) The Rendezvous is at 2322 2nd Avenue East. Hooray!
And this also!
Cherry at Re-Bar!
I've said so much about this event. I wish you'd pay attention. Here it is in their own words (emphasis mine...as usual!):
Come out and dance with Seattle's hottest Queer women and their friends! Gay, Straight, Queer, Dyke, Fag, Trans... all are welcome! We have two of Seattle's most in-demand Queer DJs spinning for you: Amateur Youth (Cherry, Dance Queers Dance, Meat) and this month Special Guest DJ Dewey Decimal (Lick,). Their mix of ass-shaking party tunes (current hits, hip-hop, pop, rock, 80's... and a few surprises!) is guaranteed to keep you on the dancefloor all night long.
10pm at Re-Bar. (1114 Howell.) $5.
Lastly, I want everyone to know that Linda Evans just tried to murder me. Again. Look!
Best. Opening. Night. Ever.
Who are YOU wearing?
Oh, the desperate glam. THE DESPERATE GLAM! Can you feel it? Can you?
Of course you can.
Tonight, as you surely know damn good and well, madam, is the Opening Night Red Carpet Gala of this year’s Seattle International Film festival, which, by my humble reckoning, is always gayer than a bucket of poodles. Named Libarace. Lipsynching to George Michael singles.
Tonight’s big gay gala event will feature me and my new haircut interviewing such pseudo-luminous luminaries as the colorblind emo kid who refused to ever talk in Little Miss Sunshine and The First Becky from Roseanne (contain yourself!), and later this month, we’re going to hear from Mindy Cohn, who, of course, was Natalie in Facts of Life (she plays a big fag hag in a film called Violet Tendencies, surprise, surprise), and even the legendarily legendary Bill Cosby, who has nothing to do with SIFF at all really, but is coming for a show of his own at Benaroya Hall on June 20th, so give me a break, I’m just trying to give you a friendly heads up. Jesus. It’s a parade of sitcommie celebrity!
So. That’s what I’ll be doing.
SNACKHOLE at WILD ROSE!
This has to be the funnest, freakin’est Thurdsay Night freakfest in Gay Seattle History. SEE! The fabulous fabulousness of Ade! Experience! The de-la-creaminess of Ben De La Crème! Eat! Heart-stopping corndogs and Marvel! At Phoebe Fondue! (Extra cheesy!) Listen! To a live set by somebody I’ve never heard of before! Dance! To the sweat-making beats of the DJs Jodi Bon Jodi (allegedly not affiliated with Jon Bon Jovi, but I wonder…) and Sailor Mouth! (DURTY!) Fear! The enigmatic scariness of Jackie Hell!
It’s only $5, so don’t freak out. It starts at 9. The Wild Rose lives at 1021 East Pike Street, above a lesbian
bathouse spa and under and notoriously potty apartment house. You can’t miss it. And you can’t miss it!