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Originally published May 25, 2011 at 3:50 PM | Page modified June 13, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Did you miss a SIFF movie? Here's a recap

Here you'll find capsule reviews of films that showed at SIFF 2011 but have no future SIFF screenings scheduled this year. Some of these movies will return to Seattle for regular runs later this year.

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Below you'll find capsule reviews of films that showed at SIFF 2011 but have no future SIFF screenings this year. Some of these movies will return to Seattle for regular runs later this year.

For capsule reviews of films that are currently showing at SIFF, go to www.seattletimes.com and click on Your Guide to SIFF 2011.

THURSDAY, MAY 19

2.5 stars"The First Grader." Though undeniably heartwarming, "The First Grader" is an odd choice for a SIFF opening-night film; its scenes of torture and the lingering pain of Kenya's colonial history seem an uncomfortable fit with the over-the-top revelry of the festival's kickoff party. Based on a true story, the film depicts an elderly man (Oliver Litondo) determined to take advantage of the free education promised by the Kenyan government, so he can finally learn to read and write — and, with the help of a spirited, tenacious teacher (Naomie Harris), he does so. It's an inspiring tale, but told a bit awkwardly; picture-postcard scenes of smiling children and African sunshine seem crafted for a different film than the moments of horrific flashbacks. But the ending, as we finally see the real "first grader," is truly powerful.

Stars: Naomie Harris, Oliver Litondo

Director: Justin Chadwick

Showing: 7 p.m. May 19 at McCaw Hall

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

FRIDAY, MAY 20

2.5 stars"Venice." World War II is kept at a slight remove, but far from absent altogether, in this Polish film about the power of imagination to keep reality at bay, if only intermittently. The mantra of 11-year-old Marek is, "I don't want to be here," after German invasion scuttles his chance to see the city of his dreams: Venice. His response is to create a Venice of his own in the flooded basement of the villa where the family takes refuge. The film's premise is more striking than its execution, however. Some plot threads are unclear, and the coda is entirely baffling.

Stars: Marcin Walewski, Magdalena Cielecka

Director: Jan Jakub Kolski

Showing: 4 p.m. May 20 at Pacific Place Cinemas

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

3.5 stars"How to Die in Oregon." An intimate portrait of euthanasia in the state that started it all, this winner of the 2011 Sundance U.S. Documentary Competition grand-jury prize tries to provide a balanced view by interviewing doctors, family and patients. A word of warning for the squeamish: The camera goes bedside, and there are actual death scenes. Particularly poignant is the story of Cody Curtis, who goes back and forth on her choice as her liver cancer comes and goes. And while the main focus is on Oregon, the film does venture into Seattle, where widow Nancy Niedzielski fulfills her husband's last wish to help pass the Death with Dignity measure in 2008.

Director: Peter D. Richardson

Showing: 4:15 p.m. May 20 at Harvard Exit; 2 p.m. May 21 at Pacific Place; 3:30 p.m. May 22 at Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center

Marian Liu, Seattle Times staff writer

2.5 stars"Submarine." Set in a dank and dark Wales, "Submarine" is the comic tale of a brilliant, self-conscious teen named Oliver (Craig Roberts) who juggles a strange romance with an elusive, cynical girl (Yasmin Paige) while trying to prevent the breakup of his parents (Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins) after Mom's ex-lover (Paddy Considine) moves next door. Desultory at times to the point of distraction, "Submarine" still has a lot to recommend it, especially a strong, focused cast.

Stars: Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige

Director: Richard Ayoade

Showing: 7 p.m. May 20 at Egyptian Theatre; 11 a.m. May 22 at Neptune Theatre

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"3." In the words of one character, Tom Tykwer's slyly entertaining new comedy-drama offers "a farewell to a deterministic understanding of biology." Apparently that's the reason three adults, recently reminded of their mortality, form a bisexual triangle and behave pretty much as they'd like to behave. David Bowie's "Space Oddity," which turns up a couple of times on the soundtrack, seems to provide purring approval. Angela Winkler, who starred in the very first SIFF opening-night movie in 1976, "The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum," has a key role as a cancer patient whose illness sets the plot in motion.

Stars: Sophie Rois, Sebastian Schtipper

Director: Tom Tykwer

Showing: 7 p.m. May 20 at the Neptune; 1:30 p.m. May 21 at the Neptune

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars "Black, White and Blues." This road movie from Mario Van Peebles feels disappointingly slight, with a twist near the end that turns the whole thing into melodrama. Morgan Simpson plays a hard-drinking blues musician haunted by his past; Michael Clarke Duncan, with his wonderfully rumbling voice, is a messenger who turns up to bring him home. Seattle's own Tom Skerritt is a welcome sight in a supporting role — that is, if you can see him; this film is shot in a succession of rooms so dark you can barely make out the characters. Great music, though, from a variety of blues musicians.

Stars: Morgan Simpson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Skerritt, Luke Perry, Kiele Sanchez, Taryn Manning

Director: Mario Van Peebles

Showing: 7:30 p.m. May 20 at the Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center; 4 p.m. May 22 at the Neptune; 3:30 p.m. May 29 at the Everett Performing Arts Center

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

SATURDAY, MAY 21

3 stars"3." In the words of one character, Tom Tykwer's slyly entertaining new comedy-drama offers "a farewell to a deterministic understanding of biology." Apparently that's the reason three adults, recently reminded of their mortality, form a bisexual triangle and behave pretty much as they'd like to behave. David Bowie's "Space Oddity," which turns up a couple of times on the soundtrack, seems to provide purring approval. Angela Winkler, who starred in the very first SIFF opening-night movie in 1976, "The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum," has a key role as a cancer patient whose illness sets the plot in motion.

Stars: Sophie Rois, Sebastian Schtipper

Director: Tom Tykwer

Showing: 7 p.m. May 20 at the Neptune, 1:30 p.m. May 21 at the Neptune

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3.5 stars"How to Die in Oregon." An intimate portrait of euthanasia in the state that started it all, this winner of the 2011 Sundance U.S. Documentary Competition grand-jury prize tries to provide a balanced view by interviewing doctors, family and patients. A word of warning for the squeamish: The camera goes bedside, and there are actual death scenes. Particularly poignant is the story of Cody Curtis, who goes back and forth on her choice as her liver cancer comes and goes. And while the main focus is on Oregon, the film does venture into Seattle, where widow Nancy Niedzielski fulfills her husband's last wish to help pass the Death with Dignity measure in 2008.

Director: Peter D. Richardson

Showing: 4:15 p.m. May 20 at Harvard Exit; 2 p.m. May 21 at Pacific Place; 3:30 p.m. May 22 at Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center

Marian Liu, Seattle Times staff writer

2.5 stars"Natural Selection." Bonnie and Clyde they're not, but it's easy to imagine the characters in this raunchy independent film celebrating themselves by creating something like "The Ballad of Linda and Raymond." Linda is a sheltered but resourceful Christian housewife. When she goes on the road to find Raymond, a junkie and ex-convict who claims he wants "no Jesus" in his life, opposites attract. She discovers a wild streak in herself, he starts to mellow and feel vulnerable, and though their relationship sometimes suggests the Brad Pitt/Geena Davis pairing in "Thelma and Louise," it's a laudable stab at originality.

Stars: Rachael Harris, Matt O'Leary

Director: Robbie Pickering

Showing: 4 p.m. May 21 at Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center; 7 p.m. May 25 at the Egyptian; 4 p.m. May 27 at the Egyptian

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Touch." Leisurely and refreshingly nonjudgmental, this American independent film focuses on a series of minor but important transformations. A self-deprecating car mechanic, afraid that his marriage is threatened by his wife's workaholic nature, befriends a Vietnamese-American manicurist who cleans the grime off his fingers and nails and makes him more presentable to his wife. Infatuated with each other in ways that are not entirely predictable, they begin to affect the lives of others, including her invalid father, her frustrated boyfriend and the heroine's chatty fellow manicurists. It all leads up to the kind of ending that will leave you wondering what could possibly happen next.

Stars: Porter Lynn, John Ruby

Director: Minh Duc Nguyen

Showing: 6:30 p.m. May 21 at Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center; 6:30 p.m. May 23 at the Admiral

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"The Future." Writer-director-star Miranda July's follow-up to "Me and You and Everyone We Know" (which opened SIFF several years ago) is narrated by Paw Paw, a cat who sounds a lot like July. She also plays half of a bored couple who vow to take 30 days to break from their routines and explore their potential. Like July's previous work, it's cute, quirky and kinda creepy. But it does make room on the soundtrack for Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman's version of Rodgers and Hart's immortal "Where or When?," even if it doesn't really fit the context.

Stars: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater

Director: Miranda July

Showing: 7:30 p.m. May 21 at Pacific Place; 4:30 p.m. May 23 at SIFF Cinema

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Perfect Sense." Otherwise known as When Ghastly Things Happen to Great-Looking People. David Mackenzie's grim drama/thriller features Ewan McGregor (as always, giving a fine performance) as a chef in a world plagued with mysterious illnesses that cause people to lose their senses: first smell, then taste, then hearing, then sight. You figure out pretty quickly where this movie is going, and you don't necessarily want to go there with it — but nonetheless, on it marches, with horrifying scenes of panicked people eating disgusting things. In the middle of all of this, McGregor and Eva Green have some sort of romance, but it's hardly romantic.

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Stephen Dillane, Connie Nielsen

Director: David Mackenzie

Showing: 9:15 p.m. May 21 at the Egyptian; 4:30 p.m. May 25 at the Egyptian

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

1.5 stars"Jess + Moss." Two cousins come to terms with their absent parents leaving. Moss, 12, plays memory-exercise tapes in an attempt to remember his deceased parents; 18-year-old Jess constantly listens to old recordings left by her mother. The two deal with their isolation by playing house in their own country farm, goofing off with firecrackers and cracking bad jokes. While they constantly rewind and forward the recordings from their pasts, the film speeds up and slows down, getting grainy and focused. Its It's artsy and experimental tones may not be for everyone.

Director: Clay Jeter

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 21 at Harvard Exit; 4:30 p.m. May 22 at Harvard Exit

Marian Liu, Seattle Times staff writer

SUNDAY, MAY 22

2.5 stars"Submarine." Set in a dank and dark Wales, "Submarine" is the comic tale of a brilliant, self-conscious teen named Oliver (Craig Roberts) who juggles a strange romance with an elusive, cynical girl (Yasmin Paige) while trying to prevent the breakup of his parents (Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins) after mom's ex-lover (Paddy Considine) moves next door. Desultory at times to the point of distraction, "Submarine" still has a lot to recommend it, especially a strong, focused cast.

Stars: Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige

Director: Richard Ayoade

Showing: 7 p.m. May 20, Egyptian Theatre; 11 a.m. May 22 at the Neptune Theatre

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3.5 stars"How to Die in Oregon." An intimate portrait of euthanasia in the state that started it all, this winner of the 2011 Sundance U.S. Documentary Competition grand-jury prize tries to provide a balanced view by interviewing doctors, family and patients. A word of warning for the squeamish: The camera goes bedside, and there are actual death scenes. Particularly poignant is the story of Cody Curtis, who goes back and forth on her choice as her liver cancer comes and goes. And while the main focus is on Oregon, the film does venture into Seattle, where widow Nancy Niedzielski fulfills her husband's last wish to help pass the Death with Dignity measure in 2008.

Director: Peter D. Richardson

Showing: 4:15 p.m. Fri, May 20 at Harvard Exit; 2 p.m. Sat, May 21 at Pacific Place; 3:30 p.m. Sun, May 22 at the Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center

Marian Liu, Seattle Times staff writer

2 stars "Black, White and Blues." This road movie from Mario Van Peebles feels disappointingly slight, with a twist near the end that turns the whole thing into melodrama. Morgan Simpson plays a hard-drinking blues musician haunted by his past; Michael Clarke Duncan, with his wonderfully rumbling voice, is a messenger who turns up to bring him home. Seattle's own Tom Skerritt is a welcome sight in a supporting role — that is, if you can see him; this film is shot in a succession of rooms so dark you can barely make out the characters. Great music, though, from a variety of blues musicians.

Stars: Morgan Simpson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Skerritt, Luke Perry, Kiele Sanchez, Taryn Manning

Director: Mario Van Peebles

Showing: 7:30 p.m. May 20 at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center; 4 p.m. May 22 at the Neptune; 3:30 p.m. May 29 at the Everett Performing Arts Center

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3.5 stars"Beginners." Quirky, sad and utterly charming, Mike Mills' film is a wistful tale of two very different kinds of love: that between a young man (Ewan McGregor) and his father (Christopher Plummer), the latter of whom has just come out of the closet shortly before being diagnosed with cancer, and that same young man after his father's death, taking tentative steps toward love with a sunshiny woman (Melanie Laurent). There's even a dog who speaks in subtitles — which absolutely shouldn't work, but does. McGregor and Plummer, as always, are stellar; one scene where father and son simply look at each other will take your breath away.

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic

Director: Mike Mills

Showing: 4 p.m. May 22 at the Egyptian (special tribute presentation; only standby tickets remain); 4:30 p.m. May 24 at the Neptune (movie only)

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

1.5 stars"Jess + Moss." Two cousins come to terms with their absent parents leaving. Moss, 12, plays memory-exercise tapes in an attempt to remember his deceased parents; 18-year-old Jess constantly listens to old recordings left by her mother. The two deal with their isolation by playing house in their own country farm, goofing off with firecrackers and cracking bad jokes. While they constantly rewind and forward the recordings from their pasts, the film speeds up and slows down, getting grainy and focused. Its It's artsy and experimental tones may not be for everyone.

Director: Clay Jeter

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 21 at Harvard Exit; 4:30 p.m. May 22 at Harvard Exit

Marian Liu, Seattle Times staff writer

2 stars"Crying Out." This French-Canadian psychodrama starts on an anguished note and goes over the top from there, only belatedly filling in any telling details on the characters portrayed. The plot: A joylessly hedonistic young toilet-paper factory worker joins forces with his cranky granddad in a search for their father/son, who's gone missing following the death of his second wife. The twist: The bereaved husband, unable to bear his grief, has disinterred the young woman and is on the lam with her. Child molestation, bitter divorce, alcoholism and other family-dysfunction touchstones figure in the picture, occasionally handled with an ash-dry humor.

Stars: Jean Lapointe, Michel Barrette, Patrick Hivon

Director: Robin Aubert

Showing: 6:30 p.m. May 22 at Pacific Place Cinemas

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

2.5 stars"Red Eyes." Some documentaries are made with extraordinary faith that a good story will eventually emerge, no matter how long it takes. Case in point: "Red Eyes," shot over eight years and following the ups and downs (and downs and downs) of Chile's national soccer team. Undergoing many a torment on the field, the players have a way of disintegrating at decisive moments, earning incredible derision by fellow Chileans who see some underdog aspect of a national character in their footballers. Things change when the team qualifies for the 2010 World Cup.

Directors: Juan Pablo Sallato, Ismael Larrain, Juan Ignacio Sabatini

Showing: 7 p.m. May 22 at Harvard Exit; 4:30 p.m. May 23 at Harvard Exit

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

MONDAY, MAY 23

2 stars"Crying Out." This French-Canadian psychodrama starts on an anguished note and goes over the top from there, only belatedly filling in any telling details on the characters portrayed. The plot: A joylessly hedonistic young toilet-paper factory worker joins forces with his cranky granddad in a search for their father/son who's gone missing following the death of his second wife. The twist: The bereaved husband, unable to bear his grief, has disinterred the young woman and is on the lam with her. Child molestation, bitter divorce, alcoholism and other family-dysfunction touchstones figure in the picture, occasionally handled with an ash-dry humor.

Stars: Jean Lapointe, Michel Barrette, Patrick Hivon

Director: Robin Aubert

Showing: 4 p.m. May 23 at Pacific Place Cinemas

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

2 stars"The Future." Writer-director-star Miranda July's follow-up to "Me and You and Everyone We Know" (which opened SIFF several years ago) is narrated by Paw Paw, a cat who sounds a lot like July. She also plays half of a bored couple who vow to take 30 days to break from their routines and explore their potential. Like July's previous work, it's cute, quirky and kinda creepy. But it does make room on the soundtrack for Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman's version of Rodgers and Hart's immortal "Where or When?," even if it doesn't really fit the context.

Stars: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater

Director: Miranda July

Showing: 7:30 p.m. May 21 at Pacific Place, and 4:30 p.m. May 23 at SIFF Cinema

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"Red Eyes." Some documentaries are made with extraordinary faith that a good story will eventually emerge, no matter how long it takes. Case in point: "Red Eyes," shot over eight years and following the ups and downs (and downs and downs) of Chile's national soccer team. Undergoing many a torment on the field, the players have a way of disintegrating at decisive moments, earning incredible derision by fellow Chileans who see some underdog aspect of a national character in their footballers. Things change when the team qualifies for the 2010 World Cup.

Directors: Juan Pablo Sallato, Ismael Larrain, Juan Ignacio Sabatini

Showing: 7 p.m. May 22 at Harvard Exit; 4:30 p.m. May 23 at Harvard Exit

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Dance Town." Don't be misled by the seemingly cheerful title of this South Korean film; it's a grim tale of misery on both sides of the Korean border. Rhee Jung-nim (Rha Mi-ran), a North Korean woman, flees her homeland without her husband, hoping he may join her in a safer haven. But despite the freedoms her new home provides, life is no happier. Rha Mi-ran, with an expression of constant wariness, is moving in the central role, but the film's unrelenting sadness becomes overwhelming.

Stars: Rha Mi-ran, Oh Seong-tae

Director: Jeon Kyu-hwan

Showing: 6 p.m. May 23 at the Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center; 9 p.m. May 30 at the Harvard Exit; 9 p.m. June 1 at the Admiral

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Touch." Leisurely and refreshingly nonjudgmental, this American independent film focuses on a series of minor but important transformations. A self-deprecating car mechanic, afraid that his marriage is threatened by his wife's workaholic nature, befriends a Vietnamese-American manicurist who cleans the grime off his fingers and nails and makes him more presentable to his wife. Infatuated with each other in ways that are not entirely predictable, they begin to affect the lives of others, including her invalid father, her frustrated boyfriend and the heroine's chatty fellow manicurists. It all leads up to the kind of ending that will leave you wondering what could possibly happen next.

Stars: Porter Lynn, John Ruby

Director: Minh Duc Nguyen

Showing: 6:30 p.m. May 21 at Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center; 6:30 p.m. May 23 at the Admiral.

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"Microphone." Ahmad Abdalla, the director of 2009's "Heliopolis," wrote and helmed this restless drama about an Alexandria, Egypt, native, Khaled (Khaled Abol Naga), who returns home after years of traveling. Seeking his place in a world that has greatly changed during his absence, Khaled grows enamored of the underground arts and music scene and tries to organize a concert, meeting official resistance. Abdalla's edgy, visual mash-up is culled from different kinds of cameras and different perspectives, creating a coiled energy that can't help but anticipate those recent, final days of the Mubarak era.

Stars: Khaled Abol Naga, Menna Shalabi, Yosra El Lozy, Hany Adel, Ahmad Magdy

Director: Ahmad Abdalla

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 23 at Harvard Exit; 4 p.m. May 24 at Harvard Exit.

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

TUESDAY, MAY 24

2.5 stars"Microphone." Ahmad Abdalla, the director of 2009's "Heliopolis," wrote and helmed this restless drama about an Alexandria, Egypt, native, Khaled (Khaled Abol Naga), who returns home after years of traveling. Seeking his place in a world that has greatly changed during his absence, Khaled grows enamored of the underground arts and music scene and tries to organize a concert, meeting official resistance. Abdalla's edgy, visual mash-up is culled from different kinds of cameras and different perspectives, creating a coiled energy that can't help but anticipate those recent, final days of the Mubarak era.

Stars: Khaled Abol Naga, Menna Shalabi, Yosra El Lozy, Hany Adel, Ahmad Magdy

Director: Ahmad Abdalla

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 23 at Harvard Exit; 4 p.m. May 24 at Harvard Exit

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3.5 stars"Beginners." Quirky, sad and utterly charming, Mike Mills' film is a wistful tale of two very different kinds of love: that between a young man (Ewan McGregor) and his father (Christopher Plummer), the latter of whom has just come out of the closet shortly before being diagnosed with cancer, and that same young man after his father's death, taking tentative steps toward love with a sunshiny woman (Melanie Laurent). There's even a dog who speaks in subtitles — which absolutely shouldn't work, but does. McGregor and Plummer, as always, are stellar; one scene where father and son simply look at each other will take your breath away.

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic

Director: Mike Mills

Showing: 4 p.m. May 22 at the Egyptian (special tribute presentation); 4:30 p.m. May 24 at the Neptune (movie only)

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2 stars"A Barefoot Dream." Overkill is the norm in this South Korean movie about an East Timor soccer team that triumphed a decade ago. The music sounds like it was created for pyramid building, and it's accompanied by a slow-motion reverence for the bouncing ball that suggests the director worked without a restraining editor. The running time for this simple tale: an unconscionable 120 minutes. The opening scenes suggest a comic "Bad News Bears" energy that's more than welcome, and some of the actors are clearly having a swell time, but the script fails to back them up with conviction.

Director: Kim Tae-gyun

Stars: Hee-soon Park, Kei Shimizu

Showing: 1:15 p.m. May 21 at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center; 9 p.m. May 24 at the Admiral; 7 p.m. May 26 at Pacific Place

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

WEDNESDAY, MAY 25

2 stars"Perfect Sense." Otherwise known as When Ghastly Things Happen to Great-Looking People. David Mackenzie's grim drama/thriller features Ewan McGregor (as always, giving a fine performance) as a chef in a world plagued with mysterious illnesses that cause people to lose their senses: first smell, then taste, then hearing, then sight. You figure out pretty quickly where this movie is going, and you don't necessarily want to go there with it — but nonetheless, on it marches, with horrifying scenes of panicked people eating disgusting things. In the middle of all of this, McGregor and Eva Green have some sort of romance, but it's hardly romantic.

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Stephen Dillane, Connie Nielsen

Director: David Mackenzie

Showing: 4:30 p.m. May 25 at the Egyptian

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Page One: Inside The New York Times." Those who care about the future of newspapers, whether print or virtual, will find much that's compelling in Andrew Rossi's look inside the Gray Lady as it struggles to keep afloat and relevant during what one talking-head in the movie calls "a dangerous moment in American journalism." David Carr, a wispy-voiced NYT reporter who cheerfully acknowledges his drug-addicted past, emerges as this film's star and journalism's wise defender; examining an iPad (which some say may be journalism's savior), he observes, "You know what that reminds me of? A newspaper."

Director: Andrew Rossi

Showing: 7 p.m. May 25 at the Neptune; 11 a.m. May 28 at the Egyptian; 3:30 p.m. May 30 at the Everett Performing Arts Center

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2.5 stars"Natural Selection." Bonnie and Clyde they're not, but it's easy to imagine the characters in this raunchy independent film celebrating themselves by creating something like "The Ballad of Linda and Raymond." Linda is a sheltered but resourceful Christian housewife. When she goes on the road to find Raymond, a junkie and ex-convict who claims he wants "no Jesus" in his life, opposites attract. She discovers a wild streak in herself, he starts to mellow and feel vulnerable, and though their relationship sometimes suggests the Brad Pitt/Geena Davis pairing in "Thelma and Louise," it's a laudable stab at originality.

Stars: Rachael Harris, Matt O'Leary

Director: Robbie Pickering

Showing: 4 p.m. May 21 at Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center; 7 p.m. May 25 at the Egyptian, 4 p.m. May 27 at the Egyptian

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

1.5 stars"Man at Bath." The opening sequence explains the title: Skinny Omar and his muscle-bound lover make love in their Parisian shower, after which Omar takes off for a week, informing the lover that he doesn't want to see him when he gets back. Omar is all but forgotten as the lover dances to "It's Over," while director Christophe Honore indulges in zoom-happy camerawork and throws a bit of "Rite of Spring" on the soundtrack. Anything goes, especially when an Al Pacino look-alike, frequently naked, threatens to take over the movie. This misbegotten French film includes a few intentional laughs (the lover's seduction routine is described at one point as "bad art") and lasts for only 72 minutes. But it feels like a definition of eternity.

Stars: Francois Sagat, Chiara Mastroianni.

Director: Christophe Honore

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 25 at the Egyptian; 4:30 p.m. May 26 at the Egyptian

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

THURSDAY, MAY 26

3 stars"Bicycle, Spoon, Apple." This film, winner of Spain's 2011 Goya Award for best documentary, follows former Barcelona Mayor Pasqual Maragall, who publicly acknowledged his struggle with Alzheimer's. His family members are brutally honest, admitting their worries about his personality changes and his willingness to try experimental drugs. A charming man, Maragall is very adamant about beating the disease and establishes a foundation to find a cure; interviews with leading doctors and researchers provide valuable background on the disease.

Director: Carles Bosch

Showing: 4:30 p.m. May 26 at SIFF Cinema; 10 a.m. May 28 at Harvard Exit

Marian Liu, Seattle Times staff writer

1.5 stars "Man at Bath." The opening sequence explains the title: Skinny Omar and his musclebound lover make love in their Parisian shower, after which Omar takes off for a week, informing the lover that he doesn't want to see him when he gets back. Omar is all but forgotten as the lover dances to "It's Over," while director Christophe Honore indulges in zoom-happy camerawork and throws a bit of "Rite of Spring" on the soundtrack. Anything goes, especially when an Al Pacino lookalike, frequently naked, threatens to take over the movie. This misbegotten French film includes a few intentional laughs (the lover's seduction routine is described at one point as "bad art") and lasts for only 72 minutes. But it feels like a definition of eternity.

Stars: Francois Sagat, Chiara Mastroianni

Director: Christophe Honore

Showing: 4:30 p.m. May 26 at the Egyptian

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"A Barefoot Dream." Overkill is the norm in this South Korean movie about an East Timor soccer team that triumphed a decade ago. The music sounds like it was created for pyramid building, and it's accompanied by a slow-motion reverence for the bouncing ball that suggests the director worked without a restraining editor. The running time for this simple tale: an unconscionable 120 minutes. The opening scenes suggest a comic "Bad News Bears" energy that's more than welcome, and some of the actors are clearly having a swell time, but the script fails to back them up with conviction.

Director: Kim Tae-gyun

Stars: Hee-soon Park, Kei Shimizu

Showing: 7 p.m. May 26 at Pacific Place

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"An African Election." There were no hanging chads, but similar complications afflicted the elections in Ghana in 2008. It had been eight years since the country's last change of presidents, and some citizens were so disillusioned, they failed to become part of the process. One nonvoter, interviewed in Jerreth Merz's well-researched documentary, claims that all politicians are liars and they have no interest in supplying the basics: health, education and food. Another citizen angrily shouts: "I have the energy to work, but where is the work?" Merz provides a suitable context for this story, though his emphasis on politicians'standard-issue comments may leave your eyes glazed over.

Director: Jerreth Merz

Showing: 7 p.m. May 26 at the Egyptian; 4:30 p.m. May 27 at the Egyptian

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Paper Birds." Winner of the audience award at the Montreal Film Festival, Emilio Aragon's drama is filmed in nostalgic, handsome blue light. It's the story of a troupe of vaudeville performers in Franco's post-civil war Spain, primarily focusing on a pair of old friends and longtime performing partners, and the orphaned young boy who joins them to make a surrogate family. Very sad, particularly at the end, but a warmly appealing film that's ultimately quite moving. Roger Princep, last seen in "The Orphanage," gives a performance of genuine charm as the little boy.

Stars: Imanol Arias, Llu's Homar, Roger Princep, Carmen Machi

Director: Emilio Aragón

Showing: 8:30 p.m. May 26 at Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center; 6:30 p.m. May 28 at Pacific Place; 1:30 p.m. May 29 at Pacific Place.

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2 stars"Viva Riva!" There are moments of grim wit in this crime drama from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They're especially noticeable whenever the filmmakers narrow their focus to the title character: a charming crook, irresistibly played by Patsha Bay, whose latest prize is a truck full of hijacked gasoline. Despite a nifty final twist, the film meanders when it adds porn addiction, a restless mistress and a shockingly brutal Angolan gangster to the narrative. Although the script dispenses with a few taboos, it fails to establish a consistent rhythm; it sprawls when it should strut.

Stars: Patsha Bay, Manie Malone

Director: Djo Tunda Wa Munga

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 26 at Pacific Place; 4 p.m. May 27 at Pacific Place

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

FRIDAY, MAY 27

2.5 stars"Natural Selection." Bonnie and Clyde they're not, but it's easy to imagine the characters in this raunchy independent film celebrating themselves by creating something like "The Ballad of Linda and Raymond." Linda is a sheltered but resourceful Christian housewife. When she goes on the road to find Raymond, a junkie and ex-convict who claims he wants "no Jesus" in his life, opposites attract. She discovers a wild streak in herself, he starts to mellow and feel vulnerable, and though their relationship sometimes suggests the Brad Pitt/Geena Davis pairing in "Thelma and Louise," it's a laudable stab at originality.

Stars: Rachael Harris, Matt O'Leary

Director: Robbie Pickering

Showing: 4 p.m. May 27 at the Egyptian

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Viva Riva!" There are moments of grim wit in this crime drama from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They're especially noticeable whenever the filmmakers narrow their focus to the title character: a charming crook, irresistibly played by Patsha Bay, whose latest prize is a truck full of hijacked gasoline. Despite a nifty final twist, the film meanders when it adds porn addiction, a restless mistress and a shockingly brutal Angolan gangster to the narrative. Although the script dispenses with a few taboos, it fails to establish a consistent rhythm; it sprawls when it should strut.

Stars: Patsha Bay, Manie Malone

Director: Djo Tunda Wa Munga

Showing: 4 p.m. May 27 at Pacific Place

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"An African Election." There were no hanging chads, but similar complications afflicted the elections in Ghana in 2008. It had been eight years since the country's last change of presidents, and some citizens were so disillusioned, they failed to become part of the process. One nonvoter, interviewed in Jerreth Merz's well-researched documentary, claims that all politicians are liars and they have no interest in supplying the basics: health, education and food. Another citizen angrily shouts: "I have the energy to work, but where is the work?" Merz provides a suitable context for this story, though his emphasis on politicians'standard-issue comments may leave your eyes glazed over.

Director: Jerreth Merz

Showing: 4:30 p.m. May 27 at the Egyptian

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

SATURDAY, MAY 28

3 stars"Bicycle, Spoon, Apple." This film, winner of Spain's 2011 Goya Award for best documentary, follows former Barcelona Mayor Pasqual Maragall, who publicly acknowledged his struggle with Alzheimer's. His family members are brutally honest, admitting their worries about his personality changes and his willingness to try experimental drugs. A charming man, Maragall is very adamant about beating the disease and establishes a foundation to find a cure; interviews with leading doctors and researchers provide valuable background on the disease.

Director: Carles Bosch

Showing: 10 a.m. May 28 at Harvard Exit

Marian Liu, Seattle Times staff writer

3 stars"Page One: Inside The New York Times." Those who care about the future of newspapers, whether print or virtual, will find much that's compelling in Andrew Rossi's look inside the Gray Lady as it struggles to keep afloat and relevant during what one talking-head in the movie calls "a dangerous moment in American journalism." David Carr, a wispy-voiced NYT reporter who cheerfully acknowledges his drug-addicted past, emerges as this film's star and journalism's wise defender; examining an iPad (which some say may be journalism's savior), he observes, "You know what that reminds me of? A newspaper."

Director: Andrew Rossi

Showing: 11 a.m. May 28 at the Egyptian; 3:30 p.m. May 30 at the Everett Performing Arts Center

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Paper Birds." Winner of the audience award at the Montreal Film Festival, Emilio Aragon's drama is filmed in nostalgic, handsome blue light. It's the story of a troupe of vaudeville performers in Franco's post-civil war Spain, primarily focusing on a pair of old friends and longtime performing partners, and the orphaned young boy who joins them to make a surrogate family. Very sad, particularly at the end, but a warmly appealing film that's ultimately quite moving. Roger Princep, last seen in "The Orphanage," gives a performance of genuine charm as the little boy.

Stars: Imanol Arias, Llu's Homar, Roger Princep, Carmen Machi

Director: Emilio Aragón

Showing: 6:30 p.m. May 28 at Pacific Place; 1:30 p.m. May 29 at Pacific Place.

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"The Whistleblower." Rachel Weisz is terrific as Nebraska cop-turned-U.N.-peacekeeper Kathryn Bolkovac in this true story about corruption and sex trafficking in Bosnia about a decade ago. A harrowing, unsettling film with an eye toward grim detail by first-time feature director Larysa Kondracki, "The Whistleblower" moves like a thriller but will break your heart. An excellent international cast includes one of those golden (if too-brief) performances by Vanessa Redgrave.

Stars: Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nikolaj Lie Kaas

Director: Larysa Kondracki

Showing: 6:45 p.m. May 28 at the Egyptian Theatre; 1 p.m. May 29 at the Egyptian Theatre; 6:30 p.m. May 31 at the Everett Performing Arts Center.

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

1.5 stars"Saigon Electric." A capable feature that enjoyed a theatrical run in its native Vietnam, "Saigon Electric" can't help, nevertheless, but remind one of Disney Channel movies skewed toward sentimental kids. Mai (Van Trang), a ribbon dancer from a farm, arrives in Saigon and hooks up with a breakdancing crew, befriending a massively self-pitying young woman, Kim (Quynh Hoa). With a dance competition in the offing, the group's cohesion is threatened by Kim's relationship with a rich guy and a businessman's effort to knock down the kids' rehearsal space. Tedium abounds, and time moves very slowly for those of us of a certain age.

Stars: Van Trang, Quynh Hoa, Khoung Ngoc, Zen 04, Viet Max, Phan Tan Thi, Elly Nguyen

Director: Stephane Gauger

Showing: 7:15 p.m. May 28 at the Neptune Theatre; 3 p.m. May 30 at Pacific Place Cinemas; 6:30 p.m. June 1 at Everett Performing Arts Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

SUNDAY, MAY 29

3 stars"The Rescuers." The title refers not to a Disney franchise but to the true stories of several "righteous diplomats" (including at least one Nazi party member) who made creative use of bureaucracy, red tape and other delaying tactics to save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. Not as familiar as Oskar Schindler, they often worked in anonymity, risking their lives and careers to quietly undermine Hitler's orders. A substantial portion of this provocative and genuinely inspiring documentary is told from the point of view of a woman whose family was wiped out in Rwanda.

Director: Michael King

Showing: 10 a.m. Sun May 29 at Harvard Exit; 4 p.m. May 30 at Harvard Exit

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Something Ventured." Names like Arthur Rock, Tom Perkins and Pitch Johnson might not be as familiar as those of Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple), Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari) or Sandy Lerner (co-founder of Cisco). But the fascinating and cinematically playful documentary "Something Ventured" makes clear that Rock, Perkins and Johnson, along with a number of key venture capitalists who rode the high-tech boom from the 1950s to the present day, are as much the architects of the modern world as those more-famous entrepreneurs. The film is most fun tracking the relationships of those same investors with quirkier and quirkier genius types through the 1960s and '70s.

Directors: Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller

Showing: 1 p.m. May 29 at the Admiral; 6:30 p.m. May 30 at Harvard Exit; 5:30 p.m. June 5 at the Kirkland Performance Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"The Whistleblower." Rachel Weisz is terrific as Nebraska cop-turned-U.N.-peacekeeper Kathryn Bolkovac in this true story about corruption and sex trafficking in Bosnia about a decade ago. A harrowing, unsettling film with an eye toward grim detail by first-time feature director Larysa Kondracki, "The Whistleblower" moves like a thriller but will break your heart. An excellent international cast includes one of those golden (if too-brief) performances by Vanessa Redgrave.

Stars: Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nikolaj Lie Kaas

Director: Larysa Kondracki

Showing: 1 p.m. May 29 at the Egyptian Theatre; 6:30 p.m. May 31 at the Everett Performing Arts Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Paper Birds." Winner of the audience award at the Montreal Film Festival, Emilio Aragon's drama is filmed in nostalgic, handsome blue light. It's the story of a troupe of vaudeville performers in Franco's post-civil war Spain, primarily focusing on a pair of old friends and longtime performing partners, and the orphaned young boy who joins them to make a surrogate family. Very sad, particularly at the end, but a warmly appealing film that's ultimately quite moving. Roger Princep, last seen in "The Orphanage," gives a performance of genuine charm as the little boy.

Stars: Imanol Arias, Llu's Homar, Roger Princep, Carmen Machi

Director: Emilio Aragón

Showing: 1:30 p.m. May 29 at Pacific Place

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2 stars "Black, White and Blues." This road movie from Mario Van Peebles feels disappointingly slight, with a twist near the end that turns the whole thing into melodrama. Morgan Simpson plays a hard-drinking blues musician haunted by his past; Michael Clarke Duncan, with his wonderfully rumbling voice, is a messenger who turns up to bring him home. Seattle's own Tom Skerritt is a welcome sight in a supporting role — that is, if you can see him; this film is shot in a succession of rooms so dark you can barely make out the characters. Great music, though, from a variety of blues musicians.

Stars: Morgan Simpson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Skerritt, Luke Perry, Kiele Sanchez, Taryn Manning

Director: Mario Van Peebles

Showing: 3:30 p.m. May 29 at the Everett Performing Arts Center

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

1.5 stars"Every Song is About Me." Romiro (Oriol Vila), the exceptionally annoying and humorless central character of this sort-of romantic comedy from Spain, is a would-be poet whose six-year relationship with a girlfriend (Barbara Lennie) has ended. Set adrift in extreme self-consciousness and clueless behavior, Romiro has a lot of sex, threatens to leave Madrid for Canada (go, already) and resists suggestions that he publish a volume of poetry. It would be nice to appreciate the character's problems for what they genuinely are — stumbling blocks on the road to maturity — in this visually empty piece. But Romiro, and co-writer/director Jonas Trueba, gives us little reason to care.

Stars: Oriol Vila, Barbara Lennie, Ramon Fontsere, Bruno Bergonzini, Valeria Alonso

Director: Jonas Trueba

Showing: 7 p.m. May 29 at Pacific Place Cinemas; 12 p.m. May 30 at Pacific Place Cinemas; 6:30 p.m. June 6 at the Admiral Theater

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"Surrogate Valentine"

Like the well-made student film "Bummer Summer" (recently shown at Northwest Film Forum), director Dave Boyle's black-and-white, micro-budget indie comedy is perhaps a bit too slight to be fully satisfying, but it's well-made (in San Francisco and Seattle), sweet-natured and wryly amusing. San Francisco indie-musician Go Nakamura plays himself (quite nicely), reluctantly teaching a shallow actor (also well-played, by Chad Stoops) to play guitar for a movie role. Not one to suffer fools, Go develops a slow-burn tolerance for the actor while sorting through his own romantic yearnings. Nice touches throughout, just not enough of a story to fully support them.

Stars: Go Nakamura, Lynn Chen, Chad Stoops

Director: Dave Boyle

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 29 at Harvard Exit, 3:30 p.m. May 30 at the Admiral Theater

Jeff Shannon, Special to The Seattle Times

MONDAY, MAY 30

1.5 stars"Every Song is About Me." Romiro (Oriol Vila), the exceptionally annoying and humorless central character of this sort-of romantic comedy from Spain, is a would-be poet whose six-year relationship with a girlfriend (Barbara Lennie) has ended. Set adrift in extreme self-consciousness and clueless behavior, Romiro has a lot of sex, threatens to leave Madrid for Canada (go, already) and resists suggestions that he publish a volume of poetry. It would be nice to appreciate the character's problems for what they genuinely are — stumbling blocks on the road to maturity — in this visually empty piece. But Romiro, and co-writer/director Jonas Trueba, gives us little reason to care.

Stars: Oriol Vila, Barbara Lennie, Ramon Fontsere, Bruno Bergonzini, Valeria Alonso

Director: Jonas Trueba

Showing: 7 p.m. May 29 at Pacific Place Cinemas; 12 p.m. May 30 at Pacific Place Cinemas; 6:30 p.m. June 6 at the Admiral Theater

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

1.5 stars"Saigon Electric." A capable feature that enjoyed a theatrical run in its native Vietnam, "Saigon Electric" can't help, nevertheless, but remind one of Disney Channel movies skewed toward sentimental kids. Mai (Van Trang), a ribbon dancer from a farm, arrives in Saigon and hooks up with a breakdancing crew, befriending a massively self-pitying young woman, Kim (Quynh Hoa). With a dance competition in the offing, the group's cohesion is threatened by Kim's relationship with a rich guy and a businessman's effort to knock down the kids' rehearsal space. Tedium abounds, and time moves very slowly for those of us of a certain age.

Stars: Van Trang, Quynh Hoa, Khoung Ngoc, Zen 04, Viet Max, Phan Tan Thi, Elly Nguyen

Director: Stephane Gauger

Showing: 7:15 p.m May 28 at the Neptune Theatre; 3 p.m. May 30 at Pacific Place Cinemas; 6:30 p.m. June 1 at Everett Performing Arts Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"Surrogate Valentine"

Like the well-made student film "Bummer Summer" (recently shown at Northwest Film Forum), director Dave Boyle's black-and-white, micro-budget indie comedy is perhaps a bit too slight to be fully satisfying, but it's well-made (in San Francisco and Seattle), sweet-natured and wryly amusing. San Francisco indie-musician Go Nakamura plays himself (quite nicely), reluctantly teaching a shallow actor (also well-played, by Chad Stoops) to play guitar for a movie role. Not one to suffer fools, Go develops a slow-burn tolerance for the actor while sorting through his own romantic yearnings. Nice touches throughout, just not enough of a story to fully support them.

Stars: Go Nakamura, Lynn Chen, Chad Stoops

Director: Dave Boyle

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 29 at Harvard Exit, 3:30 p.m. May 30 at the Admiral Theater

Jeff Shannon, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Page One: Inside The New York Times." Those who care about the future of newspapers, whether print or virtual, will find much that's compelling in Andrew Rossi's look inside the Gray Lady as it struggles to keep afloat and relevant during what one talking-head in the movie calls "a dangerous moment in American journalism." David Carr, a wispy-voiced NYT reporter who cheerfully acknowledges his drug-addicted past, emerges as this film's star and journalism's wise defender; examining an iPad (which some say may be journalism's savior), he observes, "You know what that reminds me of? A newspaper."

Director: Andrew Rossi

Showing: 3:30 p.m. May 30 at the Everett Performing Arts Center

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"The Rescuers." The title refers not to a Disney franchise but to the true stories of several "righteous diplomats" (including at least one Nazi party member) who made creative use of bureaucracy, red tape and other delaying tactics to save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. Not as familiar as Oskar Schindler, they often worked in anonymity, risking their lives and careers to quietly undermine Hitler's orders. A substantial portion of this provocative and genuinely inspiring documentary is told from the point of view of a woman whose family was wiped out in Rwanda.

Director: Michael King

Showing: 4 p.m. May 30 at Harvard Exit

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Win/Win." Can stock-market wizardry bring happiness? Not in this quirky, inventively shot Dutch fable, set during the recent financial crisis. Ivan (Oscar Van Rompay), a gangly, goggle-eyed elf of a fellow, doesn't just crunch numbers — he surfs them at top speed. His perception of the world is as giddy as his financial sleight of hand. But when his advice fails to lift a colleague to his own dizzying heights, he goes into free fall. Van Rompay, in both triumph and downward spiral, is mesmerizing, as is Halina Rejin as the skeptical receptionist he courts. What his tale ultimately means, though, is elusive. (Note: There's no connection here with the recent Paul Giamatti movie.)

Stars: Oscar Van Rompay, Halina Rejin

Director: Jaap van Heusden

Showing: 6:30 p.m. May 30 at Egyptian Theatre

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"Something Ventured." Names like Arthur Rock, Tom Perkins and Pitch Johnson might not be as familiar as those of Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple), Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari) or Sandy Lerner (co-founder of Cisco). But the fascinating and cinematically playful documentary "Something Ventured" makes clear that Rock, Perkins and Johnson, along with a number of key venture capitalists who rode the high-tech boom from the 1950s to the present day, are as much the architects of the modern world as those more-famous entrepreneurs. The film is most fun tracking the relationships of those same investors with quirkier and quirkier genius types through the 1960s and '70s.

Directors: Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller

Showing: 5:30 p.m. June 5 at the Kirkland Performance Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Dance Town." Don't be misled by the seemingly cheerful title of this South Korean film; it's a grim tale of misery on both sides of the Korean border. Rhee Jung-nim (Rha Mi-ran), a North Korean woman, flees her homeland without her husband, hoping he may join her in a safer haven. But despite the freedoms her new home provides, life is no happier. Rha Mi-ran, with an expression of constant wariness, is moving in the central role, but the film's unrelenting sadness becomes overwhelming.

Stars: Rha Mi-ran, Oh Seong-tae

Director: Jeon Kyu-hwan

Showing: 9 p.m. May 30 at the Harvard Exit; 9 p.m. June 1 at the Admiral

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

1.5 stars"Every Song is About Me." Romiro (Oriol Vila), the exceptionally annoying and humorless central character of this sort-of romantic comedy from Spain, is a would-be poet whose six-year relationship with a girlfriend (Barbara Lennie) has ended. Set adrift in extreme self-consciousness and clueless behavior, Romiro has a lot of sex, threatens to leave Madrid for Canada (go, already) and resists suggestions that he publish a volume of poetry. It would be nice to appreciate the character's problems for what they genuinely are — stumbling blocks on the road to maturity — in this visually empty piece. But Romiro, and co-writer/director Jonas Trueba, gives us little reason to care.

Stars: Oriol Vila, Barbara Lennie, Ramon Fontsere, Bruno Bergonzini, Valeria Alonso

Director: Jonas Trueba

Showing: 7 p.m. May 29 at Pacific Place Cinemas; 12 p.m. May 30 at Pacific Place Cinemas; 6:30 p.m. June 6 at the Admiral Theater

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

1.5 stars"Saigon Electric." A capable feature that enjoyed a theatrical run in its native Vietnam, "Saigon Electric" can't help, nevertheless, but remind one of Disney Channel movies skewed toward sentimental kids. Mai (Van Trang), a ribbon dancer from a farm, arrives in Saigon and hooks up with a breakdancing crew, befriending a massively self-pitying young woman, Kim (Quynh Hoa). With a dance competition in the offing, the group's cohesion is threatened by Kim's relationship with a rich guy and a businessman's effort to knock down the kids' rehearsal space. Tedium abounds, and time moves very slowly for those of us of a certain age.

Stars: Van Trang, Quynh Hoa, Khoung Ngoc, Zen 04, Viet Max, Phan Tan Thi, Elly Nguyen

Director: Stephane Gauger

Showing: 7:15 p.m. May 28 at the Neptune Theatre; 3 p.m. May 30 at Pacific Place Cinemas; 6:30 p.m. June 1 at Everett Performing Arts Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"Surrogate Valentine"

Like the well-made student film "Bummer Summer" (recently shown at Northwest Film Forum), director Dave Boyle's black-and-white, micro-budget indie comedy is perhaps a bit too slight to be fully satisfying, but it's well-made (in San Francisco and Seattle), sweet-natured and wryly amusing. San Francisco indie-musician Go Nakamura plays himself (quite nicely), reluctantly teaching a shallow actor (also well-played, by Chadd Stoops) to play guitar for a movie role. Not one to suffer fools, Go develops a slow-burn tolerance for the actor while sorting through his own romantic yearnings. Nice touches throughout, just not enough of a story to fully support them.

Stars: Go Nakamura, Lynn Chen, Chadd Stoops

Director: Dave Boyle

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 29 at Harvard Exit, 3:30 p.m. May 30 at the Admiral Theater

Jeff Shannon, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Page One: Inside The New York Times." Those who care about the future of newspapers, whether print or virtual, will find much that's compelling in Andrew Rossi's look inside the Gray Lady as it struggles to keep afloat and relevant during what one talking-head in the movie calls "a dangerous moment in American journalism." David Carr, a wispy-voiced NYT reporter who cheerfully acknowledges his drug-addicted past, emerges as this film's star and journalism's wise defender; examining an iPad (which some say may be journalism's savior), he observes, "You know what that reminds me of? A newspaper."

Director: Andrew Rossi

Showing: 7 p.m. May 25 at the Neptune; 11 a.m. May 28 at the Egyptian; 3:30 p.m. May 30 at the Everett Performing Arts Center

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"The Rescuers." The title refers not to a Disney franchise but to the true stories of several "righteous diplomats" (including at least one Nazi party member) who made creative use of bureaucracy, red tape and other delaying tactics to save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. Not as familiar as Oskar Schindler, they often worked in anonymity, risking their lives and careers to quietly undermine Hitler's orders. A substantial portion of this provocative and genuinely inspiring documentary is told from the point of view of a woman whose family was wiped out in Rwanda.

Director: Michael King

Showing: 10 a.m. May 29 at Harvard Exit; 4 p.m. May 30 at Harvard Exit

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Win/Win." Can stock-market wizardry bring happiness? Not in this quirky, inventively shot Dutch fable, set during the recent financial crisis. Ivan (Oscar Van Rompay), a gangly, goggle-eyed elf of a fellow, doesn't just crunch numbers — he surfs them at top speed. His perception of the world is as giddy as his financial sleight of hand. But when his advice fails to lift a colleague to his own dizzying heights, he goes into free fall. Van Rompay, in both triumph and downward spiral, is mesmerizing, as is Halina Rejin as the skeptical receptionist he courts. What his tale ultimately means, though, is elusive. (Note: There's no connection here with the recent Paul Giamatti movie.)

Stars: Oscar Van Rompay, Halina Rejin

Director: Jaap van Heusden

Showing: 6:30 p.m. May 30 at Egyptian Theatre

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"Something Ventured." Names like Arthur Rock, Tom Perkins and Pitch Johnson might not be as familiar as those of Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple), Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari) or Sandy Lerner (co-founder of Cisco). But the fascinating and cinematically playful documentary "Something Ventured" makes clear that Rock, Perkins and Johnson, along with a number of key venture capitalists who rode the high-tech boom from the 1950s to the present day, are as much the architects of the modern world as those more-famous entrepreneurs. The film is most fun tracking the relationships of those same investors with quirkier and quirkier genius types through the 1960s and '70s.

Directors: Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller

Showing: 5:30 p.m. June 5 at the Kirkland Performance Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Dance Town." Don't be misled by the seemingly cheerful title of this South Korean film; it's a grim tale of misery on both sides of the Korean border. Rhee Jung-nim (Rha Mi-ran), a North Korean woman, flees her homeland without her husband, hoping he may join her in a safer haven. But despite the freedoms her new home provides, life is no happier. Rha Mi-ran, with an expression of constant wariness, is moving in the central role, but the film's unrelenting sadness becomes overwhelming.

Stars: Rha Mi-ran, Oh Seong-tae

Director: Jeon Kyu-hwan

Showing: 6 p.m. May 23 at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center; 9 p.m. May 30 at the Harvard Exit; 9 p.m. June 1 at the Admiral

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

TUESDAY, MAY 31

2.5 stars"Amador." A little too slow-paced for its charm to fully catch hold, "Amador" is the story of Marcela (Magaly Solier), a young immigrant woman in Madrid who takes a job as a caretaker to an old man but is dismayed when he dies before she can collect her full paycheck. What follows is both unlikely and intermittently touching, but Solier's performance — Marcela is so impassive she barely seems to register what's happening around her — is almost too subtle, keeping us at an arm's length even as we stay intrigued.

Stars: Magaly Solier, Celso Bugallo, Pietro Sibille, Sonia Almarcha, Fanny de Castro

Director: Fernando León De Aranoa

Showing: 4 p.m. May 31 at Everett Performing Arts Center, 6:30 p.m. June 2 at Pacific Place, 1:30 p.m. June 4 at Pacific Place

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"The Whistleblower." Rachel Weisz is terrific as Nebraska cop-turned-U.N.-peacekeeper Kathryn Bolkovac in this true story about corruption and sex trafficking in Bosnia about a decade ago. A harrowing, unsettling film with an eye toward grim detail by first-time feature director Larysa Kondracki, "The Whistleblower" moves like a thriller but will break your heart. An excellent international cast includes one of those golden (if too-brief) performances by Vanessa Redgrave.

Stars: Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nikolaj Lie Kaas

Director: Larysa Kondracki

Showing: 6:30 p.m. May 31 at the Everett Performing Arts Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Do You See Colors When You Close Your Eyes?" Bellingham filmmaker Caleb Young's meditative drama tells a story of loss and acceptance: After the death of Jonathan (Sage Price), a young poet, his twin brother Michael (also Price) and Jonathan's lover Christian (Sean Frazier) set out on a road trip to scatter the ashes, and to come to terms with their complicated relationships with him. It's at times slow going, with the characters not always compelling, but Price wonderfully inhabits two very different people. And the lovely cinematography, by Chris Koser and Cameron Currier, is a Pacific Northwest picture book, particularly a sequence near the end as we see Jonathan's ashes delicately floating away.

Stars: Sage Price, Sean Frazier, Sarah Davis

Director: Caleb Young

Showing: 7 p.m. May 31 at the Admiral, 11 a.m. June 4 at the Harvard Exit

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Lesson Plan." This is a fascinating documentary about a social experiment conducted in 1967 by Palo Alto, Calif., high-school teacher Ron Jones, who taught his students about the roots of fascism by seducing them into forming a totalitarian organization themselves. Though Jones was fired, the book he wrote about his experience, "The Third Wave," became required reading in German classrooms, and the book was made into a film, "The Wave." This documentary was codirected by one of the Third Wave students, Philip Neel, and brings together several colleagues for retrospective, talking-head interviews, as well as behavioral expert Dr. Philip Zimbardo. The end of the film is quite dramatic.

Directors: Philip Neel, David H. Jeffery

Showing: 7 p.m. May 31 at Harvard Exit; 4:30 p.m. June 1 at Harvard Exit

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times Arts Writer

2.5 stars"Venice." World War II is kept at a slight remove, but far from absent altogether, in this Polish film about the power of imagination to keep reality at bay ... if only intermittently. When German invasion scuttles the chances of 11-year-old Marek (an impressive Marcin Walewski) seeing the city of his dreams, his response is to create a Venice of his own in the flooded basement of the villa where the family takes refuge. The film's premise is more striking than its execution, however. Some plot threads are unclear, and the coda is entirely baffling.

Stars: Marcin Walewski, Magdalena Cielecka

Director: Jan Jakub Kolski

Showing: 9:30 p.m. May 31 at Pacific Place Cinemas

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1

3 stars"Win/Win." Can stock-market wizardry bring happiness? Not in this quirky, inventively shot Dutch fable, set during the recent financial crisis. Ivan (Oscar Van Rompay), a gangly, goggle-eyed elf of a fellow, doesn't just crunch numbers — he surfs them at top speed. His perception of the world is as giddy as his financial sleight of hand. But when his advice fails to lift a colleague to his own dizzying heights, he goes into free fall. Van Rompay, in both triumph and downward spiral, is mesmerizing, as is Halina Rejin as the skeptical receptionist he courts. What his tale ultimately means, though, is elusive. (Note: There's no connection here with the recent Paul Giamatti movie.)

Stars: Oscar Van Rompay, Halina Rejin

Director: Jaap van Heusden

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 1 at Neptune Theatre

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"Lesson Plan." This is a fascinating documentary about a social experiment conducted in 1967 by Palo Alto, Calif., high-school teacher Ron Jones, who taught his students about the roots of fascism by seducing them into forming a totalitarian organization themselves. Though Jones was fired, the book he wrote about his experience, "The Third Wave," became required reading in German classrooms, and the book was made into a film, "The Wave." This documentary was codirected by one of the Third Wave students, Philip Neel, and brings together several colleagues for retrospective, talking-head interviews, as well as behavioral expert Dr. Philip Zimbardo. The end of the film is quite dramatic.

Directors: Philip Neel, David H. Jeffery

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 1 at Harvard Exit

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times Arts Writer

1.5 stars"Saigon Electric." A capable feature that enjoyed a theatrical run in its native Vietnam, "Saigon Electric" can't help, nevertheless, but remind one of Disney Channel movies skewed toward sentimental kids. Mai (Van Trang), a ribbon dancer from a farm, arrives in Saigon and hooks up with a breakdancing crew, befriending a massively self-pitying young woman, Kim (Quynh Hoa). With a dance competition in the offing, the group's cohesion is threatened by Kim's relationship with a rich guy and a businessman's effort to knock down the kids' rehearsal space. Tedium abounds, and time moves very slowly for those of us of a certain age.

Stars: Van Trang, Quynh Hoa, Khoung Ngoc, Zen 04, Viet Max, Phan Tan Thi, Elly Nguyen

Director: Stephane Gauger

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 1 at Everett Performing Arts Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Vampire." Renowned Japanese writer-director Shunji Iwai ("All About Lily Chou-Chou") makes his English-language film debut with this strikingly original, emotionally powerful horror story. A high-school biology teacher (Kevin Zegers) who cares for his Alzheimer's-stricken mother and has no life of his own convinces suicidal young women to let him drain their blood, clinically, compassionately and painlessly. Why he does so is never really spelled out and, in a sense, never could be in this dreamlike fable about a vaguely heroic misfit who can't connect with the lifeforce in others except through death. Iwai stumbles with an awful, misjudged sequence early on that cleared out half the audience at a recent screening, but "Vampire" rewards a full viewing. Co-starring Adelaide Clemens, the only saving grace in SIFF's Australian entry "Wasted On the Young."

Stars: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rachel Leigh Cook, Kristin Kreuk, Adelaide Clemens, Amanda Plummer

Director: Iwai Shunji

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 1 at the Egyptian Theatre; 4 p.m. June 2 at the Egyptian; 8:30 p.m. June 5 at the Admiral Theater

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

4 stars"The Last Mountain." Stunningly effective, informative and well-argued documentary about the devastating environmental and personal harm caused by mountaintop-removal coal mining in rural West Virginia. Robert Kennedy Jr. lends his weight to a fight also joined by inspirational young people participating in nonviolent acts of civil disobedience. The contrast between gorgeous shots of green mountaintops and black earth exploding into fountains of toxic waste should serve, unlike Al Gore's dreary lecture, "An Inconvenient Truth," as a dramatic call to action.

Director: Clara Bingham

Showing: 7 p.m. June 1 at Pacific Place; 4 p.m. June 2 at Pacific Place

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times arts writer

2 stars"Dance Town." Don't be misled by the seemingly cheerful title of this South Korean film; it's a grim tale of misery on both sides of the Korean border. Rhee Jung-nim (Rha Mi-ran), a North Korean woman, flees her homeland without her husband, hoping he may join her in a safer haven. But despite the freedoms her new home provides, life is no happier. Rha Mi-ran, with an expression of constant wariness, is moving in the central role, but the film's unrelenting sadness becomes overwhelming.

Stars: Rha Mi-ran, Oh Seong-tae

Director: Jeon Kyu-hwan

Showing: 9 p.m. June 1 at the Admiral

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

THURSDAY, JUNE 2

4 stars"The Last Mountain." Stunningly effective, informative and well-argued documentary about the devastating environmental and personal harm caused by mountaintop-removal coal mining in rural West Virginia. Robert Kennedy Jr. lends his weight to a fight also joined by inspirational young people participating in nonviolent acts of civil disobedience. The contrast between gorgeous shots of green mountaintops and black earth exploding into fountains of toxic waste should serve, unlike Al Gore's dreary lecture, "An Inconvenient Truth," as a dramatic call to action.

Director: Clara Bingham

Showing: 4 p.m. June 2 at Pacific Place

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"Vampire." Renowned Japanese writer-director Shunji Iwai ("All About Lily Chou-Chou") makes his English-language film debut with this strikingly original, emotionally powerful horror story. A high-school biology teacher (Kevin Zegers) who cares for his Alzheimer's-stricken mother and has no life of his own convinces suicidal young women to let him drain their blood, clinically, compassionately and painlessly. Why he does so is never really spelled out and, in a sense, never could be in this dreamlike fable about a vaguely heroic misfit who can't connect with the lifeforce in others except through death. Iwai stumbles with an awful, misjudged sequence early on that cleared out half the audience at a recent screening, but "Vampire" rewards a full viewing. Co-starring Adelaide Clemens, the only saving grace in SIFF's Australian entry "Wasted On the Young."

Stars: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rachel Leigh Cook, Kristin Kreuk, Adelaide Clemens, Amanda Plummer

Director: Iwai Shunji

Showing: 4 p.m. June 2 at the Egyptian; 8:30 p.m. June 5 at the Admiral Theater

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"Amador." A little too slow-paced for its charm to fully catch hold, "Amador" is the story of Marcela (Magaly Solier), a young immigrant woman in Madrid who takes a job as a caretaker to an old man but is dismayed when he dies before she can collect her full paycheck. What follows is both unlikely and intermittently touching, but Solier's performance — Marcela is so impassive she barely seems to register what's happening around her — is almost too subtle, keeping us at an arm's length even as we stay intrigued.

Stars: Magaly Solier, Celso Bugallo, Pietro Sibille, Sonia Almarcha, Fanny de Castro

Director: Fernando León De Aranoa

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 2 at Pacific Place, 1:30 p.m. June 4 at Pacific Place

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3.5 stars"Killing Bono." Imagine that you are a pair of Irish teenage brothers in the '70s, and a few of your mates at school form a band — and that band eventually becomes U2, making albums that sell millions of copies. Meanwhile, you form a band, making an album that sells 10 copies. That's the based-on-true-events premise of Nick Hamm's winning and at times poignant comedy about dreams of stardom, wonderfully cast (watch for Pete Postlethwaite's final screen role, as a flamboyant landlord) and winningly performed. It also works as a funny look back at the '80s, as a character asks: Can you explain Frankie Goes to Hollywood? I can't.

Stars: Ben Barnes, Robert Sheehan, Krysten Ritter, Pete Postlethwaite

Director: Nick Hamm

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 2 at the Neptune; 1:30 p.m. June 5 at the Neptune; 9:15 p.m. June 8 at the Admiral

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2 stars"Letters From the Big Man." You want to like this implausible fantasy about Sarah, an intrepid, fiercely independent (though not particularly likable) ex-Forest Service employee and visual artist who, on the rebound from a relationship, strikes up another rather unusual friendship — with a Sasquatch. Though played for suspense, things don't turn out as one might expect, which is refreshing, and so are the gorgeous autumnal wilderness shots. But, ultimately, nothing really adds up in this flat film, and the plot's a tad tangled, too.

Stars: Lily Rabe, Jason Butler Harner, Karen Black

Director: Christopher Munch

Showing: 9 p.m. June 2 at Everett Performing Arts Center; 6:30 p.m. June 10 at SIFF Cinema; 4:30 p.m. June 11 at SIFF Cinema

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times Arts Writer

1.5 stars"Wasted on the Young." Like one of the late Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strips, there are no adults to be seen in the headache-inducing Australian drama "Wasted On the Young." Set at a private high school and in the cavernous house of a pair of ill-matched stepbrothers — one a brutal campus king and the other an under-the-radar intellectual — the story concerns an appalling act of sexual violence perpetrated by arrogant athletes and a pushback by a couple of their victims. Director Ben C. Lucas makes a case that kids caught up in an unreality of texting and viral videos don't know what to do when faced with horrifying truths. But he's not particularly persuasive, and it doesn't help that "Wasted" assaults a viewer with rapid cutting, disorienting moments of fantasy and a relentlessly throbbing music score.

Stars: Oliver Ackland, Adelaide Clemens, Alex Russell, Georgina Haig, Gerraldine Hakewill

Director: Ben C. Lucas

Showing: 9:30 p.m. June 2 at the Neptune Theatre; 1:30 p.m. June 4 at Harvard Exit

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

4 stars"Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place." In 1964, novelist Ken Kesey ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest') and his Merry Pranksters famously embarked on a cross-county trip — pun intended — in a wildly painted "magic bus" with a good supply of LSD. Unbeknown to most, Kesey and his pals — who included Jack Kerouac hero Neal Cassady as official driver — filmed the journey, with plans to edit and release the results. Here, finally, is this rare footage, embedded into a humorously shot, decidedly nonsensationalist documentary that explains what this countercultural birth moment was really all about. Tom Wolfe, author of "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," isn't mentioned once. Even better, the soundtrack starts with Dick Dale's "Let's Go Trippin'."

Director: Alex Gibney

Showing: 9:30 p.m. June 2 at the Egyptian Theatre; 3:15 p.m. June 4 at the Egyptian

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times arts writer

FRIDAY, JUNE 3

3.5 stars "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey." Quite possibly the sweetest film at SIFF this year is Constance Marks' affectionate documentary about Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind the popular "Sesame Street" child-monster, helium-voiced Elmo. "Kevin comes alive through Elmo," says Clash's mother, and it's true: Watching him manipulate the puppet for adoring children, a kindness and joy shines through. It's a treat to hear, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, of his charmed life in puppetry — beginning with cutting up his father's raincoat to make his first Muppet-like creature as a child, and finally ending up on the TV show he adored while growing up in Baltimore in the '60s and '70s.

Director: Constance Marks

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 3 at Kirkland Performance Center, 11 a.m. June 5 at SIFF Cinema

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3.5 stars"Project Nim." Not to be confused with the 1987 Matthew Broderick movie about intelligent chimpanzees, "Project X," this fascinating documentary explores the relationship between chimps and humans. Director James Marsh (who made the Oscar-winning "Man on Wire") focuses on the testing of Nim Chimpsky, who was brought up as part of a human family in the 1970s, when the chimp was said to learn sign language. He also demonstrated a savage, spoiled side; Marsh carefully captures the ultimately tragic side of the story.

Stars: Bill Tynan, Bob Ingersoll

Director: James Marsh

Showing: 7 p.m. June 3 at SIFF Cinema; 1:30 p.m. June 5 at the Egyptian

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3.5 stars"Weekend." When the chemistry is just right, as it is in "Blue Valentine" and "Brokeback Mountain," love stories can still be engaging and affecting. That's the case with this spare, creatively staged two-character British drama about a male couple who discover they can't stop seeing each other — even if one of them is due to leave for America very soon. Tom Cullen's shyly romantic Russell and Chris New's more cynical and eloquent Glen are just the kinds of opposites who do attract, and they talk and fight and forgive like no other gay characters in the movies right now.

Stars: Tom Cullen, Chris New

Director: Andrew Haigh

Showing: 7 p.m. June 3 at Harvard Exit; 4:30 p.m. June 5 at SIFF Cinema

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"Salvation Boulevard." This lightly entertaining black comedy about the cover-up of an unintended shooting, and an effort to pin the blame on a convenient patsy, is largely enjoyable for an unbeatable cast. Pierce Brosnan stars as a larger-than-life minister of a megasize evangelical church. After he gets into hot water one night, he manages to shift suspicion onto a former Deadhead (Greg Kinnear), who is then lost in a nightmare of kidnappings, attempted murders and police conspiracies. Jennifer Connelly is atypically funny as Kinnear's wide-eyed, controlling wife; Ed Harris delivers a shrewd performance as a best-selling atheist; and Marisa Tomei is a delight as another former Deadhead-turned-cop. Directed by George Ratliff ("Hell House").

Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei, Ciaran Hinds

Director: George Ratliff

Showing: 9:15 p.m. June 3 at the Egyptian Theatre; 1 p.m. June 5 at the Admiral Theater

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Small Town Murder Songs." Ed Gass-Donnelly's small-scale, deliberate crime drama seems to get short shrift at just 75 minutes, and the music's awfully heavy-handed, but the director wonderfully captures the sense of a small town (in this case, a Mennonite community in Ontario) where everyone knows everyone's business, and police cars race with sirens blaring along empty, winding roads. Peter Stormare is a police chief trying to overcome his own history of violence through religion, but when a beautiful corpse turns up with a connection to the chief's ex-girlfriend's new lover, things get quietly complicated. A real sense of place here, nicely composed.

Stars: Peter Stormare, Aaron Poole, Martha Plimpton, Jill Hennessy

Director: Ed Gass-Donnelly

Showing: 9:30 p.m. June 3 at the Harvard Exit; 1:30 p.m. June 5 at the Harvard Exit

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

SATURDAY, JUNE 4

3 stars"Do You See Colors When You Close Your Eyes?" Bellingham filmmaker Caleb Young's meditative drama tells a story of loss and acceptance: After the death of Jonathan (Sage Price), a young poet, his twin brother Michael (also Price) and Jonathan's lover Christian (Sean Frazier) set out on a road trip to scatter the ashes, and to come to terms with their complicated relationships with him. It's at times slow going, with the characters not always compelling, but Price wonderfully inhabits two very different people. And the lovely cinematography, by Chris Koser and Cameron Currier, is a Pacific Northwest picture book, particularly a sequence near the end as we see Jonathan's ashes delicately floating away.

Stars: Sage Price, Sean Frazier, Sarah Davis

Director: Caleb Young

Showing: 11 a.m. June 4 at the Harvard Exit

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

1.5 stars"Wasted on the Young." Like one of the late Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strips, there are no adults to be seen in the headache-inducing Australian drama "Wasted On the Young." Set at a private high school and in the cavernous house of a pair of ill-matched stepbrothers — one a brutal campus king and the other an under-the-radar intellectual — the story concerns an appalling act of sexual violence perpetrated by arrogant athletes and a pushback by a couple of their victims. Director Ben C. Lucas makes a case that kids caught up in an unreality of texting and viral videos don't know what to do when faced with horrifying truths. But he's not particularly persuasive, and it doesn't help that "Wasted" assaults a viewer with rapid cutting, disorienting moments of fantasy and a relentlessly throbbing music score.

Stars: Oliver Ackland, Adelaide Clemens, Alex Russell, Georgina Haig, Gerraldine Hakewill

Director: Ben C. Lucas

Showing: 1:30 p.m. June 4 at Harvard Exit

E

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"Amador." A little too slow-paced for its charm to fully catch hold, "Amador" is the story of Marcela (Magaly Solier), a young immigrant woman in Madrid who takes a job as a caretaker to an old man but is dismayed when he dies before she can collect her full paycheck. What follows is both unlikely and intermittently touching, but Solier's performance — Marcela is so impassive she barely seems to register what's happening around her — is almost too subtle, keeping us at an arm's length even as we stay intrigued.

Stars: Magaly Solier, Celso Bugallo, Pietro Sibille, Sonia Almarcha, Fanny de Castro

Director: Fernando León De Aranoa

Showing: 1:30 p.m. June 4 at Pacific Place

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

4 stars"Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place." In 1964, novelist Ken Kesey ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest') and his Merry Pranksters famously embarked on a cross-county trip — pun intended — in a wildly painted "magic bus" with a good supply of LSD. Unbeknown to most, Kesey and his pals — who included Jack Kerouac hero Neal Cassady as official driver — filmed the journey, with plans to edit and release the results. Here, finally, is this rare footage, embedded into a humorously shot, decidedly nonsensationalist documentary that explains what this countercultural birth moment was really all about. Tom Wolfe, author of "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," isn't mentioned once. Even better, the soundtrack starts with Dick Dale's "Let's Go Trippin'."

Director: Alex Gibney

Showing: 3:15 p.m. June 4 at the Egyptian

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"Circumstance." Maryam Keshavarz's debut feature, a prizewinner at Sundance this year, shows us a world rarely seen: two teenage girls in contemporary Iran's well-hidden club scene, exploring their sexuality and independence in a society that forbids it. Filmed, quite beautifully (there's a long, revolving-camera shot near the end that's just devastating), undercover in Beirut, "Circumstance" lets us come to know wealthy, confident Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and orphaned, less-certain Shireen (Sarah Kazemy); we watch them, bursting with energy and vibrancy, coming to realize their limited options. This film's horror and sadness are quiet, like a woman — here, Shireen — told that she may not sing.

Stars: Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Reza Sixo Safai, Soheil Parsa, Nasrin Pakkho

Director: Maryam Keshavarz

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 4 at the Harvard Exit; 4:15 p.m. June 6 at the Egyptian

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

SUNDAY, JUNE 5

3.5 stars "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey." Quite possibly the sweetest film at SIFF this year is Constance Marks' affectionate documentary about Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind the popular "Sesame Street" child-monster, helium-voiced Elmo. "Kevin comes alive through Elmo," says Clash's mother, and it's true: Watching him manipulate the puppet for adoring children, a kindness and joy shines through. It's a treat to hear, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, of his charmed life in puppetry — beginning with cutting up his father's raincoat to make his first Muppet-like creature as a child, and finally ending up on the TV show he adored while growing up in Baltimore in the '60s and '70s.

Director: Constance Marks

Showing: 11 a.m. June 5 at SIFF Cinema

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2.5 stars"Salvation Boulevard." This lightly entertaining black comedy about the cover-up of an unintended shooting, and an effort to pin the blame on a convenient patsy, is largely enjoyable for an unbeatable cast. Pierce Brosnan stars as a larger-than-life minister of a megasize evangelical church. After he gets into hot water one night, he manages to shift suspicion onto a former Deadhead (Greg Kinnear), who is then lost in a nightmare of kidnappings, attempted murders and police conspiracies. Jennifer Connelly is atypically funny as Kinnear's wide-eyed, controlling wife; Ed Harris delivers a shrewd performance as a best-selling atheist; and Marisa Tomei is a delight as another former Deadhead-turned-cop. Directed by George Ratliff ("Hell House").

Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei, Ciaran Hinds

Director: George Ratliff

Showing: 1 p.m. June 5 at the Admiral Theater

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3.5 stars"Project Nim." Not to be confused with the 1987 Matthew Broderick movie about intelligent chimpanzees, "Project X," this fascinating documentary explores the relationship between chimps and humans. Director James Marsh (who made the Oscar-winning "Man on Wire") focuses on the testing of Nim Chimpsky, who was brought up as part of a human family in the 1970s, when the chimp was said to learn sign language. He also demonstrated a savage, spoiled side; Marsh carefully captures the ultimately tragic side of the story.

Stars: Bill Tynan, Bob Ingersoll

Director: James Marsh

Showing: 1:30 p.m. June 5 at the Egyptian

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3.5 stars"Killing Bono." Imagine that you are a pair of Irish teenage brothers in the '70s, and a few of your mates at school form a band — and that band eventually becomes U2, making albums that sell millions of copies. Meanwhile, you form a band, making an album that sells 10 copies. That's the based-on-true-events premise of Nick Hamm's winning and at times poignant comedy about dreams of stardom, wonderfully cast (watch for Pete Postlethwaite's final screen role, as a flamboyant landlord) and winningly performed. It also works as a funny look back at the '80s, as a character asks: Can you explain Frankie Goes to Hollywood? I can't.

Stars: Ben Barnes, Robert Sheehan, Krysten Ritter, Pete Postlethwaite

Director: Nick Hamm

Showing: 1:30 p.m. June 5 at the Neptune; 9:15 p.m. June 8 at the Admiral

3 stars"Small Town Murder Songs." Ed Gass-Donnelly's small-scale, deliberate crime drama seems to get short shrift at just 75 minutes, and the music's awfully heavy-handed, but the director wonderfully captures the sense of a small town (in this case, a Mennonite community in Ontario) where everyone knows everyone's business, and police cars race with sirens blaring along empty, winding roads. Peter Stormare is a police chief trying to overcome his own history of violence through religion, but when a beautiful corpse turns up with a connection to the chief's ex-girlfriend's new lover, things get quietly complicated. A real sense of place here, nicely composed.

Stars: Peter Stormare, Aaron Poole, Martha Plimpton, Jill Hennessy

Director: Ed Gass-Donnelly

Showing: 1:30 p.m. June 5 at the Harvard Exit

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2.5 stars"Venice." World War II is kept at a slight remove, but far from absent altogether, in this Polish film about the power of imagination to keep reality at bay ... if only intermittently. When German invasion scuttles the chances of 11-year-old Marek (an impressive Marcin Walewski) seeing the city of his dreams, his response is to create a Venice of his own in the flooded basement of the villa where the family takes refuge. The film's premise is more striking than its execution, however. Some plot threads are unclear, and the coda is entirely baffling.

Stars: Marcin Walewski, Magdalena Cielecka

Director: Jan Jakub Kolski

Showing: 3:30 p.m. June 5 at the Admiral

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

3.5 stars"Weekend." When the chemistry is just right, as it is in "Blue Valentine" and "Brokeback Mountain," love stories can still be engaging and affecting. That's the case with this spare, creatively staged two-character British drama about a male couple who discover they can't stop seeing each other — even if one of them is due to leave for America very soon. Tom Cullen's shyly romantic Russell and Chris New's more cynical and eloquent Glen are just the kinds of opposites who do attract, and they talk and fight and forgive like no other gay characters in the movies right now.

Stars: Tom Cullen, Chris New

Director: Andrew Haigh

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 5 at SIFF Cinema

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Something Ventured." Names like Arthur Rock, Tom Perkins and Pitch Johnson might not be as familiar as those of Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple), Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari) or Sandy Lerner (co-founder of Cisco). But the fascinating and cinematically playful documentary "Something Ventured" makes clear that Rock, Perkins and Johnson, along with a number of key venture capitalists who rode the high-tech boom from the 1950s to present day, are as much the architects of the modern world as those more-famous entrepreneurs. The film is most fun tracking the relationships of those same investors with quirkier and quirkier genius types through the 1960s and '70s.

Directors: Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller

Showing: 5:30 p.m. June 5 at the Kirkland Performance Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"My So-Called Enemy." "Peace starts with me, and with the friends around me," says a teenage girl, summing up Lisa Gossels' powerful documentary. The film profiles six Palestinian and Israeli teenage girls who attend a 2002 leadership camp in New Jersey called Building Bridges for Peace, and follows them through subsequent years. It's undeniably painful to watch the girls struggle with their anger at living in a split land — but there's hope, in the careful but strong continued friendship between a Palestinian Christian and an Israeli Jew, and in the reminders that teens are teens everywhere. (After one exceptionally pointed session of dialogue, the campers troop upstairs to watch "Miss Congeniality.")

Director: Lisa Gossels

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 5 at the Harvard Exit; 4:30 p.m. June 6 at the Harvard Exit

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Vampire." Renowned Japanese writer-director Shunji Iwai ("All About Lily Chou-Chou") makes his English-language film debut with this strikingly original, emotionally powerful horror story. A high-school biology teacher (Kevin Zegers) who cares for his Alzheimer's-stricken mother and has no life of his own convinces suicidal young women to let him drain their blood, clinically, compassionately and painlessly. Why he does so is never really spelled out and, in a sense, never could be in this dreamlike fable about a vaguely heroic misfit who can't connect with the lifeforce in others except through death. Iwai stumbles with an awful, misjudged sequence early on that cleared out half the audience at a recent screening, but "Vampire" rewards a full viewing. Co-starring Adelaide Clemens, the only saving grace in SIFF's Australian entry "Wasted On the Young."

Stars: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rachel Leigh Cook, Kristin Kreuk, Adelaide Clemens, Amanda Plummer

Director: Iwai Shunji

Showing: 8:30 p.m. June 5 at the Admiral Theater

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

MONDAY, JUNE 6

3 stars"Circumstance." Maryam Keshavarz's debut feature, a prizewinner at Sundance this year, shows us a world rarely seen: two teenage girls in contemporary Iran's well-hidden club scene, exploring their sexuality and independence in a society that forbids it. Filmed, quite beautifully (there's a long, revolving-camera shot near the end that's just devastating), undercover in Beirut, "Circumstance" lets us come to know wealthy, confident Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and orphaned, less-certain Shireen (Sarah Kazemy); we watch them, bursting with energy and vibrancy, coming to realize their limited options. This film's horror and sadness are quiet, like a woman — here, Shireen — told that she may not sing.

Stars: Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Reza Sixo Safai, Soheil Parsa, Nasrin Pakkho

Director: Maryam Keshavarz

Showing: 4:15 p.m. June 6 at the Egyptian

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"My So-Called Enemy." "Peace starts with me, and with the friends around me," says a teenage girl, summing up Lisa Gossels' powerful documentary. The film profiles six Palestinian and Israeli teenage girls who attend a 2002 leadership camp in New Jersey called Building Bridges for Peace, and follows them through subsequent years. It's undeniably painful to watch the girls struggle with their anger at living in a split land — but there's hope, in the careful but strong continued friendship between a Palestinian Christian and an Israeli Jew, and in the reminders that teens are teens everywhere. (After one exceptionally pointed session of dialogue, the campers troop upstairs to watch "Miss Congeniality.")

Director: Lisa Gossels

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 6 at the Harvard Exit

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

1.5 stars"Every Song is About Me." Romiro (Oriol Vila), the exceptionally annoying and humorless central character of this sort-of romantic comedy from Spain, is a would-be poet whose six-year relationship with a girlfriend (Barbara Lennie) has ended. Set adrift in extreme self-consciousness and clueless behavior, Romiro has a lot of sex, threatens to leave Madrid for Canada (go, already) and resists suggestions that he publish a volume of poetry. It would be nice to appreciate the character's problems for what they genuinely are — stumbling blocks on the road to maturity — in this visually empty piece. But Romiro, and co-writer/director Jonas Trueba, gives us little reason to care.

Stars: Oriol Vila, Barbara Lennie, Ramon Fontsere, Bruno Bergonzini, Valeria Alonso

Director: Jonas Trueba

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 6 at the Admiral Theater

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"The Off Hours." Northwest transplant Megan Griffiths has given us a true Northwest film, infused with the same melancholy, overcast atmosphere that made "Five Easy Pieces" so memorable 41 years ago. Like that Jack Nicholson classic, it's a downbeat yet curiously fascinating portrait of people drifting through truck-stop lives of quiet desperation. One of them is diner waitress Francine (Amy Seimetz), who yearns for greener pastures when a married trucker (Ross Partridge) offers an elusive hint of escape. Griffiths' script is a bit anemic (compared to, say, 1995's similar "Heavy"), but with a superb and well-directed cast, outstanding cinematography by Ben Kasulke, and an able assist from Seattle's best-known filmmaker Lynn Shelton (giving a fine performance while serving as consulting producer), Griffiths has delivered ample proof that Seattle is bursting with filmmaking talent.

Stars: Amy Seimetz, Ross Partridge, Tony Doupe, Lynn Shelton

Director: Megan Griffiths

Showing: 7 p.m. June 6 at the Neptune; 4:30 p.m. June 7 at the Neptune

Jeff Shannon, Special to The Seattle Times

TUESDAY, JUNE 7

3 stars"The Off Hours." Northwest transplant Megan Griffiths has given us a true Northwest film, infused with the same melancholy, overcast atmosphere that made "Five Easy Pieces" so memorable 41 years ago. Like that Jack Nicholson classic, it's a downbeat yet curiously fascinating portrait of people drifting through truck-stop lives of quiet desperation. One of them is diner waitress Francine (Amy Seimetz), who yearns for greener pastures when a married trucker (Ross Partridge) offers an elusive hint of escape. Griffiths' script is a bit anemic (compared to, say, 1995's similar "Heavy"), but with a superb and well-directed cast, outstanding cinematography by Ben Kasulke, and an able assist from Seattle's best-known filmmaker Lynn Shelton (giving a fine performance while serving as consulting producer), Griffiths has delivered ample proof that Seattle is bursting with filmmaking talent.

Stars: Amy Seimetz, Ross Partridge, Tony Doupe, Lynn Shelton

Director: Megan Griffiths

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 7 at the Neptune

Jeff Shannon, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars"Flying Fish." First-time Sri Lankan director Sanjeewa Pushpakumara has overestimated viewer patience in this noticeably quiet, slow-moving but magnificently shot film that vividly captures the unbearable tension and ever-present danger of village life during the Tamil insurgency. Several long, fully-nude sex scenes in the ruins of an abandoned mansion only serve to highlight the desperation of personal life when the overriding reality is an unpredictable and near-random war. Pushpakumara accents this point of view by shooting panoramic tropical scenes of rainforest, sea and gigantic rock cliffs in which the characters appear as tiny figures. The rifles that appear ominously and early prefigure the inevitable violence to come.

Stars: Chaminda Sampath Jayaweera, Rathnayaka Marasinghe, Kausalya Fernando, Sumathy Sivamohan

Director: Sanjeewa Pushpakumara

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 7 at Pacific Place; 4 p.m. June 9 at Pacific Place

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times arts writer

2.5 stars"Old Goats." Hollywood's most neglected demographic — retired seniors looking for ways to fill their abundant spare time — gets an amusing, humanistic showcase in this debut feature by UW film student Taylor Guterson (son of Bainbridge Island novelist David Guterson). With local actors Bob Burkholder, David VanderWal and Britton Crosley playing themselves, these ornery old goats go through such elderly rites of passage as making Wi-Fi connections, Internet matchmaking, surfing porn sites as a precursor to reviving their sex lives and generally refusing to let age get in their way. Wearing multiple hats as director, writer, producer, editor and cinematographer, Guterson would benefit from a more experienced crew, but he's delivered enough sweetness and laughter to make the movie's technical shortcomings forgivable.

Stars: Bob Burkholder, David VanderWal, Britton Crosley

Director: Taylor Guterson

Showing: 7 p.m. June 7 at the Egyptian; 4:30 p.m. June 10 at the Admiral

Jeff Shannon, Special to The Seattle Times

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8

3 stars"Buck." If only everything that moves on four legs, two legs or no legs at all were treated with the deep compassion and understanding Buck Brannaman — who inspired both the novel and film "The Horse Whisperer" — brings to troubled horses. This penetrating, stirring documentary takes us into the life, wisdom and wry humor of Brannaman as he takes his mobile clinic around ranch country, helping horse owners better understand the troubles of their animals. Unsurprisingly, we learn that Brannaman's empathy and skill are not rooted in something divine but in the pain and darkness of his childhood. Robert Redford, star and director of "The Horse Whisperer," appears.

Director: Cindy Meehl

Showing: 7 p.m. June 8 at SIFF Cinema; 6:30 p.m. June 9 at Kirkland Performance Center

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3.5 stars"Killing Bono." Imagine that you are a pair of Irish teenage brothers in the '70s, and a few of your mates at school form a band — and that band eventually becomes U2, making albums that sell millions of copies. Meanwhile, you form a band, making an album that sells 10 copies. That's the based-on-true-events premise of Nick Hamm's winning and at times poignant comedy about dreams of stardom, wonderfully cast (watch for Pete Postlethwaite's final screen role, as a flamboyant landlord) and winningly performed. It also works as a funny look back at the '80s, as a character asks: Can you explain Frankie Goes to Hollywood? I can't.

Stars: Ben Barnes, Robert Sheehan, Krysten Ritter, Pete Postlethwaite

Director: Nick Hamm

Showing: 9:15 p.m. June 8 at the Admiral

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

THURSDAY, JUNE 9

2.5 stars"Flying Fish." First-time Sri Lankan director Sanjeewa Pushpakumara has overestimated viewer patience in this noticeably quiet, slow-moving but magnificently shot film that vividly captures the unbearable tension and ever-present danger of village life during the Tamil insurgency. Several long, fully-nude sex scenes in the ruins of an abandoned mansion only serve to highlight the desperation of personal life when the overriding reality is an unpredictable and near-random war. Pushpakumara accents this point of view by shooting panoramic tropical scenes of rainforest, sea and gigantic rock cliffs in which the characters appear as tiny figures. The rifles that appear ominously and early prefigure the inevitable violence to come.

Stars: Chaminda Sampath Jayaweera, Rathnayaka Marasinghe, Kausalya Fernando, Sumathy Sivamohan

Director: Sanjeewa Pushpakumara

Showing: 4 p.m. June 9 at Pacific Place

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"Buck." If only everything that moves on four legs, two legs or no legs at all were treated with the deep compassion and understanding Buck Brannaman — who inspired both the novel and film "The Horse Whisperer" — brings to troubled horses. This penetrating, stirring documentary takes us into the life, wisdom and wry humor of Brannaman as he takes his mobile clinic around ranch country, helping horse owners better understand the troubles of their animals. Unsurprisingly, we learn that Brannaman's empathy and skill are not rooted in something divine but in the pain and darkness of his childhood. Robert Redford, star and director of "The Horse Whisperer," appears.

Director: Cindy Meehl

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 9 at Kirkland Performance Center

Extras: Director Meehl and Brannaman are scheduled to attend.

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Sound of Noise." "This is a gig! Listen and no one will get hurt!" says the leader of a band of masked musicians, breaking into a bank in order to perform a sort of urban symphony. It's one of many funny moments in this Swedish comedy, about a cop named Amadeus (born tone-deaf, alas, into a family of musicians) and the gang of musician/anarchists he's determined to bring down. Agreeably snappy and delightfully original, if a bit slapdash, "Sound of Noise" may especially appeal to music lovers — or to anyone who finds the sight of a metronome in a zip-lock evidence bag hilarious. "They're musicians," hisses Amadeus, "and they will strike again."

Stars: Bengt Nilsson, Sanna Persson Halapi, Magnus Börjeson, Anders Vestergård, Fredrik Myhr

Director: Ola Simonsson, Johannes Stjärne Nilsson

Showing: 7 p.m. June 9 at the Neptune, 1:15 p.m. June 11 at the Neptune

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Hot Coffee." You know all about that frivolous lady who sued McDonald's for a million bucks for spilling hot coffee on herself, right? Well, think again. After you see the huge, scabrous burns on the insides of her thighs and hear how a highly coordinated propaganda campaign turned this case into a poster child for "tort reform" — i.e., keeping you out of the courts so you can't sue businesses — you'll realize you were had. This powerful, well-argued polemic explains just how far the forces of the right have come in abjuring the average citizen's constitutional right to a civil trial, in part by making phrases like "frivolous lawsuits" and "jackpot justice" a regular part of our political vocabulary. Scary stuff, though one does wonder after 40 minutes of talking heads whether it might have made a better magazine article than a documentary film. Except, of course, for those hideously scalded thighs.

Director: Susan Saladoff

Showing: 7 p.m. June 9 at Harvard Exit; 11 a.m. June 11 at Harvard Exit

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"To Be Heard." This frustrating but affecting documentary focuses on an aggressive New York poetry class, the Power Writers Program, that began in 2002 and grew to include more than 500 members. The film's four directors try to be upbeat about their prospects, but the cumulative effect of the picture is ambiguous. That's especially true when it follows the sad story of Anthony, a promising but immature Bronx hip-hop artist who lands in jail, just like his father — though for very different reasons. In the end, it's Anthony's female contemporaries, Pearl and Karina, who more clearly demonstrate resilience and survival skills.

Directors: Amy Sultan, Roland Legiaridi-Laura, Deborah Shaffer, Edwin Martinez.

Showing: 7 p.m. June 9 at SIFF Cinema; 11 a.m. June 11 at SIFF Cinema

Extras: Pearl Quick, Amy Sultan and Roland Legiaridi-Laura are scheduled to attend.

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Por El Camino." A laid-back magical-mystery tour through the rolling countryside of Uruguay, "Por El Camino" meanders rather than moves along — and that's part of its charm. When former investment banker Santiago (Esteban Feune de Colombi) sets out to investigate a parcel of land he's inherited, he picks up a sulky Belgian beauty (Jill Mullready) en route who's trying to reconnect with a man she met in Costa Rica. Sparks take a while to fly between the two travelers, but in the meantime the vistas are spectacular, the beaches are pristine and the houses where the two stay are out of some high-end, rustic Shangri La. Feune de Colombi is especially enjoyable as a wanderer who has his doubts about the bliss he's finding.

Stars: Esteban Feune de Colombi, Jill Mulleady

Director: Charly BraunShowing: 7 p.m. June 9 at Pacific Place; 11 a.m. June 11 at Pacific Place

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"Tabloid." Errol Morris, who usually makes serious documentaries about the fog of war and the horrors of Abu Ghraib, takes a much lighter approach with this account of a Mormon kidnapping scandal that became a U.K. headline-maker in the late 1970s. The chief testimony is provided by smart former beauty queen Joyce McKinney (168 I.Q.), whose sexual appetite landed her in lots of compromising situations. The movie is sometimes literally a mockumentary, with Morris providing cute subtitles for such McKinney-isms as "little fridge" (translated as "minibar"), but it's easy to take and sometimes very funny, especially when different points of view are colliding and McKinney is discussing yet another scandal — or her new enthusiasm for pet cloning.

Director: Errol Morris

Showing: 9:30 p.m. June 9 at SIFF Cinema; 3:45 p.m. June 11 at the Admiral

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"The Most Important Thing in Life Is Not Being Dead." Sporadically amusing and visually mischievous, this first feature by a three-man directing team from Spain and Switzerland tells the murky story of an aging Spanish piano tuner who encounters a strange man in his living room. The discovery leads to a fantastic (if illogical) revelation about his wife's past relationship with a fugitive from Franco's long-gone dictatorship. Magical realism (or something) matters more here than story clarity, which proves wearing but creates a few charming moments.

Stars: Emilio Gutierrez Caba, Marian Aguilera, Merce Montala

Director: Olivier Pictel, Pablo Martin Torrado, Mark Recuenco

Showing: 9:30 p.m. June 9 at the Egyptian Theatre; 1:30 p.m. June 11 at Pacific Place Cinemas

Extras: Director Torrado is scheduled to attend.

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars "On Tour." Actor/director Mathieu Amalric plays a harried French impresario herding a cheerful American burlesque troupe on a tour of France. ("Wake them up. Take them out for air," he instructs an assistant.) The women have a delightful, bawdy camaraderie, but the movie's vague and meandering, almost like a documentary of a burlesque tour rather than the comedy/drama Amalric seems to be aiming for. Lots of burlesque, and discussion of New Burlesque ("It's like playing dress-up," says one of the performers); should appeal to local fans of the genre.

Stars: Mathieu Amalric, Julie Atlas Muz, Miranda Colclasure, Suzanne Ramsey

Director: Mathieu Amalric

Showing: 9:30 p.m. June 9 at the Neptune; 3:30 p.m. June 11 at the Neptune

Extras: Suzanne Ramsey (who plays "Kitten on the Keys" in the film) is scheduled to attend the June 9 and 11 screenings.

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

FRIDAY, JUNE 10

3 stars"Sushi: The Global Catch." Mark Hall's documentary combines appreciation for an elegant art (we see the deft hand movements of traditionally trained sushi chefs in Japan, explaining that it takes two years just to learn how to prepare the rice) with an environmental message: The global popularity of sushi is leaving some breeds of wild fish (most notably bluefin tuna) in danger of disappearing. Solutions are offered — a "guilt-free" sushi restaurant in San Francisco that uses only non-endangered fish, experiments in breeding tuna in captivity — but the issue remains a concern, and well worth raising.

Director: Mark Hall

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 10 at the Harvard Exit

Extras: Director Hall is scheduled to attend.

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2.5 stars"Old Goats." Hollywood's most neglected demographic — retired seniors looking for ways to fill their abundant spare time — gets an amusing, humanistic showcase in this debut feature by UW film student Taylor Guterson (son of Bainbridge Island novelist David Guterson). With local actors Bob Burkholder, David VanderWal and Britton Crosley playing themselves, these ornery old goats go through such elderly rites of passage as making Wi-Fi connections, Internet matchmaking, surfing porn sites as a precursor to reviving their sex lives and generally refusing to let age get in their way. Wearing multiple hats as director, writer, producer, editor and cinematographer, Guterson would benefit from a more experienced crew, but he's delivered enough sweetness and laughter to make the movie's technical shortcomings forgivable.

Stars: Bob Burkholder, David VanderWal, Britton Crosley

Director: Taylor Guterson

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 10 at the Admiral

Jeff Shannon, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Heading West." Dutch director Nicole van Kilsdonk looks like she's up to something genuinely intriguing in the first third of this impressionistic drama about a single mother, Claire (Susan Visser), who teaches deaf students, gets around by bicycle and alternates between lonely despair and unfulfilling (sometimes downright ugly) connections with others. For a while, van Kilsdonk's episodic structure randomly drops us into Claire's days and nights, revealing a moment of abusiveness by her jackass of an ex-husband, a flirtation with another bicyclist on a bridge and instances of staring out her apartment window at the lives of passers-by below. There's an intuitive, connect-the-dots intelligence here that is quite striking until Kilsdonk mires everything in one of the most unappealing relationship tales in years.

Stars: Susan Visser, Stefan Rokebrand, Viggo Waas, Koen Borkent, Annemarie Prins

Director: Nicole van Kilsdonk

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 10 at the Egyptian Theatre

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Letters From the Big Man." You want to like this implausible fantasy about Sarah, an intrepid, fiercely independent (though not particularly likable) ex-Forest Service employee and visual artist who, on the rebound from a relationship, strikes up another rather unusual friendship — with a Sasquatch. Though played for suspense, things don't turn out as one might expect, which is refreshing, and so are the gorgeous autumnal wilderness shots. But, ultimately, nothing really adds up in this flat film, and the plot's a tad tangled, too.

Stars: Lily Rabe, Jason Butler Harner, Karen Black

Director: Christopher Munch

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 10 at SIFF Cinema; 4:30 p.m. June 11 at SIFF Cinema

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times Arts Writer

3 stars"Win/Win." Can stock-market wizardry bring happiness? Not in this quirky, inventively shot Dutch fable, set during the recent financial crisis. Ivan (Oscar Van Rompay), a gangly, goggle-eyed elf of a fellow, doesn't just crunch numbers — he surfs them at top speed. His perception of the world is as giddy as his financial sleight of hand. But when his advice fails to lift a colleague to his own dizzying heights, he goes into free fall. Van Rompay, in both triumph and downward spiral, is mesmerizing, as is Halina Rejin as the skeptical receptionist he courts. What his tale ultimately means, though, is elusive. (Note: There's no connection here with the recent Paul Giamatti movie.)

Stars: Oscar Van Rompay, Halina Rejin

Director: Jaap van Heusden

Showing: 7 p.m. June 10 at Kirkland Performance Center

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"Revenge of the Electric Car." Documentary filmmaker Chris Paine follows up his 2006 "Who Killed the Electric Car?" with this fly-on-the-wall account of efforts, in the last few years, by four automobile manufacturers to get their own electric cars into production and on the market. Along the way, we encounter ironic, funny and telling moments involving some of the larger personalities running these companies, all of whom are gambling with their destinies to transition away from fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. One learns much about the specific impact on the industry via President Obama's controversial bailout of Detroit. Paine does a terrific job of teasing out the sometimes-harrowing dramas going on in the background of this story. Narrated by Tim Robbins.

Director: Chris Paine.

Showing: 7 p.m. June 10 at the Egyptian Theatre; 4:30 p.m. June 12 at the Harvard Exit

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"All Your Dead Ones." SIFF is, rather weirdly, classifying this Colombian film in its thriller category; really, it's a dark comedy that just happens to have a pile of dead bodies at its center. A farmer finds said bodies one morning, dumped in a heap in the middle of his cornfield, and tries to notify the authorities, but things grow more absurd from there. It's a potentially good premise, and there are certainly moments of charm (particularly the final credit sequence), but "All Your Dead Ones" suffers from a pace about as lively as that pile of corpses. For much of its brief running time, it's a slog.

Stars: Alvaro Rodriguez, Jorge Herrera, Martha Márquez, Harold De Vssten, John Alex Castillo

Director: Carlos Moreno

Showing: 7 p.m. June 10 at the Harvard Exit; 4:15 p.m. June 12 at the Neptune

Extras: Actor Jorge Herrera is scheduled to attend.

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Absent." You might spend most of this Argentine production's 87 minutes trying to figure out exactly what kind of movie you're watching. Is it a thriller? Is it a feature-length tease? Is it some kind of commentary on the nervous nature of student-teacher relations in the 21st century? But that's OK, provided you have an appetite for riddles that don't feel compelled to explain themselves entirely. Writer-director Marco Berger neatly builds suspense as he finds an emotional truth in his story of a 16-year-old boy who manipulates a swimming coach with a series of seemingly spontaneous lies. Javier De Pietro plays the kid as a mixture of innocence and playfulness; he's always on the edge of going too far.

Stars: Carlos Echevarria, Javier De Pietro

Director: Marco Berger

Showing: 9:30 p.m. June 10 at the Harvard Exit; 1:30 p.m. June 11 at the Harvard Exit

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Lys." This eco-science-fiction-thriller, at a scant 52 minutes, doesn't give itself enough time to really go anywhere; it's based on an intriguing idea but ultimately feels flat. Lys (lovely Hanna Schwamborn) is a teenage girl found inside the core of a power plant, causing a blackout and raising questions about her mysterious connection to "anima-energy." While it's undeniably fun to hear the line, "The spores are going to kill all of us!" (even in German), "Lys" leaves puzzlement in its wake. Showing with the long and fairly grim short "Roman's Ark."

Stars: Hanna Schwamborn, Horst-Gunter Marx, Marc Hosemann, Catherine Bode, Ecki Hoffmann

Director: Krystof Zlatnik

Showing: 9:30 p.m. June 10 at the Neptune; 11 a.m. June 11 at the Neptune

Extras: Director Zlatnik is scheduled to attend.

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

SATURDAY, JUNE 11

3 stars"Hot Coffee." You know all about that frivolous lady who sued McDonald's for a million bucks for spilling hot coffee on herself, right? Well, think again. After you see the huge, scabrous burns on the insides of her thighs and hear how a highly coordinated propaganda campaign turned this case into a poster child for "tort reform" — i.e., keeping you out of the courts so you can't sue businesses — you'll realize you were had. This powerful, well-argued polemic explains just how far the forces of the right have come in abjuring the average citizen's constitutional right to a civil trial, in part by making phrases like "frivolous lawsuits" and "jackpot justice" a regular part of our political vocabulary. Scary stuff, though one does wonder after 40 minutes of talking heads whether it might have made a better magazine article than a documentary film. Except, of course, for those hideously scalded thighs.

Director: Susan Saladoff

Showing: 11 a.m. June 11 at Harvard Exit

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times arts writer

2 stars"Lys." This eco-science-fiction-thriller, at a scant 52 minutes, doesn't give itself enough time to really go anywhere; it's based on an intriguing idea but ultimately feels flat. Lys (lovely Hanna Schwamborn) is a teenage girl found inside the core of a power plant, causing a blackout and raising questions about her mysterious connection to "anima-energy." While it's undeniably fun to hear the line, "The spores are going to kill all of us!" (even in German), "Lys" leaves puzzlement in its wake. Showing with the long and fairly grim short "Roman's Ark."

Stars: Hanna Schwamborn, Horst-Gunter Marx, Marc Hosemann, Catherine Bode, Ecki Hoffmann

Director: Krystof Zlatnik

Showing: 11 a.m. June 11 at the Neptune

Extras: Director Zlatnik is scheduled to attend.

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Por El Camino." A laid-back magical-mystery tour through the rolling countryside of Uruguay, "Por El Camino" meanders rather than moves along — and that's part of its charm. When former investment banker Santiago (Esteban Feune de Colombi) sets out to investigate a parcel of land he's inherited, he picks up a sulky Belgian beauty (Jill Mullready) en route who's trying to reconnect with a man she met in Costa Rica. Sparks take a while to fly between the two travelers, but in the meantime the vistas are spectacular, the beaches are pristine and the houses where the two stay are out of some high-end, rustic Shangri La. Feune de Colombi is especially enjoyable as a wanderer who has his doubts about the bliss he's finding.

Stars: Esteban Feune de Colombi, Jill Mulleady

Director: Charly BraunShowing: 11 a.m. June 11 at Pacific Place

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

3 stars"To Be Heard." This frustrating but affecting documentary focuses on an aggressive New York poetry class, the Power Writers Program, that began in 2002 and grew to include more than 500 members. The film's four directors try to be upbeat about their prospects, but the cumulative effect of the picture is ambiguous. That's especially true when it follows the sad story of Anthony, a promising but immature Bronx hip-hop artist who lands in jail, just like his father — though for very different reasons. In the end, it's Anthony's female contemporaries, Pearl and Karina, who more clearly demonstrate resilience and survival skills.

Directors: Amy Sultan, Roland Legiaridi-Laura, Deborah Shaffer, Edwin Martinez.

Showing: 11 a.m. June 11 at SIFF Cinema

Extras: Pearl Quick, Amy Sultan and Roland Legiaridi-Laura are scheduled to attend.

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Sound of Noise." "This is a gig! Listen and no one will get hurt!" says the leader of a band of masked musicians, breaking into a bank in order to perform a sort of urban symphony. It's one of many funny moments in this Swedish comedy, about a cop named Amadeus (born tone-deaf, alas, into a family of musicians) and the gang of musician/anarchists he's determined to bring down. Agreeably snappy and delightfully original, if a bit slapdash, "Sound of Noise" may especially appeal to music lovers — or to anyone who finds the sight of a metronome in a zip-lock evidence bag hilarious. "They're musicians," hisses Amadeus, "and they will strike again."

Stars: Bengt Nilsson, Sanna Persson Halapi, Magnus Börjeson, Anders Vestergård, Fredrik Myhr

Director: Ola Simonsson, Johannes Stjärne Nilsson

Showing: 1:15 p.m. June 11 at the Neptune

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2 stars"The Most Important Thing in Life Is Not Being Dead." Sporadically amusing and visually mischievous, this first feature by a three-man directing team from Spain and Switzerland tells the murky story of an aging Spanish piano tuner who encounters a strange man in his living room. The discovery leads to a fantastic (if illogical) revelation about his wife's past relationship with a fugitive from Franco's long-gone dictatorship. Magical realism (or something) matters more here than story clarity, which proves wearing but creates a few charming moments.

Stars: Emilio Gutierrez Caba, Marian Aguilera, Merce Montala

Director: Olivier Pictel, Pablo Martin Torrado, Mark Recuenco

Showing: 1:30 p.m. June 11 at Pacific Place Cinemas

Extras: Director Torrado is scheduled to attend.

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3 stars"Absent." You might spend most of this Argentine production's 87 minutes trying to figure out exactly what kind of movie you're watching. Is it a thriller? Is it a feature-length tease? Is it some kind of commentary on the nervous nature of student-teacher relations in the 21st century? But that's OK, provided you have an appetite for riddles that don't feel compelled to explain themselves entirely. Writer-director Marco Berger neatly builds suspense as he finds an emotional truth in his story of a 16-year-old boy who manipulates a swimming coach with a series of seemingly spontaneous lies. Javier De Pietro plays the kid as a mixture of innocence and playfulness; he's always on the edge of going too far.

Stars: Carlos Echevarria, Javier De Pietro

Director: Marco Berger

Showing: 1:30 p.m. June 11 at the Harvard Exit.

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2.5 stars "On Tour." Actor/director Mathieu Amalric plays a harried French impresario herding a cheerful American burlesque troupe on a tour of France. ("Wake them up. Take them out for air," he instructs an assistant.) The women have a delightful, bawdy camaraderie, but the movie's vague and meandering, almost like a documentary of a burlesque tour rather than the comedy/drama Amalric seems to be aiming for. Lots of burlesque, and discussion of New Burlesque ("It's like playing dress-up," says one of the performers); should appeal to local fans of the genre.

Stars: Mathieu Amalric, Julie Atlas Muz, Miranda Colclasure, Suzanne Ramsey

Director: Mathieu Amalric

Showing: 3:30 p.m. June 11 at the Neptune

Extras: Suzanne Ramsey (who plays "Kitten on the Keys" in the film) is scheduled to attend the screening.

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Tabloid." Errol Morris, who usually makes serious documentaries about the fog of war and the horrors of Abu Ghraib, takes a much lighter approach with this account of a Mormon kidnapping scandal that became a U.K. headline-maker in the late 1970s. The chief testimony is provided by smart former beauty queen Joyce McKinney (168 I.Q.), whose sexual appetite landed her in lots of compromising situations. The movie is sometimes literally a mockumentary, with Morris providing cute subtitles for such McKinney-isms as "little fridge" (translated as "minibar"), but it's easy to take and sometimes very funny, especially when different points of view are colliding and McKinney is discussing yet another scandal — or her new enthusiasm for pet cloning.

Director: Errol Morris

Showing: 3:45 p.m. June 11 at the Admiral

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Letters From the Big Man." You want to like this implausible fantasy about Sarah, an intrepid, fiercely independent (though not particularly likable) ex-Forest Service employee and visual artist who, on the rebound from a relationship, strikes up another rather unusual friendship — with a Sasquatch. Though played for suspense, things don't turn out as one might expect, which is refreshing, and so are the gorgeous autumnal wilderness shots. But, ultimately, nothing really adds up in this flat film, and the plot's a tad tangled, too.

Stars: Lily Rabe, Jason Butler Harner, Karen Black

Director: Christopher Munch

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 11 at SIFF Cinema

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times Arts Writer

2.5 stars"Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians." There's a fascinating story behind Bryan Storkel's tale of a Seattle-based group of young Christians who form a team of blackjack players, using card-counting to win vast sums from casinos (from 2006-2009: $3.2 million). The players insist that they're not gambling — "It just seemed like God at work," says one team member — and that they've discovered a wonderful way to make a great deal of money for more noble pursuits. But the movie never really builds to a point, and a potentially compelling conflict involving a non-Christian team player isn't fully explored, leaving the viewer intrigued yet frustrated — and ready to learn a few things about card-counting.

Director: Bryan Storkel

Showing: 6 p.m. June 11 at the Admiral; 3:30 p.m. June 12 at SIFF Cinema

Extras: Director Bryan Storkel, producer Jason Connell and other cast/crew members are scheduled to attend

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Toast." One is likely to follow a viewing of this British dramedy with a hankering for lemon meringue pie and the greatest hits of Dusty Springfield. Based on a childhood memoir by the celebrated chef and writer Nigel Slater, "Toast" reveals the future foodie's origins in a 1960s unhappy home with a raging dad (Ken Stott), sickly mum (Victoria Hamilton) and a daily cuisine of canned vegetables and boring meat dishes. Desperate to take charge of the kitchen, Nigel (played by Oscar Kennedy as a young boy, Freddie Highsmith as a teen) faces steep competition from a housecleaner (Helena Bonham Carter) who pushes her way into the family's life with her own spectacular meals. Carter steals the show with her brassy villainy and comic physicality: watching her clean an oven in some inimitably British, frumpy-sexy way is a genuine delight.

Stars: Freddie Highsmith, Oscar Kennedy, Helena Bonham Carter, Ken Stott, Victoria Hamilton

Director: S.J. Clarkson

Showing: 6:30 p.m. June 11 at the Neptune; 11 a.m. June 12 at the Neptune

Extras: Director Clarkson is scheduled to attend the screenings.

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Spud." This feature debut about a 13-year-old white South African (Troye Sivan) enrolled in a boarding school just when apartheid is unraveling starts off promisingly. Unfortunately, the boy's window onto political upheaval is closed almost as soon as it's opened, and Sivan's drolly understated voiceovers about his sometimes-miserable experiences recede, too, in favor of broad humor, choppy narrative and increasing gobs of sentiment. Coming-of-age clichés are trotted out in formulaic fashion, and even John Cleese, after a splendid entrance as an alcoholic English teacher who turns the young narrator onto literature, loses steam after a while.

Stars: John Cleese, Troye Sivan

Director: Donovan Marsh

Showing: 7 p.m. June 11 at SIFF Cinema; 1:30 p.m. June 12 at the Harvard Exit

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

SUNDAY, JUNE 12

3 stars"Toast." One is likely to follow a viewing of this British dramedy with a hankering for lemon meringue pie and the greatest hits of Dusty Springfield. Based on a childhood memoir by the celebrated chef and writer Nigel Slater, "Toast" reveals the future foodie's origins in a 1960s unhappy home with a raging dad (Ken Stott), sickly mum (Victoria Hamilton) and a daily cuisine of canned vegetables and boring meat dishes. Desperate to take charge of the kitchen, Nigel (played by Oscar Kennedy as a young boy, Freddie Highsmith as a teen) faces steep competition from a housecleaner (Helena Bonham Carter) who pushes her way into the family's life with her own spectacular meals. Carter steals the show with her brassy villainy and comic physicality: watching her clean an oven in some inimitably British, frumpy-sexy way is a genuine delight.

Stars: Freddie Highsmith, Oscar Kennedy, Helena Bonham Carter, Ken Stott, Victoria Hamilton

Director: S.J. Clarkson

Showing: 11 a.m. June 12 at the Neptune

Extras: Director Clarkson is scheduled to attend the screening.

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"Spud." This feature debut about a 13-year-old white South African (Troye Sivan) enrolled in a boarding school just when apartheid is unraveling starts off promisingly. Unfortunately, the boy's window onto political upheaval is closed almost as soon as it's opened, and Sivan's drolly understated voiceovers about his sometimes-miserable experiences recede, too, in favor of broad humor, choppy narrative and increasing gobs of sentiment. Coming-of-age clichés are trotted out in formulaic fashion, and even John Cleese, after a splendid entrance as an alcoholic English teacher who turns the young narrator onto literature, loses steam after a while.

Stars: John Cleese, Troye Sivan

Director: Donovan Marsh

Showing: 1:30 p.m. June 12 at the Harvard Exit

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

2.5 stars"Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians." There's a fascinating story behind Bryan Storkel's tale of a Seattle-based group of young Christians who form a team of blackjack players, using card-counting to win vast sums from casinos (from 2006-2009: $3.2 million). The players insist that they're not gambling — "It just seemed like God at work," says one team member — and that they've discovered a wonderful way to make a great deal of money for more noble pursuits. But the movie never really builds to a point, and a potentially compelling conflict involving a non-Christian team player isn't fully explored, leaving the viewer intrigued yet frustrated — and ready to learn a few things about card-counting.

Director: Bryan Storkel

Showing: 6 p.m. June 11 at the Admiral; 3:30 p.m. June 12 at SIFF Cinema

Extras: Director Bryan Storkel, producer Jason Connell and other cast/crew members are scheduled to attend

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

2.5 stars"Kosmos." The title of this Turkish-Bulgarian drama suggests a visually spectacular IMAX epic, and certainly it delivers on that score. Already a prizewinner for its cinematography, it's stuffed with widescreen close-ups of horses' heads and small-town landmarks we come to know. It begins with the rescue of a boy from an icy river; the wind-chill factor never seems to reach much higher than zero. The dialogue, filled with wildly fatalistic pronouncements about the nature of nature, is something else. Standing in front of a slaughterhouse, the central character insists that the animals inside know they're dying and gratefully accept it.

Stars: Sermet Yesil, Turku Turan

Director: Reha Erdem

Showing: 3:30 p.m. June 12 at the Kirkland Performance Center

Extras: Erdem is scheduled to attend the festival.

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

2 stars"All Your Dead Ones." SIFF is, rather weirdly, classifying this Colombian film in its thriller category; really, it's a dark comedy that just happens to have a pile of dead bodies at its center. A farmer finds said bodies one morning, dumped in a heap in the middle of his cornfield, and tries to notify the authorities, but things grow more absurd from there. It's a potentially good premise, and there are certainly moments of charm (particularly the final credit sequence), but "All Your Dead Ones" suffers from a pace about as lively as that pile of corpses. For much of its brief running time, it's a slog.

Stars: Alvaro Rodriguez, Jorge Herrera, Martha Márquez, Harold De Vssten, John Alex Castillo

Director: Carlos Moreno

Showing: 4:15 p.m. June 12 at the Neptune

Extras: Actor Jorge Herrera is scheduled to attend.

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

3 stars"Revenge of the Electric Car." Documentary filmmaker Chris Paine follows up his 2006 "Who Killed the Electric Car?" with this fly-on-the-wall account of efforts, in the last few years, by four automobile manufacturers to get their own electric cars into production and on the market. Along the way, we encounter ironic, funny and telling moments involving some of the larger personalities running these companies, all of whom are gambling with their destinies to transition away from fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. One learns much about the specific impact on the industry via President Obama's controversial bailout of Detroit. Paine does a terrific job of teasing out the sometimes-harrowing dramas going on in the background of this story. Narrated by Tim Robbins.

Director: Chris Paine.

Showing: 4:30 p.m. June 12 at the Harvard Exit

Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times

3.5 stars"Life in a Day." Reminiscent of "Koyaanisqatsi" and IMAX's "To the Limit," this dazzling closing-night film draws from thousands of YouTube videos that were shot in dozens of countries on the same day: July 24, 2010. Thanks to the perceptive work of Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald (who made "Touching the Void") and his editor, Joe Walker, the result is both spectacular and intimate, with a thoughtful emphasis on two essential questions: "Who do you love?" and "What do you fear?" What could have been a slick commercial gimmick turns out to be philosophical and heartfelt. The last sequence, an odd mixture of apology, regret and hope, is especially touching. It's a glorious choice for the SIFF finale.

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Showing: 6 p.m. June 12 at Cinerama

Extras: Editor Joe Walker is scheduled to attend the screening.

John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

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