June 9 at SIFF: William Friedkin, 'The Details'
Highlights of Seattle International Film Festival on June 9, 2012, include a visit from director William Friedkin, the shot-in-Seattle "The Details" and more.
Seattle International Film FestivalThrough Sunday at SIFF Cinema Uptown, Egyptian, Pacific Place, Harvard Exit, SIFF Film Center, Kirkland Performance Center. Tickets are $11 for most individual films; various passes and packages are available. Information: 206-324-9996 or www.siff.net.
"An Evening with William Friedkin": The veteran filmmaker visits Seattle International Film Festival, to be honored with SIFF's Lifetime Achievement Award and to talk about nearly a half-century of movies, which include "The French Connection" (for which he won the Oscar for best director in 1972), "The Exorcist" (Oscar-nominated for best director), "To Live and Die in L.A." and more. The evening will include the West Coast premiere of Friedkin's latest film, the black comedy "Killer Joe," and an onstage interview to include audience questions. Emile Hirsch, who stars in "Killer Joe," is also scheduled to attend. 7 p.m. Saturday, at the Egyptian; tickets are $40.
Seattle Times movie critic
"The Details": You may have read about a shot-in-the-Northwest movie about raccoons invading a Seattle backyard. This is that film, and it turns out to be one of the festival's wildest rides. Tobey Maguire, playing a doctor whose home-improvement itch delivers unwelcome consequences, goes from deadpan to shellshocked in 91 minutes. Leading him down that raccoon-infested garden path are a bored wife (Elizabeth Banks), an old friend who turns threatening (Ray Liotta) and an unhinged neighbor (Laura Linney). As "The Money Pit" gradually becomes something closer to "Blue Velvet," nothing turns out the way you might expect, though the opening scenes at a Lake Union wedding-anniversary party do hint of darker things to come. 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Kirkland Performance Center. Director Jacob Aaron Estes is scheduled to attend.
Special to The Seattle Times
"The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music That Changed America": This crisp, welcome documentary about the house band leader at the legendary Savoy Ballroom — the Harlem emporium where acrobatic jitterbugging rose to a high art during the swing era — tells the story of Chick Webb, the hunchback dwarf who drove his group like a locomotive. Webb was revered by competitors, many of whom — Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington — matched wits with him at the Savoy's legendary "battle of band" nights, but never bested him. Webb was also responsible for making a shy, awkward teenage vocalist named Ella Fitzgerald into a star. Though the film could have talked a little more shop about jazz drumming, it features excellent interviews and fabulous vintage footage of Fitzgerald and the dancers (though, sadly, none of Webb himself). 6 p.m. Saturday at the Harvard Exit; also screening 3 p.m. Sunday at the Harvard Exit. Director Jeff Kaufman, who grew up in the Seattle area and attended Bellevue High School and The Evergreen State College, is scheduled to attend both screenings.
Seattle Times jazz critic
"Chasing Ice": Bad news never looked so good — if you take "good" to mean "cinematically spectacular." Jeff Orlowski's documentary tracks National Geographic photographer James Balog, an initial global-warming skeptic, as he sets up time-lapse photo-shoots of glaciers in Iceland, Greenland and Alaska over a period of several years. The results couldn't be more graphic, as glaciers retreat mile by mile and thin to nothing. The speed of the melt, Orlowski makes clear, goes beyond any natural warming-cooling cycle of the Earth's atmosphere. But that sobering message comes leavened by the physical adventures, technical setbacks and ice-scape beauty he catches in a film that pulls you in with all the tension of a steadily unfolding thriller. Balog himself acknowledges the contradiction his mission embraces. It's a thrill for him, as a photographer, to shoot glaciers calving on an unprecedented scale into the ocean. But it couldn't be more alarming to him, as a global citizen, to see what's happening to these Arctic realms. 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Harvard Exit; also screening 1 p.m. June 10, SIFF Cinema Uptown. A panel discussion follows today's screening.
Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer