SIFF ’08: The third week of the festival

My third week of SIFF 2008
by masakaman

During my third week at SIFF 2008, the unusually cold and wet Seattle streets did slow me down little but didn’t stop me from going out to see films at all. Abdullah Oguz’s Bliss from Turkey was undeniably gorgeous and magical. From Japan, Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django was utterly ridiculous and whacked out but he certainly set his reputation straight again. Speaking of whacked, a debut film Still Orangutans dropped by Gustavo Spolidoro from Brazil was just that and blasted all the way through 81 minutes in one shot and in one single take. At the last minute, I changed my original plan and rushed on my Lib Tech, suited up in Spacecraft gear to Pacific Cinema to catch The Drummer. Riding in rainy wet streets almost felt like surfing, going as fast I can — so far I’ve avoided taking any painful falls, but overconfidence is the biggest enemy of one’s own.

The gang pride drama (GPD) angle of The Drummer didn’t interest me at all, but the drum has been my favorite instrument, so I had to find out about Chinese Zen Taiko drumming that is played by the Taiwanese drum troupe U-Theatre. Immediately, Sid, played by Jaycee Chan (Jackie’s son), succeeded in annoying me with his drumming in the opening nightclub scene, and I started thinking about my exit plan… but I stayed. In the movie, Sid gets in a trouble with a mob boss who wants him dead. His gangster father sends him away to hide out in the mountains, where he runs into the Zen drummers. He wants to join them; he thinks he can play better than they do. However, the way of Taiko drumming is not just about playing the instruments. Before you can earn the right to hit, physical training and mental preparation are required. Understanding yourself and the universe around you leads you on the path. Drumming is the way of Life for the drum troupes. Sid is completely oblivious to all of this. He can only move forward when he realizes that and accepts that the others are as important as he is. As he struggles to keep his drumming in sync, he learns more about himself and that life is not as simple as he thought. His new journey allows him to understand his family better and to gain new meaning of love & friendship and courage to face the betrayal by someone he trusted.

In 2005 at SIFF, I also watched Rice Rhapsody (Hainan Chicken Rice) also by Kenneth Bi, the Hong Kong writer-director. While I enjoyed this movie a lot. The Drummer, his sophomore movie, is better on screen than what you can read out of print. It has a serious dramatic tone but also keeps humor within it. Shot with superb production, the movie can be shown to the whole family with little editing. The way it presented U-Theatre’s drumming respectably left me only wanting more. It’s an emotional and spiritually enriching story for everyone who can enjoy a good entertaining commercial movie.

Here are my upcoming film suggestion at SIFF 2008:

In the future, there’s a growing epidemic of people literally
exploding from unhappiness… Shot in the Seattle area, and featuring
music by Polyphonic Spree’s Tim DeLaughter.
9:30pm, June 12, Egyptian
4:00pm, June 14, Egyptian

Pierre Rissient: Man of Cinema
Documentary film about the least known critic, most massively
influential person in international cinema.
6:45pm, June 11, SIFF Cinema
4:00pm, June 13, Harvard Exit

Reminded me of Betty Blue (1986 French film) & someone I knew in the past.
6:30pm, June 14, Harvard Exit
1:30pm, June 15, Harvard Exit

Lakshmi and Me
“What sin did I commit to be born a woman?” extraordinary
documentary, the complex relationship between employer and servant,
filmmaker, and subject.
4:00pm, June 14, Harvard Exit
11:00am, June 15, Harvard Exit

Mysteries of Pittsburgh
Set in 1980s Pittsburgh and based on Michael Chabon’s novel.
9:30pm, June 13, Egyptian
2:00pm, June 15, Uptown

A kind of Russian Traffic, Vice is about young people caught in a
world without options.
9:30pm, June 14, Uptown
11:00am, June 15, Uptown

Fairytale of Kathmandu
Poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh’s philanthropy allows many young men to
further their education, but filmmaker Neasa Ní Chianáin believe his
benevolence serves to feed his darker appetites.
9:30pm, June 12, SIFF Cinema
11:00am, June 14, Pacific Place

Finished at SIFF, but may I recommend to you:


Sukiyaki Western Django

Still Orangutans

Alone in Four Walls

Under the Bombs

Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane that Crashed on the Mountains

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