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SIFF 2024: Day 4 Recap

Posted by May 13th, 2024 No Comments »

Seattle International Film Festival
May 9-19, 2024 in Seattle
Day 4 Recap (Sunday, May 12)

On May 12, the fourth day of the 2024 Seattle International Film Festival, I found my stride and adhered to my carefully planned schedule. I aimed to watch three narrative feature films at three different locations—and I was determined not to let anything derail me. (Spoiler Alert: Something did.)

First on my list was the Iranian film Critical Zone, which deserves a full review—coming soon—just so I can share the clever title I devised: “Critical Zone: Is of Interest.”

Film critics often use the phrase “you must see this on the big screen” for films featuring epic cinematography of nature or war. While Critical Zone doesn’t boast expansive visuals, it’s a must-see for its aural experience that transports you to Tehran’s bustling metropolis.

The story is straightforward: we follow Amir, who deals drugs over a few days. We’re drawn to his stoically fascinating face as he delivers hashish, marijuana, and more across Iran’s largest city. The sounds accompanying Amir’s journey are mesmerizing, irritating, and even exhilarating. Although the film could be shorter by half an hour, in hindsight, I wouldn’t know which scene to cut—all are vital for understanding both Amir and the vibrant city of Tehran, half a world away.

Grade: Highly Recommended

My plan was to cross town to see Turkish film Hesitation Wound, but after running into a SIFF programmer—who previously introduced Warm Blood at SIFF and gave me the chance to interview the director—I opted for a comedy they were showcasing from my second favorite studio, NEON.

Babes was already on my radar, thanks to an earlier trailer. It appeared to be a comedy about two best friends at different stages of motherhood. The AMC downtown was packed. As the film began, I didn’t expect to laugh—but I was wrong. Within ten minutes, I felt like I knew the best friends well enough to laugh out loud at their subversive punchlines and odd non sequiturs.

Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau are perfectly cast as Eden and Dawn, navigating motherhood in New York. The supporting cast, including Hasan Minhaj as Marty and John Carroll Lynch as Dr. Morris, receive surprisingly ample screen time and remain engaging and humorous throughout. However, Stephan James and Oliver Platt steal the show with limited but pivotal roles in Eden’s journey into motherhood.

If NEON continues to produce such diverse, excellent films like Babes, watch out A24—you might be usurped as my favorite.

Returning to my original schedule, I ventured to the Majestic Bay theater for the first time since 2019 to catch an Icelandic tearjerker called Solitude. The fantastic seats, wide aisles, and great sound could make Majestic my top local theater destination. Though only a few attended the late Sunday night screening, everyone was captivated from the start by the pastoral visual majesty.

As the second act began, it felt quite discombobulating as we were swept away from rural life alongside our main character, Gunnar, who is reminiscent of early 2000s Dennis Hopper. As Gunnar slowly acclimates to city life, he meets new people, makes new friends, and possibly finds a new mission in life—just in time for everything to go horribly wrong.

I highly recommend this film for fans of Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), Gran Torino (2008), and even the animated Up (2009). Catch the second showing at the Egyptian on Saturday the 18th at 4:15 PM.

Day four went more “as planned” than day two, and I’m pleased with the outcome. Having watched six films in two days—three documentaries and three narrative features—these are among the best I’ve seen all year. Should I aim for four films today?

Editor’s Note: Follow Tim on his SIFF journey on Instagram, Twitter, and maybe even Facebook. Who knows? If you cheer him on, he might see four films in one day.

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