So far, I’ve seen only three of this year’s Seattle International Film Festival offerings, and I’m likely only to get two more in before the spectacle wraps up next weekend. This is a shame, because not only have the films been excellent, they’ve afforded me yet another window into our collective public consciousness up here in the upper left corner of the country. (Yes, Alaska, I know you’re more “upper left,” but you know what I mean. It’s a Lower 48 thing.)
Writing from a rooftop restaurant between screenings, I’m eavesdropping on the conversations of my fellow diners: the group at the table behind me is discussing the wondrous appearance of hard liquor for sale in grocery stores, others are sighing at this week’s tragic gun violence, and the glamorous transgender woman at the table across from me is ordering in Spanish for herself and her breathlessly enamored and significantly less good-looking date.
Across the street, a middle-aged couple is emerging, just married — onto a street called Republican — from a church that brandishes an enormous rainbow flag proclaiming “You are Welcome Here.” The wedding guests and passers-by alike erupt into applause.
The sun is playing hide and seek, and the homeless peoples and the hawkers and the Red Cross volunteers all dance on the sidewalk below to position themselves for maximum Vitamin D exposure.
Some of us, of course, are headed out of the spring (yes, it’s June, but summer doesn’t start here until at least the 5th of July — ask anyone) sunshine and back into the dark. Next, I’ll line up to see Price Check with my alliteratively named all-time fave Parker Posey — but here’s what my fellow Seattle-ites and I can recommend so far:
Fat Kid Rules the World:
Of course Seattle audiences loved this one… A fictional hometown boy goes totally punk rock and saves his Cobain look-alike friend from self-destruction by springing him from rehab for a one-night-only rooftop gig. Will Fat Kid be the new Singles? Only a major theatrical release will tell.
This one, too, went over well in the Starbucks capital of the world, despite the fact that it had absolutely nothing to do with coffee. The title character gave himself this legendary name during a particularly (ahem) fertile period in his life, making deposits at his local sperm bank. (This has to be a Moby Dick reference, right?) In any case, it was charming, hilarious and just scatological enough to make us believe that having 533 siblings might actually be fun.
Talk about a buzz-kill. My fellow theater-goers may have gone into this on one riding the high of our sunny day, but we left with the breath punched out of us as we considered the conservative attack on science and social studies curricula. The only “funny” moments in the film came when the members of the Texas State Board of Education made impassioned prayers for God’s guidance immediately prior to discussing the philosophical question of the separation of church and state. It was a combination of rueful and mocking laughter — but maybe that just because we’re all a bunch of secular humanists hell-bent on proselytizing our left-wing agenda.
Next, it’s Finding North, a documentary NOT about an expedition to Alaska, but about food insecurity in America. I’m sure Seattle audiences will love it, but they won’t laugh.