The 41st Seattle International Film Festival is in full swing, and with more than 400 movies, it's a marathon and can be a big challenge to sift through everything. With that in mind, here are a quick reviews of films you may want to check out, or avoid as the case may be.
Evel Knievel is awesome. That’s undeniable, so no matter what, a documentary about his life, like Being Evel, is going to be at least a decent watch. His story is fascinating, and he’s such an intriguing individual that, even though the film never moves beyond talking heads recounting his life, you’re still intrigued and engaged. The archival footage of the red, white, and blue clad daredevil alone is enough to make this worth checking out, and after watching the Snake River Canyon jump unfold, the story told by those who were there, you’ll never look at that spectacular failure in quite the same way again. That said, Being Evel never distinguishes itself from the heard, and, produced by the History Channel, it feels like a film you’d watch some rainy weekend afternoon on cable and enjoy, but it doesn’t deliver anything more. [Grade: C+]
Snow on the Blades
On the surface, Snow on the Blades is a stylized story of warring clans and changing times in feudal Japan. Shimura Kingo is a samurai tasked with protecting a brutal lord, though he comes to know a different side of the man. When his master is killed while in his care, Shimura embarks on a quest of revenge to assuage his shame, one he’s really bad at vengeance, as the killers all die before he tracks them down. And it’s not nearly as exciting as that sounds. As the years wind by, Japan changes and Shimura becomes an anachronism, a relic of days past, walking around in his robes and topknot while everyone else adopts a western style of dress. Relying too much on expository dialogue—you see the world change, you don’t need to be told—and with a jumbled, pseudo-Proustian gimmick early on, Snow on the Blades is pretty to look at, but meanders directionless, not sure what story it’s telling, full of distracting subplots and obvious twists and reveals that are apparent the moment they first appear on screen. [Grade: C-]