Wednesday, May 17, 2017

13 SIFF 2017 Films You Need To See

It’s that time of year again, time for the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival. For those unfamiliar, this is an epic, near-month-long marathon of movies from around the globe. What better way to spend a burgeoning Pacific Northwest summer than by sitting indoors in the dark watching movies?

As usual, there are north of 400 movies to choose from. I told you it was a marathon. For some, this represents their public debut, while others have made the festival rounds, gathering hype and looking for distribution along the way. There’s fast-paced action, gut-punching documentaries, twee indie comedies, sophisticated drama, horror (though a woefully scant selection this year), sci-fi (there’s usually a woefully scant selection), and pretty much anything else you’re looking for.

Because there are so many movies at SIFF, here’s a handy dandy list of movies we’re excited to see. There are a few titles we’ve been waiting for since earlier fests, a handful of outliers, and some that just sound rad. And as is the case most years, our must-see list will likely evolve over the course of the fest.

The Big Sick

Riding a wave of hype coming out of Sundance, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon mine their own real-life story for relationship comedy The Big Sick. Directed by Michael Showalter and starring Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan, a couple has to navigate one-night stands, cultural differences, and medical problems as their relationship grows and evolves.


Gillian Robespiere totally killed it in 2014 with Obvious Child, you know, the abortion rom-com. Now she’s reteamed with Jenny Slate for Landline. Set in 1995, it follows three female members of a New York family—Slate, Edie Falco, and Abby Quinn—as they discover the father/husband is having an affair. And we know it won’t be a simple and straightforward as that.

Bad Black

I’ve already seen this slice of Wakaliwood madness, and unless something truly blows my hair back, this will go down as my favorite movie of SIFF 2017. Shot on video for no money in a Ugandan slum, Bad Black filters that experience through insane, American-style action antics. Borderline incoherent, the plot includes a rags-to-riches gangster story and a mild-mannered doctor “trained in the art of ass-kicking commando vengeance by a no-nonsense ghetto kid named Wesley Snipes.” Even that fails to do justice to the onscreen insanity. Just watch this and prepare to have your brain melt.

Jungle Trap

I’m a sucker for long-lost shot-on-video oddities made by lunatics, and as such, legendary maniac James Bryan’s (Lady Street Fighter, Don’t Go in the Woods, Hell Riders) recently unearthed Jungle Trap, about a jungle hotel haunted by murderous ghosts, is a must watch. I’m even planning to brave the lone screening, a midnight show, which is so far past my bedtime it’s not even funny.

The Little Hours

A period comedy about foul-mouthed sex nuns starring Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, John C. Reilly, Dave Franco, and Nick Offerman? You had me at hello. But this is the type of movie that proudly flaunts a scathing review from the Catholic Church, which makes me want it even more.

Endless Poetry

An 88-year-old Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surrealist autobiographical film. Need I say more?

The Door

A blue-collar Chinese auto mechanic discovers a door that whisks him away to an alternate reality where he’s rich playboy. That right there is enough to get me to watch your movie.


Described by one review as a “hipster French terrorism picture,” Bertrand Bonello’s portrait of young radicals looks compelling and provocative, and I’ve have it on good authority from people I trust that it rules.

The Bar

Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia is a damn lunatic, creating unhinged sensory assaults like The Last Circus, The Day of the Beast, 800 Bullets, and more. So you better believe I’m into The Bar, a condensed thriller about a group of people trapped in a cafĂ© by a rogue sniper.

Bad Day for the Cut

A mild-mannered Irish farmer pushed too far going after revenge on the criminal who killed his mother. It’s apparently bloody and raw, and that’s all I really need from this movie.

The Oath

Icelandic action filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur wrote, directed, and stars in The Oath, a nasty little suspense thriller about a father trying to pull his daughter out of the seedy underworld. Kind of like Taken, but I imagine more brutal.

Wind River

After penning Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan serves as both writer and director on Wind River, a thriller about a newbie FBI agent and a grizzled tracker teaming up to solve a murder on an Indian Reservation. With a cast including Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Jon Bernthal (all three Marvel veterans, oddly enough), Graham Greene, and others, this isn’t one to miss.

Meatball Machine Kodoku

When I first wrote about Meatball Machine Kodoku last year, I described it as “heavy metal, blood, and machine gun boobs…and blood.” That assessment hasn’t changed, but the latest from unhinged Tokyo Gore Police mastermind Yoshihiro Nishimura looks like a spectacle of blood geysers, violence, and insanity. AKA, exactly what you hope for from the gore master.

There are, of course, tons of other titles worth a look. Cartel Land helmer Matthew Heineman’s latest, City of Ghosts, looks at the fight against ISIS. Moka is a quiet, continually surprising revenge thriller about a grieving mother. Lake Bodom has been a staple on the recent festival circuit and is one of the few horror movies at SIFF this year. Casey Affleck may be a piece of human garbage, but David Lowery has yet to do me wrong, and A Ghost Story looks fantastic. I’m not entirely sure what The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One is all about, but it looks nuts and I can’t wait to find out.

Some of these I’ll see, others I’ll miss. Some I’ll regret seeing, others I’ll be sad to skip. I’ll randomly watch some that will disappoint me, and check out a few that blow me away. At some point in the midst of all of this, I’ll catch a nasty bug and spend two or three days flat on my ass. That’s just how SIFF always goes. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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