SIFF 2024 Capsule Reviews

by | May 15, 2024 | Favorite of the Year | 0 comments

SIFF 2024 Capsule Reviews

Below you can move through different tabs in order to read our capsule review coverage for this year’s 50th Seattle International Film Festival! Be sure to click below for our other methods of coverage.

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thelmaThelma captivates your heart in incredibly touching ways as it shines a light on how we view the elderly in our lives and how differently they may view themselves. Led by a take-no-shit June Squibb who’s as stubborn as your own grandparents, Thelma puts your average family under a microscope of worry when grandma disappears, and the family is left to wonder about her safety. Touching on ideas of freedom and maintaining your autonomy as long as you can, Thelma also gets brutally honest about how health and mental clarity can change over time and how hard that is for everyone to accept. For younger family members it can be more frightening because you aren’t quite used to the behavior that your parents have come to expect in your grandparents. It’s hard for people to see their parents and grandparents as the young people they once were, but even though the body grows older most people’s minds still feel young. June Squibb delivers a fantastic performance that speaks to the resilience people maintain in their old age and she offers up plenty of laughs with her unfiltered commentary that strikes a tone for anyone surrounded by their older family members. An absolute treat of a film.
Scorched EarthScorched Earth offers up a slow-burning German heist film that follows a once prominent thief as he comes out of retirement to help with one last score. Building on the great foundation of all heist movies, Scorched Earth assembles a diverse crew of operatives who offer a wide range of necessary skills for the job. Far more of a straight-shooting drama, the film wastes little time establishing double-crosses and the problematic backgrounds of the operatives, funneling all the tension into a brief skirmish at the end. The bursts of violence and thievery brilliance are thrilling in their own right; however, it may take too long to reach those climaxes before the steam runs out. Misel Maticevic plays the silent/stoic type exceptionally well and is a major standout in a film that also creates a really foreboding atmosphere around the characters. To director and writer Thomas Arslan’s credit, he crafted an incredibly grounded thriller that feels believable in the emotion that the characters display. Some may be in over their heads and there’s a sense of dread the audience feels as we watch this eclectic crew navigate tense situations. Fans of serious, more dramatic thrillers will find plenty to love here!
Tim Travers and the Time Travelers ParadoxTim Travers and the Time Travelers Paradox explores the ramifications of time travel in hilarious and heartbreaking fashion as a lonely scientist seeks to find meaning in the world. Fueled by his massive brain power and an incredible lack of empathy, Samuel Dunning’s Tim Travers has spent years perfecting time travel to discover the powers of the universe at any cost. While it’s quite funny to watch Dunning dispose of alternate versions of himself, the film speaks to the universal feeling of not knowing your purpose in the world and it’s clear that Travers doesn’t even care much about himself. Like all great sci-fi there’s an emotional anchor to the film that resonates with many who ponder our existence in the cosmos, though this film delivers those thoughts with a heaping side of humor. With entertaining cameos from Joel McHale and Keith David, and Danny Trejo, Tim Travers makes for a fun and fascinating time as you begin to question what you might do with alternate versions of yourself. Science fiction and comedy fans are sure to be delighted!
High and Low -John GallianoHigh and Low – John Galliano is a mesmerizing look at one of fashion’s most standout designers who completely changed the world of Couture at the expense of his own health and naivety. Immediately audiences are shown a drunken antisemitic rant that Galliano spewed only a little over a decade ago. Diving into his background and emergence in the fashion world, High and Low does a tremendous job of immersing you in the world of the major fashion houses and the grueling hours it takes to put on these sensational looking fashion shows. Galliano, while no doubt a genius in his ability to design and dress, worked himself to the bone between his own designs and designs for the likes of Dior and Givenchy. Keeping up with so much demand in the fast-moving world of fashion led Galliano to drink more and more over the years, constantly blacking out and being extra work for his peers to handle. While nothing excuses Galliano’s harmful words in 2011, High and Low – John Galliano helps paint a picture of his complicated life and all the tragedies and triumphs he experienced. A constantly entertaining look at fashion, art, and a tortured genius!
In A Violent NatureIn A Violent Nature is an immensely enjoyable slasher feature that’s told this time from the perspective of the seemingly unkillable Jason-eqsue killer. The setting of a camp out by the lake is all too familiar for horror fans and those versed with the Friday the 13th film tropes are sure to have a blast with this film. Balancing brutal and grotesque killings with sophomoric sexual humor, In A Violent Nature follows all the same familiar slasher beats and updates them for even more impact as we spend the runtime tracking the unkillable killer. As one might expect for a film told from the POV of a killer, a fair amount of the runtime is spent tracking the killer through the woods as he tracks down the rowdy kids who’ve disturbed his slumber. It’s fascinating and fun to be the pair of eyes that you know is peeking through the dark wooded tree-line, watching over the kids and their campfire and waiting for the first to separate from the group. Watching this film with an audience is the best way to go because it made for such an interactive and entertaining theater experience filled with laughter and audible fright! It’s a bonus that the cinematography is captivating as you move slowly though the beautiful woods, though for all its beauty you’re not going to forget the creative killings anytime soon! A bloody good time!
Chasing TimeChasing Time is a documentary short that picks up over a decade after the filming crew behind Chasing Ice return to Iceland to retrieve the last bits of data from the Extreme Ice Survey and the camera they left behind to photograph the melting of glaciers. Director Jeff Orlowski-Yang returns to this story he first helped tell with subject James Balog, however this time he’s mentoring co-director Sarah Keo which is perfectly fitting for a story that deals in mentors and the impact they have on us. Chasing Ice ends with irrefutable evidence that glaciers around the world are melting more rapidly due to human activities and if you thought it was heartbreaking seeing one glacier calve, it’s another feeling entirely to see flipbook-style photos of glaciers melting and turning into lakes or even parking lots. Combining an emotionally resonant human tale of battling cancer and the breathtaking visuals of some of the oldest glaciers in the world, Orlowski-Yang and Keo make such a powerful impact in only 40-minutes time. Chasing Time speaks to the process of moving forward while also leaving something behind to help inspire the next generation to feel like they can have an impact on our collective future. The culmination of all the data is shocking and saddening to witness, but it’s also irrefutable and will hopefully spark meaningful discussion as to how we can treat this planet better. Emotional and informative!
Killing RomanceKilling Romance is a wildly entertaining Korean comedy that incorporates so many different genres in its tale of seeing potential in oneself and breaking away from people who wish to keep you down. Blending fantastic musical numbers with hilarious set-pieces and props, Killing Romance manages to strike a delicate balance between humor and heart as it confronts the feelings of inadequacy that human beings all feel at some point. Former TV and movie star Hwang Yeo-Rae (Lee Hanee) is trapped in an awful marriage by her husband Jonathan (Lee Sun-kyun), a larger-than-life movie villain who keeps her at home and away from her passion because he must be the star of everything. When the two move, Yeo-Rae finds herself across the street from one of her biggest fans who seeks to help free her from her captive life. Naturally, the best way to go about things is to kill Jonathan because anyone that tried to get close to Yeo-Rae would be disposed of by Jonathan and the people he pays off. As an American who’s only really seen more serious Korean films, Killing Romance was such a blast to watch and was so full of imagination and ingenious ways to tell the story. Some things are simply so absurd that you can’t help but chuckle and smile largely as you’re completely drawn in to this zany and wonderful world. Anyone seeking a good time need not look any further!
Rioja: The Land of a Thousand WinesRioja: The Land of a Thousand Wines is phenomenal exploration of the Spanish wine region and a very detailed look at the traditional and modern ways in which the wine from the region is cultivated. Unlike most documentaries surround wine, director and cinematographer Jose Luis Lopez-Linares presents the region and winemaking process in strikingly cinematic fashion that completely holds your attention for the 90-minute runtime. Where Rioja also succeeds is in the breakdown of the science behind winemaking and showcasing how much more of an involved process it is than most people think. As a lover of wine and someone who’s spent a fair amount of time out in vineyards and alongside the production side of things, this documentary has everything people should know about the process itself and just how insanely smart winemakers are in the field of science and biology. Looking at the geographical and weather conditions that affect each region, Rioja presents the blueprints for people to understand what can influence the grapes and how they end up tasting after they’ve completed their aging. At its core winemaking is not an industry you get into to make money, as it feels nearly impossible for most wineries to make big profits. Instead, much like how the Europeans have always felt about wine and its real impact, the world of wine exists to bring people together from all over and unite them in flavor and a great time. In the Rioja region, there are so many different winemakers who each bring their unique approach to the craft and end up delivering a product that’s beloved by many and that creates an unparalleled experience. Informative and incredibly entertaining!
Rainier: A Beer OdysseyRainier: A Beer Odyssey is a quintessential story that follows the Northwest experience up in Washington State and examines how Rainier Beer and their advertising campaigns completely changed the game. Touching on the unique history of the Seattle and the contributing factors that led to its more relaxed citizens, Rainier does a fantastic job setting the scene so that once the obscure advertisements come along, it almost feels like second nature for the city’s inhabitants. The advertising group of Heckler/Bowker (eventually Hecker Associates), led by the brilliance of Terry Heckler, ushered in a new wave of advertising campaigns that left everything that conventional beer ads did behind. Looking to craft memorable adverts that felt almost like short films, Heckler and his team crafted countless spots that sparked fun conversation all around the United States and made that big red “R” even more of a figure in popular culture. From Mickey Rooney doing their ads to incorporating classic Seattle folklore, Rainier had an unparalleled run when it was the most dominant beer in Washington State and created a legacy that paved the way for companies like Geico and Progressive to capitalize on odd ads that got people talking. There was so much I learned about the city I was born in, and I left with such a greater appreciation for all the weird things that make Seattle and the Northwest as wonderful as they are. Any fan of beer, great commercials, and the Pacific Northwest should rush to see this!
EternalEternal is an emotionally charged sci-fi/drama that reinforces the belief that love is something that transcends space and time. Writer/Director Ulaa Salim crafts a beautiful meditation on love and life near the end of the world that’s anchored by a superbly rich performance by Simon Sears. The decisions, or lack of decisiveness in our lives carries an unimaginable weight that this film displays so well. At its core, the best science fiction is about humanity.