FF+ John Wick 3, Cobra Kai S2, The Farewell, and Understanding Box Office Totals

In this week’s episode of FF+, we have three spoiler-free reviews and a conversation about the practice of assigning value to box office totals. Enjoy!

 

New For You 

Cobra Kai Season 2 0:01:17

The Farewell – 0:10:40

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – 0:17:45

 

In the News

Understanding Box Office Totals – 0:25:08

 

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Music: City Sunshine – Kevin MacLeod

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2019 Seattle International Film Festival Capsule Reviews

Each year the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) screens hundreds of feature films, documentaries, short films, and more from all around the world over a 25-day period in May and June. This year the largest and most highly attended festival in the United States will run from May 16 – June 9 and show 410 films representing 86 countries, a lineup which includes 36 World premieres, 40 North American premieres, and 19 U.S. premieres. 55% of films come from 1st or 2nd time filmmakers, 46% are made by women filmmakers, and 56% of Feature Competition films are directed by women. The festival will screen several highly anticipated films such as Late Night starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, The Farewell starring Awkwafina, and Sword of Trust written and directed by local filmmaker Lynn Shelton. As part of this year’s celebration of women in comedy, SIFF will be presenting the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema to Regina Hall. Suffice it to say, all 410 films won’t be covered here, but in addition to our podcast coverage of the festival you will find capsule reviews of a wide variety of films across many genres. Check back often for new capsule reviews as we cover the 45th Annual Seattle International Film Festival. (Reviews are in order of film’s earliest showing.)

Must See: THE FAREWELL, MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL

Recommended: MONOS, Q BALL, ROLL RED ROLL

Worth Watching: PACHAMAMA, WHO LET THE DOGS OUT

Skip: AN AFFAIR, COLD SWEAT


MONOS (102 minutes)

Nightmarish, unquestionably dark, and challenging, this story about eight teenage guerrilla fighters in the mountainous jungles of Columbia feels like a hallucinatory mix between LORD OF THE FLIES and APOCALYPSE NOW infused with the contemplative musing of Terrance Malick. Much is left unknown narratively, but the film excels in style. It features outstanding nuanced and intense performances, stunning landscape cinematography, and an incredible, haunting synthetic score from Mica Levi which lead to a sensory experience that evokes a range of conflicting emotions. MONOS is a captivating and unpredictable original work that won’t appeal to everyone, but has the ability to floor those who let themselves become invested. – Aaron White

Rating:

Showtimes: May 17 – 3:30 pm (SIFF Cinema Uptown), May 20 – 9:30 pm (SIFF Cinema Egyptian)

[Get Tickets]


Q BALL (97 minutes)

The famous San Quentin Prison is California’s oldest, and the only one which houses male inmates on death row (the nation’s largest). This Kevin Durant produced film from Michael Tolajian focuses, however, on a rehabilitation program at the correctional facility for the general population, specifically a prison basketball team called the San Quentin Warriors (in honor of their local NBA squad). Over the course of this slickly produced and emotionally powerful documentary, we meet men incarcerated for crimes from domestic violence to gun possession to murder, all seeking redemption and community within the sport they love. Concentrating primarily on highly talented former collegiate athlete Harry “ATL” Smith and his road to parole as the Warriors play through a season against community teams from outside their walls, the film paints a beautiful picture of how basketball is universal and can be “a bridge between worlds” as well as a vehicle for growth. It is a compassionate but fair look at these men, always wrestling with their actions of the past, while trying to be better in the present to earn the hope of a future. Though never diverging to tackle bigger issues like the over-incarceration of people of color or unfair sentencing laws, Q BALL is an inspirational reminder about the power of sport and the need for rehabilitation programs that set up inmates to succeed when their time behind bars is through. – Aaron White

Rating:

 

The kind of heartwarming stories you love to see; a film that shows us the redemptive qualities of a sport like basketball and how it operates as rehabilitation doubling as a place of peace for prisoners at the infamous San Quentin Prison. We follow a select number of convicts who detail their own personal stories on how basketball has given them a new sense of purpose. They detail the reasoning for why they are in prison, the mistakes they have made, and how being involved with a team sport has been the source for new change, hope, and a way to be free amidst the daily reality of life behind bars. It touches your heart and showcases the possibilities and potential for people to change if they are given the opportunities and resources to do so. I’m a sucker for anything sports related in film but this felt more poignant and deeper than sports. – Caless Davis

Rating:

Showtimes: May 17 – 6:30 pm (Ark Lodge Cinemas), May 18 – 12:00 pm (SIFF Cinema Uptown),

May 21 – 3:30 pm (SIFF Cinema Uptown)

[Get Tickets]


WHO LET THE DOGS OUT (70 minutes)

Director Brent Hodge (A BRONY TALE, FREAKS & GEEKS: THE DOCUMENTARY) loves exploring unique stories about popular culture. His latest film follows Ben Sisto, a man who was browsing the Wikipedia entry for the hit song “Who Let the Dogs Out” one day when a spark of curiosity hit. Over the next 8 years, Ben traveled the globe from Seattle to Nassau to England, attempting to nail down the origin of this memorable tune, and in the process uncovered a disputed history of the iconic song that includes a six-year legal battle and several ruined relationships. Though it’s certainly not life-changing, the investigative reporting style, which includes interviews with everyone from eclectic artists to sound engineers, and Ben’s charming personality, make this short, informative documentary an entertaining look into one of the most unforgettable songs to ever get stuck in your head. – Aaron White

Rating:

Showtimes: May 17 – 7:00 pm (SIFF Cinema Uptown), May 19 – 6:30 pm (AMC Pacific Place),

May 25 – 8:30 pm (Shoreline Community College)

[Get Tickets]


AN AFFAIR (90 minutes)

AN AFFAIR comes off as a retread of what I’ve seen the few unfortunate times I have watched a Lifetime original film. Devoid of a plot that is more than simple in execution, lack of character development so that we can understand the decision and behaviors of the people we follow, a lack of awareness when it comes to character making decisions, and bare minimum acting. The film is centered on an affair between a teacher and student at a high school and then the teacher becomes obsessed with carrying on this blurred relationship, losing her sense off morality in a faulty attempt at recapturing a spark long missing from her love life. My biggest issue outside of the flaws I have noted is that the story is in a rush to showcase this steamy affair but we don’t know why this woman is willing to risk her marriage to be with this young teenager; we don’t get any exploration into her marriage or the internal strife she may be dealing with. Any information we do get is put towards the end of the film in the form of cheap exposition; by the time you get any understanding the film is over. I was excited to see this when I saw the change of pace of a teacher being obsessed with a student but honestly this is a big letdown when it had the opportunity to be a compelling drama. – Caless Davis

Rating:

Showtimes: May 19 – 9:00 pm (SIFF Cinema Egyptian), May 20 – 3:30 pm (SIFF Cinema Uptown)

[Get Tickets]


PACHAMAMA (72 minutes)

This visually lush and magical animated tale from Latin America is a delightful depiction of culture in the Andes as the Spanish Conquest looms large over a peaceful farming village. The children’s story follows a young boy who dreams of becoming a shaman as he embarks on a hero’s journey to retrieve a seized religious relic from a representative of the nearby city’s ruling “god”. Accompanied by his wise and faithful female friend, plus two adorable animal sidekicks, their colorful heartfelt adventure is as entertaining as it is educational. – Aaron White

Rating:

Showtimes: May 19 – 11:00 am (AMC Pacific Place), May 27 – 1:00 pm (Lincoln Square)

[Get Tickets]


ROLL RED ROLL (80 minutes)

* Trigger warning for details of real-life sexual assault

“Boys will be boys” fuels the dangerous culture exposed in this documentary that shines a light on a 2012 rape case in Steubenville, OH. Director Nancy Schwartzman shows how a local crime blogger, and later the hacktivist group Anonymous, helped force a city to reckon with the awful sexual assault of a young girl by two star HS football players. The sheer lack of empathy from the teenage boys, victim-blaming, and protection of the abusers by adults is infuriating, disturbing, and gut-wrenching, but hopefully this serves as gripping call to action that will encourage others to stand against this behavior in the future. – Aaron White

Rating:

Showtimes: May 20 – 4:30 pm (Majestic Bay), May 28 – 6:30 pm (SIFF Cinema Uptown),

May 29 – 4:30 pm (SIFF Cinema Uptown)

[Get Tickets]


COLD SWEAT (85 minutes)

COLD SWEAT is a film that has its heart in the right place but does not fully use its message about women living under the patriarchal rule of their husbands in foreign countries to say anything substantial. We follow an Iranian female soccer player who is banned from leaving the country with her team because her husband did not give her permission to leave. Her career is jeopardized and there is no organization or anyone that is willing to help at all because the law is the law. Baran Kosari in the leading role gives us a powerful performance displaying the pain that comes with being a women in the developed world that faces major obstacles to being truly free and not just a piece of property. We see a couple of scenes that show just how little power women have in their own space; they need permission from their husband to do most of the things that women in other countries may take for granted, even something as wanting a divorce puts the women in a big disadvantage as far to whether she can even leave because all of the decision making lies with the man. Sadly the film does not go into more detail of this unbalanced structure and the oppression women face in this kind of life; they instead turn the narrative into a constant back and forth between an estranged husband and wife. Feels basic in the overall sense and the story could have had much more impact with its take on this occurrence in some foreign countries. – Caless Davis

Rating:

Showtimes: May 21 – 6:00 pm (SIFF Cinema Uptown), May 26 – 6:00 pm (Lincoln Square)

[Get Tickets]


MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL (115 minutes)

A brilliant documentary that examines one of the more beloved figures in music history. Calling Miles Davis unique would be an understatement; he is the personification of evolution and creativity. Stanley George’s masterwork examines the illustrious career of the jazz legend through interviews from musicians and friends alike; never before seen photos and footage that capture the essence and marvel of a man who held the hearts and ears of many generations of jazz aficionados. We see the good and bad attributes that Miles possessed revealing to us a full picture of the man himself. If you are a lover of the documentary genre and music, this is a supreme treat. – Caless Davis

Rating:

Showtimes: May 29 – 6:30 pm (SIFF Cinema Egyptian), May 31 – 4:00 pm (SIFF Cinema Uptown)

[Get Tickets]


THE FAREWELL (98 minutes)

Lulu Wang’s heartfelt story about a Chinese family navigating their matriarch’s recent cancer diagnosis via a surprising lie is filled with poignant drama and tender comedy. It is both informative of Chinese culture and insightful into challenges faced by Chinese-American immigrants in ways that are tremendously affecting. Awkwafina stars in a break-out performance with incredible depth, but is backed by an equally wonderful supporting cast. Wang’s character framing shots are brilliant, the score is excellent, and everything works together beautifully to make THE FAREWELL one of this year’s first must-see indies. – Aaron White

Rating:

Showtimes: June 9 – 6:00 pm (SIFF Cinema Egyptian) – Closing Gala

[Get Tickets]


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

 

 

Caless Davis is a Seattle-based film critic and contributor to the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He loves any discussion of film and meeting new people to engage in film discussions on any subject. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

What We Learned This Week: December 7-29

My apologies for the December sabbatical.  Work, holidays, and the awards season are spare time killers…

LESSON #1: WE’VE LOST KEVIN SPACEY— Wow. Just wow. How weird was that “Let Me Be Frank” video this past week? How miscalculated was it, especially on top of the newest charges against him? Contrition instead of glamor would have went a long way. I don’t see how he comes back from this any time soon. Man, I’m going to miss Kevin Spacey.  He was one if the best. Now if we could just lose Johnny Depp next, that would be super. He’s already off the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  I’d call that a start.

LESSON #2: STOP MANUFACTURING CONFLICT WHERE IT DOESN’T EXIST— Dramatic license is necessary to make a marketable and entertaining film, but it should be used carefully and even as a last resort. Every time that card is cashed, it chips away at the story’s core and truths. Do that too much and it’s either manipulation or disservice. What was nearly done in On the Basis of Sex is a disconcerting example of forcing strife just to have strife. It’s unnecessary and could have turned things negative.  I’ll never understand how “good for goodness sake” can’t sell on its own.

LESSON #3: EVEN BIG STARS DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE IMDB— To read this recent story of actor Seth Rogen’s (and his famous peers) monumental “discovery” that that gangster film, Angels with Filthy Souls, in Home Alone was a fake movie and not a real one makes me miss Jay Leno’s “Jay-Walking” segments on his old late night talk shows where this kind of lack of reasonable intelligence lives and breathes.  It’s title is likely a homage to the Michael Curtiz’s James Cagney vehicle Angels with Dirty Faces.  Sure, I get how small and inconsequential of a detail it is, but it’s a straight facepalm for me when tools of knowledge are readily available.  It doesn’t take a genius to go on IMDb and see Ralph Foody and Michael Guido’s name in the cast playing Johnny and Snakes.  Home Alone came out in 1990, the same year IMDb began though the noted database didn’t hit the web until 1993.  That’s only really three years of head-scratching, but I guess it’s 28 years of haze and missed problem-solving synapses for Rogen and company.  Alas, this counts as hot topic clickbait in 2018. Any time a celebrity farts with sprinkles, it gets a column and 400 words.

LESSON #4: ROMA IS GOING TO KEEP WINNING— Shine up the “Critical Darling” plaque and start printing the t-shirts.  Alfonso Cuaron’s 1970s domestic drama from his home country of Mexico is winning all of the shiny things that say Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography on them.  My website’s Awards Tracker shows it running away and hiding in this categories during this main stretch of regional critics groups handing out their annual awards. Sometimes, especially for a foreign film, it is hard to project all of this critical love into audience success and Oscar glory.  It’s not too often the regular, ordinary domestic viewing audience will drop an audible “Huh?” at Best Picture winners. This may be one of those years. The test will be the Golden Globes. Let’s see if Netflix can do its job and give Roma a wider audience, which is its own testy saga to read about.

LESSON #5: YOU KNOW YOUR FILM IS CRAP WHEN EVEN NETFLIX SAYS NO— The newest Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly teamup Holmes & Watson had bomb written all over it from the start.  First, the marketing didn’t help the effort, looking like one of those struggling comedies where all of the good jokes are in the trailer and not in the two-hour movie.  Once Sony decided not to screen the film for critics, that should have been the real warning. In a damning second warning, Netflix, which prides itself as the service that will take anything and spend frivolously, actually turned down buying Holmes & Watson from Sony.  Gosh, that’s when you know it’s bad.  That’s like a baseball team trying to trade a pair of pitchers for a bag of balls and getting turned down for even balls.  Good Lord, that’s a bad movie.

LESSON #6: LOOK AHEAD TO SUNDANCE TO THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL— Robert Redford’s baby turns Park City, Utah into Mecca. We may be looking at the 2019 Oscars, but, without fail, at least one or more future contenders for 2020 will debut there. Here’s the full lineup. From the competition films, keep an eye on Native Son and The Farewell.  Of the bigger-named gala premieres watch for Jake Gyllenhaal’s Velvet Buzzsaw (a new collaboration with his Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy)Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams in After the Wedding from Moore’s husband Bart Freundlichand The Report with Adam Driver and Jon Hamm from Soderbergh writing partner-turned-director Scott Z. Burns.  You’ll sound cool if you can say you’ve heard of these films next year.


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication.  As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a new member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over a year, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.