Another year of the Seattle International Film Festival has come to a close, and thankfully, our strictly virtual options this year were plentiful. Check out our full coverage on 2022’s iteration of the festival, after the jump.


This new romance drama depicting a beautiful night spent between two people out on a distant camping destination is a bit too small-stakes and slow for my taste. The intimacy of the story and characters does manage to shine through, particularly character actress Dale Dickey in a layered lead performance. With absolutely stunning landscape visuals, A Love Song is sure to delight seekers of breathtaking mountains and rich cinematography. For those who love movies such as Nomadland or 2014’s Wild, A Love Song may just be the movie of one’s wildest dreams. 


Previously viewed at 2022’s Sundance Film Festival.


Full review at the link.

Day by Day

(Written by Allison Brown) The synopsis and poster art completely fail to capture the tenderness, fun, and complex emotions present in Felix Herngren’s Day by Day. The film follows a ragtag group of nursing home residents as they take an RV road trip to an assisted suicide procedure for terminal patient Malte (Sven Wollter) in Switzerland. Malte is still fully competent and spirited; he wants to end it all before he loses his identity. Throw whatever one thought about the elderly out the window, because one of Malte’s best friends, Rut (Marianne Mörck), is a firecracker! There are drug deals, nights spent clubbing, fancy dining, and sparks of romance in their path along the way. The scenery is breathtaking as well, and is present for just the right amount of time; it is not overused like so many pretentious and sentimental comparable narratives. I really loved this film, and I hope my words may push more to give it a chance.


Full review at the link.


Previously viewed at 2022’s Sundance Film Festival.


As a massive fan of François Ozon’s previous film, gay drama Summer of 85, when I spotted the director’s name on the list of SIFF titles, this immediately shot up on my must-watch list. Unfortunately, Everything Went Fine is entirely too dour and depressing for my tastes. It details two siblings who begrudgingly decide to fill out their ailing father’s wish for assisted suicide. A couple intimate moments, like Andre (André Dussollier) recording video goodbyes and a “final meal,” ring with an air of relatability for anyone who has ever had a loved one on their deathbed. Still, for the most part I did not have any emotional attachment to this story since the character work is very thin indeed. Everything Went Fine is almost a complete 180 from Summer of 85. Though it provides evidence that Ozon can direct anything thrown his way, the film does little in the way of surprises or intrigue beyond the general summary of its premise.


Full review at the link.

The Good Boss

(Written by Allison Brown) After missing it at another festival, I was excited to finally see Javier Bardem in The Good Boss. I am surprised it hasn’t been more widely discussed among critics, as it is an enjoyable movie that would fare well with a mainstream audience. I can even see an American version produced, though perhaps without the mild racism towards the Arab community. Blanco (Javier Bardem) is the kind of manager that sees his employees as a family, but perhaps he takes it a bit too far. He intervenes in an employee’s separation proceedings with their spouse, sleeps with interns, and inadvertently hires a racist pig in trying to help an employee’s family. Blanco listens to their problems and tries his damndest to assist in any way he can, no matter their level in the hierarchy. He has seen his employees’ children grow up and holds many memories dear among them. Fernando León de Aranoa’s film goes off the rails in the best way by showing the repercussions of being far too involved in the lives of one’s staff. It is anxiety-filled and incredibly comical. After the disappointment I felt in Bardem’s earlier work last year (ironically both Oscar-nominated) in Being the Ricardos and Parallel Mothers, The Good Boss reminds me why he is so universally loved.


Previously viewed at 2022’s Cleveland International Film Festival.


I love movies where the leads simply talk together from beginning to end, but I’ll Show You Mine comes up lacking on almost every level. What does work here is the chemistry between the struggling-to-stay-relevant author, Priya (Poorna Jagannathan), and model-turned-porn cartoonist Nic (Casey Thomas Brown). I also dug the strange comic strip interludes between chapters, and some of the trauma being portrayed through animation. What didn’t work for me was everything else. Two cousins getting deep into their sexual insecurities, exploitation, and scarring traumas is literally just that. The entire film consists of talking in circles with little progression that never manages to go anywhere enticing.


Previously viewed at 2021’s TIFF.

Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story

(Written by Allison Brown) I initially skipped Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story at SXSW because it was compared to last year’s Summer of Soul, which I was not a fan of. However, Sony always has reliably great offerings, and they were heavily promoting it in their New York press screening room, so I figured I would give it a chance this time around. Sadly, this music documentary was not for me either. Jazz Fest tries to cover too much ground in a limited amount of time, yet also drags and feels too long. I enjoyed the food segments (crab stuffed beignets!), and a few performances, particularly Earth, Wind, and Fire, Al Green, and Katy Perry (who oddly ties in with her religious background to gospel). Giving Pitbull such a large segment felt so random and out of left field, as he isn’t directly relevant to any of the cultures or subgenres mentioned. I seem to be the only one I know who watched and did not enjoy, so perhaps I am not the target audience for this piece.


(Written by Intern, Megan Davis) With Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine covering the digital news sphere, I was immediately drawn to watch Klondike, which tells the story of the Russian-Ukrainian war through the lives of a Ukrainian expecting couple. Being merely 13 when the war began, I went into this film with little knowledge of the tensions between Russia and Ukraine outside of recent events, and it presented me with the haunting reality of civilian life over the course of this 8-year war. It is apparent that Klondike is more of a commentary on the war than a story of the lives of Irka and Tolik, as the characters feel secondary to the violent events happening around them. Klondikeis an extremely powerful film supported by amazing cinematography, slow and deliberate pacing, and a hard-hitting message.


Previously viewed at 2022’s SXSW Film Festival.

The Man in the Basement

(Written by Allison Brown) I was mildly intrigued prior to watching The Man in the Basement, but after watching, I am torn by seeing the negative reviews, most likely influenced by the subject matter alone. I was engaged throughout the runtime, and didn’t really find any of the narrative to be too slow. Billed as a drama on IMDB, The Man in the Basement leans much more towards the realm of a psychological thriller. Surprisingly all synopses I read online before choosing to watch fully hide the omnipresent antisemitism and holocaust “revisionism” elements of the plot. It is a messed-up movie, and as a Jew (ironically watching this on Passover weekend), I can relate to lead Simon’s (Jérémie Renier) plight. I have no clue what I would do in his shoes, but it is disgraceful how this seems to be a mildly common belief in Paris where the film is set. I have been warned not to visit my dream city all my life due to their supposed aversion towards Jews; I’ve been told it wasn’t safe. Trump’s presidency brought the antisemitism in the United States to a head, and I will admit I was naive as to how much of it was out there. I found the family’s situation incredibly stressful, and the ending to be disappointing as the struggle does not tie up neatly. The subtle message to hear the other (if not offensive) side is unsuccessful given the context of Jew-hatred present in the film, and hearing the antagonist come out and say he wishes more Jews had died in the gas chambers makes me sick to my stomach. Presenting Fonzic (François Cluzet) as so mild mannered, “helpful,” and supposedly misunderstood is a misstep on the part of the filmmaker given the character’s beliefs. One really can’t excuse someone genuinely wishing death on a group of people. I am left conflicted at the end, as I genuinely enjoyed it, but I also don’t know why it needed to exist in its present form. It does nothing to bring understanding to both sides like it seemed to intend.


Previously viewed at 2021’s TIFF.


For a documentary all about the magic of cinema with its shared experience for the audience and unbridled scale, Only in Theaters feels more like an infomercial than a movie proper. The talking head interviews are frequently just a filmed laptop screen, and the passion for the theatrical experience is not enough to transcend the quality of the production. Parts of this story—that of the struggles to survive for family-owned arthouse theater Laemelle—are moving and fascinating. The final stretch, which goes into how the pandemic affected the theater industry, is also compelling. However, neither of these facets was enough to cohesively bring together a project that would be better suited to a short format.


Full review at the link.


As a member of the LGBT community myself, I have come to realize that a major part of many film festivals is to capture marginalized stories we are not frequently privy to as a general audience. I love to see what topics are covered, and to celebrate queer creatives and collaborators. It brings me no great joy to report that Phantom Project does nothing special with its intriguing premise, that of a young gay aspiring actor who may be rooming with an unseen ghost. It turns out that the director thought repeatedly showing an item of clothing falling from where it is hung to convey the ghostly presence would be adequate. The craziest imagery we get is in Pablo (a very cute Juan Cano) having sex with said ghost at one point; otherwise this film is pretty tame. I kept waiting for something big to happen, but Phantom Project is simplistic whimsy without much substance. At least Susan the dog is cute and the boys are charming.


Previously viewed at 2022’s Sundance Film Festival.

Softie (Petite Nature)

(Written by Allison Brown) I can’t believe I witnessed so many scenes on cinema quite like Softie (Petite Nature); it follows a white trash alcoholic mother, Sonia (Melissa Olexa), as she poorly “raises” Johnny (Aliocha Reinert), who is way too mature for his meek age of ten, and her younger daughter, Mélissa (Jade Schwartz). Johnny’s teacher, Jean Adamski (Antoine Reinartz), is left to pick up the pieces, and it leads to some pretty confusing emotions for Johnny. Samuel Theis’ film is sure to be incredibly divisive, including youth attempted suicide, suggestions of pedophilia, and child negligence. I don’t know what I expected here, but it surely was not this. That said, Softie (Petite Nature) is a very good movie despite pushing the boundaries of what is accepted for an American audience. Only time will tell, and I am interested in seeing audience reactions.

Straighten Up and Fly Right

(Written by Allison Brown) After a rough introduction into 2022’s Slamdance, I didn’t expect much from SIFF selection Straighten Up and Fly Right, which premiered at the aforementioned festival. I am glad to report that writer/director pair Kristen Abate and Steven Tanenbaum pull off the narrative with stride! The film is endearing and makes light of a serious topic in a relatable way. Kristen Abate, who not only directs but also stars, plays a moody character named Kristen who struggles with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a rare type of arthritis that affects the spine and restricts one from standing up fully straight. Straighten Up and Fly Right chronicles her day-to-day life as a dog walker in New York City, including the bullies that cross her path, unexpected friends, and her despondent love life. Be prepared for constant laughs, cute dogs, and a lot of fun all wrapped up in a sympathetic story!


Previously viewed at 2022’s Berlinale International Film Festival.

As with last year, several films of 2022’s SIFF could end up among favorites of the year. Out of the new ones I watched, my favorites were Cop Secret and The Passenger, whilst Allison’s were Day By Day and So Damn Easy Going. We are looking forward to what next year will bring us!

Leave a Reply