The second week of the Seattle International Film Festival cruises ahead with another giant chunk of cinema. In Seattle, this means movies spread out across no fewer than six theaters going full steam.
And in Everett, things get under way in earnest after last night’s opening night screening
of “Young Goethe in Love,” with a week of screenings at the Everett Performing Arts Center. Across the geographical spectrum, here are a few recommendations for the coming week at SIFF.
“Natural Selection.” A knockout performance by Rachael Harris (she was in “The Hangover,” but — to her credit — doesn’t appear in the sequel) powers this U.S. indie, which otherwise doesn’t quite fulfill its gallery of interesting ideas; 4 p.m. today, Egyptian theater.
“Flamenco, Flamenco.” Spanish master Carlos Saura created this gorgeous collection of performances by some of the greatest Spanish music acts alive. Even if you don’t know this tradition, you somehow know you’re watching people at the pinnacle of their art; 4:30 p.m. today, Everett; 11 a.m. Monday, Egyptian.
“Kinshasa Symphony.” A completely charming documentary look at a symphony orchestra in the Congo’s capital, which runs up against more problems than your average American or European orchestra has to face, like the first violinist needing to shimmy up a telephone pole whenever the power goes out. Nevertheless, they keep plugging away at Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, which has surely been played with more technical finesse, but never with more spirit. 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Everett; 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, SIFF Cinema.
“The Whistleblower.” Rachel Weisz gives a gutsy performance in this dark-hued true story of an Omaha policewoman who joined up for a stint as a U.N. peacekeeper in Bosnia, only to discover a horrifying ring of human trafficking (and internal corruption that allowed it to continue). The movie pulls no punches, much to its credit; 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Egyptian; 1 p.m. Sunday, Egyptian; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Everett.
“A Screaming Man.” Intriguing character study against a political/cultural backdrop: As a civil war simmers in Chad, a man (a former swimming champ and thus a minor celebrity) fights to keep his job as a pool attendant; 10 a.m. Sunday, Pacific Place.
“Black Venus.” This may be one of the toughest films in the festival to sit through, but it’s also surely the most devastating: a 159-minute account of the historical figure called “the Hottentot Venus,” an African woman who was exhibited in Europe in the early 19th century as though she were a sideshow attraction. It’s an unblinking film about a grotesque incident; 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Egyptian.
“La Dolce Vita.” All hail a 35 mm presentation of a restored version of Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic, all about the decadent lives of the beautiful people; 10 a.m. Monday, Harvard Exit.
“These Amazing Shadows.” A standard-issue documentary (with some great clips) about the National Film Registry, which seeks to protect certain significant movies from the past. Some good info, but I have to call out one serious distortion: This film uses John Ford’s 1956 classic “The Searchers” to make a point about the racism that informed some Westerns, when “The Searchers” itself makes a powerful and complex argument about racism. Not cool, and somebody should’ve known better; 1:30 p.m. Monday, Harvard Exit.
“Killing Bono.” The hapless tale of a real-life Dublin rocker, Neil McCormack (nicely played by “Narnia” star Ben Barnes), who watched his own career never quite get in gear, while his schoolmates took their little garage band to success. They were, and still are, called U2. Some very funny moments in this tale of comic frustration; 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Neptune Theater.