Boyhood is unlike any movie to come before it. That type of praise may sound cliché, but in this case it's entirely apt. Richard Linklater spent 12 years shooting the film with the same cast of actors to show the story of a young boy becoming a young man. The story follows Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows up from age 6 to 18. His journey isn't presented via a single through narrative as much as momentary snapshots from each year; a collection of formative memories that shaped Mason Jr. It encompasses major personal moments like big moves to sex talks and the world that surrounds him but is beyond his control; like his mother's (Patricia Arquette) failed relationships to his father (Ethan Hawke) trying to get his own life together. It's also brilliantly tied together by cultural markers that indicate the passage of time as much as any of the aging faces; from the music choices matching up with the passing year to the introduction of technology across the film (Wii, Facebook, smartphones, etc.). Boyhood is a modern epic without any of the grandiosity that word usually implies. It's a simple story of humanity that's naturally authentic in a peerless way. If anything seems cliché it's because life is cliché.
Screenings: May 31 at 5 (Egyptian) / June 1 at 8 (Harvard Exit). Sold out (standby tickets may be available).
To Kill a Man is a gorgeously shot exploration of how far a person can be pushed before breaking. The Chilean winner of this year's Sundance Grand Jury Prize, follows Jorge (Daniel Candia), a relatively bland man who gets his diabetes medicine stolen by a neighborhood thug, Kalule (Daniel Antivilo). When Jorge's son confront Kalule, the thug shoots him. After serving years in jail, Kalule returns to torment Jorge's family in increasingly disturbing ways while local authorities do nothing, leaving Jorge to decide what to do in order to protect his family from the psychopath. The film's cinematography is immaculate and flush with color, whether Jorge's lurking in the yellow and orange hue's of dingy street lights at night or working at his job in the lush green forest. While To Kill a Man does a decent job of building dramatic tension, the plot points are so predictably executed that the movie's overall impact and examination of morality become lessened.
Screening: May 29 at 7:30 (SIFF Cinema Uptown) / June 2 at 4:30 (SIFF Cinema Uptown). $10–$12.
Michael Fassbender is the type of handsome rising film star that studios crave to put on their posters. So naturally in his latest film Frank, his mug is hidden behind a massive papier-mâché mask that covers his head the whole time. Fassbender stars as the titular Frank, an eccentric pop music genius who never removes his artificial cartoonish cranium. As the he prepares to head to SXSW, comedic tension rises in Frank's band as some members want him to make more commercially viable music while others want him to stay true to his oddball roots.
Screening: May 30 at 9:30 (Egyptian) / May 31 at 2 (SIFF Cinema Uptown). $12.
It wouldn't be a proper celebration of SIFF's 40th anniversary without a little history lesson. Richard Rush's The Stunt man looked dead in the water before screening as the closing film at the fifth incarnation of SIFF. The film—about a powerful film director (Peter O'Toole) who shelters a man on the run from the police (Steve Railsback) and manipulates him as a stunt man—couldn't find studio distribution before coming to Seattle. After its screening was heralded The Stunt Man got picked up and went on to earn three Oscar nominations (Best Director, Best Actor for O'Toole, and Best Adapted Screenplay). It's a testament to how impactful SIFF truly can be on the movie industry.
Screening: June 1 at 1:30 (Harvard Exit). $12.
Thru June 8, Various Venues