Notes from the 34th Seattle International Film Festival—Dispatch One

The 34th Seattle International Film Festival gets underway this Thursday, May 22. The press screenings, however, commence nearly a month before. For this first dispatch, I’ve set out to record my day-to-day impressions of what I was seeing, witnessing, experiencing on screen.

DAY ONE: April 28, 2008
Armed with a life-affirming mocha breve from Caffé Zingaro, I make my way to the subterranean blue battleship known as SIFF Cinema. En route, I meet Elaine, a longtime platinum passholder and occasional online reviewer. We greet each other warmly and express hope, hope that the transcendent power of cinema will not desert us (although, secretly, both of us know better). Walking in, my expectations were a trifle high. Shouldn’t they be?

The first film of the first day happens to be (from Russia, but not with love) Anna Melikian’s Mermaid. Utterly abhorrent and overlong at 114 minutes, the movie begins as one creature and ends as another entirely. In short, it’s a feel-bad movie in drag as a piece of surrealist whimsy. Staggering out of the theater, I recalled John Simon’s quip as he exited an Adrienne Rich poetry reading—that in order to appreciate it fully, one would need the combined attributes of Homer and Beethoven—chiefly, being blind and deaf. The same applies here.

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