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SIFF 2015

An overly-ambitious guide of what to watch

Every year I make a list of films to see at the Seattle International Film Festival, and every year I'm lucky if I make it to a fraction of the showings.  But undeterred, I've put together another ambitious slate for 2015 and with best intentions will sample at least a smattering of the offerings at the United States' largest film festival.

These picks aren't definitive, and I'm sure i've letft out some amazing gems, but if you find SIFF's list of over 300 films daunting, hopefully this will help you narrow things down:

Goodnight Mommy - An Austrian horror film that has it all: creepy children, cosmetic surgery, cornfields!  Looks to be a great psychological thriller.

The Connection - I was moderate fan of Dujardin's oscar winning film The Artist but loved him way more as the corrupt Swiss banker in The Wolf of Wall Street.  Any chance to see more of the darkside of Dujardin is a definite must see.

Best of Enemies - A documentary about one of the greatest clashes of political titans, the pedantic conservative pundit William F Buckley and his arch nemesis, progressive polemicist Gore Vidal.  I love political stories and this looks fascinating. 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - This movie was the little-indie-that-could of Sundance, and from all accounts its the film that's most likely to have legs outside the film festival circuit.  Get your cinephile creds in early and see it before the plebians at the multiplex do!

Slow West - I'm a huge sucker for westerns, and this New Zealand take on the genre starring a roguish Michael Fassbender looks to scratch that cowboy itch.

Manson Family Vacation - I've become a Duplass convert and the only thing that tops a dark commedy about brothers visiting Manson Family horror spots in LA is adding a Duplass brother to the mix.

When Marnie Was There - It's a Studio Ghibli film.  I feel like if you need more than that, this film is not for you.

The Farewell Party - An Israeli film about a bunch of geriatrics who decide to build a Korvorkian style death machine, because they're old damnit and they should be able to decide when they go, not some snotty unappreciative young'ins.  This comedy apparently killed it (pun intended) in the Israeli film circuit.  Old people are also adorable.

Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet - I can't get enough of traditionally drawn, 2d animated films and this one looks like it could have been pulled straight out of the 3rd golden age of Disney.

Vincent - a subdued French sci-fi film about a man with strange powers that only manifest when he's underwater.  The trailer has just the right of mount of mystery and what-the-f#$k to have captured my interest.

Partners in Crime - A Taiwanese film that sets a group of high schoolers on a mystery to discovery the truth behind the apparent suicide of one of their classmates.  This looks like it might be a Taiwanese version of Brick, which proved that the crossing of noir and high school drama is a perfect pairing.

The Nightmare - A documentary from the maker of Room 237, one of my favorite documentaries of last year.  This time the subject is sleep paralysis, and far from a clinical, medical drama, this looks about as horrifying as movie about a real subject can get.

People, Places, Things - I'm not going to lie, I mostly want to go to this to see Flight of the Concord's Jermaine Clement in person...

Circle - A classic sci-fi concept that mixes 12 Angry Men with an episode of the twiligh zone.  A bunch of strangers are stuck in a room, unable to move but able to vote on who dies next.  It wreaks of campy sci-fi, and that's why it's going to be awesome.

Mr. Holmes - Sir Ian McClellan plays an aging Sherlock Holmes struggling with the notority of his storied past and suddenly thrust back into one more mystery.  It's Shelock Gandalf.  C'mon.

The Primary Instinct - I have been a long fan of /Filmcast, and its cousin, the Tobelowsky Files.  Podcast creator (and fellow Microsoft employee) David Chen has brought the Tobelowsky Files to film, and both the film's creator and star will be there to answer questions after the screening.

End of the Tour - I'll admit, I've never read Infinite Jest, but I've heard great things about Jason Segal's performance as writer David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg's role as journalist David Lipsky, who's memoir this film is based on.

Chuck Norris vs. Communism - Some times you see movies just based on the title.  I honestly don't even care what this documentary is about.  That's a freakin' amazing title.

Liza, the Fox-Fairy - This Hungarian film looks like a darker, funnier Amelie.  Seriously, watch the trailer.  It looks great.

Experimenter - A biopic about controversal psychologist Stanley Milgram who was made famous from his "obedience experiments" where he found people would follow orders to administer an electric shock to an unseen stranger even when that stranger was heard pleading for help.  I'm a huge fan of Peter Sarsgaard and this story is one of the most well known in history of behavioral psychology, of which I'm also a huge fan.

When Animals Dream - Described as the lycanthropric twin of Let the Right One In, this looks like more proof that Scandinavians make the best horror films.

7 Chinese Brothers - Jason Schwartzman is easily one of my favorite "quirky comedy" actors, and this film looks to continue his tradition of managing to make even non-Wes Anderson films seem like they were directed by Wes Anderson.

Good Ol' Boy - A coming of age story about a nerdy, Star Wars loving Indian kid growing up in the 70s.  Looks like it will be The Way Way Back of this year's SIFF.