Interesting day today. For starters, I attended my first press screening as a bona fide film critic. I’m covering the Seattle Underground Film Festival for a local alternative paper called Tablet, a bi-weekly tabloid about a year old.

SUFF is a three-year-old film festival devoted to genuinely independent films, especially short experimental works. It runs about nine days and has a pretty sweet line-up this year. Take a look at their online program for a peek at the cool stuff they’re screening:


Today at the advance press screening the SUFF staff showed us several short films and one feature. The shorts included two standouts: Family Values, a short documentary profiling a lesbian couple in Philadelphia, one of whom is a cop and the other of whom runs a business cleaning up bloody crime scenes. It’s a very funny and charming little film. The other winner was The $250 Nieman-Marcus Cookie Recipe, based on an enduring urban legend. The story goes that a Nieman-Marcus shopper asks for the recipe to the store’s café cookies, and the waitress tells her the recipe would cost “two fifty”. This proves to be $250, and the star of the urban legend gets revenge by distributing the recipe via the internet, faxes, etc., asking recipients to pass it on. It’s all nonsense, of course. In the short film version, we see these events unfold and then spiral into surreal black humor, with a Nieman-Marcus crisis team ordering executions of people with the recipe and so on. It was damned funny and quite clever, even with fuzzy audio.

The feature was a real winner. Here’s the short review I wrote up for Tablet, which should appear in their next issue:

The Wedding Cow

Flora is a daffy but intrepid librarian. Tim is a plumber with little courage but a kind heart. And Hannah–well, Hannah is a cow. The three of them lope through the German film The Wedding Cow with an endearing awkwardness, and they make this movie’s one-night-only engagement at the Seattle Underground Film Festival worth seeking out.

The Wedding Cow is a road movie. Flora and Tim are lonely, somewhat hapless people traveling through the back roads of rural Germany far from the autobahn. It’s also a screwball romantic comedy that never goes to the heights of lunacy seen in American films such as Bringing Up Baby, but it has a modest charm all its own.

The plot isn’t really important, nor is the by-the-numbers happy ending–which is precisely the obligatory ending the universe of such films both demands and deserves. Love triumphs, no matter how improbably. And that’s just fine.

The characters are lovable. Flora is earnest, naive, and adorable in her babbling, clumsy way, but with a core of grit and resolve that prevents her from just being a silly-movie-girl character; it is always her decisions that move events forward. And Tim is Elmer Fudd, in those cartoons where he swoons dreamy-eyed over Bugs Bunny but is always on the brink of erupting in sputtering comic fury.

This is a feel-good movie. It’s probably the only feel-good movie playing in Seattle that’s actually worth watching. And it’s only playing for one night. Go see this film. You’ll feel good. And that’s just fine.

The Wedding Cow plays at 7:30 p.m., Friday, October 5, at the Little Theatre on Capitol Hill.

I got some work done at the studio for a while and then joined Karen for dinner at her friend Nic’s apartment. Nic hosted a little gathering for about ten friends at which we met Curt Firestone, a city council candidate in this fall’s election. I voted for Firestone in the primary last week so I was already sold, but it was interesting to meet the guy in person, hear his statements, and grill him about the issues that concern me. It was actually a little weird to sit there in this little bohemian living room with an actual city council candidate, talking about market-rate housing and the monorail project. Firestone is running against the incumbent, Jan Drago. Drago would be a model council member in most cities, but in Seattle we have enough model council members that we can afford to be pickier than usual. Of course, I think “Jan Drago” sounds like a James Bond villain and that’s reason enough to boot her off the council.

After Firestone went off to another event someplace else, we sat around and talked politics for a while. It was a potluck dinner and Karen brought ears of corn, incredibly fresh and sweet from a little vegetable market. I just rode on her potluck coattails, carrying the pot. I’m learning this is one of the handy things about being a couple–your partner does the work and you get to share credit. Sweet!

And in other news, it looks like my friend Ray Winninger is leaving Chicago and moving to Seattle with his girlfriend Christine. I’m very pleased–Ray is a good friend and it’ll be terrific to have them here. I went to Las Vegas for a week this past spring with Ray and Christine, and we had a blast.

Eh, time for bed.