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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Worldly SIFF 2014 commences tomorrow

As I wrote in a previous post, the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival begins its 25-day runs this weekend. Following Thursday's Opening Night Gala offering “Jimi: All Is by My Side,” the festival commences in full on Friday. Click here for ticket-buying information.

Following are some of the interesting-sounding films set to play this weekend. I’ve included time (some have multiple showings) and venue. The descriptions come directly from the SIFF online catalog.

Friday, May 16

“The Search for General Tso” (documentary; U.S., China, Taiwan): 11 a.m., AMC Pacific Place (also 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Lincoln Square Cinemas; 6:30 p.m. Sunday, AMC Pacific Place): “The producers of ‘King Corn’ quest after the origins of the ubiquitous dish General Tso’s Chicken, with enlightening and delicious results. The brisk and appetizing culinary detective story uncovers the history of Chinese food in America, as well as a tale of immigration, adaptation, and innovation.”

“Canopy” (Australia, Singapore): 1:30 p.m., AMC Pacific Place (also 7 p.m., Sunday, June 8, The Egyptian). “During the 1942 Japanese invasion of Singapore, an Australian airman and an injured Chinese resistance fighter are stranded in the jungle as a cacophonous battle rages around them. An engrossing survival thriller ensues as they navigate the language barrier, perilous surroundings, and external enemies.”

“Tracks” (UK, Australia): 3 p.m., The Egyptian (also 9:30 p.m. Saturday, The Egyptian). “Based on Robyn Davidson’s thrilling memoir, director John Curran’s Tracks tells the story of a singular traveler who faces all the beauties and challenges of vast and unforgiving nature. Mia Wasikowska gives a rich and riveting performance as Davidson, a young woman who decides to trek by foot from Australia’s Alice Springs across the country’s large and exacting desert to the Indian Ocean – a staggering distance of nearly 2,000 miles.”

“Chinese Puzzle” (France): 4 p.m., SIFF Cinema Uptown (also 8:30 p.m. Sunday, SIFF Cinema Uptown). “SIFF and César award-winning director Cédric Klapisch completes his trilogy (2002’s ‘L'Auberge Espagnole,’ 2005’s ‘Russian Dolls’), following soulful everyman writer Xavier to New York City in the hopes of winning back his estranged wife and their two children.”

“Attila Marcel” (France): 7 p.m., SIFF Cinema Uptown (also 7 p.m. Sunday, Lincoln Square Cinemas and 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 27, at SIFF Cinema Uptown): “Oscar-nominated director Sylvain Chomet (‘The Triplets of Belleville,’ ‘The Illusionist’) makes his live-action debut in this effervescent, musical, candy-colored charmer about a mute piano prodigy unlocking his repressed childhood memories.”

“Words and Pictures”: 7 p.m., Lincoln Square Cinemas (also 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Harvard Exit). “Private school English teacher Jack (Clive Owen) bristles when accomplished painter Dina (Juliette Binoche) arrives to teach art. Struggling to inspire their students, Jack proposes a challenge: a face-off between the power of words versus the power of art.”

“20,000 Days on Earth” (UK): 10 p.m., Lincoln Square Cinemas (also 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, SIFF Cinema Uptown). “An enthralling and unclassifiable immersion in the twilight world of Aussie polymath musician Nick Cave. Falling somewhere between fact and fiction, Cave visits a shrink, makes music, digs into his archives, and reminisces with friends in this deconstruction, providing a glimpse of an icon at his most exposed.”

Saturday, May 17

“Fight Church” (documentary): 1 p.m., AMC Pacific Place (also 4 p.m. Sunday, Lincoln Square Cinemas and 12:30 p.m. Monday, May 26, Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center): “This action-packed documentary explores the ways in which several churches’ underground fight clubs assist with their members’ faiths, and the viewpoints of those staunchly against these God-fearing men beating the holy hell out of each other.”

“Difret” (Ethiopia): 6 p.m., SIFF Cinema Uptown (also 3:30 p.m. Sunday, AMC Pacific Place and 3 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center): “Based on the extraordinary true story of 14-year-old Aberash. After being kidnapped, she kills her attacker. Her act of self-defense pits Aberash and her tenacious lawyer against Ethiopia's long-standing tradition of marriage by abduction. Winner of Audience Awards at both Sundance and Berlin.”

“Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed” (Spain): 6:30 p.m. Lincoln Square Cinemas (also 6:30 Thursday, May 22, at The Egyptian and 4 p.m. Friday, May 23, at SIFF Cinema Uptown): “It’s 1966 and Antonio is using Beatles’ songs to teach English. When he learns that John Lennon is filming in Almería he rushes to meet his idol, with two young misfits along for the ride, in this captivatingly lyrical road movie. Best Film, Best Director, 2014 Goya Awards.”

“White Shadow” (Germany, France, Tanzania): 8 p.m., SIFF Cinema Uptown (also 1 p.m. Sunday, AMC Pacific Place): “In Tanzania, young albino Alias is on the run after witnessing his father's murder. He finds city life as fraught with danger as the bush, in this intense and stunning feature debut centering on crime perpetrated because of superstition.”

“The Congress” (Israel, France, Germany): 9:30 p.m. SIFF Cinema Uptown (also Saturday, May 24, Lincoln Square Cinemas): “Israelis filmmaker Ari Folman follows his ‘Waltz With Bashir’ with this “surreal, vivacious, live action-animation hybrid about an aging actress (Robin Wright playing a version of herself) who sells her image to a movie studio-turned-cinematic dream world.”

“We Are the Best!” (Sweden): 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit (also 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, AMC Pacific Place): “In 1982 Stockholm, three 13-year-old misfits deal with their suffocating surroundings, as well as the onslaught of adolescence, by forming a riotous, all-girl punk trio. Based on the graphic novel ‘Never Goodnight’ by Coco Moodysson.”

“Grand Central” (France): 9:30 p.m., Lincoln Square Cinemas (also 7 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at Harvard Exit and 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 26, at The Egyptian): “Incendiary French star Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color) plays an engaged woman who embarks on a risky affair with Tahar Rahim (A Prophet) in the nuclear power plant where they both work.”

Sunday, May 18

“Regarding Susan Sontag” (documentary): 3:30 p.m., Harvard Exit (also 4 p.m. Monday, May 19, at Harvard Exit): “Meticulously constructed from a plethora of interviews and archival footage and accompanied by Patricia Clarkson’s terrific voiceover, this engrossing documentary about one of the most prominent and fascinating voices and figures of the 20th century.

“Bad Hair” (“Pelo Malo”) (Venezuela, Peru, Germany): 9 p.m., Harvard Exit (also 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at AMC Pacific Place). “Nine-year-old Junior and his frustrated single mother clash over Junior’s desire to straighten his kinky hair. The tower blocks of Caracas, Venezuela are the backdrop for a subtly powerful domestic drama.”