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SIFF 2011 Movie Reviews: Page One and Natural Selection

Hi there again! I've been asked to combine reviews to include 2-3 for each posting to reduce spam and as a result I will try to post reviews in groupings that have some sort of logic to them. Today's offerings are both films that are playing in theaters TODAY! So read quickly and then go see them!

Page One: Inside the New York Times: This is a damn entertaining film. I liked it so much I'm seriously thinking about going to see it again! It's interesting, it's unexpectedly very funny, and it's thought provoking.�Basically it's a documentary about The New York Times, how it runs, how stories are made and chosen, but mostly how the changes in technology have been affecting not only this newspaper, but papers throughout the country and asking the question, will The Times be able to survive the changing of the times? Of course The New York Times is a huge paper that covers a huge number of different topics, so the focus of the film is on the media department of the paper, which specifically follows the change in media trends and how it affects the dissemination of information. I have to say, though, that they could have easily retitled this film "The David Carr Show" and it really wouldn't have been far off the mark. Not that this is a bad thing. Not at all. The man (an outspoken media columnist) is very unique, uncompromising, tough, and funny. He holds the spotlight readily. But really all of the individuals (Bruce Headlam - Media editor and Brian Steltzer - Media reporter, to name two of the more prominently featured people)�who are followed throughout the film were excellent choices for focal points and are just clearly very intelligent and interesting people, bringing a refreshing sense of reality and great wit to the big screen. The only thing this film seems to lack is a very clear focus. It seems to ramble about a bit, like a conversation, with one point or idea sparking off a side story or interjection, where one is not always sure if you'll get back round to the original conversation or if it was, in fact, already finished. This aspect, however, didn't bother me at all, perhaps because that tends to be the sort of conversational style that I enjoy and seemed to reflect the rather intense and chaotic nature of the business. I wouldn't have thought that such a documentary would be fun, inspiring, and invigorating, but it was just that. U.S. Distributor: Magnolia Films USA, 2011 (88 minutes) Director: Andrew Rossi New York Times writer Brian Stelter scheduled to attend Festival Screenings: 7:00 PM Wed, May 25 Neptune Theatre 11:00 AM Sat, May 28 Egyptian Theatre 3:30 PM Mon, May 30 Everett Performing Arts Center

Natural Selection: A woman from a small Christian town struggles impotently within her own marriage to a man who denies her what she wants and pressures her to be obedient to what he perceives to be God's will. When he has a stroke at a most inauspicious moment, she struggles between a sense of betrayal and duty. In a desperate attempt to honor his last wish, she heads out on a road trip to find and collect the son he had that she never knew about. Despite the fact that the man in question is more than a little questionable, she goes out of her way to convince him, care for him, and bring him back home with her. Grimly wacky hijinks ensue. I was not expecting to like this film, but it really was surprisingly good and affecting. The most impressive aspect of it, especially for a US film, is the realism of its look. People and places are not model perfect and beautiful. Drug addicts look like drug addicts. Middle aged housewives look like middle aged housewives. Nasty dirty dives look both nasty and dirty. That's really quite refreshing. It's also an unexpectedly empowering movie about a woman who has been bullied and controlled most of her life finally stepping out and taking some control for herself and making her own choices and decisions. We really see her grow from an obedient, if frustrated, and sheltered person into a brave, problem-solving, action-taking individual. It also, blessedly, stays true to being an independent film with no touch of Hollywood or commercialism about it. Even the religious aspects of Christianity, don't devolve into either praise or condemnation, but rather offer up a believable view of the morals and mores of a small, cloistered town in Texas and the people within it. I think it is a film worth watching. USA, 2011 (90 minutes) Director: Robbie Pickering Cast: Rachael Harris, Matt O'Leary, Jon Gries, John Diehl Awards: SXSW Film Festival 2011 (Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award) Director Robbie Pickering scheduled to attend Festival Screenings: 4:00 PM Sat, May 21 Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center 7:00 PM Wed, May 25 Egyptian Theatre 4:00 PM Fri, May 27 Egyptian Theatre