Editor’s Note: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival . For more information please visit https://www.siff.net/
My three favorite films of SIFF 2017 didn’t necessarily share themes – they spoke to their own themes, and they did it well, yet they found themselves in opposing genres, tones, and visual stylings. But those differences have no bearing on my feelings toward any of them; one is the moving story of two Korean-American brothers in LA fighting to stay afloat amidst the Rodney King riots, one is a hazy dream that takes us on a trip through the implications of time’s relationship to love, and one takes the typical home-invasion thriller to iconic and ferocious new heights.
Better Watch Out
Director: Chris Peckover
What makes a film a holiday tradition (of genre territory, like horror or comedy) is largely its ability to find some new, fun angle from which to attack the innocence of its holiday backdrop and discuss something interesting — no film I’ve seen in the last few years has fit this bill more than Better Watch Out, Chris Peckover’s anarchic takedown of male entitlement. Detailing Peckover’s method of discussing this would be a spoiler, and spoiling Better Watch Out would be a capital offense, so all I’ll say is: see it.
Director: Justin Chon
The Rodney King riots aren’t necessarily under Justin Chon’s spotlight in Gook, his directorial debut about 2 Korean brothers running a store in L.A. during the ’90s — they rage in the background, highlighting the worries of the men who raised these brothers. Their elders fought desperately to pave through the racial & financial struggles in their city to make a better life for their younger generations, and as they try to do the same, you’ll cry at the helplessness of generational struggles and feel glad for the fleeting moments their community could, briefly, come together.
A Ghost Story
Director: David Lowery
Casey Affleck’s character in A Ghost Story barely sets foot off his own property, but that doesn’t stop the film from being anything less than utterly bold. Just like its subject, time, A Ghost Story moves slowly but travels for years, even decades. In that, its own structure echoes life — important, valued moments find themselves stopping time before it flies out of grasp. With minutes of runtime left, as a viewer, you’ve essentially come to terms with death — you’ve felt hopelessness, been afraid, then finally found beauty and acceptance.