The 34th Seattle International Film Festival gets underway this Thursday, May 22. The press screenings, however, commence nearly a month before. For this first dispatch, I’ve set out to record my day-to-day impressions of what I was seeing, witnessing, experiencing on screen.
Jonathan Levine (#1–10 of 2)
The lyrically nostalgic romanticism that characterized Jonathan Levine’s All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is reconfigured for the ’90s—specifically, 1994—for his sophomore feature The Wackness. Levine’s distinguishing aesthetic hallmark is a washed-out visual palette dappled with blinding sunflares and slow-mo sequences set to enveloping pop and hip-hop tracks. The latter, courtesy of A Tribe Called Quest and the Notorious B.I.G. (among others), dominate this story about the unlikely friendship struck between weed-dealing Manhattan teen Luke (Josh Peck) and the wacko psychiatrist, doctor Jeff Squires (Ben Kingsley), whom he sells drugs to in exchange for therapy sessions during the blisteringly hot Manhattan summer after high school graduation. Luke and Dr. Squires share an affinity for getting high, a lust for sex, and substandard home lives, and through their relationship both learn the very lessons Squires preaches: to experience each moment to the fullest, and to not sweep pain and heartache under the rug with pills and pot—superficial methods of coping that the script equates with new mayor Giuliani’s efforts to clean up Times Square—but to accept them as natural, vital parts of life.