SIFF Reviews: The Hunter, Mammuth, Tornado Alley

My experience at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) has been pretty hit-or-miss, though it’s trending in the right direction. Of the five movies I’ve seen thus far, the first three were wastes of time, so much so that they’ve marred my entire experience.

The Hunter (C-)

After The Whistleblower turned out to be a disappointment (read my The Whistleblower review), I next watched the Iranian movie The Hunter, which is described in the catalogue as “an explosive thriller set in 2009 Iran, about a man whose family is killed in the crossfire of a shoot-out between police and protestors.”

Apparently “explosive thriller” has many interpretations. The movie is an explosive bore, an overlong assemblage of scenes that do little to allow us into the head of the “protagonist”, an ex-convict who, after his family is killed, decides to shoot a cop out of frustration, but do a great job of putting the audience to sleep.

Things don’t get interesting until the very end, but then the film ends. The Hunter is only 92 minutes but feels like it’s three hours longs.

Mammuth (C)

This French road trip comedy starring Gerard Depardieu (who seriously needs to go on a diet) starts off OK but quickly descends into weirdness that can only be seen to be believed. By the time the chubby actor is shown exchanging hand jobs with his cousin, lusting after his space cadet niece and being haunted by a dead woman, Mammuth establishes that it has completely gone off the deep end.

The movie is saved by some extremely funny moments, but just barely. It never sustains its comedic timing and the dramatic themes are lost in the zany musings of the director. Mammuth gets worse as it goes along – not the direction a film should go.

Tornado Alley (B)

The IMAX documentary Tornado Alley is a beautiful homage to the most intense of storms. Like most films about tornados, fictional or not, Tornado Alley follows a group of storm chasers who are looking to collect enough data to improve warning systems. Director Sean Casey (“Storm Chasers”) has also created a “tornado tank” so that he can drive through the center of a tornado and capture it on film.

The movie features some great footage and is fast-paced and interesting, but doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking. Unfortunately, the once-in-a-lifetime shot Casey finally gets isn’t as magical as some of the more standard footage we’ve seen on YouTube, leaving the climax a bit lacking.

Still, Tornado Alley shows off enough high-resolution tornado footage to make the picture mesmerizing.

Salvation Boulevard

The fifth movie I saw was the star-studded Salvation Boulevard, but I’ll review it individually in the coming days.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Comedies, Documentaries, Movies, Thriller Movies