I'm sure I'm missing a few things that I saw recently. Nevertheless, here's a quick recap before I head into full-on festival mode. In most cases I'm not even going to go with much a description - at best a link to IMDB and a quick opinion. The SIFF guide for 2008 should be out soon online - I just took a look at the official guide published today in the Seattle Times. I've seen a few press screenings so far with generally positive results. Quick reviews of those - hopefully with some tips from SIFF programmers will be coming soon.
Iron-Man - Sure - it's a super hero movie. But it's one of the best I've seen in a while. My expectations were high, but I still had a great time. Perfect casting, actually good acting and a pretty simple storyline make for some fun viewing. Stay through the end credits if you're a comics book fan. Otherwise no big deal if you missed that. And try to avoid the New Yorker review which manages to both trash the film and provide you with the last line of the movie. Sort of jerky if you ask me, even though it's not as though it's a big twist. :-)
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay - Yes, it's as dumb as you can expect. Yes, it was sort of fun. Not as good as the 1st - which even there was funnier in concept than execution. I've seen some reviews that treat it as a great satirical indictment of the political uses of the war on terror. I'm not sure it really carries much water in that regard - but it was still fun.
The Life Before Her Eyes - I'd pretty pretty shocked if you'd seen Jacob's Ladder (or any of the similar films) and didn't see what was going on fairly early in the film. Shot in flashback from a woman (Uma Thurman) who experienced a tragic Columbine like shooting at her high school. I saw this at a SIFF preview several weeks back (in theaters now). I think could have been a great movie if it had focused on the younger characters in high school instead of the split motif. I know it's based on a book so that's not the story they were telling. Mainly just saying the younger characters where much more interesting to watch than the movie they actually made.
Smart People - See the visitor instead. Not even sure it's worth a rental. A lot of folks mention the great dialog. I like all the actors in it (except not so much Sarah Jessica Parker), but even with the positive feelings going in I was pretty bored. See The Visitor instead. If you feel the need see Ellen Page - just watch Juno again after seeing the visitor.
The Visitor - One of the best movies I've seen in a while. I saw a preview with the lead actor in attendance a few weeks before it was released. The trailers don't quite give you a great sense as to the quality of this bittersweet tale. I'm not going to say much about it other than it's well worth seeing. Compelling story, great acting, and some though interesting topics around immigration policy to discuss after you've seen it. All around a solid film.