TFF Sniff 2010: "Cold Weather," cool reception

By Christopher Wood on October 8, 2010


Picture a large room with walls of rich mahogany, heavy furniture and ornate rugs decorating its polished floors. Glide inside and you find rows of tables topped with fancy hors d'oeuvres. Musicians sit off to the side, sweet Mozart emanating from their violins.

Take your mind out of 18th-century Europe - The Grand Cinema hosted this swanky scene last night to kick off the city's biggest party for independent moviemakers, the Tacoma Film Festival. (I hadn't noticed until now the posh milieu in which Annie Wright kids complete their tutelage. Why did I leave my monocle at home?)

Among the considerable attendees I recognized several faces from past journeys in the local film sphere. Director Andrew Finnigan showed up, whose short The Stairwell won Audience Favorite last year. I PA'ed for a day this summer on a feature of his currently in post-production, which hopefully graces movie screens at TFF 2011.

I also ran into Isaac Olsen (Quiet Shoes) and Bryan Johnson (20 Seconds), two filmmakers skilled at giving the City of Destiny an endearing makeover in every work they produce. And Randy Sparks made it to the gala as well. He and I began writing A Glitch in the System a year ago, and this weekend our efforts finally see the celluloid light of day.

Pity the dramatic feature opener, Cold Weather, wasn't as enjoyable as the mixer that preceded it. The premise did sound promising: a Portland factory worker gets a chance to play sleuth when his ex-girlfriend goes missing. Yet viewers have to wait almost half of the film's 96 minutes before the plot decides to reveal itself. And despite a somewhat tense climax involving a stolen briefcase, many scenes either end abruptly or possess no true ties to the main story. The post-screening Q&A with star Cris Lankenau didn't offer much revelation. With uninteresting characters painted in dreary hues slouching towards an unsatisfying resolution, Cold Weather looks and feels like a Northwest winter: too long, and no end in sight.

Don't fret - The Grand has crammed the next seven days with plenty of better films. I'll go over what you shouldn't miss this weekend later today.

For a list of today's films, click here.

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