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SCARECROW ON SEATTLE
Scarecrow
In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with Scarecrow Video to bring you weekly reviews of historical Seattle films. Each week we will showcase a new movie, with special emphasis on how these films show Seattle's most filmable locations.

Expiration Date (2006)

Director/producer/writer/TheFilmSchool co-founder Rick Stevenson's charming comedy opens with a Native elder and a Native teen sitting at a rural bus stop. The kid's about to head off to the city, but the elder wants him to stick around and hear a story. He proceeds with the tale of Charlie Silvercloud III (Robert A. Guthrie), a young man whose grandfather and father were both hit and killed by milk trucks on their respective 25th birthdays. We meet Charlie testing out cemetery plots a week before his own alleged doomsday, calmly going through his list of THINGS TO DO BEFORE I DIE. While picking out a coffin he meets eccentric free spirit Bessie (Sascha Knopf) and her aptly named mutt Roadkill. Neither Charlie or Bessie is entirely honest about why they are out death shopping, and that, of course, leads to assumptions and comical misunderstandings that draw the couple together. Stevenson and company clearly have an eye for the city, filling the film with more locations and nods to the Northwest than I can name here. Charlie lives on Queen Anne's south slope, allowing the occasional glimpse of the Space Needle. His mother Lucille (Dee Wallace, the mom from E.T.) takes him to a Native celebration at Daybreak Cultural Center in Discovery Park. Bessie teaches dance at the historic Phinney Neighborhood Center. Seattle-area resident Richard Sanders (WKRP's Les Nessman) appears as the administrator at Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery on Aurora. Lucille runs a flower shop called Indian Paintbrush, located next to the now-closed Bark Natural Pet Care on Ballard Avenue. The stretch of cobblestone street between the also sadly now-closed Guitar Emporium and The Sunset Tavern gets a lot of quality screen time as Charlie, Bessie, and Roadkill walk and talk. A Smith Brothers truck chases Charlie through Gasworks Park and the film's adventurous conclusion takes place at their dairy in the Kent valley. But the best Seattle location is the Post Alley bar Alibi Room, brilliantly recast as the coffee shop at which Charlie works as a master barista (Confidential to the Alibi Room: Where can I get one of those mugs?). Since most of us only see it under cover of dark and cocktails, it's nice to see its wooden interior gleaming in the sunlight. Look closely in the background during its scenes and you may spot Tom Skerritt sipping at one of the tables. Expiration Date's whimsy doesn't always work but it eventually won me over, and Seattle has rarely looked better on screen. Scarecrow Video is one of the many Northwest businesses thanked in the credits.

-Jen Koogler


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