Monday, February 2, 2009

Jason previews Cinequest: Wake

Sometimes life is just way too hard. Here I am in Maui (with my parents and one brother), playing all day and then coming back to our condo to watch Cinequest screeners at night. As I mentioned earlier, I received a pile of Cinequest screeners at the kickoff party last week. Normally, this is a bit early to start publishing (p)reviews of Cinequest films. I think it's more common to publish reviews in the week before the festival, so they'll still be fresh in filmgoers' minds when the festival starts. However, the week before Cinequest I'll be up to my neck in Indiefest. But I have a solution--I'll repost my reviews at CQCentral in the week before the festival. And, in fact, I'll post at least my best reviews there throughout the festival. A great site to keep up with my and all my Cinequest pals.

Anyway, on to the screener. And bear in mind that I generally don't like to watch movies on DVD. I find the big screen and the feel of an audience's reaction is very, very important. So when/if I rewatch a movie on the big screen, I may well have a very different reaction. And, in fact, I'm sure I'll rewatch this movie because a) it's the opening night film, and part of the big opening night party, and b) I watched it the night I arrived in Maui, was a bit jet lagged, and struggled to stay awake (the mai tais might've had something to do with that, too).

Wake is the story of Carys Reitman (Bijou Phillips). She's an emotionally damaged young woman, unable to cry. She's gone through all the sad movies she knows, and turns to the only place she has left--strangers' funerals. Luckily she has an in--her best friend Shane (Danny Masterson, who's also in Capers at Cinequest this year) is an undertaker. She goes to yet another funeral, but even this has become so routine that it doesn't move her. That is, until the deceased woman's fiance Tyler (Ian Somerhalder) gets up and speaks--and speaks far more candidly than is normal for a funeral. Not only is she moved, but she's attracted to him. Wacky hijinx ensue--the engagement ring slips off the corpse as she's fiddling with it, and then she pockets it so no one will notice. She starts dating Tyler, but the family of the deceased expects he's up to no good--even going so far as to accuse him of murder. And when clues start to point to how they might actually be right, it looks like Carys might be next. There's also a cameo by Jane Seymour as Carys' estranged mother, who holds some secrets to her past--like why she's so interested in funerals.

As an opening night film, Wake works on multiple levels. It's a smart, witty, funny story that provides a good time at the movies. In other words, it gets the audiences excited to see lots more movies over the next week and a half. It also introduces the theme of the festival--this year it's "Transform" (not to be confused with Michael Bay's abomination, Transformers). And Carys' transformation, both through love and through confronting her mother, definitely fits the theme.

Wake opens Cinequest on Wednesday, Feb. 25th. See you there (I'll be the guy with the hair in the front row)!
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