Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jason goes to Cinequest--Opening Night

It seems like just a few days ago that Indiefest ended, and now an even bigger (i.e., too big to actually see everything) party starts--Cinequest!

I'm officially press again this year, and I'm officially giving my regular VIP pass away again. But this year, instead of the "pass-it-on" pass, I gave it to one person who swears she'll write up the whole festival from her perspective--@memepunk aka Mary Szmagaj (one of my goals of the festival: learn how to pronounce her name). Check out her writing at http://cinebum.blogspot.com/ and CQCentral.com where I'll be cross-posting, too.

Anyway, I got to downtown San Jose and got my press time in time to run to the pre-party Soiree at El Diablos to say hi to people and down a few mojitos. Then it was back to the Cal, get in line, get inside (nice, it was raining), run back outside to give @memepunk her pass, then back inside for the opening night festivities.

I settled into my front row center seat, chatted with more friends who came by (@jbwhaley, @gingercarden and @pergamond sat right behind me), and finally the show started. Halfdan, the guy who IS Cinequest came out. He talked about being a Maverick, about the various programs they have this year, about discovery, inspiration, etc...

Whatever, and there was a film, THE GOOD HEART. Brian Cox plays Jaques, a consummate curmudgeon. He's the kind of guy who has a heart attack after exploding in rage at a relaxation tape. And when he arrives in the hospital, the nurses, doctors, and staff are so used to him having heart attacks that they ask him why he doesn't just die already. Turns out, that's not just a joke, most everyone who knows him knows he's an asshole and wishes he were dead. Meanwhile, Paul Dano plays Lucas, a sweet-hearted, generous homeless guy. He's in the hospital for a suicide attempt (one of many character incongruities) and is roommates with Jaques. And with this odd couple meeting, the plot unfolds. Jaques owns a bar, and wants someone to keep it going just his way when he's gone. He stubbornly refuses to serve anyone but regulars and keeps the Oyster-related name long after it stopped serving oysters (because one customer got poisoned). To him, a bar's name never changes, coffee must be perfect, and a bartender must never make friends. It's this last rule that Lucas has the most trouble with, even breaking it to the point of meeting a French girl, April, and getting married.

The story unfolds in a predictable matter (yes, although Jaques is ostensibly teaching Lucas, he learns more. And I predicted the end about 10 minutes in.) And I didn't believe the character arcs (both Jacques becoming kind and Lucas becoming bitter feel contrived). But I did laugh a lot, especially at the odd collection of regulars at the bar (including a garbage man, a florist, and a male prostitute...excuse me, "stimulator"). So I guess it was pretty worthwhile. And judging by the people I talked to at the after party, they were much more forgiving than I was. Perhaps I'm just becoming more jaded.

Speaking of the after party, that was at E&O Trading Co. Good drinks, good food (especially the corn fritters), but way to crowded. Same story as the closing night party last year. Memo to Cinequest: E&O is great for a mid-week soiree, but too small for opening or closing night!

And now, the real hard core film watching begin!

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