Monday, March 12, 2012

Jason goes to Cinequest--Closing Night

4 more movies, on the "Closing Night" of Cinequest (which is the real penultimate night, as there is still one more encore day.)

I started the morning with CHEAP FUN, a movie about an all-night party (appropriate foreshadowing for my own life, perhaps?) A group of college friends in Anytown, U.S.A. (but shot in San Jose) get together and smoke and drink at Ian's house. But eventually Ian gets tired of the routine and convinces them all to go out and do something...anything. Turns out that's a really bad idea. They look up an old friend, drive way too drunk, relationships fall apart, and people end up in bad places (I want to avoid spoilers, but examples of bad places to end up after a night of partying might be...jail...or the hospital?) Nice ensemble cast, funny story with touching moments as well. And a good message--if you're gonna get high/drunk, for god's sake just stay at home like always.

Next up was MARIACHI GRINGO, which was my surprise hit of the festival, meaning it was one that I thought would be kind of silly and some light fun, but it turns out I liked it a lot more than I expected. It stars Shawn Ashmore (Iceman in X2 and X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) as a small-town Kansas boy who dreams of being a mariachi. He always wants to eat at the local Mexican restaurant (conveniently named El Mariachi) and is a fan of all things Mexico. He even insists that Mexicans invented corn (bear in mind, he has the cojones to say this in Kansas...not quite Nebraska, but a fairly corn-filled state in its own right.) He's friends with an old man who was a real mariachi, and he heads off to Mexico (Guadalajara, to be precise) to pursue his dream of being a "simple mariachi of the people." There he gets quite a bit of help from love interest Lilia (Martha Higareda.) He's admittedly got some chops on the guitar, and has quite a bit of flair, but he hasn't spent a lifetime learning the hundreds of songs mariachis have to know and be able to to play on request. So he learns the songs, and learns some life lessons, too. I think what I really loved about this movie is it best exemplified this year's Cinequest theme of "Never Ending Passion." Really, a sweet, funny movie that's different...but good.

Then we got into some free-spirited wackiness with DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR. I have to admit, at first I thought the title might refer to the cast having delusions that they know how to act. But I got over that pretty quickly and it just won me over with its spirit. It's the story of Rocio, a young, sexually experimental (at least, with socks, tape, and condoms) lady who goes off her medication and moves from her small northern Californian town to live in San Francisco. There she moves in with transgender drug-addict Illusion (at least, she's addicted to her favorite drug--her hormones.) She gets a job at a local coffee shop, where she's rude to the customers. She is convinced that the lady who sells flowers outside is her mother (at least, she's the spitting image of her mother from when she was little.) And she has lots of wacky adventures with sex and drugs. And lots of cool San Francisco locations (I loved the joke about "South Vanessa Street.") And it even included my home away from home, the Roxie (just a shot of the exterior, but I always love seeing that.)

Then it was finally time for the big closing night gala. We had the traditional moment where all the filmmakers who are still present got up on stage. We had the announcement of the award winners (my favorite has to be SHUFFLE winning the New Visions category. Second favorite would be KING CURLING winning the audience award.)

And then the big closing night film, director Terence Davies came on stage for an interview and to accept the Maverick Spirit award (wand he was so giddy he almost left the award on stage.) He was very funny, and even regaled the audience with poetry. I cannot confirm this, but I heard a rumor that he had quite a bit to drink before the interview. If he did, he still carried himself well. And who could blame him, I'd been drunk on Cinequest love (and alcohol) for the past two weeks (and, as you can see, it wasn't about to stop.)

Anyway, the closing night film THE DEEP BLUE SEA is an acting tour-de-force for star Rachel Weisz. She plays Hester Collyer, wife of (much older) judge William Collyer. The movie opens at the ending, with her attempted suicide, and we work backwards to learn the story behind it. Specificially, we learn about her love affair with Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston,) an RAF pilot and WWII hero. And, of course, this affair cannot possibly end well (which we already know from the beginning.) It's magnificently shot and acted, and a pretty solid dramatic story. It's really a very good movie, I just happen to prefer my closing night (or, for that matter, opening night) galas to be light and fun.

Anyway, after that there was an epic after party at the Tech Museum. Allegedly it was catered by Restaurant O, but I don't actually remember food. I probably ate, I definitely drank (usually two-fisted,) and I definitely partied the night away until they cut off the beer and hurried us out at about 1 am. Then a big bunch of us--fans, filmmakers, etc. were contemplating where the after hours party room was. Turns out, it was in the room adjoining mine and we had a shared door that turned it into the party double-room. I didn't get to sleep until about 5:30 am. My sense of decorum forbids me from actually revealing what went on. Or who, in fact, the owners of the party room were. In fact, I refuse to even reveal their nationality for fear of being labelled racist against Irishmen.

And that's how Cinequest almost ended. I still have encore day to write up.

Total Running Time: 391 minutes
My Total Minutes: 272,963
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