Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 6

Wrapping up the first exhausting weekend, but having no job everyday is like a weekend. Which at Cinequest means about 5 movies a day.

I started my day bright and early by seeing most (about 70%) of Shorts Program 7: Comedy Favorites
DO OVER: A young man makes sure his first date goes right, no matter how many tries it takes.
OVERDUE: In New York, if your baby is 2 weeks past the due date, the hospital will induce labor. So there are many, many techniques to try to bring on natural labor.
THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF ROCKY: Rocky is a bad luck magnet. Everyone he loves dies. So he has to learn to not love the people he loves.
THE ATHEIST: A best friend honors his departed friend's final request, no matter how strange. Interesting POV.
FUCK LANCE ARMSTRONG: Yeah, fuck him! Because of what he did, a trio of friends set out to steal all the Lance Armstrong memorabilia they can.
VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE: Chicks dig vampires. Chicks don't dig Malcolm. There's a solution here, as long as vampires are always cool.

And that left MECONIUM, DEATH IS CERTAIN, PASS THE SALT, PLEASE, and THE RELATIONSHIP DOCTRINE OF DON BLANQUITO as the films I didn't see.

Shorts 7 plays again March 10 at 6:30 pm (opposite the closing night film.)

So the reason I skipped out on the last four shorts was to bolt over to the California Theatre for KILL ME PLEASE. In a resort in the woods, there is a very unusual clinic. All the patients there want to die, and Dr. Krueger obliges, complete with last requests. Of course, as a doctor he does try to talk his patients out of this course, but they seem pretty determined, so really he offers them whatever comforts they desire (and he can actually provide) plus a glass of water with poison. Really, all very humane and caring...even if the patients don't seem quite as desperate as they think they are. And then halfway through there is a huge tonal shift. For the first half I was wondering why it was listed as a comedy. Suddenly, it becomes silly. Slapstick, even. And I went from liking it to loving it, which might say more about me than the movie. I hesitate to say more for fear of spoilers, but I will say it earns its artistic credibility in the first half, and then (depending entirely on your own attitude) it either blows all that credibility or it takes its premise to the logically illogical extreme.

KILL ME PLEASE plays again March 10 at 1:30 pm.

Then my next event was the Picture the Possibilities world premiere. Picture the Possibilities is Cinequest's newest project, putting cameras in the hands and mentors by the sides of kids in cities around the world--East Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, and Beijing. All the videos are online, so please watch them yourself. That's way more valuable than reading my opinion. I'll just say that the kids are amazing and it's wonderful that their stories can be told. I suppose if I really tried to put on my critic's cap and take a hard look at these movies, I can point out that they have a lot to learn technically. But who cares? They're kids, they're learning, and the project is so inspiring I find it impossible to be a critic.

Then I wandered over to the Knight Ridder building and took the elevator up to the Capital Club (proud member of the Cinequest Dining Circle) for the special VIP soiree, featuring celebrity chefs Michael Mina and Michael Miller. Food, drinks, Cinequest friends, and a warm sense of exclusive superiority that should probably trip my liberal guilty conscience, but fuck it, it was fun. And the view up there was amazing, and really tickled my sense of acrophobia.

Then I came back to earth to see THE BULLY PROJECT (which is being released by the Weinstein Company just as BULLY.) This movie made me angry in all the right ways. I marvel at how they got such access, with their cameras on the school bus, in the halls, and especially in the school officials' offices. We follow the story of kids who were/are bullied (the "were" stories are the aftermaths of victims' suicides.) I was/am a nerd and my last name is a slang term for penis, so this is all too familiar to me. It took me a long time, but now I'm proud to be a six foot, fat, hairy Wiener. And it took me over 30 years to find a community where I could be one of the "cool kids" (and thank you, Cinequest, for being part of that community!) And watching what some of these kids are going through, it's excruciating how much worse things have gotten since my day (or maybe things were always bad, and I was relatively lucky?) I'm not sure if 13-year-old me could survive junior high today, if this movie is any indication. I just want to tell all these kids that it does get better...but I don't know how that's supposed to help you now. And I want to tell Kelby especially, for your courage you are a hero. And to the administrators who shrug it off as "kids will be kids...." No shit, asshole! Kids will be kids, that's why you need to be an adult and put a stop to it! I sincerely hope that one administrator (and if you watch it, you will know which one I mean) has been fired. I don't even care who replaces her, because those kids would be better served by an empty chair in her office.

On a final note, there is an online petition to appeal the R rating given to BULLY by the MPAA. An R rating will mean that many kids who should see the movie won't be able to. It is less likely to be shown in schools, and many theaters will refuse to let kids see it without an adult. I actually care enough about the issue that I signed the petition before seeing the movie (which I regretted, I could've waited a few days, and I think that was actually a lapse in judgement.) Now that I've seen it, there is no fucking way this deserves an R rating. There is a little bad language--I think one "motherfucker" and maybe 3 utterances of "pussy." Maybe a little more, but hardly pervasive. Giving this an R rating is pure and simple bullshit.

THE BULLY PROJECT plays again March 6 at 4:45 pm

And then on to the last show of the night, starting with the short HEAT WAVE. Three girls on a rooftop sunbathing. One is trying on clothes in a scene that makes this the best movie ever!! She can't find her blue dress, so she calls her ex-boyfriend, and gets way more than she expected.

And then the feature, FORGETTING THE GIRL. Kevin Wolfe (an appropriately predatory name, and played with just the right creepiness by Christopher Denham) is a photographer specializing in head shots of young women who want to break into acting or modelling. He asks each and every one of them out, usually they reject him but occasionally they say yes. But things never go right, and he has to find a way to forget them--and he has a lot of ways. In a slide show monologue that opens the film and runs through the whole thing, he explains how his problems with women really all go back to when he was a child and saw his sister drown. And that will become...very interesting.

I will now visibly struggle with spoilers. Because, you see...there is a big fucking twist in this movie. Maybe there were clues, but I will say it surprised the hell out of me. And suddenly made everything that came before it change meaning incredibly. And...I can't tell you about it. And director Nate Taylor (oddly enough, the same name as an old Boy Scout friend of mine, but I guarantee a very different person) was very funny in the Q&A absolutely refusing to interpret all the implications for you. Personally, I've decided on my interpretation, and I've taken the darkest possible one. But to get more from me you'll have to see the movie (if you haven't already) and talk to me in person. For the next week, you'll find me all over Cinequest so I shouldn't be too hard to find.

FORGETTING THE GIRL and HEAT WAVE play again March 6 at 2:30 pm

Oh, and then I went over to the Maverick Meetup at Loft Bar and Bistro. I had a few (maybe more than a few) drinks, but also had some of their fantastic ultra-thin onion rings. That's solid food, so I can check them off of my Cinequest Dining Circle list.

Total Running Time: 431 minutes
My Total Minutes: 270,145

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