Monday, March 12, 2012

Jason goes to Cinequest--Encore Day

After that epic after party the night before, I'm surprised I woke up for anything, but I made it to three more Cinequest movies

I started with the jury award winner for best comedy, COME AS YOU ARE (HASTA LA VISTA), which was an excellent, bittersweet treat. It's a road trip comedy about three disabled friends (two wheelchair bound, one blind) from Belgium who run away from their parents (whom they've always relied on) to travel to Spain. See, one of them has a friend who lost his legs in a war, and told him of this amazing place in Spain--a brothel that specifically caters to disabled clients. Of course, all road trips need some obstacles, and that starts right away when one of them gets bad news from a doctor. So instead of taking a completely sanctioned road trip with a reputable caregiver (with their parents knowing everything except the ultimate goal) they decide it's all or nothing and sneak away with a less reputable caregiver (a gruff, heavyset woman) in a much less fancy van. That's just the first of their problems, as things never really go according to plan. One of the delights (although it can be awkward to watch) is seeing disabled people being just as selfish jerks as anyone. That shouldn't be a surprise, but somehow the disabled are always portrayed as somehow gaining righteousness through their disabilities. Not here--they are just as big of jerks as anyone (well, at least one guy really is.) And on one last note, the disabled acting was spot on, if it weren't for one magical scene at the end I'd have believed they actually got disabled actors. Come to think of it, that scene could've been CGI, I guess...?

Then I had a bit of time for a snack at the array of food trucks they had parked on 1st street outside the California. Cinequest actually shut down the whole block for it, and it was pretty cool. I had a Ricky Ricardo at Babaloo, and it was pretty delicious. Perhaps more importantly, it provided a social gathering space for the day. While I liked encore day last year, one of the things I noticed is it was much lower energy. Just the die hard, a bit tired and maybe hungover from the previous night's party, shambling from film to film. With the food trucks, there was more of a party atmosphere immediately. Of course, I still had the VIP lounge and some more free Stella Artois, which was also nice.

My second film of encore day was WORTH THE WEIGHT, and I'd like to say it was worth the wait, but ultimately I felt it was lacking something. Robbie Kaller plays Sam Roberts, a former college football star who blew out his knee and since has become a >400 lb loser working in a bowling alley. His best friend (and fellow bowling alley employee) gives him awful, awful advice--particularly about women. He does join a gym, determined to lose some weight and get back into shape (actually, the sad thing is he can jog better than I can) and falls for his trainer Cassie. She, meanwhile, likes him but has an off-again, on-again relationship with a totally pretentious douchebag. And you can probably guess where this is going, and you'd probably be more or less correct. And there's really nothing wrong with this sweet romantic comedy, I just felt it lacked much energy. I don't know, your mileage may vary.

And then in the next time slot I had already seen everything that was playing, so I ended my Cinequest 22 with a second helping of my favorite of the festival, Kurt Kuenne's SHUFFLE. Still beautiful and it can still make me tear up at the right moments. Having seen it before, I noticed a few call-backs to his previous work--The SLOW sign from SLOW is displayed on a wall and David Bagby's (Zachary's grandfather from the heartbreaking DEAR ZACHARY) name is on Lovell Milo's cell phone. I also payed more attention to the religious elements of the movie. It's rare in this cynical age to actually see a character get down on his knees and pray, but Lovell actually does it twice, once in church and once in a classic scene on the street in the rain. And it works both times, but is never really in your face of annoying like "this is a movie about GOD!" (and I say this as an atheist--the religious scenes in this movie worked.) And ultimately, having seen it before I didn't have to worry about "figuring out" the gimmick, and instead could see how well arranged (or rearranged) his life scenes were as an evolving, illuminating theme. Really, really well done.

And that's it, with that my Cinequest 22 was done. By the numbers, I saw 54 screenings at Cinequest, including doubling up on SHUFFLE (so 53 different movie programs.) That was a total of 5,194 minutes of different movies (5,276 if you count SHUFFLE twice) or 60.9% of the 8,529 total minutes worth of movies in the festival. Not bad...not bad at all.

And then I would have gotten some sleep, but I still had to host Bad Movie Night that night.

Total Running Time: 283 minutes
My Total Minutes: 273,244
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