Friday, March 21, 2014

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 12

It was the final Saturday, and despite staying up until 4:00 paying with friends and filmmakers (redundant, filmmakers are my friends) I was still in the lounge when it opened at 10:00 for the first beer of the day. I think I was more Stella Artois than man at this point. There were a lot of other people in the lounge Saturday morning for some presentation about 4K video. I wasn't paying attention, and I feel just slightly guilty about that. But later I drank with the presenter, so it's all good now.

Anyway, maybe I had just a bit too much to drink, or maybe GO DOWN DEATH is just a very strange movie, because I had quite a bit of trouble following it/ staying awake. Folklorist Jonathan Mallory Sinus (a fictitious creation of the movie?) left a body of work that spanned a total of 6 pages. So some extrapolation was necessary for this movie. Prostitute with a syphilitic client. Soldiers wandering in the woods. A card game in a saloon...stuff happens. I keep being told that if I like David Lynch and Guy Maddin (which I do...a lot!) than GO DOWN DEATH should be right up my alley. Maybe it will be if and when I see it again when I'm well rested. As it is...at the end of the festival...operating on no sleep...and more beer than human...I struggled with it.

Then I had all the best intentions to get a little rest, maybe do a little work before seeing THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK. Instead I drank more beer and went to get Mexican food with some of my friends.

The upside was that I didn't have to rush out of the credits to see Matthew Modine accept the Maverick Innovator Award. He was getting it for the iPad app version of his Full Metal Jacket Diary. The hardcover version (limited printing, complete with a full metal jacket) has become quite a collector's item and fetches a pretty high price. I want it! And his iPad version...that might actually convince me to go buy an iPad. Basically since he was playing a military journalist, Stanley Kubrick encouraged him to keep a journal during filming. So this isn't some memory decades after the fact, this is what Modine wrote at the time. And it's really cool. Stories of Kubrick, growing tensions with Vincent D'Onofrio, etc. And to not spoil everything, he left quite a lot for you to see and hear (oh yeah, the app has audio and video segments that you can't really do in even the fanciest book) but I do love his reflections on his one time rivalry with Val Kilmer.

Then it was off for the VIP Soiree and Awards Ceremony at San Pedro Square Garage (food courtesy of Little Chef Counter.) Om nom, glug glug!  And somewhere the award winners are listed. But I can't seem to find them. And who really cares? All the Cinequest finds are awesome! 

Speaking of which, then I made my way to the California theater for my next show, which started with the short SHIFT. An excellent sci-fi story of a man who invents a device that lets him jump through space. Just a short, fixed distance, but enough that with careful planning he can rob a bank. Very cool.

That was the lead in to DOM HEMINGWAY, one of the very few of Cinequest's high profile studio films that I saw this year (really, it's this and the opening and closing night galas.) Jude Law stars as the titular anti-hero, a British gangster just released from prison after 12 years. First thing he does is strut through town, find his ex-wife's lover (and his daughter's stepfather) and bears the crap out of him. No particular reason, other than he hates him and he can. Second order of business, meeting with his associate and friend (Richard Grant, doing a spot-on English version of Christopher Walken) meet with their boss, and get the big pile of money due him. Things get a little tense, but Dom being Dom eventually everything is settled and they celebrate with an insane booze-drugs-and-hookers party all night, culminating in the most cinematic and hilarious car crash I've ever seen. It's tempting to call DOM HEMINGWAY an action-crime-comedy hybrid, but really it's a character study. And the character of Dom Hemingway is not just an angry, out-of-control maniac. He's a man with little impulse control, who feels everything in the moment waaaay too hard. When things are going well, they're the greatest they've ever been and he will push them to the edge. When he falls over the edge and things go poorly, he will feel that suffering more than anyone ever has, succumbing to the "Woe is me!" morass. And that suffering, while ostensibly about his money, is mostly about trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. And that brings a surprising amount of heart into everything. 

Then the next show started with the PTP short DREAMING OF THE SWEET LIFE. A mother and daughter, homeless, remembering back to when they had everything--a roof over their heads, food on the table, and abusive husband and father.... Excellent touching performances in this short.

And then the feature was a mostly finished work-in-progress, THE PURPLE ONION. So first I have to confess that I kind of struggled to follow/stay awake in this movie. I did get that the title refers to a (now defunct) San Francisco comedy club. And that the hero Johnny Lee (actual stand-up comedian Edwin Li) is trying to launch a comedy career. And while some of his jokes land by the end, in the beginning he is not good. And there's a woman who shows up at his home to stay with him (there was confusion over whether she was mother, sister, friend) and a lot of the movie is about their relationship. But as I said this is a work in progress (particularly evident in transitions between scenes) and I struggled to follow it. So I will withhold judgment until I see the finished version (presumable at Cinequest next year?)

Anyway, then I made my way to the Maverick Meetup at SP2, where I ran into Matthew Modine, shook his hand, hugged him (because we hug here,) and chatted for just a little bit. he revealed that he was looking over at me to gauge whether or not he was losing the audience. I told him he shouldn't do that because I'm so exhausted by now I'm struggling to stay awake no matter what's going on. Ah, good times!

Short Program 5
BIOGRAPHER: A cool Russian long-ish short (30 minutes) about a guy who works in the Research Center for Personality Reconstruction. Basically he rewrites peoples back-story (and probabilistically predicts their future) in order to turn them into who they want to be. But he has some moral qualms about his work.
BOX: An experimental visual treat with various 3-D patterns projected onto a screen being moved about by robotic arms. All while a man stands in the middle. Very cool.
CARGO: A man makes a desperate trek with his baby daughter, hoping against hope to save her from the zombie apocalypse. Great little story.
A CONVERSATION ABOUT CHEATING WITH MY TIME TRAVELING FUTURE SELF: Ummm...it's exactly what it sounds like. A man meets his future self, who tells him that he must cheat on his girlfriend, right now! But there's way, way more to it than that. As a side note, there's a heck of a lot of time travel in this program.
GÖDEL INCOMPLETE: Kurt Gödel was weirdly obsessed with time travel. This story speculates why.
I'M 23 AND THERE'S A FUCKING MONSTER UNDER MY BED: The monster is real, and he needs a special lady friend to help him destroy it.
OVER THE MOON: A cool, mostly animated (with real faces inserted) story about the woman who landed on the moon first and the American dick-headed astronauts who found her there.
SHIFT: It's like I time traveled back to earlier in the day when I saw this excellent sci-fi story of a man who invents a device that lets him jump through space. Just a short, fixed distance, but enough that with careful planning he can rob a bank. Very cool.
SORRY ABOUT TOMORROW: A thriller about a time travelers and the authorities who are chasing him. Yup, there's definitely a theme in this program.
A STITCH IN TIME (FOR $9.99): Funny comedy about a low-tech time travel agency that will send you to take a look at your future for under $10. A client has a burning question--does her co-worker like her? But the results just get stranger and stranger (multiple trips can be dangerous.)

And then I went back up to my room, where the party was already going strong thanks to my wonderful girlfriend. And friends and filmmakers stayed up in my room until about 5:00 am. And I was still up for a special Cinequest 100 breakfast (and for me, beer) at 9:00.

Total Running Time: 369 minutes
My Total Minutes: 358,294
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