Friday, March 14, 2014

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 9

Only 4 films on Wednesday, it was a light day (because I had a gap in my schedule where I had seen all the films that were playing)

The first film of the day was VICTORIANA, a nice drama/thriller about the dangers of gentrification. Tim and Sophie Becker buy a rundown Brooklyn Brownstone. They want to be good landlords, and not kick any of the long term tenants out. But there are only two tenants--one is a spoiled rich girl living cheap in her deceased grandmother's rent-controlled apartment. Suddenly less sympathy for her. And the other one is a cranky old woman. In fact, in the move-in party she starts screaming at them through the floor and threatening to kill them and their friends. The cops won't do anything, so they just have to live with her. At least, for a little bit. An accident with a paint stripper kinda slits her throat and she bleeds out in the hallway. And instead of going to the cops (because it looks pretty bad) they just decide to take care of it on their own. That, and money problems, put quite a strain on their relationship. And it looks for a while like it will be a story about dumb criminals doing dumb things (like ineffectually mopping up the blood with paper towels. It made me invent a crime-scene Swiffer(tm) in my head.) And it came perilously close to losing me. But it redeemed itself with an ending I kinda loved, which I won't spoil her but if you follow my twitter account you can figure it out.

Then I had a long break where I had the best of intentions of taking a nap and getting some work done. But somehow I spent the whole time drinking and joking around in the VIP lounge.

And then it was time for CONFESSIONS OF A WOMANIZER. Loosely based on Miguel Ali's battle with sex addiction, it's the story of Ritchie, a handsome young man looking to bed a different woman every night. He spends a lot of time in a diner with his best friend downing junk food and talking about getting some stink on his hang-low. And then boom--Garey Busey pops up out of nowhere to give sage advice like expounding on love by asking "If you licked my asshole would it change your life?" I wish I could remember all of the hilariously filthy things that are said in the movie ("yogurt squirter" is a particular fine one.) Needless to say, Ritchie has to hit rock-bottom, and the movie actually opens there with him in jail with a transgender prostitute (Kelly Mantle.) Ultimately, as filthy as it is it's got quite a nice heart. And I'm totally on board with their Oscar campaign for both Garey Busey and Kelly Mantle. It's not every movie where I can hug the director afterwards, call him "Sugar Booger," tell him he has a beautiful asshole, and have it make sense in context (and not be too gay.)

Then I spent a little time at the VIP Soiree at Loft and I was back again for more movies.

The next show started with the short PARK ARCADIA. Produced locally by SJSU's Spartan Studios, it's the story of a young woman and the watch her father invented. Well, it's more than a watch, it allows her to jump through parallel dimensions. And she uses it to try to prevent her father's death, in what becomes an exploration of what's really real when all possible realities are within reach. A cool long-ish short (at 24 minutes) that I (and many others in the audience) would like to see expanded into a feature. 

And that was paired (as far as I can tell, for no reason other than running time)  with theshort-ish (55 minutes) feature documentary DEEP CITY. An exploration of the early days of soul music in Miami, and the titular independent record label that released most of it. Founded by Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall, it existed for a while and released quite a collection of hits, both local and national. And the music was cool, and the story...not so engaging. I'm not sure I got anything more out of this than listening to early Miami soul music for 55 minutes. But the music was cool, so maybe that's enough.

And then I ended the night with the controversial Indian film PAPILIO BUDDHA. This is banned in India, at least in it's uncut form. To show an edited form there they had to make over 50 cuts, including bleeping out the name "Ghandi." It's the story of the Dalit people--a collective term for landless people (usually untouchables if you follow the caste system)--and their mistreatment at the hands of an unjust system. Sankaran catches butterflies with his gay American lover, in the opening scenes he catches the rare Papilio Buddha of the title. Meanwhile his father fights for Dalit rights, his people are tortured and displaced. One woman tries to make a living driving an auto-rickshaw cab. That's a traditionally male job, and her mistreatment (okay, call it what it is--beating, rape, torture) is the worst of all. This is a powerful film, politically charged (there's a climactic showdown with the neo-Ghandian party, which kind of explains why Ghandi had to be bleeped out of the approved cut) that makes you sad and angry. Quite a film to end the day on.

Total Running Time: 370 minutes
My Total Minutes: 356,906
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