First up was DIRTY BEAUTIFUL, a romantic comedy about not sticking your dick in crazy, especially if you're a bit crazy yourself. After all, it takes two to make a relationship crazy. David is an aspiring screenwriter and storyboard artist struggling to make it in L.A. His car is a piece of crap that keeps overheating. And then he meets Kat in the most interesting way. And it starts out just with him helping her out. She's homeless and escaping a bad guy, so he gives her a roof over her head and food. She's inclined to repay him with sex, but he's old fashioned enough that he actually wants love and intimacy. He has his little obsessive traits, and she...drinks a lot (as far as I'm concerned, that makes him the crazy one.) Odd couple becomes wild romance, and the movie navigates deftly from laugh-out-loud comedy to almost palpably painful dramatic scenes, without ever feeling forced in either direction. That's really what I loved the most about the film--how easily it moved between comedy and drama with every scene feeling like it had the right tone for that moment. Beautifully done, even in the dirty parts.
DIRTY BEAUTIFUL plays again on Mar 3 at 5:00
Next up was MILWAUKEE, which I'm calling the best Burning Man movie to not take place at Burning Man. A group of friends meet in a mountain cabin for a weekend getaway. One has recently been cheated on, another couple is just getting engaged. And one new guy in the group starts talking about Burning Man (as anyone who has ever been there does eventually.) They start talking about worlds with no rules, and decide to maybe try that for a night. Everybody steps across the line to the "no rules" side of the room--some are more eager, some are very reticent. And my favorite thing is that although there's sexual tension all over the place they don't immediately start jumping into bed together. In fact, the first thing they do (after stripping down to their underwear) is playing hockey with brooms and an orange. That to me is a much more Burning Man thing than jumping into bed with someone other than your regular partner. But eventually it does proceed to sex, jealousy, violence, and the safe word. You gotta remember the safe word--#DudeMilwaukee.
MILWAUKEE plays again on Mar 4 at 5:00
I must have been losing it yesterday. I don't think I adequately explained why it's "he best Burning Man movie to not take place at Burning Man." More than just the fact that the night is inspired by a Burning Man conversation, it's the fact that Burning Man can be hell of relationships. It's a real test of strength. And that's true even if you don't have sex with other people. Just the act of declaring "anything goes" too easily becomes a license to temporarily not care about your partner's feelings. To just run off and do what you want, whether he or she wants to join you or not. And that...well, I hope it's not fatal to a strong relationship, but it's a test. And that's what the movie gets so right and what reminds me so much of Burning Man.
Next up was a short and a feature, starting with THE ASSISTANT. Janeane Garofalo plays the worlds worst boss. Super-demanding, she's shocked to come back to the office and find her assistant on her couch. She's even more shocked to find she's dead. And then things get even worse.
And then the feature documentary ASPIE SEEKS LOVE. David V. Matthews (no relation to the singer) has Asperger's syndrome (technically by the new DSM it's high-functioning autism scale.) He has been looking for companionship (other than his cat) for decades, going back to the days when he posted quirky dating flyers on telephone polls. He's also the funniest guy at Cinequest this year--maybe for several years--maybe ever. The movie follows him for several years, with a mix of his Aspie therapy, dating adventures, and putting together his book Meltdown in the Cereal Aisle (available on Kindle.) Spoiler alert: he does find a girlfriend, and I am so happy for him. But even if the film didn't have that happy ending, it would still be awesome to just spend some time with this quirky, awkward, sarcastic, and hilarious guy.
This show plays again Mar 4 at 2:45
Then to Switzerland for DRIFT. Robert Felder has just gotten out of jail and is on probation. He was an illegal street racer, but accidentally ran into a little girl and killed her. Now he's trying to get his life back together. He's got a job at a car repair shop (dangerous for a guy who made mistakes with a car to be around so many cars all the time.) His old mates either want nothing to do with him or want him to race again. One of them drags him to a club to party, and he keeps staring at Alice. While we don't learn this until much later--like after they've become friends--is that Alice is the mother of the little girl he killed. Which kind of explains why he gave her a fake name. The tension mounts as we learn more, and we know there's going to be an explosive climax. But it's really the powerful, intense, and very realistic acting that makes this so good. In fact, more than good, phenomenal.
DRIFT plays again Mar 3 at 2:45
And then I ended the night (well, kind of, I ended the night by drinking at the Maverick Meetup until they closed the Loft) with CRUSHED LIVES, SEX, OR KIDS? from Italy. With a movie-within-the-movie, Saverio interviews various couples about how and why couples stop having sex when they have kids. Inspired by his own disrupted sex life due to his kid, he finds everything from a younger couple that still seem to have it going on--until their nanny quits--to an older family who has gone right past not-having-sex to outwardly hating each other. A very funny movie about a taboo subject that doesn't offer a solution other than to laugh and just enjoy having children--but no sex.
CRUSHED LIVES, SEX, OR KIDS? plays again Mar at 12:15
I totally forgot there was a short with CRUSHED LIVES, SEX, OR KIDS? VERMILLION is the story of Charlie, a bald, sad-sack loser who has had one too many fights with his girlfriend Lucy and kills her. While disposing of her body, his sister Sally finds him and he's compelled to kill her, too. Aaargh! Also I assume his dog is named Snoopy. A noirish take on the grown-up Peanuts gang.
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