Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 7

Stop me of you've heard this one. Another day, another 5 movies....

Once again I was there at the lounge WHEN it opened at 10:00 a.m. for a couple of Bloody Marys and some blogging.

first up was the Mexican drama/thriller GONZALEZ. A story of struggle, debt, church, and success at all costs in Mexico City. González is struggling with debt and exorbitant interest from his bank--he's paid for his TV four times over and still owes money on it. He finds work at a mega-church run by a charismatic preacher (Carlos "brother of Javier" Bardem.) He works in the call center, but that's not enough to cover his debt. He studies the preacher, and is convinced he can do the same thing. But there's a long training program for that, and you need to have a calling. After all, pyramid schemes only work if there are very few people on the top. Anyway, it all leads to a thrilling, explosive climax, which I really liked. It just took a long time to get there, and I struggled to stay awake and interested at times (that couldn't have anything to do with the 3-4 drinks I had in the lounge before the movie, right?)

GONZALEZ plays again Mar 7 at 4:15

Next up was HAPPY ENDINGS, quirky heist flick from Croatia. Ankica and Ljilja run a massage parlor. Just that, a legitimate massage parlor, nothing dirty. No "happy endings" allowed. Ankica hopes to make enough to support her unemployed husband and daughter, plus enough left over for Ljilja's son's rehab. But without happy endings they're barely surviving and a loan shark is hassling her. So, out of a bit of desperation and with some inside information on the bank's security training (let them take the money to save lives) they make off with a pretty nice score. But more money, more problems. A funny, distinctly Balkan story.

That was the last show of HAPPY ENDINGS, barring a repeat screening on encore day. That means we're well into the festival now.

And then a really funny, cool documentary, MEET THE HITLERS. People with the name Hitler (or Hittler,) people searching for the Hitler's last descendants, or people who really, really like Hitler. It runs the gamut, from a friendly man and his four adult daughters in Salt Lake City, to a teenage girl whose friends don't care about her name (it's the adults who think it's strange,) to a German man with no friends or family, to a journalist looking for the last descendants of Hitler's nephew, living in America, to the New Jersey neo-nazi who named his son Adolf Hitler (and sued a cake shop for not putting that on his birthday cake, and then lost his kids to social services, and then showed up in court in a full Nazi uniform...seriously, fuck this guy.) It's an interesting look at how names influence us...or how they don't. It makes a pretty compelling case that it's the person, not the name, who determines how people will see him (after all, the neo-Nazi's real name is Campbell, and he's easily the most despicable person in the movie (seriously, as much as he tries to make it a first amendment issue and present himself as a loving father...fuck that guy!) And I have some personal experience with dealing with an embarrassing last name, being a Wiener and all. And I can say that when I was a kid I hated being a Wiener, I'd pretend it's pronounced "whiner" like that's better. And now I'm proud to be a six foot tall, fat, hairy Wiener. And my name hasn't changed, just my personality. So that's what's important--Q.E.D.

MEET THE HITLERS plays again Mar 7 at 1:30

Next up was ANTOINE ET MARIE, a French Canadian drama. Marie is a fun, flirtatious girl who goes out with her colleagues at the auto repair shop. But as flirtatious as she is, she is loyal to her boyfriend. Antoine is a frustrated man who spends his nights with online sexual encounters (warning...or enticement, there are pretty explicit masturbation scenes in the film.) One night out at the bar with colleagues, she wakes up not knowing what happened the night before. Antoine is the obvious suspect, but she has no proof so doesn't know what to do. Even when she's pregnant, she doesn't quite know what to do. It's a tense, slow-burn drama with a somewhat ambiguous ending. In fact, not much of an ending at all, although...without giving away any spoilers, I liked the ending despite--or maybe even because--I hated the reality behind it.

ANTOINE ET MARIE plays again Mar 4 at 4:45

And then I ended the night with DERMAPHORIA, a cool, stylish drug-fueled thriller set in New Orleans. Eric Ashworth is a chemist, being quizzed by the cops (Ron Perlman) and his lawyer. He has a bit of amnesia after an explosion at his drug lab. Great, explosive (literally explosive) opening. All he remembers is his girlfriend Desiree, he has to find her and make sure she's safe. Or she might not actually exist, she might just be a code word for the best batch of the drug he made. Set in the seedy--not the touristy--parts of New Orleans, he searches for her in a strip club, at least as a start. The story unfolds in a complicated, confusing way, matching Eric's own confusion. Flashes of memory fill in the gaps--or they might be drug-induced false memories for all Eric knows. The drug he invented is very much related to memory. Without giving too much away, I was hoping for a bit of an easier, cleaner, more satisfying wrap-up at the end. But thinking about it more, and treating it as an atmospheric piece rather than a clean, all-ends-wrapped-up narrative, it was really, really cool.

DERMAPHORIA plays again Mar 6 at 4:30

Then just a couple of nightcaps over at Tanq, and then to bed early...like before 1 a.m. I mean, I needed to be back at the lounge at 10:00 a.m. to start drinking again.

Total Running Time: 450 minutes
My Total Minutes: 387,649
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