I skipped out of work a little early Friday so I could start the big final weekend of Cinequest right.
And that meant starting with the short OUT WITH A BANG. A man is having a miserable life. So miserable, it's come to the desperate act of suicide. But he can't even get that right, and he's interrupted in a most unusual way. Very darkly funny.
And then the feature DEPENDENT'S DAY was one of the funniest things I've seen in the festival (and I say that even though I supposedly missed the funniest thing in the movie--the red wings scene. [UPDATE: First, to clarify, I stepped out for a minute to piss, I didn't fall asleep or get bored and walk out or anything. Second, I have seen the scene now and it's hilarious and helps establish why the leads are such a great couple]) Cam (Joe Burke, who is hilariously inept and still sympathetic) is an unsuccessful actor. His girlfriend makes a six figure salary, while he barely makes anything. Not that he's useless. He cooks, he cleans, his gives her great sex. But for simple financial reasons their accountant advises she claim him as a dependent on their taxes, which is kind of a blow to his ego. He struggles to pull his weight at a series of demeaning jobs--party clown, baby-sitter (where he gets in a mess of trouble in a scene that was the original short film idea behind the movie,) etc. Eventually he winds up as a secretary at his girlfriend's office, where...dammit, I'm just recounting the plot, I hate it when I do that. Let's just say there's an incident that leaves everything in a state of disarray. This movie jumps from belly-laughs to cringe-worthy moments to heartfelt emotion while always being real and sympathetic to its fucked-up characters. There's a way to make this same movie very cynically, heaping abuse on Cam and laughing at him. But writer/director/producer Michael David Lynch has a clear love for his characters that makes you root for them, no matter how small their victories are. And come to think of it, the ultimate victory is being with the one you love and is right for you, and that's a pretty damn big victory.
DEPENDENT'S DAY got an encore screening Sunday at 3:30. Oh yeah, and the Encore Day schedule is out!
Next up was Shorts 9A - International College Shorts.
COULEUR: A dog puts on an artist's glasses, and can suddenly see Paris in color. A cute animated film.
GLOWSTICK: A girl celebrates her birthday with her best friend, a lot of glowsticks, and memories. A beautiful little film from Thailand.
I AM AYOTZINAPA: In Ayotzinapa, Mexico, 43 students were kidnapped in an incident with local police, details of which are unclear. In San Francisco, Latin-American artists collaborate on an exhibition to raise funds to support the families in their fight for justice. A very moving story.
JEWISH BLIND DATE: Wacky hijinx ensue, as a couple of non-Jews meet for a Jewish blind date, each assuming the other one is religious.
MIS HIJOS: Hmmm...I don't remember this at all. The program says it was only a minute long. It's entirely possible I slept through it?
THE NATURE OF COMMUNICATION: From the Czech Republic, a documentary about a real dog whisperer, and how to learn from dogs. Really cool guy, and weird that I saw this on the same day that news that the famous "dog whisperer" Cesar Millan is accused of animal cruelty. I can't imagine the guy in this movie ever being anything but gentle and loving to his dogs.
SKIN AND BONES: From Israel, a young gay man is attracted to the images of BDSM, and decides to take it a step further. Turns out maybe his vanilla relationship with his lover is better.
VIRAL: From Australia, a story of a woman on the bus, frustrated by the rudeness of a teenager, goes on a racist rant and is captured on cellphone video. Horrible consequences ensue, in an exploration of repressed racism and the disproportionate response on the Internet.
WATER GHOST: From China, a story of the fishermen whose life work is fishing bodies (mainly of suicides) out of the Yuanjiang river. Very moving, and kind of unsettling.
Shorts Program 9A plays again Saturday (today!) at 1:15 pm. Gee, I hope I get this posted in time.
Then I was over to the California for THE LAST SMILE. Inspired by the death of Amit Zutshi, and featuring home movies of him, it's the story of a dietary supplement company, their dangerous product, and the private investigator who takes them down. Two years after his death, a loving father just wants to see the medical records and find out what killed his son, a seemingly healthy, fitness-obsessed young man. He enlists the help of a private investigator who is down on his luck and owes a lot of money to the Chinese mob. And what ensues is partially a discussion of the poorly-regulated health supplement industry (being not quite food and not quite drugs, they're not subject to FDA oversight) but even more a surprising potboiler thriller with some pretty strange twists (and local Bay Area locations.) Unfortunately, I didn't have time to stick around for the Q&A, so I don't know how much of it is based in reality and how much is fictionalized. If it's real, it's an amazing story. If it's fiction, it's a pretty standard intrigue thriller, and kind of weird that the Zutshi family (who produced the film) used their son's death in this way.
THE LAST SMILE plays again Saturday (today!) at 11:45 am.
And finally, the midnight film THE STRANGE EYES OF DR MYES. A drug-trip of a movie, about a doctor who wants to expand human consciousness by expanding the range of our senses. A weird hybrid of animation, mad scientist flick, musical, and...well, lots of weird, trippy stuff. And it would've been great as a short film, but got exhausting stretched out even to the lean 76 minute running time. Or maybe that was just the exhaustion talking, but I got the idea pretty quickly and was just waiting for it to finish for about half. The hucklebuck song was pretty groovy, though.
And that was the last Friday at Cinequest. The late-late party in my hotel suite got broken up by security, but they were pretty cool about us taking it down to their bar area, as long as we weren't making a mess and not disturbing the other guests. So I did still manage to drink until 4 am. And now I'm up again to head to the VIP lounge and start drinking at 10 am. Because that's how Cinequest rock stars roll.
Total Running Time: 373 minutes
My Total Minutes: 423,684