Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 7

Two movies last night (Monday) starting with a last-second change of plans. I was originally scheduled to see NIGHT SONG, but I had a drink with the lovely and awesome team from ACCORDING TO HER and found a way to move my schedule around I will now be seeing NIGHT SONG on Wednesday at 7:00.
 
So first up was the short MARATHON. Julio is an Ecuadorean cook in New York. He works, he lives his life, and he runs, winning his age group in the New York marathon. Also, he's undocumented.
 
And that taste of New York led us into ACCORDING TO HER, a wonderful drama about motherhood and careers, that made me appreciate again my own mother, who raised six kids (most of whom are better socially adjusted than I.) Inspired somewhat by director Estelle Artus' experience as a mother, the hero of our story is Veronica, a brilliant rising star of a concert pianist. And then she takes a hiatus to have a baby. And she decides to actually raise her son herself instead of hiring a nanny and jumping back into her career right away. She's in New York, far from her family, friends, and support network in Russia. She has her husband, of course, and he's not a bad guy. But he works very hard at his bank, which takes him all over the world. And he has his social circle--mostly French friends (I'm not sure about this, but I got a definite sense that there's a social class divide, that the French look down on the Russians. Knowing a bit about the history of the languages--Russian royalty spoke French, not old Russian--it wouldn't surprise me.) Once her son is a toddler, and she's ready to re-enter the classical music world, along comes Amanda, a promising and beautiful young pianist who catches everyone's attention. A few people here and there remember Veronica, and those who do admit she's a technically superior pianist. But if you're out of the music world for too long, you're forgotten, and breaking back in is that much harder. It's a fantastically empathetic movie, with great acting and a bit of a gut-punch of an ending. A must-see for anyone who has ever had a mother.
 
MARATHON and ACCORDING TO HER plays again Wednesday at noon
 
And then the late night show was the debut of a new director who is looking like a major talent to keep an eye on. NILA is director Selvamani Selvaraj's first movie, he never even made a short before. But his work is already highly professional--the cinematography is vibrant, the music is enchanting, and the mood is perfect. The story...is very simple. So much so that recapping it would be a letdown...but let's do it anyway. Vimal is an auto-rickshaw (taxi) driver. One night, he picks up a young woman whom he recognizes as his old childhood crush. He drives her where she's going. And then stalks her a bit, waiting outside for the next time she needs a taxi. They talk, he gives her his number and urges her to call whenever she needs a ride. Slowly she warms to him, and he hopes that she feels the same for him as he does for her. But she's keeping a secret--one that audience gets well before our naïve, innocent hero. But this isn't about plot twists or story arc. It's about mood, about just feeling the piece. It's a 90 minute melancholy love poem to these two people. And it's gorgeous, and I can't wait to see what Selvaraj does next.
 
That was, unfortunately the last scheduled screening of NILA at Cinequest, barring a possible encore day screening. You never know...
 
Total Running Time: 194 minutes
My Total Minutes: 422,704
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