Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jason goes to Cinequest--Encore Day and Closing Night

One last day of Cinequest for 2016 (except for when I finally have a chance to watch the media screeners of films I didn't catch at the festival...)

So of course I was up at 10 am for nearly the first beer of the day in the festival lounge (that honor, as always, goes to my friend Roy. He's there to make me look like less of a drunk. And I'm not afraid to write that, as he doesn't own a computer.)

Anyway, along with the constant boozing, did you know Cinequest also shows movies!? Here are three I saw last Sunday.

First, the Winner (tied with LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED?) of the Cinequest New Vision Award, I LOVE YOU BOTH is the comic story of twins Krystal and Donny (played by real life siblings Kristin and Doug Archibald.) They're in their 20's, still live together, care for each other (codependent-ly,) and commiserate over their miserably romantic lives. Which seems like it might improve when he meets a really nice man at a party. But the complication is...so does she. That is, they're attracted to the same man. And he's bi, so they each have a chance. What I love about this movie is that it doesn't fall into clich├ęs. There's a hypothetical cynical Hollywood version of this story where Krystal and Donny go at each other's throats through a series of increasingly wacky hijinx. This doesn't happen here. It's more about sibling support than sibling rivalry, and the humor comes from the realness of the characters rather than the absurdity of the situation. (Something I've noticed and loved as a theme in Cinequest this year: flawed characters, sympathetically portrayed.) A sweet, funny story about the importance of family, even if you have to grow up eventually and move out (just not too far.)

And then I saw the Jury Award Winning Best Drama, FEVER AT DAWN. It's a beautiful true story of Miklos, a Hungarian Jew who is being treated in a Swedish hospital in 1945. There he is told he has a lung disease and only six months to live, after surviving the Holocaust. Miklos has never found true love, and so even if it's brief he's determined to find it. He writes 117 letters, to fellow survivors. He just looked for Hungarian names being treated in Swedish hospitals. Write enough, he figures, and he'll get a good match (that was some pre-Tinder perseverance, there.) 19 year old Lili responds, and they hit it off. Of course, his condition is an obstacle. But a bigger obstacle is her jealous friend who constantly sabotages their chances (oooh, I hated that little...I'll say it...bitch!) Then of course there's the detail that the Jewish authorities might not approve a marriage for a man who is about to die. But even if they have to convert, they're determined. It's a really beautifully shot, powerful film that breathes new life (sorry for the pun) into the "Love Conquers All" genre. Oh, and spoiler alert, it's told from the point of view of Lili as an old woman in Israel, reflecting on the long, happy, fruitful marriage she and Miklos enjoyed.

Then it was back to the lounge for a snack, a drink, and a rest before the closing night film. There I happened to run into the amazing Rita Moreno, who asked me why I was wearing that costume. Thing is, I'm wearing what I always wear--cargo pants, t-shirt, trench coat with a lot of buttons on it, and a Victorian top hat. That was delightful. I'll have to see REMEMBER ME soon.

And finally, it was off to the closing night film, THE DAUGHTER. Henry (Geoffrey Rush) has ruined the lives of pretty much everyone in a small Australian logging town. Starting with shutting down the mill and putting everyone out of work. But also financial shenanigans sent his friend and CFO Walter (Sam Neill) to jail. And he has pretty much no relationship left with his son Christian (Paul Schneider.) But Henry's getting married, so Christian is back in town, carrying his own problems (alcoholism and a dying marriage) but trying to be good. There he runs into his old pal Oliver (Ewen Leslie,) his wife Charlotte (Miranda Otto, who was in attendance and did a wonderful Q&A and whose favorite ice cream flavor is caramel,) and their daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young, a young talent to keep an eye on.) Christian's arrival is going to cause some friction, as he reveals some long kept secrets. And once again, it all traces back to Henry as the origin of the problems. The story almost collapses under the weight of the bleak hopelessness, but thank God for Sam Neill as Walter. He's the only one who gets that it's not about the havoc that Henry causes, it's about your response, and whether you multiple the damage or heal from it. In the opening scene, Henry is hunting and wounds a duck. Walter and Hedvig (his granddaughter, but...now I can't remember if he's her mom or dad's father) nurse the duck back to health, in a pretty clear metaphor for how to recover from Henry's damage. As it turns out, when he's dispensing some wisdom later, he has been hurt many times, and not just by Henry. He gets it, and hopefully with the wisdom of some years, other characters will get it too. Instead we're left with an incredibly on-the-nose scene of Hedvig urging Lucky the Duck to fly again, while absolutely refusing to see the metaphor. At least the acting was great.

And then all that was left was the partying. Party until they shut down both the Loft Bar and Bistro and M Asian Fusion. Then back to the hotel lounge where some sponsor booze magically showed up, and the party kept going until...well, this is embarrassing...I left before it was over. I...I don't think that has ever happened to me before. Note to self: next year get a hotel room for Sunday night, too, and take that Monday off work.

Total Running Time: 279 minutes
My Total Minutes: 424,571
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