Thursday, March 1, 2018

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 2

Now Cinequest is really rolling along. And so far my liver is holding together okay.

I got there just in time for a drink or two in the lounge before heading off to the VIP Soiree at Forager. I nice buffet of Mediterranean food and...um...tacos? Because those go together, right? Also beer. And guava Moscow Mules. Nice.

So then I jaunted over to the California to see a true Maverick, Nicolas Cage, getting Cinequest's highest honor, the Maverick Spirit Award. A cool clip reel showcasing his long and eclectic career. Then an on-stage interview, where Nicolas was just as charismatic and full of stories as you'd think. And Sal Pizarro was an excellent interviewer.

And then the program ended with a brief discussion of VR filmmaking and acting, where Nicolas admitted that he's still learning that, because you can't put all your energy at one camera. He's in one of the VR programs (THE HUMANITY BUREAU, in program 4.) I have to confess I haven't been excited about VR, as an audience member. The few times I've tried it, I've come away with great appreciation...for the art of traditional film. Specifically, how directors, cinematographers, and editors take great pains to choose shots, angles, and sequences to draw my attention where they want it to go. That's kind of thrown out the window with VR, as I'm in total control. And I'm kind of a dumbass when given that control. I mean, I know where I should look, but I'm more interested in looking for the holes in the technology, so I'll watch a VR film by staring at the sky to see if they put anything up there, and miss all the action.

But Nic's brother Christopher Coppola (a regular at Another Hole in the Head, which I've emcee'd for the past couple of years) made an excellent point. He compared the technological leap from movies to VR as like the leap from stage acting to movies over a century ago. Just like filmmakers needed to learn how to use the medium, audiences had to learn how to watch it, too. Nobody screams at an approaching train onscreen anymore (and in fairness, they likely never did, that was just some promotional hype.) So maybe I can learn to watch a VR movie without constantly looking for holes in the sky. Be it hereby resolved: I will give VR a fair try at this year's festival.

And then it was time to high-tail it over to the Hammer Theater for HIGH AND OUTSIDE: A BASEBALL NOIR. We start with Phil Harding (Phil Donlon) struggling through an at-bat in the minor leagues. Strikeout, and after the game the skipper (Ernie Hudson) wants to see him. Really, just long enough to tell him he's cut. No more work for him on this team, but he wishes him the best. He's a good guy, just not a good enough ballplayer to make it. So he goes back home to his dad (the late Geoffrey Lewis, in his final role) who is a former star in the majors. Phil still has his baseball dream, and his agent suggests he attends a development camp, but he doesn't have the money for it. So he starts making...very bad decisions. Decisions he knows are wrong, but he does them anyway (which is pretty much the definition of film noir.) And it's not like he doesn't have a support system that could help him out--especially his father--he's just too proud, too stubborn to admit he needs it. He'd rather be the big time athlete who can solve it all himself. A solid story, with great acting. Excellent.

This film plays three more times in the festival, all in Redwood City.

Oh, and since I forgot to on my opening night write-up, allow me to congratulate the Guerilla Wanderers and their excellent festival trailer. Everyone should know, the way to celebrate the Impact of Cinequest this year is to yell "Stelllllaaaaa!" at the same time as the trailer. Although, Stella Artois is no longer a sponsor (gasp!) Instead, the damage to my liver will be brought to you by the local Umunhum Brewing, and especially their Stout as a Service. Which is delicious, but I just can't slam them the way I did Stellas. And, of course, Tito's Vodka will fuel me as well, for when I need that turbo-boost to oblivion.

Speaking of which, here are the films that have filmmakers doing it right, and drank with me yesterday:

Next Sunday is almost completely set. I'm starting the day with Shorts Program 2 and LITTLE WOMEN, then ending with ARUN and Shorts Program 3. That leaves just one gap in the middle, and I think the race is on between SNAPSHOTS and BIKINI MOON for who can drink with me first (I've been promised drinks with them both, and technically I have drunk with Emily Goss of SNAPSHOTS before...just not in the past year.)

VIRGINIA MINNESOTA was so nice that I may have to break my "don't drive between Redwood City and San Jose on the same day" rule to catch their show Wednesday night.

Next week Thurday Ry Leavey drank me up to see a couple of films he's distributing--LUBA and CHARLIE AND HANNAH'S GRAND NIGHT OUT, which I'll then follow with CROWN AND ANCHOR, made by a team of Canadians who don't do anything without drinking.

And Saturday, March 10, I'll start the day with another Ry Leavey distributed film, PURDAH. Holy cow, 10 am? That might be before my first drink of the day. It better be worth it!

Oh, and the bartender at the Continental gave me a shot of Tito's and told me it was from Robert, who said I have to see his movie now. But he didn't know what movie it was and Robert wasn't there anymore. So...I don't know? I guess I have to see every movie made by a Robert now?

Happy drinking film watching everyone! I'll be in Redwood City tonight, starting in a few hours.


Running Time: 98 minutes
My Total Minutes: 471,198
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