First up was TRAVEL BAN: MAKE AMERICA LAUGH AGAIN, a hilarious documentary about Muslim comedians in Trump's America. Or at least, that's the focus now. It actually starts with comedians going back in the pre-9/11 days, with an interesting backstory of how the legendary Mitzi Shore promoted Muslim comics at her legendary Comedy Store, sensing that there was a war brewing between America and the Middle East, and that they needed to be presenting a positive face of Muslims in America. The stand-up sets showcases in the movie had me laughing harder than I have in a long, long time (and my friends now that I'm someone who enjoys a good laugh.) At the same time, the news footage and cell phone videos of vicious, vile, racist attacks make me fear for the soul of my country. But fortunately, the movie gives the answer, as one of the comics (I'm sorry I forget which one) puts it, "Comedians are the doctors of the soul." Well said, and well proved in this movie.
TRAVEL BAN: MAKE AMERICA LAUGH AGAIN plays once more, Wed, Mar 13 8:20 PM in Redwood City.
Next up was a couple more drinks in the lounge, then to the California Theatre for a program that started with the music video STAND DOWN. With visuals reminiscent of NATURAL BORN KILLERS, Billy Bob Thornton plays a vet suffering from PTSD, heading for the ultimate showdown with...himself.
Then the feature was a different type of showdown, THE TINY LIFE OF BUTCHER DUKE. 20 years ago Butcher Duke could've been someone. He was a local tennis star, and won a contest to win a double-wide mobile home if he could only beat local ex-pro Creek Thomson in a best 2 out of three games match. And he took the first game, but Creek came back and crushed him in the next 2. Now 20 years later he still lives with his mom--at least, until she kicks him out. He's estranged from his daughter--who is getting married to a guy who is much like Butcher (some obvious daddy issues that are never explored because it's funnier to just let the audience ponder it.) And he coaches a team of children who are just...awful at tennis. They won zero games last year, and it doesn't look like they've improved at all. But he's got a chance at redemption. Creek's son, Delta (holy sh*t, I just got that joke) has taken over the tiny home business...and is running it into the ground. So as a promotion, he'll take on a rematch with Butcher, this time for a tiny home. And Butcher's luck is looking up, as Delta is truly, truly terrible at tennis. But there are more twists in store in this largely improvised comedy that is intermittently funny and often just kind of meanders. But even in the midst of meandering it's always a pleasant little ride that never takes itself seriously and really picks up at the end.
|This man could really use a tiny home|
THE TINY LIFE OF BUTCHER DUKE plays again Mon, Mar 11 9:20 PM in Redwood City; Wed, Mar 13 7:30 PM again in Redwood City; and Thu, Mar 14 2:50 PM in the California Theatre
Then the next show started with another music video, HEART KILLER. Who needs a review when I can just post a link.
That was the lead-in to ADONIS COMPLEX. A vacation at a lake house turns creepy and deadly when their fitness-obsessed host Tad is a little...too obsessed. Actually, it's not just the obsession, it's his...unorthodox theories on health and body-building. Oh yeah, it's a full-on horror/thriller with Tad as the monster and plenty of surprises about how far he'll go with this endeavors. Well acted and scripted, it's a nice creepy, occasionally cringe-worthy (at the risk of giving away spoilers, I have a bit of a phobia about needles) affair. Well done!
ADONIS COMPLEX plays again Mon, Mar 11 7:30 PM; Wed, Mar 13 8:45 PM; and Sat, Mar 16 1:00 PM. All screenings are in Redwood City.
Then for a little lighter fair, THE BRA is my favorite film of Cinequest 2019 so far. I love silent films (although I'll probably be missing the Buster Keaton program next Friday, if only because I've seen those films so many times and there's so much else to see.) But I can say I did see an excellent, beautiful, and surprising silent film at Cinequest with this one.
Okay, technically I wouldn't call this a "Silent" film, as the rhythmic soundscape is actually very important to it. But it's a dialogue-free film, and it's delightful. The marvelous Miki Manojlovic stars as Nurlan, a cargo train drive in Azerbaijan. As part of his daily route, he goes through a town where people have to run out of the way and pick their laundry off the line before his train comes through destroying it all. So part of his job is also returning odd articles of laundry that get snagged on his train. On his last day, he snags a blue bra. So his first journey in retirement is searching the village--modern day Cinderella style--for the owner. Which causes some pretty funny interactions with the locals, whom he's only seen from way up in his train. It's a wonderfully playful ride, and in the end it doesn't really matter who the proper owner is. The real bra is the friends we made along the way.
|No words necessary|
THE BRA plays again Tue, Mar 12 8:30 PM at 3Below; Sat, Mar 16 10:00 PM in Redwood City; and Sun, Mar 17 1:15 PM at the California Theatre.
Then another wonderfully creepy thriller, but one that takes a little while to get going. THIS IS OUR HOME is the story of Reina and Cory, a young couple who is going through some rough times, and trying to put their troubles aside with a tip out to Reina's secluded childhood home. Early one, they have an incident with a flat that shows Cory's immaturity, pride, stubbornness, and incompetence. The kind of scene that makes me hate him and not care about him as a protagonist. Hence there was a bit of a barrier to overcome for me to care about him, and that's why I said it takes a little while to get going. So when a little boy shows up and claims to be their son Zeke, it's mysterious and weird, and weirder sill when Reina humors him over Cory's objections. Things really get going when Zeke and Reina start teaming up against Cory. And then it gets really weird, dangerous, and scary. But since it's all happening to the character I fucking hated, it was all good!
THIS IS OUR HOME plays again Sun, Mar 10 8:30 PM at the Hammer Theatre; Wed, Mar 13 9:30 PM in Redwood City; and Fri, Mar 15 2:30 PM, again in Redwood City.
And finally I ended the day with a Cinequest tradition, always one of my favorites, the Mindbenders Shorts:
I SEE THROUGH YOU bent my mind when that guy tried to rip her face off. (Also when it played twice because it didn't play right the first time)
LOA'S PROMISE bent my mind when CGI robots take over an abandoned Argentinian ghost town.
MAKR bent my mind when that exorcist has more than he bargained for with a Djinn
PENANCE bent my mind when people use the Bible to keep people from living their own lives, but luckily these Latinas take their own selves back.
TAKEN FROM ME bent my mind when robbers turn into snacks
TiCK bent my mind when vampires were burned away like bloodsucking insects
ULYSSES bent my mind when that fisherman caught a mermaid. And then...with what he did next.
WAKEY WAKEY bent my mind when dreams and reality converge with tragic results.
WE GOT A MONKEY PAW bent my mind when wishes go awry. Maybe collecting occult artifacts is not the best hobby.
YOUR FRIEND bent my mind when a man learns that a robot--no matter how realistic--is no replacement for a real, existing, human friend.
YOUR ORDER HAS ARRIVED bent my mind when arrival announcements take over a guy's life.
Shorts Program 5 - Mindbenders plays again Sun, Mar 10 3:35 PM in Redwood City; Mon, Mar 11 4:35 PM also in Redwood City; and Fri, Mar 15 4:45 PM at 3Below
Total Running Time: 521 minutes
My Total Minutes: 498,980