Saturday, March 10, 2007

Jason goes to Cinequest--day 10

Coming down to the wire. I probably won't post the last two days until after the festival (well, obviously not the last day). Hopefully I can finish up today's post quickly.

So first up, bright and early at 11:30, was "Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness". I had forgotten that it was by one of my favorite new documentary filmmakers. Melody Gilbert had previously done "Whole" and "A Life Without Pain", two of the greatest documentaries I've seen (and for the record, she wasn't at the screening, so I'm not writing this just in hopes that she'll read this and buy me drinks at the rest of the festival). This time, she finally breaks free of medical oddities, but still has a knack for finding the most interesting subjects. This time it's people who essentially trespass in abandoned buildings for recreation. Sometimes it's dangerous (like when a group is trying to find a network of tunnels under a brewery, and approaches the site through the sewer, only to nearly succumb to methane gas). Sometimes it's just charming (like the couple who meets through exploring. BTW, she has a pet dog, so it's yet another Cinedoggiequest movie). And sometimes it's just bizarre (like when some of them are arrested under suspicion of terrorism). Also interesting is how the internet has brought these subcultures from all over the world together, which is featured in a conference held (that year) in Scotland. Very interesting.

Okay, next up was "Maskot", a cute Indonesian comedy about Dennis, a clumsy guy who has to find a chicken that is the replacement mascot for his family's soy sauce company. Ya see, his father--who built the company into a market leader on the strength of the symbol--is on his deathbed, and passes over much more experienced board members in favor of his some--provided his son can prove he knows the heart of the company by finding its symbol. And this leads him on a wild goose rooster chase. Wacky hijinks, of course, ensue, mostly due to the evil board member who wants him to fail so he can take over the company instead. Along the way, Dennis finds not just the rooster, but looove as well. Here's a pic of director Robin Moran:
Then next up was the Viewer's Voice winner, "The Town that Was" with the short "Lawyer, Lawyer". In previous years, I've mostly avoided the Viewer's Voice winners on the premise that a) they can still be seen online (that's how they won and made it into the festival) and b) they've often missed the regular cut for the festival, so when I've seen them in the past they haven't been as good as the other films. However, I've been drinking with the makers of "The Town That Was", and so I was kind of obligated to see it. Luckily, it was better than I expected. But first, "Lawyer, Lawyer" was a very quick CG short about a little boy selling a little girl on the idea of becoming a lawyer. It was kinda funny. "The Town That Was" is a documentary about Centralia, Pennsylvania. Once a booming coal mining town, in 1980 it was already somewhat on the decline. However, the mine had caught fire in 1962, was threatening the town by 1980, and continued burning to this day and will continue for 100's or 1,000's of years in the future. Most people left (to neighboring towns), but the documentary is about the dozen or so people who stayed. Most elderly (like the ex-mayor, who's near 90), but the star of the film is the youngest remaining resident, John Lokitis. At times a bit cranky (understandable, given the situation), he mostly comes off as a pretty reasonable guy, and a charming spokesman for his town. And there's a scene where he's wearing a baseball cap and you can briefly see the logo has a husky on it, which makes this another doggy movie (that was a tough catch). It's a fascinating look at people who don't want to move from their childhood home (in John's case, literally his grandparent's house, which is officially condemned by the state so he's technically a squatter). Here's a really hard to see pic of co-director Chris Perkel, producer Melinka Thompson-Godoy, and co-director Georgie Roland:

Next up was another excellent documentary (this is kind of the day of great docs), "Super Amigos". From Mexico, it's the story of 5 (and there are more like them) activists who dress up in Lucha Libra (Mexican wrestling) costumes to promote their causes. The first of the bunch started in 1985, after the earthquake devastated Mexico City, Super Barrio emerged to lead protests on behalf of housing for the poor. He really started a wave of using the Lucha Libre iconography to speak to the people. Along came the environmental warrior Ecologista Universal, the gay rights activist Super Gay (who's partner was murdered in a gay bashing incident in which he was also badly injured), animal rights activist Super Animal (scourge of toreadors everywhere), and ordained priest, orphanage owner, and "Nacho Libre" inspiration Fray Tormenta (who decided to become a priest when he turned to one for help when he was trying to get off drugs, and was turned away). Their stories are told with lots of energy, some cool animation, and always focusing on their alter-egos only. You're never told who is actually behind the mask, because the point is that it could be anyone. You all have the power to be Super Amigos, too! Here's a pic of Cinequest icon Chris Garcia (left) with director Arturo Perez Torres:

And finally, there was the Danish drama "Prague" starring the always excellent Mads Mikkelsen. He plays Christoffer, who travels to Prague with his wife Maja to pick up the remains of his deceased father, whom he hasn't seen since he was 12. Christoffer doesn't know his father, but as the morgue doctor explains, who really knows anyone? And that becomes the theme of the movie--Christoffer doesn't know his father, or his wife, or how to communicate with pretty much anyone or navigate even the slightest task (like opening a door) in the Czech Republic. In fact, the one person he makes any sort of connection with is his father's live-in housekeeper, a young woman who doesn't speak English or Danish (and he, of course, doesn't speak Czech).

Okay, that's it for day 10. Don't expect any more updates until Monday.


Dadmaniac said...

Well, while Jason was watching movies, I was spending 14 days on Maui snorkeling, body surfing and sunning. I wonder who had more fun??? Oh, and I wonder who spent more money...drat.

puppymeat said...

Ah, Hawaii. I must go back some day. Maybe for the Hawaii film festival? Or would that just be crazy?

Dadmaniac said...

That would just be crazy. Why would you want to go to Hawaii and be inside??? There's snorkeling, swimming, etc to do. On the other hand, it gets dark by 7pm, so you could do both if the festival was nightime only.

puppymeat said...

Yeah, staying inside in Hawaii would be crazy. Unless it's the winter and it's really rainy. But there's no film festival that doesn't show movies after 7 pm. So I could have the best of both worlds!

Of course, first I have to be in Hawaii during a film festival.

Dadmaniac said...

So when is it?