Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jason Watches "Around the Bay"

Okay, I almost never, ever do this--review a movie I watched on DVD. But director Alejandro Adams contacted me and offered me a screener of his movie, premiering at Cinequest this weekend (March 1, 7:45 pm, at the San Jose Rep. After party at Hotel DeAnza. Follow-up screenings March 4, 4:15 at the Camera 12 and March 8, 7:45 at the San Jose Rep). I then dutifully let the DVD collect dust for about a month while I was running around at the movies. And then last night I popped the DVD in my player and checked it out. I was pretty impressed.

The story is relatively simple. Wyatt, a Los Gatos businessman has a big house (with a pool), a 5 year old son named Noah, and a girlfriend Noreen. Obsessed with his commercial real estate deals, he all but ignores the last two. When he loses his girlfriend and job at the same time, he's far to stoic to admit that his life is in shambles. Instead he calls his 21 year old daughter from a previous marriage (Daisy, whom he hasn't seen since she was 10), and convinces her to move out and take care of Noah while he tries to get his business deals up and working again. Two things really impressed me about this movie. First, for a movie that's made up so much of people talking at each other, the story really takes place in what isn't said. Example, right in the beginning. Wyatt goes out leaving Noah alone at home. He tells Noah, "You're in charge of the house", but what's really said is "I don't have time for you, you take care of yourself even though you're only five" (and there's a point early on where I was afraid Noah would drown in the pool, but this movie is much subtler than that). The other thing I really liked is that Noah is a real kid, not a precocious voice of innocent wisdom. He hardly ever says anything smart, he says stuff that's annoying, rambunctious, or just funny--you know, just like a five year old kid. Nothing throws a cinematic cliche into focus like breaking it, and now I'm not sure if I can watch another precocious-child-teaches-everyone-a-lesson movie without focusing on how unrealistic it is. I don't know if Connor Maselli is a child actor or just a child being a child. If the former, he's very talented at acting natural. If the latter, Alejandro Adams was smart to not cast an actor.

So there it is. Go see "Around the Bay" at Cinequest. Tell them Jason sent you. You won't get anything, but it'll make me look good.

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