Finally, the last day. 4 films, and a closing night party
First up was the most sexually explicit film in the festival (and Dan and a Van included a lesbian gang-bang scene), The Beautiful Blue Danube. Tim Seyfi stars as your host on the Kriemhild, a pleasure cruise boat from Vienna to Belgrade on the titular river (as an aside, I spent the whole movie thinking, 'where have I seen him before', and just now looked him up on IMDb and realized that I remember him from Evet! I Do! from Berlin and Beyond back in January. He played Coskun, the Kurdish man madly in love with a Turkish woman--their parents don't approve). The passengers are Western Europeans--French, German, English, etc. The workers/performers are Eastern Europeans--Serbian, Polish, Romany, etc. It's an upstairs/downstairs thing, with the ruling and serving classes starkely separated by nationality. And, there's sex. Think of it as "Upstairs, Downstairs" with prostitution (come to think of it, I never saw that show, I'm just assuming there was no prostitution in it). That might sound like fun and games, and for a while it all is--at least on the surface. Of course you know something horrible is going to happen. And it does. And I don't want to spoil it, but it starts with R and ends with APE (and it isn't "Rhinoceros Escape"). I'll just say, the act itself isn't nearly as important as the reactions of the witnesses. A powerful, gorgeous, and kinda traumatic movie.
Next up was First Person Singular, which was preceded by an encore of Help Wanted from Shorts 4. Good to see that again, I like Ramon. The feature, however...probably suffered from late-in-the-festival fatigue. Seth Farber plays a depressed writer, haunted by the memories of his wife's suicide and the nagging guilt that he's to blame. That's not helped by the fact that her parents sort of blame him, want to take his apartment (which is in her name), and set up a foundation for mental health. He can't finish his novel, he can't even clean his apartment. Luckily his agent sends over a girl to clean, and she happens to be a writer, too. They sort of become friends, but he's still too depressed to do much of anything. He hopes to use her to finish his novel, she looks to him for ideas for her own writing. As I said, this is probably a better movie than I give it credit for, but on the 12th day with very little sleep, I couldn't concentrate on this one very well.
So then it was off to the California Theater for the penultimate screening of the festival, The Forest. A horror movie from India (that is, taking place in India, it's actually a British/US production, and mostly in English--with subtitles for some reason?), it's about Leopard attacks in the Jungle. Check that, it's about humans encroaching on the jungle, leading to the Leopard attacks, and it's about specific humans in a marital infidelity love triangle locking each other outside with a deadly man-eating leopard. Solidly shot, tense, and with some genuinely frightening moments. I really like this movie, I think it's one of the most underrated in the festival.
Then I had a couple of hours to kill before the closing night film and gala. So first I had some late lunch/early dinner with my friend Roy (say hi to everyone at the Niles Film Museum for me, I won't be back for a couple of weeks, what with SFIAAFF). Then I went for a quick beer at Cinebar, and then finally back to the California for the closing night film.
I've already reviewed The Nature of Existence, and I mostly stand by that review. I do have to correct one thing. I reviewed a screener DVD, and the final version shown last Sunday night no longer had my favorite line--"Ask 3 Jews the same question, you'll get 5 different answers." I don't mind too much that it's gone, I still love the movie. But now it's made me look like a jerk on the Internet, talking about a line I love that's not there anymore. Thanks a lot, Roger Nygard!
Other comments. I still agree with the 7th grade girl more than anyone else. She got spontaneous applause at her scene, so I'm glad to see others agree. And finally, when I was at the Cinebar I talked to a kinda drunk guy named Tim about the movie. He made me promise to look for bias in the film, since everyone has bias. So this is for you, Tim. The Nature of Existence has a pro-comedy, pro-questioning, and pro-pancakes bias.
And then it was off to the closing night party. Drank a lot with filmmakers, fans, and staff at the E&O Trading company. When they kicked us out of there, I wandered back to Cinebar with Chris Garcia and a few of the filmmakers, including John Nijhawan, director of Dan and a Van and the drinkin'est filmmaker of Cinequest 19. We eventually were kicked out of the Cinebar at closing time when John and I caught a cab, and after dropping him at his hotel I went home for a well-deserved rest...and then back to my real job the next morning.
And that's Cinequest for 2009. Except for all the screeners I have. And all the ones I want to get still. I might do one final wrap-up soon. Oh yeah, and my traveling festival pass never made it back to me. I saw it as late as Friday morning, and it was full of comments. So if you have it, please e-mail me and we'll figure out how to get it back to me. Please, I'm not upset that you didn't give it to me at the after party. I'm not even upset if it didn't even make it to closing night. I just know that a lot of people wrote in it, and I want to get those notes and post them!