Friday, March 6, 2009

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 9

Approaching final weekend, but first, 5 more movies:

First up was Layover. It's a simple story--two old high school classmates haven't seen each other in 15 years. By pure coincidence, they run into each other in an airport in Bozeman, MT. She's leaving their small town of Grand Falls to go to LA. He's actually leaving LA, returning to Grand Falls. She recognizes him (he's actually partly her inspiration for leaving their small town and heading to LA), and since their flights are cancelled because of a storm, they spend the night catching up. A nice setup, two people at a crossroads both in their immediate journey and in their lives, talking about life and all the choices they've made (and disguises they've worn). Some people I've talked to complained that the lead actress had a very annoying accent. That was true for me at first, but eventually I got used to it and just went with it. What was more disturbing is I think Cinequest has given me magic psychic powers, because I knew every twist well before it happened. I don't want to give anything away, but during the movie I counted at least 5 times when I knew a big twist was coming and predicted it perfectly. It was actually pretty eerie. For the record, the bonus scene after the credits was my favorite part.

Then I saw a Belgian film,Cut Loose (Los), based on a 90% autobiographical novel by journalist Tom Naegels. Tom is working for small tabloid-ish newspaper in Antwerp, and is assigned all the strange stories--the nitwits of the week. But he's an idealist, and one of the stories he covers is an integration class for new immigrants. He's a good liberal, so of course he is all for this class. Hell, he's even planning on buying a house in an immigrant neighborhood with his long time girlfriend. At the class, he meets a beautiful Pakistani refugee, and is immediately attracted (remember, he has a long time girlfriend he lives with. This is important). He battles his own heart, his overtly racist grandfather, and the more subtly racist colleagues. When his grandfather falls badly ill and asks for a dignified death rather than wasting away in a hospital room wearing a diaper, he also has to battle his own beliefs on euthanasia. Mostly it's an exploration on the Belgian problems with racism and immigration. Debates quickly become very emotional, but in his work he learns many surprising facts and can approach the issues in a calm rational way. If only he could get anyone else to listen. Well, and if he could overcome his faults--like that whole long time girlfriend/new attraction thing.

Then next up was Shorts Program 6: The Hereafter. They are:

The Dreaming: A haunting dream of a man building a structure of sticks. Hard to understand why.
The Glasses: Two men are sent on an important mission, to find a pair of lost glasses belonging to a famous director.
Glory at Sea: Dead bodies underwater, one survivor struggles to shore. Boats built from wreckage of New Orleans. Death, religion, celebration, mourning. Confusing, surreal, beautiful.
James: Lonely schoolboy turns gay. I saw this one at Indiefest, too.
Last Thoughts: Just as the title suggests, the last thoughts of a dying man. Shot in San Francisco.
Skunks: The slang term for Morrocan kids who sneak across the border in the undercarriage of trucks leaving Tangiers.
The Stars Don't Twinkle in Outer Space: My favorite of the set (maybe of the festival). An 40's sci-fi style adventure of escape, played out by children. Turns out it's both an escape from the ship and an escape from reality.
Sunday Afternoon: It's really, really hot. Like burn to death hot. But one man has prophetic dreams that might save everyone. A little joke in the movie--he drinks the beer Fin du Monde (End of the World).

Next up was the inventor comedy Lightbulb. Sam and Matt are best friends since high school and co-owners of a novelty gift company. Matt is the inventor, Sam is the salesman. Their latest gadget is animated watches--a watch with a picture of a sleeping dog that dreams of different things as the seconds tick by, or a watch where you press a button and it gives you random numbers to play in the lottery. They're not having a great time of it. In fact, they're going under. But then, that has just as much to do with their gambling addiction. Matt's marriage is falling apart, they go out of business, and they have to take boring day jobs--Sam as a construction worker, Matt selling furniture. But Matt always has ideas (he goes up by the radio towers and hears voices). And finally he has the idea that could make them millionaires, resurrect their business, and get his wife back. This is all based on a true story. And if you read write-ups anywhere else, you can find out what it is. But you won't find out here.

Okay, just one hint. After Lightbulb I did have to go get a beer. For some reason, I kept thinking, 'Oh yeah! Time for a beer!'

But I didn't have too long to drink before I headed back for the final movie of the night, Mommy's at the Hairdresser's. It takes place over one lazy summer, telling a difficult but poignant family story. Three children, Elise and her two younger brothers Coco and Benoit have just gotten out of school for summer vacation. Looks to be a nice summer. Elise is exploring young love and learning to fish. Coco is working on his go-kart. And Benoit (the youngest, who is maybe a little slow) plays with his army men. There are hints of trouble when their parents suggest Elise must go to boarding school next year and Benoit might need psychiatric help. But things get really bad when it's discovered their father is having an affair. Their mother leaves (and whenever anyone asks, they say she's at the hairdresser's, hence the title). She's a journalist and leaves for a job in London, hoping to bring the children with her when she gets a big enough apartment. Their father can barely take care of them. Benoit especially takes it hard, and takes it out on his army men. Plotwise...things happen over the summer. Sometimes they play, sometimes they worry, and sometimes others worry about them. It was okay. I don't really know how to react to this film. Maybe I'm finally too tired, but for me it was just a bunch of stuff that happened.

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