Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 2

Fighting a bit of a cold, but crack addicts don't stop smoking crack just because they've got a cough and the sniffles, and I have marginally more stamina than the average crack addict. I'm sure as long as I get plenty of rest, I'll be fine. Oh wait, I'm getting no rest because I'm watching movies late into the evening then it's up at 6 am to go to my real job. If I didn't rock so hard, I'd be dead by now.

Anyway, some movies last night...

First up, DAYS OF DESIRE from Hungary. Here's all you need to know, Anna is mute, but very observant. And the actress who plays here does a brilliant job communicating with just the slightest gestures. She gets a job as a housekeeper for a couple, and quickly becomes their surrogate daughter. See, their real daughter died in a car accident, with an Italian man they didn't know (absentee parents, perhaps?) The couple is pretty dysfunctional--he lost his job as a doctor because he drank, she's trying to move up in her business by flirting with her boss, but Anna actually keeps it from going to far. It's interesting how a mute but attentive audience (which, come to think of it, is what I am in the theater) profoundly changes reality around her, bringing hidden issues to the surface. In a side plot, she attracts the attention of an employee at the store where she shops (proving again that the best way to attract some people is to not talk to them), and the scenes of their courtship are the sweetest in the movie. But then they have a fight over such a trivial misunderstanding that I totally stopped sympathizing with him. Oh well. I'll finish this one the way I began, by pointing out that the actress who played Anna was amazing.

DAYS OF DESIRE plays again 2/27 at 4:45 pm and 3/1 at 12:30 pm.

So then I ran off to catch just a bit of the VIP Soiree at Morocco's. A quick glass of sangria, about 5 minutes of belly-dancing (I watched, I didn't dance), and then I jogged to the beautiful California Theater for LIFE IN ONE DAY, A high-concept sci-fi romantic comedy from The Netherlands. In this imaginary world, life lasts one day. So every experience is to be treasured. People gather at the beach to celebrate the one sunrise they will ever see. In the morning, children go to school. By noon, they are fully grown, ready to fall in love, have sex once, and then let the libido die and get on with the rest of their life. In theology, they're taught that the singular nature of every event is what makes life special, and heaven is a singularity of all good events compressed into an infinitely small moment. Hell, on the other hand, is repetition. A world where every day is like the last, and you can, for example, make love so many times it loses all its specialness. Well, after Benny and Gini fall in love and have sex the one time they're allowed in their live, they find they're one of the unlucky couples for whom love (and lust) doesn't fade after they orgasm. So they think about it, struggle with it, and decide that they must go to hell, where they can be together over and over and over again.

And their plan works...sort of. They go to hell (i.e., this world), but separately. The latter ~2/3 of the movie are in split screen one side showing Gini's story, and one side showing Benny's. And the technique is intriguing, clever, and a little exhausting (especially reading subtitles on both sides). They have many near encounters, but eventually move on, and ostensibly learn lessons about how love fades. There's a mysterious blind man (who put the idea into their head to begin with) who I took as the devil but a more literal reading says no, he's just another guy who wanted to go to hell. I could go on, but I don't want to give more away. I think I'll let director Mark de Cloe's words speak for the film: “It’s time that makes you forget love, it’s time that blunts love, it’s time that makes love die. But thank goodness it’s love that is best at fending off time.”

LIFE IN ONE DAY is almost two movies. And the first movie is a little mind-blowing, until you think too much about it--how did Benny learn to fly a fighter jet so quickly? How do people build fighter jets if life is just one day? Why do they even have fighter jets, or wars? Why have a justice system with a death penalty? These you just sort of have to take at face value. The second half is a long examination of love and time, and a technically daring use of split-screen that is pulled off better than anything this side of Brian De Palma.

LIFE IN ONE DAY plays again 2/27 at 9:45 pm

So then off for another drink at the official meet up location, which was way over at the Hotel de Anza, a good 15 minute walk away (fortunately, the rest of the meet ups are at closer location). So I walked there, had a quick martini, chatted with the few Cinequesters who were there (it was pretty empty at the time), and walked right back to the California for THE BONE MAN. So today the movies took me to Hungary, The Netherlands, and now Germany. What a European trip. Anyway, THE BONE MAN was black comedy at its blackest, just the way I like it. There are severed fingers, ground up bones, tortured Russians, stolen cars, family rivalries...I'm getting ahead of myself (and I can't really keep everything clear in my mind). Brenner is a repo man. Used to be a cop, now he just takes back cars. His boss sends him to the country to get Mr. Horvath's car. He arrives at a small country inn where he notices Horvath's car in the parking lot. But no one in there will admit to having ever heard of Horvath, they're hostile to him when he asks, and as soon as he turns around Horvath's car is missing...and so is his. So he's stuck there. And wacky hijinx ensue. It was a bit too much for me to digest in one sitting, and I was kind of tired so I struggled to stay awake. But I'm going to go ahead and assume I was laughing at the right parts.

THE BONE MAN Plays again on 2/26 at 4:00 pm, and 2/27 at 11:15 am. If only I had time to watch it again, I'm sure I'd get more the second time.

Total Running Time: 319 minutes
My Total Minutes: 172,918

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