Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Jason watches BATTLE LOS ANGELES
Jason gets excited about the first annual Bean Bag Film Fest in San Jose
The Landmark Ballroom Will Host Inaugural Bean Bag Film Fest in San Jose
San Jose, CA – March 22, 2011 – Giant Creative Services in conjunction with the Landmark Ballroom at the San Jose Woman’s Club, presents the inaugural Bean Bag Film Fest, taking place Thursday, April 14 – Saturday, April 16. The Bean Bag Film Fest will feature three consecutive days of memorable films showcased in the retro Landmark Ballroom at 75 South 11th Street in downtown San Jose. The event, filled with bean bags for patrons to lounge on, will offer a unique social movie going experience where attendees can see films, mingle and enjoy eats from gourmet food trucks and beer and wine for purchase. Each night, the festival will showcase a double feature for $10 with a special $5 discount for patrons who come dressed in character. Nightly themes include “Life After Death,” with Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland; “Story Telling,” with Harold and Maude, andRushmore; and “You’re So Money, Dude!,” with Swingers and The Big Lebowski. The Bean Bag Film Fest is the first of a series of events at the Landmark Ballroom that encourages community members to visit this historic San Jose venue by way of diverse social and cultural experiences.
“Life After Death” ~ Thursday, April 14
Ages: 18 years and older
First Showing: Shaun of the Dead, 2004, 99 minutes, R
Time: 7p.m. Doors Open, 7:30p.m. Movie Begins
In Shaun of the Dead a man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead, to eat the living.
Second Showing: Zombieland, 2009, 88 minutes, R
Time: 9:15p.m. Doors Open, 9:30p.m. Movie Begins
In this horror-comedy, two men, Columbus and Tallahassee, find a way to survive a world overrun by zombies. As they join forces with two others, they will have to come to terms with which is worse: relying on each other or succumbing to the zombies.
Gourmet treats will be on sale from Tikka Bytes (http://twitter.com/
“Story Telling” ~ Friday, April 15
Ages: 18 years and older
First Showing: Harold and Maude, 1971, 91 minutes, PG
Time: 7p.m. Doors Open, 7:30p.m. Movie Begins
Young, rich, and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets lively septuagenarian Maude at a funeral.
Second Showing: Rushmore, 1998, 93 minutes, R
Time: 9:15p.m. Doors Open, 9:30p.m. Movie Begins
Rushmore chronicles a year in the life of Max Fischer, a student at one of the finest schools in the country. In the midst of dealing with school, Max and his tycoon mentor become interested in the same woman, triggering a war between the two.
Gourmet taco truck Tac Gos (http://tacgos.com/) will be selling fresh favorites. An assortment of beer & wine will be available for purchase. Attendees who come dressed in theme from the night’s featured films will receive a $5 discounted ticket.
“You’re So Money, Dude!” ~ Saturday, April 16
Ages: 21 years and older
First Showing: Swingers, 1996, 96 minutes, R
Time: 7p.m. Doors Open, 7:30p.m. Movie Begins
Mike came to Hollywood to pursue his career in acting, leaving his girlfriend behind in New York. Instead of stardom, he finds loneliness. After six months of dealing with Mike’s depression, his pal Trent decides it’s time for a change.
Second Showing: The Big Lebowski, 1998, 117 minutes, R
Time: 9:15p.m. Doors Open, 9:30p.m. Movie Begins
The Coen Brothers and their agreeable cast make more fun than sense with this scattered farce about a pothead bowler who is mistaken for a deadbeat philanthropist and drawn into a cluster of kidnappers, nihilists, porn mobsters and Busby Berkeley beauties.
Gourmet eats from BBQ Kalbi (http://www.facebook.
Bean Bag Film Fest tickets will be sold at the door and in advance. For additional information, please visit:http://sjwomansclub.org/.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Jason watches PAUL
Jason watches SUCKER PUNCH
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum--March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Jason slips into a Vortex and into DIMENSION 5
Monday, March 21, 2011
Jason goes to SFIAAFF--Closing Night
Jason goes to SFIAAFF--Saturday, March 19
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Jason goes to SFIAAFF--San Jose Opening Night Gala
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Jason goes to SFIAAFF--Thursday, March 17
It's also the last night in San Francisco, but I'll get an extra fest fix in San Jose. As it is, I skipped the closing night gala (I'll see the film SURROGATE VALENTINE in San Jose, and didn't want to shell out the money for the party). Instead I just saw one program of shorts: Futurestates. This is a series produced by ITVS. SFIAAFF played a sampling of their first season last year, which I loved. And this program is a sampling of their second season. Awesome shorts using ideas of the near future to illuminate issues of the present.
BEHOLDER: In the future, Real Americans will live in a domed community called Red Estates, where babies are genetically engineered, homosexuality is engineered out, and everyone speaks of the horrors of 'The Coast.' A politician named Bobby Aryana and his wife have a little problem.
EXPOSURE: In the future, the government will deploy squads of 'contagions'--people infected with a benign form of a deadly virus--to infect the general population into health. There will be activists who believe this is a bad idea and the virus will mutate.
THAT WHICH ONCE WAS: In the future, there will be several 'Environmental Refugees,' like Vicente, a little boy who survived a tsunami in Bangladesh. He will apprentice with an ice sculptor, a man whose work by it's very nature melts away. So the only things of value are memories.
DIGITAL ANTIQUITIES: In the future, you'll have to go to an antique shop to read a data CD. Actually, that's pretty close to the present.
THE SPRING OF SORROW: In the future, there will be very little water. One little girl will scavenge water to save her sister.
WORKER DRONE: In the future...this movie will play. But this time I was definitely awake, I paid attention, and I swear it didn't.
Total Running Time: 80 minutes
My Total Minutes: 228,996
Jason goes to SFIAAFF--Wednesday, March 16
First up, the short SLAYING THE DRAGON RELOADED. It's a brief, densely packed look at stereotypes of Asian women in Hollywood. It's really an update of a longer documentary SLAYING THE DRAGON made back in 1988 (note: I haven't seen the original). Partially it's an update for younger students (and it is intended for classroom viewing) who don't know the older movies, and partially it's to show that not much has improved. The best part is early on showing clips of older movies side by side with clips from recent movies, showing that portrayals haven't evolved at all. But to play devil's advocate, I wondered how much was just an example of a greater dearth of good writing in Hollywood, and it's just more glaring when filtered through a minority (especially minority woman) viewpoint. Movies got dinged both for stereotypes (either submissive, servile Asian women, or dangerous, hyper-sexualized dragon ladies) and for avoiding all elements of race (in essence, making every culture "white" regardless of skin color). It's a fine line to walk between the two--to acknowledge and portray race and cultural backgrounds but not fall into stereotypes. And in defense of bad writers everywhere (and I feel I'm qualified to defend us), good writing is hard! That's why there's so little of it.
Next up was the feature documentary (although still brief, at just 58 minutes) ANNA MAY WONG: IN HER OWN WORDS. I love Anna May, especially since I've become more of a silent film aficionado while watching films and volunteering at the Niles Film Museum (where I saw TOLL OF THE SEA last May). I can confirm that A) that movie is still powerful, and B) she still has a ton of fans.
So then I caught the excellent but depressing tale of a North Korean defector, DANCE TOWN. Jung-Nim Rhee lives in North Korea with her doting husband, who has connections to bring beauty products and adult videos from South Korea. Unfortunately, a neighbor rats them out, and the have to flee. Or at least, she flees, gets to a Chinese boat that her husband has arranged for her, and defects to South Korea. He promises to join her later, but it's pretty clear that he was caught and won't be joining her until the afterlife. In South Korea, she has a hell of a time. First the interview is unexpectedly harsh, then suddenly they're nice, set her up in an apartment with a stipend, and welcome her as a South Korean citizen. But that's not all it's cracked up to be. She has little support system and works in a laundry. She's moved from one apartment to another, along with an elderly woman and a crippled man (an excellent cross-section of the people society would like to keep out of the spotlight). She has a couple of overly-aggressive suitors, but is basically all alone without her husband. An excellently made, very sad movie that certainly doesn't paint South Korea in a very flattering light.
Total Running Time:182 minutes
My Total Minutes: 229,416
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Jason goes to SFIAAFF--Tuesday, March 15
Anyway, on to the movies, starting with the documentary OPEN SEASON. In November of 2004, Chai Vang, a truck driver and hunter in Wisconsin, shot 8 white hunters, killing 6. His (unsuccessful) legal defense was self-defense, that they were harassing him as he was trying to leave their property (after he unknowingly trespassed), and that one of them shot first (an unproven point). The documentary is a brisk 57 minutes, but packs a heck of a lot in there from both sides. Charges of racism, denials, reaction of the Hmong community, questions of the fairness of the trial (a media-saturated venue, an all white jury), etc. But ultimately it lets the audience decide. Or in my case, it lets the audience be a little overwhelmed and bewildered. Nothing (short of the white hunters shooting first--and at him, not just a warning shot) justifies the murder of 6 people and attempted murder of 2 more. On the other hands, the stories of racism both before and after the incident paint a picture that this sort of incident was inevitable, it was just a question of when. Like I said, the movie is brief, and there's a lot of low-def footage that isn't that great, but easily forgivable. But it is pretty remarkable how much the movie throws at you in just 57 minutes. And it's remarkable how they managed to get extensive comments from all sides in the story. So often these documentaries have a point of view that's determined by who will talk to the filmmakers, and maybe they only have one token dissenting view. It's refreshing to see a documentary that has innumerable interviews from both points of view--something that pretty much all documentary filmmakers claim they want, but so few achieve.
Then after a leisurely beer (I'm finally recovered enough from the Cinequest closing party Saturday night to drink again), I caught the shorts program Play/House. The theme being family life, I guess.
FIRECRACKER: The struggles of an Indian in Texas trying to raise the money to bring his family over to be with him.
ANDY: I saw this at Indiefest. A little boy plays in the mall, helps his mom try on makeup, and has an odd encounter in the bathroom.
ONCE UPON A ROOFTOP: A documentary look at the rooftop shanties and impoverished people living there in Hong Kong.
WITHHOLDING: A double tragedy strikes a family, as an actress arrives at the hospital where her dad is recovering from a heart attack and receives a phone call delivering more bad news. She just has to find a way to deliver the news without further devastating her mother.
TOP SPIN: Ariel Hsing totally kicks ass! She's a 14 (now 15) ping pong phenom, on a mission to crush the competition and be the first American girl to make a living at it.
Total Running Time: 134 minutes
My Total Minutes: 229,234
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Jason goes to SFIAAFF--Monday, Mar 14
I started the festival with a Japanese movie, ABRAXAS. Jonen is a punk rocker turned Buddhist monk and quite possibly completely insane. He totally freezes up giving a career day speech at school, and babbles about how there is no future and shrimps molt for life. It's quite a scandal amongst the small-town gossips. But he discusses it with his master, and decides he wants to sing again. As in put on a rock show. See, the world is full of noise, but pleasing noise is called music. By embracing your noise you turn it into music. Well, his master is totally behind him when the plan is to do a show in Tokyo, but when he decides it has to be in their small town, there's just a little hesitation. The story is well put together, and not so much about the plot exactly but using it as a point to explore past and future, life and death, loyalty, family, and just about anything else. But all done with a combination of sincerity and breezy humor that makes it all very enjoyable. An I suppose if your nature is that of a punk rocker, the Zen thing is to be a punk rocker.
Then I caught one film (the only I'll manage to catch) in their Southeast Asian horror retrospective. That movie was AFFLICTION (YANGGAW), from the Philippines. It starts with a portrait of a poor but loving family, their trials, their volleyball rivalry with their neighbors, a poor but pleasant rural life. Then there's an incident when a thief is nearly beaten to death, and then the family's daughter Amor is afflicted with a poison of the soul that turns her into a demon. But, of course, the family defends and protects her, for as long as they can. Highly melodramatic (especially the ending), but also effective as a horror film. It's cheaply made, and poorly lit and shot (or perhaps just poorly projected on the digital copy they had), and drags at times. I can't say it was a really bad film, but I was hoping for something better.
Total Running Time: 197 minutes
My Total Minutes: 229,100
Monday, March 14, 2011
Jason apologizes to the Cinequest movies he didn't see
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Jason goes to Cinequest--Encore Day
Jason goes to Cinequest--Closing Night
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 11
THE STORY OF MY LIFE: If you meet someone who knows you from birth and can recap all your secrets (even the ones you didn't know) in 5 minutes...look out.
LAVAN: There is only one right way to shave that prisoner. Learn it!! A story about mental torture.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 10
First up, POLIGAMY, a hilarious is inconsequential trifle about love and commitment. Andras and Lilla are a couple about to get married and have a baby. They're in love, but of course Andras has some stereotypical anxiety about commitment and (as he confesses to his buddy) he wishes maybe he'd played the field more. Well, the next morning he wakes up and Lilla is a completely different woman. Really, really a new woman. Like a total stranger--different look, different personality, different life. Only she's still named Lilla, she remembers a life with him, and loves him. His friend only knows the new Lilla, and thinks he's a little crazy. His therapist (who previously had told him he's her most normal patient) also has no explanation. So after freaking out for a while, he decides to just go with it. He even figures out the rules--each new Lilla sticks around until they have sex, then the next morning they turn into a new one. Kinda sucks, if he gets one he likes he can only keep her around through abstinence. Things take a few more weird turns until a charming ending. High concept fun, and I suppose there's a facile moral in there about how sticking with one true love is better than variety. But the gimmick is so out there that it really can't be about more than the fun of the gimmick.
Next up, a totally kickass zombie movie that takes place in West Africa, THE DEAD. Gotta start with this--these are the classic, slow, Romero zombies. You know, correct zombies. American military engineer Lt. Brian Murphy fails to get out on the last evacuation flight, so he's left behind with hordes of shambling zombies and one other survivor--a local man, on a journey to a military base to find his son, who was evacuated.
And then the final show started with the short, BASE EMOTIONS. Bias alert, it was made by my friend Vijay Rajan. But it's not a Puppymeat Production, so I think I can be fair. The title comes from the Maori belief (at least, as explained in the opening) that there are three base emotions--Lust, Despair, and Fear--and all other emotions are combinations of them. All three are explored in a one-night stand that's a mix of fucking and arguing. Interesting idea, and well executed as a first effort out of school (he actually took 5 years to finish because everyone sort of went on with their non-film lives). As far as criticism, he acknowledged that his sound mix is not complete. I'd add that it's a little over-written. The dialog is more what a writer would put on a page, not what two people would say to each other in a hotel room. But still, an interesting effort that surprised me and makes me want to see Vijay make more movies.
And finally I ended the day with SENTIMENT OF THE FLESH, a story about medical imaging. Sexy, sexy medical imaging. FYI, that's a little close to home for me, since my day job is in medical imaging. A radiologist falls in love with a student of medical illustration. She went in for an X-ray complaining of lower back pain. He thinks she's perfect, she's convinced there's something wrong with her. Lots of sexy times, then kind of slow, then a totally fucked up ending that's not for the squeamish. Damn, this movie is really, really French.
Total Running Time: 297 minutes
My Total Minutes: 227,738
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Jason explicates NOSFERATU
Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 9
But first, let me just start by saying my last words (I promise) on hating SAMUEL BLEAK. I have something of a reputation for liking too many movies, so it's pretty unusual for me to have such a violently negative reaction. People have challenged me that while it's flawed, even horribly awful, it's not the worst movie in the history of Cinequest, or even this year's Cinequest. NEW YORK DECALOGUE, for example, has inspired violent reactions. Reactions I understand and sympathize with, even if I don't completely agree. I also have a friend who refuses to ever return to Cinequest because her first experience was watching CANARY. I understand, that movie can be frustrating and annoying, but it's not "bad."
You see there's a difference between a "bad" movie and just "not my kind of movie." If you're allergic to aspirin, that doesn't mean aspirin is a bad pain reliever, it just means you shouldn't take it. On the other hand, if you sold me a hammer with instructions to hit myself on the head until your pain goes away, that's a bad pain reliever.
CANARY opens with 10 minutes of un-subtitled, banal Russian dialog. That can bore people, frustrate people, piss people off. But it (the scene, if not the reactions) is absolutely intentional, and all those reactions are completely valid. If it pisses you off, fine. You can think it failed on your terms, but it succeeded on its own.
With that said, I wish it luck. I am not trying to keep people from seeing SAMUEL BLEAK.
And now to the movies I saw Wednesday, starting with the short BABY. It starts out really fascinating. A woman sees some guys steal a girl's cell phone. She confronts them, but they brush her off. And one of them follows her onto the subway (or was it a bus, I forget), looking all menacing and trying to talk to her. And then...I fell asleep. I was out for maybe 5-10 minutes (it's a 25 minute short), and when I woke up I had no idea where I was. I mean, I knew I was at Cinequest, I knew I was in the Camera 12, but I had completely forgotten what movie I was seeing. I've dozed off before, but I've never been that disoriented. It was kinda scary. Oh, and as far as I know BABY was pretty good.
That was the lead in to the feature, THE SNOW CAVEMAN, a documentary about Sverre Nokling, a man who has lived in the wilds of the Norwegian mountains for two decades. He stashes supplies all over the mountains, bathes in streams (in the summer) or public bathrooms (in the winter), and shelters in caves he has found or dug all over the mountain. As an aside, I liked him talking about how a dome is the best structure for a snow cave--I learned that from my Boy Scout days in Alaska. He's got a sense of humor, he likes to sing, and he likes solitude and nature. He doesn't come off as crazy per se, but he's certainly different. The major conflict is with his mother, who loves him and knows he's a good boy, but is heartbroken over his rejection of society. So when she dies, she wills him her apartment, but only on the condition that he lives there or sells it to pay for a different place to live. So he is faced with a tough decision. He's an interesting subject, interesting enough to carry a movie that's very light on any sort of narrative flow.
Then I caught, MEDAL OF HONOR, a clever little treat from Romania. Ion I. Ion is an old man, pretty much living out his final days. He's got a wife...who barely speaks to him. He's got a son...living in Canada, who he hasn't seen in 7 years. He's got a grandson, who he's never seen, and who doesn't even speak Romanian. And then he gets a letter from the Ministry of Defense telling him he's being awarded a medal for an act of bravery in WWII, over 50 years ago. He can't even remember what he did, so he politely asks for an explanation, but enjoys his medal anyway. In the meantime, he studies his old war letters, figures out it must have been for a battle where his squad blew up a gun, and he starts living with a little more zeal. Turns out, having a piece of metal on your chest manages to put a little more pride in his heart, and people give him quite a bit more respect. Too bad the Ministry follows up his request by discovering it was a typo, the medal was meant for Ion J. Ion. Oops! It's an excellent, funny, poignant movie with an excellent performance by Victor Rebenjuic as Ion.
PUPPYMEAT PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS THE GLASS SLIPPER.
Total Running Time: 278
My Total Minutes: 227,441
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 8
First up, we started with the short DAISY CUTTER, a girl living in a war torn region picks flowers, in what might be the most fucked-up short I've seen at Cinequest. Of course, I haven't seen the Mindbenders program yet.
And then I strolled back to the Camera 12 for NOBEL PRIZE WINNER, which after careful thought is my favorite of the festival so far. Joachim West is a talented writer, but unrecognized and not too confident. In fact, even though he's already spent the advance, is getting evicted, and his novel (10 years in the writing) is done, he doesn't send it to his publisher, he throws it in the trash. And goes off to be homeless...and fakes his own death. And then his publisher receives the manuscript...and loves it...and passes it off as the work of a famous writer who happens to have writer's block. And wacky hijinx ensue. A smart, funny, cynical as hell story of the gap between genius and recognition ("How can he be a genius if no one's heard of him?") Some might be a little put off by too many far-fetched coincidences. There's a line early on he says about coincidence, that I can't quite remember but seems meant to give the film leave to play about in coincidences as much as it wants. And I know for a fact that a lot of the audience was put off by the ending. I will try to avoid spoilers by speaking in generalities, but be warned anyway. For a long time there seems to be hope for a happy ending--the wicked will be punished and the good will triumph. But this isn't that kind of movie, it's cynical and a little mean. And when the audience realized at the ending exactly what kind of ending it would be, I heard palpable grumblings of disappointment and even anger. And I must admit I had the briefest flash of disbelief that they could actually end it like this. But that thought dissipated quickly and I embraced the cynical ending as the absolute intention of the film, and I loved it.
And then I saw perhaps the most challenging program in the festival, which started with the short SNOVI (DREAMS). Memories and dreams of war, a soldier haunted by his past, or a ghost dreaming of an alternate future. I don't really know, but it was well done.
And then I ended the night with NEW YORK DECALOGUE. I have no freakin' clue what to say about this movie. It's frustrating, it's beautiful, it's nearly dialog free, it's musically rich, it's boring, it's shocking. I was aggravated, I was bored, and I struggled (and briefly failed) to stay awake, and I'm afraid that might mean I'm not good enough to appreciate this movie. A series of vignettes show a window into the lives of various New Yorkers, leading up to a prologue that brings them all together (or as I tweeted, does the exact opposite. Yes, that's a spoiler, and it's in bad taste). I wish I loved this movie. I wish I hated this movie. But instead I'll be content to be enormously conflicted about this movie (and maybe try watching it again on a screener).
And that's the end of day 8, and SAMUEL BLEAK is still the worst thing I've ever seen at Cinequest.
Total Running Time: 265 minutes
My Total Minutes: 227,163
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 7
First up, 80 DAYS. Axun is a 70-something woman living in Spain. She has a daughter in America and a husband who would be lost without her (one endearing recurring joke is how she's the one who opens jars because his hands are weak--arthritis, I assume?). When her brother (I think, I was a little unclear on the relationship) Mikel is in a car crash and is in the hospital, she goes to visit him. And there she meets an old school friend Maite, who is visiting her brother in the very next bed. They were very close friends, in fact Axun's first kiss was with Maite. While Axun stayed at home and raised a family in her conservative world, Maite is a world traveler, a pianist, and a lesbian. And reigniting their friendship brings up some confusing and powerful feelings in Axun. Their story is told with an uncommon grace, subtlety, tenderness, and humor. You care about every character, even (especially) Axun's husband who begins to suspect she's having an affair because she's always staying late at the hospital and not coming home. Very well done.
The next show started with THE TWIN GIRLS OF SUNSET STREET. A weird stop-motion story of two old women, the children they keep locked up, and their odd business.
And finally, I ended the day with a good laugh with Shorts Program 7: Comedy Favorites
CAPTAIN FORK: The travails and fantasies of a single dad. If only there was someway he could no longer be a dad. Hey, these pajamas are flammable, aren't they?
CAREFUL WITH THAT CROSSBOW: A brave girl and a boy with terrible aim.
DELMER BUILDS A MACHINE: And it's one hell of a machine. It can fire a shot all the way to....
ENRIQUE WRECKS THE WORLD: One little slingshot can kill all the animals in the world.
HELLO CALLER: That's the freakiest, kinkiest suicide hotline ever.
INSIDE OUT: Where to begin...overlapping stories of prison, toilet conversations, marching band, therapy, and kinky sex. And more, I'm sure.
LEST WE FORGET: A couple of old veterans teach a smarmy used car salesman not to abuse his wife and son.
NOT YOUR TIME: Sam Rosenthal (Jason Alexander) is a struggling writer who finally comes up with the perfect pitch--he's going to kill himself. Everyone wants to take a meeting about that story. Starring many real Hollywood producers and agents.
TIME FREAK: If you have a time machine, don't get too hung up on using it to perfect every moment of your life.
And that was day 7 of Cinequest 2011, my 10th Cinequest, and SAMUEL BLEAK is still the worst thing I've ever seen at Cinequest.
Total Running Time: 310 minutes
My Total Minutes: 226,898
Monday, March 7, 2011
Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 6
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 5
CAPTURE THE FLAG: A few families get together for a weekend to party. One of the highlights is the game of capture the flag. One girl is one of the best, but maybe she's also getting a bit too old for it.
DESPAIR: Bryce Dallas Howard in the most colorful suicide film ever.
DRY: Part of the Theatre Junkies "Moments" series. Literally so quick blink and you miss it. I remember there was a really, really quick film, but for the life of me I can't remember what happened. Doesn't matter, this non-review review is already longer than the film.
LICKED: A couple of little girls do what they have to do to get money for ice cream.
LIV: A cute little girl pulls a few pranks on her daddy's boyfriend (I think that's the relationship. Actually the program started a few minutes early so I missed the beginning. I walked in as she was sticking her finger in his cake)
SUMMER DAYS ARE LONGER: A Mexican family on a hot summer day, with ice cream.
LOS GRITONES: It's fun screaming from the rooftops, just make sure you don't scream something stupid like "¡Te Quiero!"
MAM: A young boy takes care of his family, since their mom is too strung out to do anything.
RACHEL: A young woman takes the bus to El Paso to meet a recruiter and join the Army. Bad things happen on the way. It's her desperate struggle to be strong.
THE SAME OLD STORY: People overhear a heart breaking/warming cell phone conversation on the bus. Best film of the program.
WONDERBOY: A young college boy, trying to escape his violent drug past/friends with his education, has a little problem--his professor won't pay him for the pot he delivered.
The next program started with another Theatre Junkies moment, RUN. This time I kept my eyes open, and TJ Thyne runs a little bit, a dog barks, he jumps off screen, and the movie ends.
That was an odd lead-in for FALLING OVERNIGHT, a wonderful film that takes its time drawing you in. Elliot is about to go into surgery for his brain tumor. He meets Chloe and goes to her photography show, mostly as a distraction. He couldn't possibly be thinking of falling in love, what with not really knowing if he'll survive tomorrow, and even then if he'll survive 5 years beyond that. But sometimes things just sort of happen. And that's sort of the dynamic of the night--just letting things happen. There's no big maudlin moment like, 'I'm going to live for today because I might be dead tomorrow. Tonight is all that matters!' or 'I can't start a romance, I might die soon!" In fact, he doesn't tell her until the next morning. Of course, the audience knows it, and so you can see it in every little hesitant moment. It's like a privileged view of the early moments in a potential romance when both parties are holding something back. You get to know exactly what he's holding back. It's fantastic for the very real, natural feel. There's not a single false moment in the entire movie.
So next I saw SHORTS 2: SLANTED
So then I made a last minute decision, since the people introducing all the films had been pushing the World Premiere of SAMUEL BLEAK, I decide to see it. Worst last minute decision of my life. It's a veritable crap-ucopia of cliched drivel that's as emotionally empty as it is manipulative. Samuel Bleak ran away from home when he was 8, and hid in the woods for 15 years, where apparently his hair turned into a cheap looking fright wig. He's discovered and brought to the hospital. He's a mute who carries his mom's old typewriter around (although the ink in the ribbon ran out years ago). His father is a violent drunk who probably killed his mother. By the time he gets to the mental institution I was thinking to myself, 'We're just waiting for 3 things--he'll bone the hot patient, kill his father, and finally speak, saying something incredibly profound!' Spoiler alert: I was 3 for 3. What I couldn't predict is it would have groan-inducing scenes like his father smashing the typewriter and Samuel putting the keys together to spell "MOTHER." Awful, awful, awful!!! I have seen so many movies at Cinequest (this year and others) where the writer, director, and actors put in tons of effort to make sure the emotional reactions are true. Writer/director/actor Dustin Schuetter takes a giant crap over the very thought of putting in such work.
In fact, SAMUEL BLEAK was soooo bad, I wanted to see a good movie, like...PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. So I did. I saw the World Premiere of the 3D version of PLAN 9. Yes, it's laughably bad. Yes, it's colorized. Yes, it's 3D. That's not the way Ed Wood shot it, but I'm sure he would approve. This I'm sure is the movie as he always meant to make it. And yes, I did show up dressed as Vampira. No I don't have pictures. But I'm sure there are plenty on the Internet now.
And finally I saw HAIR OF THE BEAST. A costume drama with werewolves. Too much costume drama, not enough werewolves. Actually it was pretty fun, if it took a long time for the monsters to actually show up. A condemned man in 17th century Montreal escapes and steals the identity of a priest who is famous for slaying werewolves. And then he stumbles into a town constantly on the lookout for werewolves, where he's greeted as a savior. And of course, wacky hijinx ensue. And it includes the best backstory ever for how werewolves were created in the first place.
Total Running Time: 578 minutes
My Total Minutes: 226,114