Friday, March 11, 2011

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 10

Now the end is in sight. 3 more days (including encore day)

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.

Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING dead was groundbreaking in 1968 as one of the first horror films to have an African-American protagonist. So it's completely appropriate that the Ford brothers have brought the genre back to Africa, although a hole lot has changed in the meantime. There's also a standard Romero rule that "The zombies are us" and the real villains are the survivors who fail to work together. From that standpoint I could see THE DEAD as actually a remarkably optimistic movie--survivors work together very well, at least after some initial gun-pointing and confirming that no one's bit. A lot has changed since 1968, particularly in race relations, and so now you can make a movie with one white protagonist and hordes of black zombies and not have it be all about race. Instead, it's all about making a kick-ass, exciting genre flick.

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.

And that's all I have to say about that. Bring on the final weekend of Cinequest!

Total Running Time: 297 minutes
My Total Minutes: 227,738

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