Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 4

On Friday, I watched some movies, then wrote about them

First show started with the short NIGHT FISHING WITH CORMORANTS. A beautifully flowing, abstract, musical film with dancing swatches of black (and a little red) on a white background.

That was the lead-in for ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT, which so far wins the prize for the biggest surprise regarding how much I liked it. I really took a chance, based more on scheduling than interest, and came out loving it. It's beautiful, lyrical, and musical and just so well done it rises far above it's high-concept premise. That premise is a look at lives at night all over the world. A trucker doing a night run with her son in Quebec, a night art installation in Paris, tons of bats flying out of a cave in Texas, People running the Twin Towers memorial lights in NYC (and the ornithologists studying the birds who get disoriented by it). Then there are religious celebrations--Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, Easter Sunday night in Greece (where rival teams shoot thousands of rockets at each other). And there's the sleep and alertness lab that studies people who work the night shift (a fairly modern innovation, but one society can't operate without) and find ways to keep them alert and their melatonin up (it's linked to increased health and happiness, including lower rates of cancer). Each one of these stories (and there are plenty more) would make an interesting 5-10 minute short, but the way they all flow into each other here, with such a natural, soothing rhythm is just perfect. I wouldn't want to see it any other way.

So next up I saw DYING TO DO LETTERMAN. I'd been drinking with these guys all week, so I was pretty sure I'd like their movie. And it met all my expectations--funny and inspiring. Steve Mazan is a stand-up comedian. Since he was little, he always wanted to perform on David Letterman. And he worked the little clubs, honed his craft, got some recognition, and waited for someday when Letterman's people would call him. Then he got cancer. That sort of put a deadline on "someday". So this movie follows his quest to get on Letterman. Importantly, he wants to be on Letterman as a comedian, not as a cancer patient. He's not asking to be put on out of pity if he's not good enough, he's just asking for them to maybe look at him a little earlier since he doesn't have forever. Of course, you're totally rooting for him all the time, and I won't give you any spoilers. You'll have to see the movie to find out if he got on Letterman, or for that matter if he's still alive (ummm...if you see Steve Mazan running around Cinequest promoting his movie, pretend you don't see him. That's a spoiler!) Excellent fun, I didn't at all mind the a-hole who started the standing ovation at the end (chill out, that was one of Mazan's jokes)

The filmmakers have been running around giving people "I'm Dying To...." (fill in the rest) buttons. I already had a couple. But after the movie, I was dying to give Steve Mazan a hug.

I almost forgot, D2DL was preceded by a short, BARKO, a charming little animated story of a put upon clown in the doggy circus, tormented by the star poodles and haunted by his cruel former owner. Finally, he finds a place he belongs.

Next up was MARROW. Also by a filmmaker (Matt Wilkins) whom I've been drinking with all week (I think this might ruin my reputation as a thoughtful and unbiased journalist). Anyway, MARROW is a psychological thriller of a single mother dealing with her passive-aggressive son and the memory of her recently deceased father. That, plus an injury that immobilizes her on the couch for a while. And the effort renovating her rundown house. Oh yeah and giant mutant rat hiding in her walls (scientific name: ratticus metaphoricus). Great acting (Frances Hearn as the mother and Wiley Wilkins as the son have worked together before, and definitely have an easy comfort with each other). It is pretty slow, but fight through the boring parts and it is rewarding.

And then, after just a couple of drinks at the meetup, I was back for the midnight film BAD BEHAVIOUR. That extra U in "Behavior" is for "Uuuhhh...we're Australians!" It starts off fast, with the psycho brother-sister team Emma and Peterson killing a poor tourist for no apparent reason other than he's French (okay, not a bad reason). They're cutting a swath of murder across Australia, and they end up in the small town of Cecil Bay. But before we get to that inevitable mayhem, we meet some of the residents of the town, who are all engaging in more or less bad behavior of their own. There's a wife cheating on her husband (with her boss), there's a husband kidnapping his wife's lover, and there's a party full of drunken teenagers who break into the neighbors house looking for more booze. There's a lot of build up, followed by buckets and buckets of blood. Awesome. It's also done a PULP FICTION-esque non-linear timeline, that totally works. But seeing it at midnight when I was exhausted means I'll probably have to see it again in order to really get all of it. Maybe I can convince the guys at SF Indiefest's Another Hole in the Head to play it this summer.

Total Running Time: 350 minutes
My Total Minutes: 225,536

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