Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 7

Hey, I just realized a handy way to remember what day of the festival it is. Since it started on March 1, day 2 was March 2, day 3 was March 3,...Monday was March 7, so it must be day 7. I'm good at maths! Which is a good thing, because the first two movies featured math, or at least numbers in the titles.

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 that led into 22ND OF MAY, by Koen Mortier. I loved his first film, EX-DRUMMER when I saw it at Indiefest two years ago. In fact, I loved it so much that I didn't even read the synopsis, I stopped when I saw it was from him. And that's the perfect way to go in--not knowing what's going to happen. Even seeing the picture in the program guide is too much of a spoiler. But there's no way to describe it without spoilers, so here goes. It starts with Sam, a tired-looking man going through his morning routine--washing, having a smoke, having breakfast, and making his way to work. He's a security guard in a shopping mall, but his job is really directing people to the store they're looking for and rousting the homeless out of there. And then a bomb goes off. It's so unexpected and such a contrast to the laconic pace of the opening scenes that it has the obvious shocking effect. Sam crawls through rubble, tries to rescue people, and eventually just flees the scene in terror. And then he is haunted by various victims, as they force him to relive the day over and over again, asking why he didn't do something to stop it. It's a visually stunning movie that smartly examines the feelings of guilt in a man who realistically couldn't have done anything to stop a tragedy. To me, it's a reflection on both the pointlessness and inescapability of reliving tragic events over and over again in our minds (incidentally, Mortier said in the Q&A that the movie was inspired by 9/11 and his thoughts of security workers there).

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

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