Friday, March 2, 2012

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 4

Friday, March 2nd, aka Freedom Day...the day my unemployment begins (so next week I can go all out on Cinequest, seeing matinee shows as well.) Yeah, it's not a bad thing.

Anyway, 4 more shows on Friday. It would've been more, but I had to say goodbye to all my former colleagues...and then I had to sober up a bit before heading down to the Camera 12.

The first show started with the short DRIPPED. An animated short about an art thief with very strange dietary habits. It's a tribute to Jackson Pollock.

It's pretty unusual for a strange animated comedy short to be paired with a documentary, but it totally worked with the documentary THEATRE SVOBODA. I had never heard of Josef Svoboda before, but he was a prolific, groundbreaking, and influential scenographer working in Czechoslovakia. He also happens to be director Jakub Hejna's grandfather, and in large part the movie is a personal story of him discovering his grandfather (who died when Jakub was very young.) As a framing through line, Jakub borrows a bust of Svoboda, attached a camera to it, and interviews former friends and colleagues with it (one consistent through-line is nobody thinks the bust does his likeness justice.) Through these interviews and some archived interviews, we get a portrait of a man (an artistic genius who sometimes was hard to work with and seemed to take pleasure in the fact that his international reputation earned him perks that few others had under communism) and even more a portrait of his work. That work emphasized the use of light and shadows, and was incredibly inventive. He eschewed naturalism to build intense, complicated sets with mathematical precision to create grand effects (e.g., mirrors rising from the floor until they reveal a theatre curtain and ultimately the audience.) As I said, I knew nothing of Svoboda's work before, and now--with what little I know--I think I can count myself as a fan.

THEATRE SVOBODA and DRIPPED play again March 4 at 2:00 pm and March 6 at 6:45 pm.

Then I had time for just a quick beer a the VIP Soiree at Gordon Biersch (proud member of the Cinequest Diner's Circle.) Note that I didn't have time to eat any solid food, so I can't check it off my diner's circle list. In fact, I've been very slow at that, I might have to save a lot of the diner's circle for after the festival, when I have some freakin' time!)

Then I made my way over to the beautiful California Theatre for a one-time-only show of L!FE HAPPENS. It's a comedy about the friendship between three young women, and the complications that a baby throws into the mix. We open with best friends and roommates Deena (Kate Bosworth) and Kim (Krysten Ritter, who also co-wrote) both about to consummate a one-night stand, when they realize they have only one condom between them in their emergency stash. Deena grabs it, and 9 months later Kim has a baby with a shiftless, unhelpful Australian surfer father (Rhys Coiro, husband of director Kat Coiro, in what I suspect is a bit of an inside joke.) This really interrupts her female player lifestyle, and it's even worse when you see that nobody in her life is very helpful. Deena has her own budding writing career and while she babysits sometimes she doesn't have much time. Their third roommate Laura (Rachel Bilson) is always running off to really slutty jobs (naked sushi platter, valet of the dolls, etc.) despite being a virgin and a Christian. Her boss (Kristen Johnson) is even worse--just a total self-centered bitch. In fact, for a while I didn't think I would like this movie because I didn't think I would like anyone in it (well, except the kid. Granted, all he does is sit there and be a cute baby, but I couldn't find much fault with him.) But then, over time, they sort of grew on me. Or at least I grew to agree with the premise that they're not all bad (well, her boss is all bad) people, they're just people who have their own lives. And I could definitely sympathize with Kim, even though she really has no one to blame but herself for her troubles (which have less to do with being a single mom with a shitty job and more to do with being a single mom with a shitty job who also believes that a modern girl should be able to do everything without making any sacrifices. Dude, nobody can do it all, we all make sacrifices!) And then there was the breast milk scene, which might be the greatest thing I've ever seen. I think I should stop there, before I give away too many spoilers.

Afterwards, Kat Coiro and Krysten Ritter were there to accept the Maverick Ensemble Award and have a brief conversation about the film and making female-centric comedy. Pretty damn cool.

Then it was late enough at night that it was time for Cinequest, starting with MIMESIS. Mimesis is the term for life imitating art, and specifically it plays with the idea of horror films inspiring killers. It starts at a horror convention, where several attendees are invited to a horror-themed party out in the woods. A select few--seven to be exact--wake up to find themselves in strange clothes and strange places. E.g., a graveyard, a pickup truck, an isolated house...location from the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. And yes, they're dressed just like the characters. And then the zombies attack. Or rather, the over-the-top thrill-seeking horror nuts playing the role of zombies attack. And they really kill them. I loved this premise, and for the most part it was pretty well done. There were some scenes I didn't buy, mostly along the lines of 'why would you go in there?!' or 'why don't you pull the trigger/kill the bad guy already!?' You know, the reactions you have at EVERY horror film (so I don't know if that was intentional and playful or just the same problems every horror film has.) Oh, and this film is so twisted Sid Haig plays the freakin' voice of reason! Also, for you THSMWTEIW fans out there, I checked with the director and the ghost-faced guy with a black hoodie in the background at the horror convention is just a generic death figure. But to me, he's the Ginosaji!

MIMESIS plays again March 3 at 9:45 pm and March 8 at 2:30 pm.

And finally I ended the night with a midnight screening of P.O.V. - A CURSED FILM

This Japanese film opens with a warning that the filmmakers weren't sure if they should show the film, and to please not tell anyone about the film, especially the ending. So...I won't.

All I'll say is that there's a fine line between clever and stupid and I'm not exactly sure what side of the line this falls on. It's either a cool, clever story that always has a new surprise, or it folds in on itself until it disappears up its own ass. I'm thinking I actually liked it, but it's kind of a guilty pleasure.

And as for the ending, all I'll say that in Japanese culture, the credits are important and it's rude to leave before they are finished. Please respect their culture and watch through to the end.

P.O.V. - A CURSED FILM plays again March 4 at 10:00 pm and March 9 at 10:15 pm.

Total Running Time: 400 minutes
My Total Minutes: 269,137

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