Friday, March 8, 2013

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 10

I actually slipped away from work early enough to catch 3 films, not just two last night. Also, I was so busy with films I actually didn't have a drink all day. I didn't even hit the Maverick Meetup last night, preferring instead to get home early-ish (still near midnight) and try to get some sleep before the big final weekend. So my one-sober-day-a-week project is still on, and now here are my totally sober reviews of the films:

First up was the drama DREAMER. Joe is something of a mathematical bad-ass at work. When his boss says HR wants to see him, his first thought is that he's up for another award. But when that's not the case, he knows what it's really about. His Social Security Number got a "no match" letter...because he doesn't actually have a SSN...because he's here illegally. His mother brought him here when he was 2. When she left, he stayed with an American adopted family (well, I guess not legally adopted, he just kept living there and was welcomed by them.) He considers the matriarch of that family his mother (one of his mothers, at least) and he has a white American brother and sister that he simply considers brother and sister (and they consider him part of the family, too.) His aunt, on the other hand, doesn't approve and forces him out. And over the course of one weekend nearly everything unravels. Faced with the prospect of losing his good job, he goes back to a dry cleaners where he used to work. Then a lost ID leads to a weekend of pain and suffering that emphasizes exactly how tenuous his situation is. Filled with references to his 'invisibility' and a somewhat paranoid grasp of reality (tiny spoiler: he suffers a concussion at one point and his vision and hearing are impaired. That includes visions of police following him when maybe they aren't actually there.) It's a well made and moving story, although a bit heavy-handed in the heaps of abuse leveled on him (the aunt character in particular seemed over-the-top nasty). And then it ends with a kind of sappy resolution (I have my own very cynical take on the ending, but I can only share that if you've seen the movie. Even beyond spoilers, it just wouldn't make any sense unless you've seen it.)

Then I caught Shorts program 7: Time, Space, and In Between.
AFTER YOU: A charmingly simple animated story about the long career of a Dublin doorman and the great threat to his way of life--the revolving door. It's a cute metaphor--doors are our passages through life, and aren't the passages through life nicer when nice people are helping you along?
BOOP BEEP: A clumsy, boxy robot goes through his daily drudgery. Each day is awful, until he meets a pretty lady robot. Very funny.
CALCUTTA TAXI: It's hard enough to find a taxi in Calcutta, but on days of political protest it's near impossible. Three lives--a student and two taxi drivers--intersect on this strange day, and we get to see the events from everyone's point of view. How it unfolds the story is very well done.
CLIFF: Cliff is a sexual altruist. He finds the women no one else wants--the ugly, the overweight, the crippled...any woman who is somehow damaged. And he takes them home and fucks their brains out, gives them one night of a good time and then dumps them. But when he meets the girl of his dreams (the woman who God seems to hate) he can't stomach the idea of spending the rest of his life with her. Very funny, and pretty damn misogynistic. BTW, Happy International Women's Day, everyone!
JACK TO THE FUTURE: Hilarious! And yes, it's exactly what you think it is...if you think like me (hint, while the time traveler is named Jack, the title has a double-meaning.)
LAST TIME WE CHECKED: Stan, a gay man, is defending his husband (a Canadian drag queen) from deportation. But he just won't shut up and keeps digging himself a deeper and deeper hole. The straight-faced immigration agent is a perfect counterpoint to his queen-ish histrionics. Hilarious!
STRANGEFACE: Ana has trouble making friends with people. It's easier to make friends with dogs. That's because people suck and dogs are awesome. I mean, people do awful things like drown dogs in a burlap sack. So maybe Ana has to do awful things to people. Shocking and awesome.
THREE SIXTY: A kidnapping gone horrible wrong. But amusing, just to hear what Australians think a Jersey accent sounds like. Also, a gripping, well told story. But I can't get that Australian/Jersey accent out of my head.

This program had misogyny, gay panic, and...whatever JACK TO THE FUTURE was. If I'm wrong to say that was my favorite shorts program, Chris Garcia is more wrong for having picked several of those films.

And then the final program started with the Picture the Possibilities short WHERE WE ARE SAFE, from East Palo Alto. Kids discuss violence (3 murders on 3 consecutive nights in their neighborhood) and how to avoid falling into gang life. Ends with a plea for a drugs and violence free skate park for the kids to play in.

That was the lead-in to THE ALMOST MAN, a Norwegian comedy about growing up, even if you don't do it until you're well into adulthood. Henrik has the trappings of adulthood--a job, a home, a wife (or was it just a steady girlfriend. I wasn't actually sure about the legal status of their relationship. Anyway, her name is Tone), a baby on the way. On the other hand, all this adulthood--especially the baby--is kind of making him freak the hell out. He kind of wants to still act like a kid--hanging out with his even more immature friends, making inappropriate jokes, etc. And that part of him is charming. It's very clear from their interactions that it's a big part of what drew Tone to him in the first place. But if that's all there is too him, things won't work out. He struggles to grow up, she needs him to grow up faster, and his friends keep dragging him back down (actually, this would make an interesting double-feature with DETONATOR). It's a good story of a man who definitely wants to grow up, as long as growing up isn't too hard. Too bad that it is.

And that was Cinequest Thursday. Almost time to start the big final weekend. And I'm sure I'll make up for my sobriety on Thursday. I just hope I don't puke on anyone's shoes.

Total Running Time: 276 minutes
My Total Minutes: 319,989

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