Monday, March 4, 2013

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 5

A big, full day of films at Cinequest last Saturday.

The first show started with a short, 'TIS IN MY MEMORY LOCKED. An actress prepares for the role of Ophelia in Hamlet. Her director encourages her--almost hypnotizes her--into living the role. But when it's all over, can she come back to her real life?

That was the lead in to ROUTE OF THE MOON, the start of a day of movies with daddy issues (which was just a coincidence. I didn't mean for it to work out that way, I love my dad!) Tito is an introverted Panamanian albino bowler (I know, another of those Panamanian albino bowler movies, but this one really brings something new to the genre.) His father is sick in a hospital in Costa Rica. His father is also kind of a cantankerous old cuss, a former boxing coach who isn't ready to hang up his gloves. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiking young woman who is a bit of a free spirit and becomes a source of conflict and a source of reconciliation. Or, at least, she brings all the tension between father and son to the surface. A thoughtful and sensitive family story, that leaves you waiting until the very end for the pumpkin to get smashed (yeah, I know that didn't make sense out of context, but just go see it and you'll understand.)

ROUTE OF THE MOON with 'TIS IN MY MEMORY LOCKED plays again Sat, 3/9 4:00 PM

Then, after a quick break (to go to a friend's 1-year-old's birthday party), I was back for more movies, starting with ONLY DAUGHTER. Wow, now this was a great, heartbreaking movie. A little spot of brilliance on a micro-budget (made for $20,000, in 10 days, with 25 locations.) Dawn (Emily Seymour) is 18 years old, works in a bait shop during the day and blows truckers for cash at night. Her mother and live-in boyfriend fight constantly--with each other, and with her. In one heated exchange he tells her a horrible secret--the name of her real father, Ed Briggs (director Aaron J. Wiederspahn.) He lives in the next town over, and so she runs away, walks to that town, and sets about trying to actually get him to talk to her. But he doesn't want anything to do with her (the reasons become clear by the end, but I'm not giving too many spoilers), and Dawn is left as alone as she has ever been. She does find one friend--Pam, an exotic dancer at Hard Bodies whom Ed is sleeping with. There's a moment in the movie when Pam finally offers Dawn some help, and she looks up to her and just says, "Why would you do that for me?" It's a heartbreaking moment when you realize Dawn has never had anyone do anything nice for her, it's a completely foreign concept. It's pretty remarkable, given that realization, that she hasn't built up much armor around her. She's still putting herself out there and letting her father (and mother, and mother's boyfriend, and strangers) hurt her over and over again. But as heartbreaking as that is, the fact that she still has the strength makes this an ultimately hopeful movie.

ONLY DAUGHTER plays again Wed, 3/6 12:15 PM

So then I had a little bit of time for the VIP Soiree at Fahrenheit, where I had quite a few glasses of free wine (my favorite kind!) before the next show, which started with the short WILD GEESE. After her retirement party, a woman has to face the crushing boredom and loneliness of her home life.

That was the lead in to GIRL SHAPED LOVE DRUG, which wins the award for best title of the festival. It's also just an awesome movie, a charming British love story with an excellent soundtrack. "Him" (Sacha Dawan) meets "Her" (Rachel Austin) are brought together by coincidence...or maybe fate. In any case, he is a philosopher and a dreamer, and she's beautiful. They meet, they talk, they get to know each other. They meet a drunk homeless man who at first is a party but soon bemoans his hard life and the cowardice that keeps him from ending it all. These sort of wild mood swings infect this film, and give it a brisk sense of in-the-moment reality. This continues when he meets her father, who tells her some disturbing secrets from her past. And...well, I feel like I've already given too much away. I'll just end by saying the acting was excellent, it looks beautiful in black and white, and the soundtrack was awesome (I know I mentioned that before, but it bears repeating.) This was just too much fun.

GIRL SHAPED LOVE DRUG with WILD GEESE plays again Tue, 3/5 4:45 PM

Then I caught CITY BABY, a story of Portland hipsters. CITY BABY is actually the name of Cloey's boyfriend's band (that will totally make it some day, really!) but can just as easily apply to her and her friends--people who live in the city and haven't grown the fuck up yet. Her best friend is planning a move to New York. Her boyfriend is a selfish jerk whose band isn't going to make it and is probably cheating on her (even if he isn't, he's still a jerk who doesn't care about anyone but himself.) And her daddy's (Danny Baldwin) checks will be drying up soon unless she gets a real job and abandons this acting/modeling pipe-dream of hers. A possible better boyfriend enters the picture, along with hopes of moving to New York herself. But sometimes growing up isn't about getting the bigger and better things (romantic partner, job, apartment, city) but realizing how to make a good life with what you have in front of you. Or maybe not, maybe she can become a famous model/actress and move to New York where everything will be better. Funny and smart...and it's got some nice looking nudity in it.

CITY BABY plays again Mon, 3/4 9:30 PM and Wed, 3/6 5:00 PM

Then I had just enough time for a brief stop at the Maverick Meetup at Vyne Bistro. Delicious wine, then back to the Camera 12 for the midnight movie.

First up was the short THE MEETING. In an isolated English pub, a couple of old cops meet for a chat. Oh yeah, they're actually corrupt cops, and the meeting is less a chat and more of an interrogation/battle of wits. Very cool.

And then the feature, YEAR OF THE LIVING DEAD, a wonderful documentary about the making of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Focusing mostly on an interview with the always personable George A Romero, he tells stories of getting his start on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, shooting commercials in Pittsburgh, and ultimately getting this idea to make a zombie movie and all the wacky shit they had to do to get it done. Director Rob Kuhns keeps things moving briskly, featuring humorous anecdotes about the production, commentary from filmmakers and film historians, and commentary from and about the world at the time (1967, to be precise.) What comes through more than anything (and this has everything to do with Romero's personality) is how much NOTLD was a collaborative, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants production. Romero takes very little personal credit, always emphasizing how making a movie is a group effort, and especially on NOTLD everybody brought something interesting to the table. Oh, and my favorite part is a teacher who uses NOTLD in his classroom.! I have no idea what someone who has never seen NOTLD would get from this movie, but as a fan this movie was a perfect treat.

YEAR OF THE LIVING DEAD with THE MEETING plays again Mon, 3/4 5:00 PM and Fri, 3/8 9:45 PM

Total Running Time: 444 minutes
My Total Minutes: 318,630

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