Monday, March 4, 2013

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 6

Wrapping up the big first weekend with five more films on Sunday.

I got downtown just barely in time to catch the 10:00 am program of Shorts 3: Cause and Effect. Shorts about the choices we make.
ABIGAIL: Abigail is a young gas station attendant who is trying to save up enough to leave this stupid town and her miserable life. But a duty to her out-of-control mother keeps her trapped.
AUTODRIVE: A hilarious flick about the voices in your GPS, that would have been appropriate in the Mindbenders program, too.
THE FIRST HOPE: Young love, inspired by STAR WARS. In particular, by the incestuous parts of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
HARK: A moral dilemma about human trafficking set in San Francisco (it's not just a 3rd world problem.)
LAST REMARKS: Reminiscences on the creation of Pakistan, with inspiration for Poe's The Tell-tale Heart.
A NIGHT AT THE OFFICE: Cubeville drudgery, ill-advised office romances, and the occasional office monster.
PUNCHED (ABGESTEMPELT): A confrontation of race and prejudice, on a bus ride in Austria.

START THE ENGINE AND REVERSE didn't play. I don't know why, but you can see it on Youtube here.

Shorts 3: Cause and Effect plays again Tue, 3/5 9:30 PM

Then after a quick drink or three at the VIP lounge, next up was the documentary CUBAMERICAN. Part history lesson and part showcase of inspirational Cuban-American immigrants. The history lesson part goes back before Castro, explores the conditions that allowed him to come to power (it's been Castro's Cuba for so long, people forget the problems of Batista's Cuba) and explores the continuing oppressiveness of the Castros' (Fidel and Raoul) regime. Make no mistake, just because it can take an even-handed look at how Castro came to power, this is still very anti-Castro. The showcase of inspirational Cuban-Americans features a ton of interviews, from authors, musicians, dancers, teachers, doctors, (multiple) MacArthur geniuses, actors (Andy Garcia is featured), and much, much more. Maybe too much more. It actually got to the point where it dragged a little bit for me. Yes, these were all amazing people but I think somehow 10 minutes or so could be trimmed out and become DVD extras (although I have a gut feeling that director Jose Enrique Pardo has so much love for the subject that he probably has hours of potential DVD extras already.) Or maybe it's just me. Maybe I've immersed myself in Cinequest so much that I've got a bit of "inspiration fatigue" (a disease I just made up where you see so many inspirational stories in such quick succession that you're left totally exhausted, empty, and happy.)

See if you can get a case of inspiration fatigue yourself, CUBAMERICAN plays again Sat, 3/9 6:30 PM

Then I went back to the VIP lounge but it was temporarily closed so I had to actually purchase a beer (and get a filmmaker to buy me a beer. Everybody see LONELY BOY, I'm sure it's totally awesome!) at Cafe Stritch, the home of Cinequest.

Then it was time for some CONGRATULATIONS! from the makers of BLOOD CAR (Cinequest 2007). This is a comedy that pushes the absolute limits of deadpan absurdity, and has divided audiences. Some (and I count myself in this group) think it's one of the funniest things ever. A friend who would remain anonymous but she put her opinion in a public tweet thought it "was perhaps one of the worst @Cinequest films I have ever sat all the way thru." This division just makes me love it all the more! In any case, a little boy named Paul goes missing. He was in his house, his mom looked away for a second, looked back, and he was gone. Missing Persons detective Skok is on the case, plastering the entire house with missing posters, and having his whole team scour the grounds of the house and the yard calling, "Paul! Paul! Paul!" (interesting trivia, the original draft of the script was just 100 pages of "Paul!") If you expect the characters to ever break and tell a joke about the absurdity of the're in the wrong movie. It's 100% deadpan, with the comedy coming from the absurd situations, not the characters. And that just makes it all the funnier--or at least in my opinion.

CONGRATULATIONS! plays again Tue, 3/5 4:15 PM

Then, after a quick drink at some snacks at the VIP Soiree at LA PI√ĎATA, I headed off for another movie, even though I was kinda interested in seeing Harrison Ford instead. But let me explain my rules for this year at Cinequest. There is one overriding rule--if you drink with me, I will see your film at the next possible opportunity (if it's possible at all.) The only things that could prevent me from seeing your film are 1) if I'm at work, making the money I need to see all these films, or B) if another filmmaker drunk with me first, and his/her film is in the same time slot. Drinking with me in past years also counts, so CONGRATULATIONS! was grandfathered in from BLOOD CAR. Similarly, DETONATOR is grandfathered in because I drank with the star Lawrence Levine when he was with GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY in 2010. I don't make the rules, I only invent them, articulate them, and live by them.

Anyway, the important point is that the filmmakers behind ONE DAY OR ANOTHER (who came all the way from Turkey) drank with me the other night, and Harrison Ford didn't, so screw him.

But first, the short IT'S THE SHOES from the Picture the Possibilities program. A little boy, afraid to play with the bigger kids because he doesn't have fancy shoes, learns an important lesson.

Then the feature, ONE DAY OR ANOTHER was a charming story of a small Turkish village where  messages of love have to be passed by letters because everyone is such a freakin' busybody that they won't leave people alone and just let them be happy. It's like middle school come to life. Little Ragip has a crush on the town nurse, and scrapes his knee just so he can see her. She, however, is getting married, and that love-triangle complications of its own. A young man has a sweetheart in the neighboring village but the men there won't let him see her. An old man has some sort of fit (seemed like a stroke) while driving into town, and is rescued by a passing French tourist who he mistakes for an angel. And she, in turn, is mistaken for the new English teacher, and the one guy in town who can speak a little English is dismayed he can't understand her (because, of course, she speaks French.) Wonderful interweaving stories, with a magical wind brewing. Funny, charming, touching, a delight. (Much better than seeing Harrison Ford, I'm sure.)

ONE DAY OR ANOTHER with IT'S THE SHOES plays again Mon, 3/4 2:00 PM (yikes! almost now!) and Thu, 3/7 6:45 PM

Then a quick drink at the Maverick pre-Meetup at The Loft Bar and Bistro (technically, the meetup didn't start until 9:30, but there were already Cinequesters there and the bar was serving, so cool!)

And finally, the last film of the night was my new favorite of the festival, LOVELESS ZORITSA. In a strange Serbian town where all the women had mustaches, a cursed non-mustachioed baby girl was born, causing widespread panic. For good reason, because she really is cursed so that any man who falls in love with her dies in bizarre accidents. Bumbling cops, electrocuted rock stars, angry village mobs (right out of FRANKENSTEIN) and a tragic series of dead lovers going all the way back to her childhood. But Mane, a cop from the big city who doesn't believe in such superstitious nonsense, believes he can clear her name. And maybe he can...or maybe he'll accidentally fall in love with her and die in a horrible, hilarious accident--I won't tell! Seriously, this was hilarious and my favorite of the festival (so far).

LOVELESS ZORITSA plays again Fri, 3/8 5:00 PM

Then a few more drinks at The Loft, and back home to drag myself into work Monday morning. I think I'll spend the whole day here fantasizing about being back at Cinequest.

Total Running Time: 467 minutes
My Total Minutes: 319,096

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