My favorite two-week drinking festival (with movies) started last night. And I was there about 3 hours early to check in to the VIP lounge, have some Tito's, have some Stella Artois, have some Cuarenta y Tres.... And of course hug all my friends in there. Then we headed over to Cafe Stritch where I had an extra Arrogant Bastard Ale (not a sponsor, so no link for them, but I do love it!) and finally headed across the street to the California Theatre for the opening night program.
After the Cinequest trailer, the programmed actually began with RPG OKC, which I had already seen at Indiefest and it looked so much better on the giant screen at the California. That was the lead in to Cinequest's first ever Media Legacy Award, given to Indiewire's Senior Editor and Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn. Then we had a brief conversation with him about championing great under-seen films (where he called out me and my friend Phil in the first row for knowing and cheering all the films he mentioned.)
And then Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone, received the Maverick Innovator Award. He had been at Cinequest before, so I actually knew some of the jokes he told (like how the first cell phone only had 20 minutes of battery life, but that was okay because it was so heavy you couldn't hold it up to your ear for 20 minutes.) He also opined on the future promises of technology, especially in health care and lifting people out of poverty. But my favorite part was when he asked if anyone didn't have a cell phone and the only one in the whole theater was my friend Roy. Awesome.
And then finally, we settled in for the opening night film, THE GRAND SEDUCTION, an English language remake of Jean-Francois Pouliot’s LA GRANDE SÉDUCTION (note: I've never actually seen the original.) It's set in a small Newfoundland fishing community--or at least what used to be a small fishing community. Now it's a community of people who collect welfare checks. Some even collect two welfare checks, one for them and one for their friend who signed over power of attorney to him (um...before he died.) That scoundrel would be Murray (Brendan Gleeson) but there's never really an attitude that he's a bad guy for doing this. He's just surviving, like everyone on the island. And if he has to lie a little bit to survive, so be it. What the harbor (don't call it a village) is really hoping for is to get the new petrochemical processing plant built there. Yeah, that doesn't sound like pretty work, certainly not as fun as fishing. But they need jobs. But in order to get the plant they need a doctor living there. Anyway, when the ex-mayor finds a doctor (with a bit of a cocaine problem) they might have a solution. Dr. Lewis (Taylor Kitsch) agrees to a one month trial, and all they have to do is convince him this is a place he wants to live. So out goes hockey, in comes cricket (the reveal of the cricket pitch from the boat is one of my new favoritest scenes ever!) And let him know that they're just fine with him using a little cocaine now and again (although it never really comes up again.) And commence with the spying and trickery to find out everything you can about him and use it to your advantage. And the thing is, it works. He falls in love with the harbor--or at least what the harbor is pretending to be. Oh, and did I mention it's hilarious? Especially when the petrochemical folks come to town to assess whether there are enough able-bodied workers for their plant. Or when they have to scrape together some bribe money for them. All in all it's a charming comedy about the importance of work for dignity, and how far you will bend the rules for that grasp at a dignified, honest living. Plus, [minor spoiler alert] it might be the first movie I've ever seen that ends with a harbor-wide simultaneous orgasm. So it's got that going for it, which is nice.
Then over to South First Billiards for some snacks, a lot more drinking, and a lot more hugging of Cinequest friends. And Cinequest 2014 is officially begun!
Total Running Time: 125 minutes
My Total Minutes: 353,252