Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 8

It was a light day on Tuesday--only 3 films. Which gave me a lot more time for drinking.

As always, opening the lounge at 10 a.m., blah blah blah... Interesting, they no longer serve Stella Artois in the lounge, they're saving the last of it for the closing night party. I think that might be related to how much I've drunk.

Anyway, my first show of the day was Shorts 3: Lessons learned. A wide variety of coming-of-age movies.
BERNARD THE GREAT: On his tenth birthday, Bernard decides that adults are stupid and selfish, so he decides to never grow up, and builds a not-growing suit to prevent it.
COLD SNAP: A young trapper boy (theme of the festival--hunting and butchering animals) meets a woman making a fresh start.
DEAD HEARTS: A young mortician falls in love with the kung-fu version of Little Red Riding Hood, who kicks the crap out of werewolves. 70-some years later, he literally gives her his heart for a second chance at love as a zombie.
ITSY BITSY SPIDERS: This boy likes drawing spiders. Lots and lots and lots of spiders. His obsession will prove useful, though.
MY LIGHT IN DARKNESS: A young girl meets an befriends a lonely tramp in the old west. Unfortunately, he's black, so it's not going to end well for him.
NAVIDAD: Family Christmas on the beach in Tijuana. Honestly, I think I fell asleep in this one. Too many drinks in the lounge, I guess. Sorry.
PISS & VINEGAR: A girl hates her stepfather, and digs at him in humorous ways, like fingernails in his eggs, or piss in his bath.
SLAP: A young man is a talented boxer and a cross dresser. He hides it until his gay best friend is being threatened, then runs out in full drag to beat the crap out of his attackers. Thinking this might give him acceptance (his girlfriend thinks it's incredibly brave) he goes to a costume party in drag. But things do not go well. A moving story of true colors, being yourself, and struggling for acceptance.

Then I actually blew off a movie (fuck it, they didn't drink with me) to go to the Soiree at SP2 for food (great ribs!) and drink (Moscow Mules) before heading over to the Media Legacy Award for Richard Von Busack and a screening of the 1934 classic and Jean Vigo's only film (he died at 29) L'ATALANTE. The story is quite simple--the captain of the ship L'Atalante has just gotten married, and they live on the ship with the first mate la pere Jules (Michel Simon, stealing the show) a cabin boy, and a lot of cats (I love those darned cats, they also steal the show.) They travel to Paris, they have some fun there (she's never been) and they put some strain on their relationship. The film is shot beautifully, always framed excellently, and always engaging. This was actually my first time seeing it, and it immediately invites multiple viewings. I also know it inspired the whole French New Wave, but I'm not nearly erudite enough to say something smart about that (now ask me about Italian neo-realism and I about how PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE is a remake of THE BICYCLE THIEF...anyways....)

Then we had a brief interview with Richard Von Busack, the reviewer for the San Jose Metro, talking about his 30+ year career (including the entire life of the Metro) and love of movies. The interview was short because some of us (myself included) had to make a 9:30 screening of KILLSWITCH, which I'm sure Richard was fine with, since he wrote a glowing review of it (which was their cover story.)

But first, the short FORTUNE TELLING from Cinequest's own Vijay Rajan and Siren Song Productions. Four friends grew up wanting to go to Los Angeles and become movie stars. Years later, none of them have been. Life and fears have gotten in the way. So one hand of poker will decide who goes and pursues the dream for all of them. Very moving. And as much as I love teasing Vijay, it's actually really cool to watch him develop as a filmmaker. He might actually have the chops to make a living at this.

And then KILLSWITCH, all about the Internet. Specifically about privacy and freedom of information on the Internet. Ideally, our personal information would be private and public information (e.g., the whole of human knowledge) would be available for free. So of course, those in power want it the other way around. Spy on everyone, and prosecute people like Aaron Swartz who make scientific journals available for free. Or Edward Snowden, who revealed that the government is spying on you (Hi, Mr. NSA man, I hope you're having a great day and enjoy reading this!) Those are the two big stories the movie follows, and they started making the film back when Aaron Swartz was still alive and Edward Snowden hadn't done anything yet. But the philosophical questions...the journey of Lawrence Lessig, or Tim Wu, or Peter Ludlow, or Kim Dotcom...they'd still be important without Swartz or Snowden (okay, Lessig might not be as much of an activist were he not inspired by Swartz, but still...) And the points about how communication technology always seems to evolve this way--from freedom to control. How governments like monopolies so they can control them (Western Union liked Republicans, and from Lincoln until Wilson we had only Republican Presidents...scary.) How these sort of revolutions seem to happen approximately every 50 years (and the last one was the 60s, do the math) is all very fascinating. And the climax, wrapping it all up in Chaplin's speech on humanity in THE GREAT DICTATOR--that was brilliant. I had actually only watched THE GREAT DICTATOR for the first time last year, and I'm convinced that speech should be required reading for anyone who...wants to be human. In fact, stop whatever you're doing, and just watch it again right now, thanks to the awesomeness of the Internet. And now imagine a world where doing that was a felony. Now get scared about how close we are to that world.

Total Running Time: 296 minutes
My Total Minutes: 387,945

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