Monday, March 7, 2016

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 6

Just 5 programs on Sunday. It was a light day.

I started with the short, EMMA. In an old Victorian house, an old man calls his friend over with his help in a matter. Turns out his wife has disappeared, much as the young man's wife disappeared years before, and never returned. He suspects foul play, and while his friend advises calling the police, he has another plan, involving a psychic and a séance, with a surprising result. Very cool.

And then the feature VIRAL VIRAL, a comedy about what people are willing to do to achieve dubious YouTube fame and even more dubious fortune. Director Taylor Guterson (OLD GOATS, BURKHOLDER) at least temporarily has dropped his aging comedies for a comedy about the young and stupid. A small time Pacific Northwest (yay, my old stomping grounds!) company makes short videos hoping for one to go viral. No success, despite the overwhelming cuteness of a cat sitting in front of a greenscreen waterfall. Their investors are getting impatient, and they desperately need a viral hit. Enter a mysterious consultant, who routinely churns out viral hits by doing stupid, offensive, tasteless stuff. Like take a camera into the ladies bathroom to record reaction videos. Or teaching people how to get out of a DUI (I won't bother explaining it, but it's not smart and not likely to work.) He brings some badly needed sex appeal to their videos, which now feature fishing in thongs, or Yeti vs. Bigfoot curling, or (and you'll have to watch to understand) "soaking." As the original team gets more suspicious of his motives, at least their videos are taking off. But he has one last big viral idea in mind, one that might really take things too far. It's a very funny dark comedy about the stupid shit that's on the internet (this blog excluded.) 

EMMA and VIRAL VIRAL plays again on Tuesday at 4:45 pm

Shorts 6 - Docu-nation. Hooray for true stories!
BACON AND GOD'S WRATH: An old Jewish woman, who has kept kosher most of her life. She recently got online and found more connection there than she ever had with her religion. So she's preparing for a big step--tasting bacon for the first time.
BORN FIGHTER: In East Palo Alto, one guy and his boxing gym gives kids in this crime-riddled city a safe place to train and stay off the streets.
THE BOX: An animated short, because the reality of kids placed in solitary confinement on Rikers Island would be too horrible to show in real life.
CONRAD AND THE STEAMPLANT: Conrad Milster has worked in a Brooklyn power plant since 1958, and has been the chief engineer since 1965. And he knows how to hand make every piece in the place.
A DRAG QUEEN FOR KIDS: Philadelphia's famous Martha Graham Cracker reads Dr. Seuss at the museum. Their preparations are difficult. Parents' reactions are complicated. But the kids have a great time.
GOLD HEIST: A whodunit, as $3 million worth of gold was stolen from a display case remembering the gold rush. It was in the lobby of a courthouse in Yreka, CA, a pretty brazen place to steal from.
OUT IN ALABAMA: A look at the brave out people and communities that embrace them in the south. Featuring pioneering Birmingham drag queen Libertee Belle, an icon in their community. the film is not just about breaking down stereotypes about gay people, but breaking down stereotypes about southerners. There are plenty of people shown in the movie who are accepting and welcoming of the queer community.
SANDORKRAUT: An awesome doc about how fermentation makes death and decay turn into something delicious. A repeat viewing of a short I saw at Indiefest.
SHAKEN: A Sherpa in Nepal sees his whole fall apart around him in a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Pretty terrifying.
UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTHS: A look at the 9/11 truth theorists, what they believe know, how they get their message out, and their frustrations with the kooks who make them look bad. Impartial, but pretty funny. Forget jet fuel and steel beams, explain the collapse of building 7!

Shorts 6 - Docu-nation plays again Monday (today!) at 4:45 and Wednesday at 5:00.
Shorts 7 - Comedy shorts. Hooray for laughing!
1-0: Let's laugh at how a televised soccer game can ruin a good haircut.
THE BLACK BEAR: Let's laugh at a bear tearing apart and umm...having his way...with a bunch of Belgian terrorists. Like if Monty Python made a wilderness safety video. And if you look closely, you can see it's actually a man in a bear suit.
CHASING DAYCARE: Let's laugh at how hard it is, even in good ol' progressive Germany, for expecting parents to find a good day care so the mother can go back to work.
DEATH OF A CONTENT CREATOR: Let's laugh at how hard it is to support a family on viral videos. Especially if you suck at it. But Chewbacca singing "Let It Go" might be worth watching.
THE FIRST SESSION: Let's laugh at a lesbian couple seeking advice from their first visit to a couples therapist. I think the key is communication, they don't seem to know each other that well.
HELLO CHARLES: Let's laugh at a man who in a moment of desperation is visited by his childhood imaginary friend.
I AM FAIRY: Let's laugh at that guy in the woman's tree who insists that he's a fairy, not a pervert. I mean, really a magical fairy, that's not a euphemism.
MADAM BLACK: Let's laugh at...ummm...a guy running over a cat. And then convincing a little girl that her cat just went on holiday, and will send her postcards. And then it actually gets pretty sweet.
MR. EGG: Let's laugh at the silly man in the egg costume who just has to make one person happy to win a bet with his roommate. The stakes are pretty high.
OPT OUT: Let's laugh at how freakin' hard it is to get off an e-mail list.
THE OTHER RIPKEN: Let's laugh at Billy Ripken and his infamous baseball card.
STUDIO OF TOMORROW: Let's laugh at how easy it will be to make perfect movies in the future, with the help of science!
THE TALK: Let's laugh at a man delivering some uncomfortable honesty to his daughter. Then laugh more as she turns the tables.
TOMMY AND DAVID: Let's laugh at a man who set up a profitable business importing clothing and trinkets with the image of Michelangelo's David. At least, one distinctive feature of it.
TOO FAST: Let's laugh at a relationship moving way too fast. Although the guy and the girl have different ideas of what "too fast" means.

Shorts 7 - Comedy plays again on Friday at 4:30 pm.

The next show started with another short, THE OFFER. A man is moving out, when he is approached by a door-to-door salesman. He reluctantly agrees to give him 2 minutes of his time. What he finds is the answer to any question he could have. That's right--an encyclopedia! But this is no ordinary encyclopedia.

And then the feature, INDIVISIBLE, a documentary about the human toll of our broken immigration system. Director Hilary Linder follows three remarkable DREAMers on their journey to speak to Congress. These are all kids who were brought to the U.S. by their parents without proper documentation (or overstayed their visas) and have stayed here while their parents were deported. They've spent years on their own, knowing that their parents can't come and visit them, and knowing if they go back home (to Mexico, or Columbia, or Brazil, as the case may be) they'll never be allowed back into the U.S. And the U.S. is really the only home they've known, even if they weren't born here. And often they left the place of their birth for good reasons--mainly the dangers of the criminal elements there. Look, I don't care about your politics on immigration. It's a thorny, complicated issue and well-meaning people can have differing opinions--that's fair, I think. But this movie does well to highlight the real, human suffering behind our broken system, and why obstruction is evil and the fight for a good--if not perfect--bill is a noble, heroic one. There's a scene where the kids get to see their parents, through a fence on the border running through Nogales, that is absolutely heartbreaking. There is some hope by the end with President Obama's executive orders and some temporary relief, but there's still a long way to go for a real solution--even a half solution.

THE OFFER and INDIVISIBLE plays again Friday at 2:15

And finally, I ended the night in CREEDMORIA. Named after the local asylum, this charming comedy seems to take place in a time warp. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be in the 50s or the 80s or even modern times, so let's say a modern-ish setting but a town that lives in the past. Candy (Stef Dawson) is endlessly cheerful, always having a SBDE (Stinkin' Best Day Ever!) even when her mother is domineering, her brother is getting drunk and getting into trouble, her other brother is coming out of the closet, and her father (who taught her a lot of her cheerfulness) is keeling over dead with a stroke. Oh, and her boss at Burger Barn is a dickhead, her co-wokers are abusive, her boyfriend is a Neanderthal, and his other girlfriends are planning to kill her. You'd think this would get to her, but somehow she smiles through it all. Perhaps she's just as crazy as the Creedmorians who go for a walk and stop at the Burger Barn every day. After all, they seem to enjoy their walk even though they can't go further than the Burger Barn. Because, you see, they've been told that's as far as they can go. Come to think of it, has she ever been further than the Burger Barn? Hah, just thinking about this movie again makes me smile. Stinkin' Best Movie Ever!

CREEDMORIA plays again Wednesday at 4:30 pm

Total Running Time: 484 minutes
My Total Minutes: 422,510

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