Sunday, October 30, 2016

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 3

Saturday was a short day, and a shorts day at Holehead.

First up was Apps Against Humanity - shorts about technology
#MURDERSELFIE: A couple who are more into their smartphones than each other get a scary interruption, but eventually she'll get her Instagram trending.
C.T.R.L: An app that lets you control other people's action, turning a chance encounter into an amazingly awkward dance.
FRIEND REQUEST: Some people think we already talk too much via apps and not enough in real life. But this takes it a step further.
GPS: There's just a few simple rules to using this sinister GPS. Follow all of the directions precisely, and never go to the bathroom after eating tobacco sauce.
HIDDEN WINDOW: A stalker website where it looks like the videographer is stalking and killing his victims. And a young journalist investigating a series of murders that might be connected to the website. Excellently done.
MANDRONE: A master at chess, traps, and survival takes on an army of drone-controlled men.
THOUGHTLESS: From Berkeley, in the future not only will hate speech be policed, but the hateful thoughts that lead to hateful speech and hateful actions. They'll just be wound back and replaced with positive thoughts.

Next up was Work Is Hell. I tend to agree.
THE DOOR: A particularly observant janitor notices a non-descript door, just like all the other doors in the building, only it was never there before. Or maybe he's going crazy.
EXTINCTION: When social security is all about exactly how long your benefits will allow you to live, bureaucracy makes end-of-life decisions for you.
KNOCK!: A man working late...a knock on the door.
THE NIGHT SHIFT: An orphanage that's run with all the efficiency of an animal shelter. And not a no-kill shelter. The new hire finds out more about his duties.
OVERTIME: A guy is forced to work late. He's desperate to get home in time. But he just keeps getting delayed. That's bad for him...and everyone.
PORTAL TO HELL: In one of his final roles, Roddy Piper plays a crusty old building superintendent. He has to deal with unclogging toilets, replacing lightbulbs, fixing the power, dealing with the two old dudes in the basement who are summoning Cthulhu,...
THE RIDE: Based on a true story, a guy gets a ride to work from some random good Samaritan, who turns out to be really weird and maybe deadly.
THE SUIT: A superhero has had it with being a tool of American foreign policy, and is determined to quit. But he has to make sure his family is safe, first. Hey, you do the same job long enough, you get burnt out.
THE WORKING DEAD: Post-mortem revival brings a star employee back to work after just a few weeks off for death. He quickly becomes the braaaaaiiiinnns of the operation.

Then there was Love Is Strange. I tend to agree.
APOLO81: Due to a technical glitch, this didn't actually play. Sorry.
DEAR ANIMA: A man, his childhood love, his drawings of her, and one of them comes to life. Trippy.
ELLE: A woman, the nice man she takes home, and her unusual pet.
FATE: A wealthy man looking for love consults a psychic.
IN BAD FAITH: A woman gets a little bit of payback on her ex and his new girlfriend.
THE LOCK-IN: A bartender deals with incredibly rude customers. Until he can't deal with it anymore. And then he deals with it perfectly. And gets a lovely lass to help him out.
NEON: Never actually called an angel, but a man who brings people together is forbidden by a higher power from actually pursuing love for himself. But he has fallen in love, and he has a plan to save her.

And I missed the rest of the day because I went to Scotchtoberfest. But that's a different, drunker story.

Total Running Time: 282 minutes
My Total Minutes: 434,618

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 2

We started with a lovely and challenging art documentary, which had some wondering what it's doing in a horror/fantasy/sci-fi festival. WEAPONS OF LIGHT is a look at artist Philip Lawson. He's a painter, a poet, a sculptor. He's a gentle, thoughtful man who teaches art and art therapy at a institute for the mentally and physically challenged in Marin. And his latest project--Weapons Of Light - The Art of Peace--takes an iconic and challenging image and repurposes it. The AK-47 is surely the most iconic weapon of the last century. And Philip has reformed that symbol by casting translucent, colorful resin into that shape. Director Leila Namvar captures his art, his heart, his process, and his friends. There's such a gentleness behind everything in this movie, that it makes the image of the AK-47 all that more striking. It's a lovely and challenging movie, about a lovely and challenging image. And as for it belonging in a horror/fantasy/sci-fi festival...well, I can be convinced it belongs.

Afterwards, there was a very engaging Q&A session, and I'm not just saying that because I was a last-minute recruit to run it. Mostly it was because Leila and Philip could speak quite eloquently about their work, and because the movie draws out such interesting reactions. Oh yeah, also because there were pouring free wine before the film.

Then the open cocktail bar started up, and we all go ready for a 90s Sing-A-Long: Halloween Special. I got really drunk, tried to sing along, and mostly decided that 90s music doesn't do shit for me. But other people seemed to be having fun. And so did I, once I got drunk enough.

And then the late night show, THE GIANT PAPIER MACHE BOULDER IS ACTUALLY REALLY HEAVY. A cleverly silly comedy from New Zealand. Three friends go to a sci-fi convention, even though only one is really into it. While there they go to a screening of a cheesy B-movie "Space Warriors In Space" and as the opening credits roll, they see their names as the stars. Next thing you know, they're sucked into the cheesy B-movie world. No explanation given, and none needed, really. A world where spaceships fly around on strings, silver-painted hair dryers are guns, and robots are made out of cardboard. It was clearly made by people who are fans of sci-fi, and had a lot of fun with it. And the end result is actually pretty fun, and not--as I was afraid--a joke that would wear out too quickly. At least, the parts where I was conscious were fun. Did I mention the cocktail bar for the 90s sing-a-long was free?

Total Running Time: 248 minutes
My Total Minutes: 434,335

Friday, October 28, 2016

Jason goes to Holehead--Opening Night

Despite it's inconsistent schedule (both in terms of time of the year and program offerings) I still consider Another Hole In the Head one of the High Holy Days of the film festival calendar. And the 2016 version started last night.

First up, were some Homegrown Horrors--locally made short films
BENEATH THE LAKE: A wordless, atmospheric piece about a woman who crawls out of a lake and through the woods to explore a house.
DEMONOLOGY: Creepy doors and shadowy monsters. All the good things.
E.Z.P.Z.: Inspired by a failed cobra bounty program in India, a story of zombie bounty program with unintended side effects. Like...zombie breeding.
ETERNAL COMA, 1994: The horrors of black metal music and D&D. So appropriate after the recent death of Jack Chick.
THE EXISTENTIAL ZOMBIE: What if a zombie still holds on to a little piece of his humanity...and his loneliness. All anxiety is existential awareness of undeadness.
IN HYDRIA: Don't open the creepy, goopy box. Just don't.
NOW'S A BAD TIME: Don't you hate it when your friend's untimely death messes up your chance for quick cash by selling your World of Warcraft account? A very funny little flick.
WARM INSIDES: Very effectively creepy body horror, as a woman thinks there's something sinister growing inside her.

And then the feature, THE MASTER CLEANSE, produced by and starring Johnny Galecki, playing Paul--a sadder, dumber version of his lovelorn loser character from The Big Bang Theory (I mean, the seasons when he's not with Penny.) He's lost his job, his fiancĂ©e left him, and he's so low he checks out some self-help class by a famous guru who invented the lemon cleanse and is now offering the Master Cleanse. He signs up for the retreat--despite having to sign a waiver that mentions the possibility it will kill him--mainly because of the cute girl who is also attending. And it starts out simple enough. They each have a course of foul-tasting drinks specially concocted just for them. That's the cleanse part. Then there's the "elimination." That's where all the nasty stuff inside you comes out. And...then grows into a squirmy little monster who copies your mannerisms. Then it gets kind of weird. Other "retreaters" have different ways of dealing with their monsters. It's kinda funny, not really scary, but well made and with a cast you wouldn't expect given what I assumed was a fairly limited budget for an independent feature by a first-time director (Bobby Miller, who has directed several shorts but this is his first feature.) Anjelica Huston and Oliver Platt both play important roles, and both are fantastic. And in the end it leaves you with a bit of an ambiguous note on the perils of trying to destroy your flaws, since after all they do make you who you are.

Total Running Time: 164 minutes
My Total Minutes: 434,087

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Well, I managed to go nearly a decade writing about every movie I saw. 2016 finally broke me. It's been 4 months since I've blogged. And that was after habitually falling behind by months and then delivering a massive dump of reviews. I just don't have it in me to catch up this time.

So instead I apologize to the remainder of Docfest, to the Niles Essanay Film Museum's Broncho Billy Film Festival, and the the smattering of general release films I've seen. I won't be writing about them.

Holehead starts tonight. With luck I'll be able to write about everything I see there.

Oh, and I have still been keeping track of the minutes I've spent watching movies. The count is up to 433,923.