Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Jason finishes Cinequest

And it almost finished me, but I survived.

Again, I was up bright and early for drinks in the lounge. Lots of them. I just drank until it was time to see Ben Manciewicz get his Maverick Spirit Award. So...I'm sure he had a lot of cool things to say. And I'm 85% sure I was awake for them. But memory fades, right?

And then Mr. Manciewicz's selection, PEOPLE WILL TALK (1951) which is somehow an absolute masterpiece that I haven't heard of. Cary Grant stars as Dr. Noah Praetorius, a renowned gynecologist, an equally beloved professor, and the conductor of the student orchestra. Finlay Currie plays his constant companion, a mysterious Mr. Shunderson, a man of few words and a mysterious backstory. The good doctor's favorite student nurse/patient is Deborah Higgins (Jeanne Crain.) He discovers she's pregnant, even though she's not married. Worse yet, her ex-boyfriend is a soldier who has been called up to the Korean War conflict. But Noah finds himself in love with her, marrying her, and prepared to raise her child as his own. Well, this is all in the context of an inquisition by Professor Ewell (Hume Cronyn) who accuses him of unorthodox medical practices (like, relying on faith and humanity as much pills, serums, and knives.) Secrets will be revealed, scandals will erupt, but at the center Cary Grant is a hero we need as much today as ever--someone with a moral center focused on the human element, and isn't afraid to put his career on the line for it (and it helps that he's so charismatic that of course he'll win.)

Then I caught a cool thriller with BERLIN FALLING, a story of terrorism and a man pushed to his limits. Frank is having a really shitty day. His ex-wife is mad at him, and he's supposed to meet her and his daughter at the train station in Berlin. But things get worse when he meets a hitchhiker, Andreas, who has a plan for him. Andreas seems to know everything about him, and his daughter, and has spies with eyes on her all the time (yeah, it's an omnipotent villain flick, which can be cool when done right. And this one is done right.) Andreas' master plan is more than a match for Frank's military background, and the twists and turns all the way up to the climax are masterful. Just a fun ride, smart suspense, and maybe a revealing political angle.

Then finally the closing night gala was BROTHERS IN ARMS. I'll confess I haven't seen PLATOON since...well, at least pretty close to its release in 1986. I really need to revisit it, because this documentary, directed by one of the actors (Paul Sanchez, Doc,) is all about the experience of acting in the film, starting with the (then) unique "boot camp" style training. They were all hungry actors at the time, they all worked incredibly hard, they were all in their own way put through the wringer. And while they will all stress that what they went through is nothing compared to the actual soldiers, they all became incredibly close. No greater evidence is needed than how many actors were quick to participate in this documentary, a good 30 years after the fact (although Forest Whitaker was unavailable, but that was just a scheduling issue.) But Charlie Sheen (who also narrated,) Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, John McGinley, Tom Berenger, and many others participated enthusiastically. Oh, and Richard Edson, who hasn't had quite as big of a career as the others, but who proved to be a wild and hilarious storyteller. The whole thing was just a joy and a thrilling ride. But I think my favorite revelation is how it was all shot in sequence, and when a character died that actor flew home (from the Philippines) within a day. So after they became this tight knit group, the survivors kinda felt the absence of their fallen comrades, so their feelings of loss and missing their buddies were real.

Then off to the after party, more drinks and revelry!

Then we kept it going back in the Fairmont lounge area. And the last few diehards keep it going in my suite.

And finally, Cinequest 2018 was over. It's hard to believe, but true.

Total Running Time: 282 minutes
My Total Minutes: 474,788

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