Thursday, March 7, 2019

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 2

Cinequest is in full swing now, but I've still got my day job. So I got to San Jose last night just in time for the VIP Soiree at Forager Tasting Room & Eatery. A few delicious Tito's Vodka Mules, and some tasty eats, and I was ready for my first movie of the day.

Repetition and variation was the theme of the day, starting with MAN RUNNING. Jim (Gord Rand) is entering a 100 mile (or wait, it's probably 100 km, it's in Canada) ultra-marathon, despite the race officials being warned of his medical condition. The thing is, he's a doctor, so he has authority to decide for himself, and he chooses to run, risks be damned. The movie is partly about his competition with nature and his own limits, and partly about the psychological baggage he's carrying and what he's thinking about while running. See, he has a young patient (Milli Wilkinson) who is dying of some unspecified cancer. It's clear that she's losing that fight, and wants to retain some control over her fate. Let's not sugarcoat it, it's about assisted suicide, and who has the right to make that decision? The patient? Her parents (who are against it)? And what role should the doctor play? What role did he play? The thing is, we see flashbacks to many different versions of what may or may not have happened. It's less about what happened than how this all is weighing on his mind, and that strange mental zone you get in when you're running long distances, alone with your thoughts (those who know me might be surprised to learn this, but a couple of decades ago I used to run regularly on the beach in San Diego, so I'm not unfamiliar with that mental space.) It's a wonderfully shot, excellently acted, seriously meditative piece about some tough issues that are never handled with as much seriousness and subtlety in mainstream movies. 

As far as the intentionally obscured answers to what really happened...I don't even think it's about that. Or at most it's about what the audience makes of it. I have a rule that if the movie is about "what really happened?" then the answer is "you sat in a dark room while flickering lights and synchronized sound entertained you for a while."

MAN RUNNING plays again on March 7 (hey! That's today!) 5 pm at the Hammer Theater, and next Wednesday, Mar 13 5:35 PM in Redwood City

Then I briefly popped into the Maverick Meetup at Cafe Stritch for a quick drink and to greet a few of my Cinequest friends, then off to the California for the late film.

As part of the festival's name change--it's now the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, this program started with a brief interview with the poet laureate of California and former head of the NEA. He'll be part of the Poets N Film event tonight at the Hammer Theater, and he spoke about the ability of art to bring people together in shared experiences. He also recited a poem about NOSFERATU, which is possibly my favorite movie, so that was excellent.
I think this poet's name is Dana...something
Then variation and repetition was the theme of the day, ending with THE FARE. A sort of Twilight Zone inspired story of a cab driver, Harris and his fare, Penny (like the coin.) Harris is driving to a lonely desert destination to pick up Penny. They make some small talk, he's driving her to her destination--also in the middle of nowhere. There's some weather ahead, dispatch warns him, and suddenly the cab goes dark for a second, and when the lights return...Penny is gone. He tells dispatch, who seems unconcerned and sends him on to his next fare. And it all starts over. When he reaches the pickup point, his fare is...once again Penny. Only Harris doesn't remember her at all. And we repeat...but with little changes. Over and over he starts to remember a little bit. There's something breaking through his consciousness. Ultimately, all will be explained (perhaps over-explained, I prefer a little more mystery and room for interpretation, but that's just me.) Rather than the literal explanation, I prefer to recognize it as a poetic love story, a story of star-crossed lovers and learning to appreciate the brief time they have together.

THE FARE plays again Mar 7 (today!) at 7:10 pm; Sat, Mar 9 at 1:10 PM; and Sun, Mar 17 6:30 PM. All three shows in Redwood City

Total Running Time: 173 minutes
My Total Minutes: 498,032

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