Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 7

The second week starts with a five-film Monday. Or rather, it really started with a couple of early drinks in the festival lounge.

The first film of the day was BORDERLINE, one of the more challenging films I've seen in the festival--and not just challenging due to the 144 minute running time. A story of love, obsession, self-destruction, and writing, it's shot mostly in oppressive close-ups of the characters faces. Director Anna Alfieri stars as Anna (essential, herself.) She has her first lesbian relationship with Robyn. It becomes an obsession, intermixed with her obsession to become a great writer. That gets in the way of the relationship, as she simultaneously gets overly attached and feels she doesn't deserve the relationship unless she becomes a great writer. So it ends, and she spirals into self destruction. And it's brutal and difficult to watch, but more than that it just drags on and on. It's 144 minutes, and you feel every minute of it. And I've been told at least 20 minutes had already been cut out of a previous cut. I think there's probably a good story in there--keep cutting.

BORDERLINE plays again Tue, Mar 12 6:00 PM and Fri, Mar 15 9:30 PM, both shows in Redwood City

Then, after a few more drinks, I caught the bizarre and twisted surrealist neo-noir Western with possible political overtones, LAKE OVER FIRE, from those wacky, wacky Norwegians. A small town gets along well, riding their motorbikes and singing, while wearing fluorescent-trimmed cowboy hats atop their motorcycle helmets. The local mine (mining those little plastic beads you can iron together to make designs) has made the town wealthy, but with that wealth comes greed, in the form of The Cowboy. Different factions of the town are set against each other, murder and false accusations are the order of the day, and those peaceful townsfolk who try to bring everyone together fail horribly. Probably the funniest movie I've ever seen to feature repeated torture of a baby (relax, it's not a real baby, it's just an actor.)

I could describe more, but it really has to be seen to be believed. Too bad that was its last screening in the festival. Sucks to be you!
Well, well, well, we got a group of bad-asses here!
Then a couple more drinks in the lounge, and off to the Australian coming-of-age drama, SUBURBAN WILDLIFE. Four friends just graduated University. So adulthood begins. Well, it'll begin soon enough, after sufficient partying has been had. So drunken stupidity is the order of the day, and for once I'm not the one serving it up. Maybe this didn't quite speak to me because all the characters eventually learn something about growing up, and I've never really had that lesson. I've never had a need for the party to stop (then again, I've never started the day by stepping into a bowl of my own vomit, so I got that going for me.) Anyway, I really wanted to like this movie, but it was hard because I really didn't like any of the characters. So I found myself just counting the minutes until I could run off the the Soiree (at neighboring bars of Chacho's and San Patricio's) and drink some more.

SUBURBAN WILDLIFE plays again Sun, Mar 17 3:00 PM in Redwood City

So yeah, the Soiree was good. But this time I didn't just slam down a few drinks. I also gorged myself with fried Mexican junk at the buffet. Happy belly!

The next show started with a cool animated short, CROW: THE LEGEND. With a great voice cast including John Legend, Constance Wu, and Oprah Winfrey, it tells the Native American legend of the crow--once a brightly colored bird with a beautiful voice, his magnanimous quest cost him his plumage and his dulcet tones, but he did save all his friends, so it was worth it.

That was the lead in to the feature, LUCKY FIFTY. Regular readers of my blog (and I know that includes at least some of the team of this local production) know that my most common criticism is that a movie drags on too long. I call these "feature length shorts"--movies with a simple idea that are badly stretched out to 90 minutes. So it's refreshing to see a movie that knows it has a 56 minute story and doesn't tack on a minute more. Well done!

As for the story, Jay (Lawrence Kao) is a writer, trying to get any investor interested in making his script. After being turned down again, he's throwing a little tantrum behind the office where Monica (Jaya Prasad) finds him. And he finds a $50 bill. Monica is also a struggling actress, so they decide to use this new windfall for a day of fun on the cheap, starting with some tacos! They have a fun day and night, and seem to be on the same page in all ways. The next day he drives her home, and as luck would have it her boyfriend is interested in his script. If only he'd make some changes so it's not so...minority driven. A nice little story of the struggle of making it in an art that is at all times also a business, and the challenge of staying true to your vision.

LUCKY FIFTY plays again Tue, Mar 12 12:15 PM in Redwood City; Sat, Mar 16 5:30 PM also in Redwood City; and Sun, Mar 17 1:15 PM at the Hammer Theater.

And finally, I ended the night with COME, SAID THE NIGHT, a weird and creepy horror thriller about the Greek Gods. Or at least, about a family that still believes in them. Roy Grady is an eccentric single father (his wife died some time ago, and if it was explained I missed it.) His eldest daughter Magda also passed on just last year, and he and his two children (13 year old daughter Sprout, and young son Percy) are in their remote wood "sanctuary" to pay homage to her. At first they just seem a little eccentric. They worship the Greek Gods (particularly Harpocrates, the God of Silence) and he homes schools them to protect them from "otherness"--like the idea that the Gods aren't real or worse yet, there's just one singular God in charge of the multitude of different things. But he never really raises his voice to them, he definitely cares about them. And the kids have their quirks--for Percy, hypochondria that keeps him from almost never exposing his hands; for Sprout, sleep paralysis and the belief that a Gorgon is haunting her--but they all love their family. Which is not to say that it's entirely surprising when things turn dark an murderous, triggered by a little bit of "otherness" in the form of a beautiful park ranger and her son who is just Sprout's age. Well developed characters and a good story well told makes for a good end to another long day at Cinequest.

COME, SAID THE NIGHT plays again Wed, Mar 13 6:00 PM in Redwood City

Total Running Time: 489 minutes
My Total Minutes: 499,825

No comments: