Friday, May 3, 2019

Jason goes to Cinequest--Closing Night

I guess I should finally write this. It's been a while, so this will have to be extra-short reviews. Sorry.

Of course, despite the long night before, I was still up and in the lounge for drink number one on the final day. Or was that not me but...the Tito's Bandito?!!!
Look out for the self-proclaimed Tito's Bandito!
First up was BRING ME AN AVOCADO, an excellent little local drama. It's the story of tragedy befalling a good, loving family. Specifically, in the form of a mugger shooting and seriously wounding the mother. So the father has to step up and take care of the kids. But he has help, in the form of his sister-in-law and her best friend. Tragedy brings out strength. But over time, that strength diminishes and...moral failings surface. But it's to the credit of the movie and its excellent cast that even as you watch people fail, you still sympathize with them and believe their motivations. Ultimately, the strength of family love wins out over the messiness of life, but not without a struggle.

Then it was time for TEEN SPIRIT, starring the lovely Elle Fanning, recipient of a Maverick Spirit Award. She plays a small town girl who loves singing and gets a chance to shine in a televised pop singing contest, Teen Spirit. Elle does all her own singing, and I'm no expert but I thought she sounded good. The plot is a bit formulaic, but fun. The best part by far is Zlatko Buric playing the creepy looking old guy who cheers for her when she's performing in the bar, but who turns out to actually know talent and ends up being her (deeply flawed, alcoholic) mentor. So let that be a lesson to the volunteer who was introducing a film a couple of days before and tried to shame me and my friend when we cheered at the mention of Elle. Sometimes the creepy looking drunk guys cheering are actually just cheering in deep admiration for talent, not because they're creeps. (Note: I took that whole exchange as a joke and exchanged a thumbs-up with him afterward.)

The lovely and talented Elle Fanning.

Then I had time for a quick VIP reception at the Grill in the Fairmont, a few drinks, a few snacks, and then back to the California for a Life of a Maverick Award presentation to educator and innovator Esther Wojcicki.

And then finally time for the closing night film, THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE. Terry Gilliam's quest to make this film has become a thing of legend, even spawning the first (that I know of) "Unmaking-Of" documentary. Well, he's finally done it, through the story of a frustrated commercial filmmaker (Adam Driver) who had shown so much promise when he made his student film of Don Quixote. His strategy at the time was to find locals in Spain to play the roles, for added realism. And he happens to find himself in that same spot in Spain, and looks up the old shoemaker (Jonathan Pryce) who played his Don Quixote way back then. But he was confused then, and senile now, and believes he really is Don Quixote and Sancho Panza has come back to take him on a new adventure. What ensues is pure, mainlined Gilliam. Extravagant set design, a head-spinning story (although maybe that was all the booze) and a celebration of obsession and pursuit of art and beauty, even if (especially if!) it drives you absolutely mad!

And then it was all over but the drinking. First the official after party, and then the unofficial but traditional after-after party in the Fairmont lounge, and finally up to my suite for the last drinks with the last few die-hards at about 4 am.

And with that, another Cinequest is in the books...unless I finally find time to watch all those screeners...

Total Running Time: 328 minutes
My Total Minutes: 502,625

And since it was asked after I crossed my 1/2 a million minute mark:
Total Running Time of Cinequest movies I saw this year: 4,878  minutes
My Total Cinequest Minutes: 63,066*

*Since 2005, when I started counting. So this doesn't count my few Cinequest years before that. But it is fair to say I've spent a lot of time there.

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