Friday, March 6, 2020

Jason goes to Cinequest--Day 3

Another day, another full dose of Cinequest!

First up was the short THE CUNNING MAN. An old man collects roadkill and other various dead animals. The authorities have their eyes on him, but this cunning man has a cunning plan, which is a pretty cool surprise. (It's probably worth noting that "Cunning Man" or "Cunning Folk" is a term for folk healers who use magic. I don't think it's very common in America. At least, I didn't know the term until I googled it this morning)
This man is, in fact, very cunning

That was the lead-in to the feature, SLITS (FENDAS), from Brazil. This contemplative film follows a quantum physicist Catarina in her travels. But what she's studying is nothing like quantum physics as I know it (and not that I'm a professional, but that is what I studied in school.) It's more a study of images and sounds. Specifically, creating a new phonetics of sound spaces via light passing through slits in images. Which is an excuse to get really artsy with images and manipulating them on screen while distorting sound. There are many scenes which were beautifully framed and shot, but overall it's slow, contemplative piece that struggled to keep my attention.
One of the many beautiful travelogue shots in SLITS, where I either took a really
long blink or she managed to skip a few floors when ascending that spiral staircase
THE CUNNING MAN and SLITS plays again Saturday, March 7, at 10:15 am in Redwood CIty 

Next up, ...a few drinks and a bit of food at the Soiree at Cafe Stritch. Then I hadn't drunk with anyone in the next time slot, so I checked out the spotlight film THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY at the California Theatre. It's an art world thriller starring Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland, and featuring less than a single atom of subtlety. We open by meeting art critic James Figueras (Claes Bang) in a presentation that makes it clear that he is not to be trusted, and that he revels in the manipulative power he has as a critic (I can relate!) And he quickly meets his love interest, Berenice (Elizabeth Debicki) and they have a quick fling. He takes her along on his great opportunity to meet famed collector and seemingly omniscient Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger, Jaggering it up all over the place.) And he gives him an opportunity of the lifetime to interview renowned artist Jerome Debney (Sutherland, reveling in his opportunity to play such an enigmatically pompous character--his most famous work is a blank frame.) Well, the power--or rather the opportunity for power--totally goes to Figueras' head, and he becomes a thoroughly despicable villain. Oh, and you might notice that flies are a metaphor (e.g., you might notice when he explicitly describes how flies are a metaphor for sin in medieval art.) Like I said, subtlety has no place in this film, but it's still a pretty fun ride, if you're willing to watch such an unlikable character for that long.

THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY only played that one time at Cinequest, but it's being released in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics, so it'll be available soon.

And finally I ended the night with DARK WHISPERS Volume 1, a short horror anthology all directed by women. The connective thread is Clara, a young woman who has inherited from her mother a book of scary stories. Each story is a short, and each short affects her in some way. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of anthology movies, unless you really have a framing device that can tie them together, and this isn't it. I probably would have liked it more as just a collection of short films, because all of them were creepy, tight, and right to the point. As a short film collection, it's great. And I understand that not everyone is like me and will go see short films, so if an anthology framework helps these shorts get seen, I approve. And my favorite was the stop-motion animated one, GLOOMY VALENTINE.

DARK WHISPERS plays again multiple times at Cinequest
Friday, March 6 at 1:15 PM in Redwood City - better hurry!!
Sat, March 7 at 9:30 PM in Redwood City
Mon, March 9 at 1:30 PM in Redwood City

Total Running Time: 291 minutes
My Total Minutes: 522,408

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