Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Jason goes to Cinequest--Opening Night

It's been too long since I've blogged, but guess what, I'm back!  Time to drink, eat, drink, watch movies, drink, meet filmmakers, drink, and write about it all!

Of course, the first place I went to, a couple of hours before the opening night film, was the VIP lounge in the Continental Bar. A smattering of hardcore festivals were there, but as soon as I settled in with a couple of drinks from my favorite bartender Lee, the place filled up. I guess I'm a trend setter! (which is like an Irish setter, but instead of Irish, I'm trendy).

Anyway, after catching up with some old friends, making some new ones, lots of hugs (Covid-19 be damned!) it was time to mosey next door to the fabulous California Theatre movie palace and settle in for the opening night film. Of course, first a lot of celebration and opening remarks, and a spot of stand-up comedy by the very funny Matt Donaher

John Pinette, being very funny, I'm sure.
I mean, I can't be 100% sure because this is a
picture so I can't hear him speak, but everything he
said in the movie was pretty hilarious...

Is this caption too long? Probably
Then the feature presentation, the documentary JOHN PINETTE: YOU GO NOW. If you're like me, John Pinette wasn't a household name but when you saw him you immediately recognized him as that very funny fat guy who was on lots and lots of shows (most famously, the final episode of Seinfeld, although I first remember him on Alf.) Well, in showcasing his talent and through interviews with his admirers in the comedy world (and for some reason, Bill Gates?) you realize what an enormous (pun only slightly intended) talent he really was. A very funny guy, who definitely played on his physical size for laughs. And sadly, like most comics there was a dark side to this. The self esteem, the health impacts, the fear that he wouldn't be as funny or as popular if he lost weight. And that led to prescription drug addiction, and ultimately his death in 2014 (officially of a pulmonary embolism). The film was made by people who knew him personally, and I think it's fair to say weren't happy that reports of his death just called him "the fat guy on the final episode of Seinfeld." So they went out of their way to collect archival footage and testimonials of how great he really was. I have to say, it was darn convincing, and despite his tragic ending, a really fun way to open the festival with elation (the theme of Cinequest 2020)

There will be an encore screening of JOHN PINETTE: YOU GO NOW on Monday, March 9 at 6:45 at the Hammer Theatre (first time Cinequest has had an encore of their opening night film!)

Then it was off to the Glass House for the after party (albeit somewhat slowly, because I had to stop and say hi to nearly everyone there. It's fun to be locally famous, but it's also hard work!) A few more drinks and meeting more filmmakers and then it was time for me to call it a night. Gotta pace myself, it's a long festival!

Most importantly, the following filmmakers learned how to play my game and drank with me, guaranteeing I'll see their films (if I can find a way to fit it in my schedule, splitting the festival between San Jose and Redwood City makes it harder than in years past):
SLITS [Edit: actually it was the preceding short, THE CUNNING MAN, who I drank with]
HELTER SHELTER (in Shorts Program 9: Home & Away)
NINA OF THE WOODS (from Cinequest alums, Charlie and Wendy Griak!)
THE TALL BIKE JOUST (From Cinequester Emeritus and master of smart people doing dumb things, Sam Frazier, Jr.) part of Shorts Program 7: Comedy Favorites
Ummm...and I forget which one in Shorts Program 11B: It's a Mad World (which only plays in Redwood City on weekends, so I can't make it and will have to watch the online screener instead)

[Edit: Oh yeah, and A BAD PLACE. Of course I drank with the lovely and talented Jessica Cameron, Holehead alum and finally a Cinequester! I just forgot to circle the film because I've kinda...already watched a screener]

Running Time: 80 minutes
My Total Minutes: 521,932

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