Sunday, March 31, 2013

Phil attends the Midnites For Maniacs "MENTORS MATTER" Triple Feature at the Castro Theatre-March 22, 2013

Hello again from the City by the Bay! That's right I'm back up here in San Francisco to attend the latest Midnites for Maniacs triple feature here at the historic Castro Theatre. Hosted by ultra cool Jesse Hawthorne Ficks, the theme for the show was titled "Mentors Matter." The theatre screened three classic modern day films that showcased this perfectly. Plus all three movies were the original 35mm film prints! As always, Jesse handpicked some awesome trailers to show, which by the way, are from his own personal collection! Yup, that's how we roll here up here! So let the party begin!!

Original Theatrical Poster (1982)
The first film of the night was the totally awesome ROCKY III. Picking up where the second film left off, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is now the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world and is enjoying the privileges that come with it. His manager Mickey (Burgess Meredith) has been hand-picking his opponents so Rocky hasn't been tested. That is until the number one contender Clubber Lang (Mr. T) challenges Rocky to the title. Clubber wins the championship and Rocky is left defeated, a former shell of himself. Nobody believes in him anymore, except his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) and his new trainer: former world-champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). With Creed's help, Rocky trains harder than ever before, to once again get back that eye of the tiger, that edge that he once had.

At this moment in time Sylvester Stallone was at the top of his game when he made this film. He wrote and directed the film, was in the best shape of his life, and complete total control over his work, and had the star power to do and make whatever he wanted. Mr. T was incredibly charismatic in the film. He had so much personality it was just pouring out of the film! Also making an appearance in the film was wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips! Now it's a shame that Stallone will never get the kind of respect and accolades that other filmmakers and actors receive.  When we think of great actors we think Robert Di Niro, Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, Warren Beatty, or George Clooney. Or how about directors such as Martin Scorsese, Frances Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, or George Lucas. But here is a man that won an Oscar for his screenplay for ROCKY back in 1976! Believe it or not, Stallone is a very talented filmmaker, screenwritter, and actor. His films a very personal and has his personality can be found in all his films! The movie was originally released by United Artists on May 28, 1982.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1994)
Movie number two of the night was THE PROFESSIONAL (aka LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL). The film stars
Jean Reno as Leon, a professional hitman who lives in a New York apartment with a twelve-year old girl named Mathilda (Natalie Portman), whose whole family was killed by a police raid led by corrupt and psychotic cop Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Soon Leon takes revenge on the police officers that killed Mathilda's family, which makes Stansfield very upset.

Directed by Luc Besson (LA FEMME NIKITA, THE FIFTH ELEMENT), the film is an extraordinary masterpiece of cinema. Besson's directing is just incredible, Reno's acting is superb, and young Portman just radiates as the foul mouthed Mathilda.  I consider this the perfect film: it has a great story, well developed characters, a fantastic cast, action, humor, pathos, and amazing directing. I have seen this film several times over the years and the film just keeps getting better with each viewing. Truly a classic from the early 1990's! The film was originally released by Columbia Pictures on November 18, 1994.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1995)
The third and final film for the night was the underrated STRANGE DAYS. Directed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow (NEAR DARK, THE HURT LOCKER, ZERO DARK THIRTY), the film takes place on the last days of 1999. Former cop turned  recorded memories and emotions dealer Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) gets caught up in a bizarre situation when he receives a disc that contains the memories of a murderer killing a prostitute named Iris. Lenny soon gets caught up in a world of murder, rape, and blackmail that somehow involves his old girlfriend Faith Justin (uliette Lewis) and her new beau Faith Justin (Michael Wincott). Aiding him on this case are his friends Lornette 'Mace' Mason (Angela Bassett) and Max Peltier (Tom Sizemore). With the end of the millennium fast approaching, Lenny needs to solve this mystery fast.

Not only was this Sci-Fi thriller of a film directed by Bigelow, but the screenplay was written by her then husband, Academy Award winner James Cameron (TERMINATOR 2, TITANIC, AVATAR)! With its depictions of  hi-tech trafficking, jacking in, and nihilistic future, the film was a head of its time. In fact, the film was released two whole years before THE MATRIX, which featured a lot of the same themes and features. But for some reason, the film was D.O.A. at the boxoffice. However, since then it was rediscovered on VHS first, then DVD and cable and is now considered to be not only a cult classic, but one of the unsung greats from the 1990's! The film was originally released by Universal Pictures on October 15, 1995.

Well folks, there you have it Another amazing M4M show has come and gone! But there's another show next month at the Castro Theatre on Friday, April 19th so mark that date on your calendar! To learn more about Midnites for Maniacs, visit their website at www.midnitesformaniacs.com. To view upcoming shows at the Castro Theatre, visit their website at www.castrotheatre.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL IN 2D at the Cinelux Theater Campbell-March 16, 2013

It's interesting to trace the career of director Sam Raimi. Here is a man that has directed some truly amazing and horrifying films. After all, we are talking about the man who directed the EVIL DEAD TRILOGY (THE EVIL DEAD, EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN and ARMY OF DARKNESS). After making some other films like DARKMAN, THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, and THE GIFT, he went on to helm THE SPIDER-MAN TRILOGY, which garnered him world wide acclaim. After the series ended, he returned to his horror roots with DRAG ME TO HELL. Now Raimi has returned to the big screen with his latest cinematic endeavour OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, a prequel to the Hollywood classic THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Multi-award winning actor James Franco portrays Oscar Diggs (his nickname is Oz), a shifty, shady, circus magician (a con artist if you will). After having am illicit affair with one of the carny girls, he's chased by the girl's Strongman husband. He escapes in a hot-air balloon, only to get swept up in a devastating tornado. When he awakens he discovers he's been transported to the wonderful, magical world of Oz. Upon arriving he meets the beautiful Theodora (the stunning Milla Kunas), who takes him to the emerald City where he meets her sister Evanora (the gorgeous Rachel Weisz). The two believe him to be a wizard prophesied to overthrow the Wicked Witch who killed the king of Oz. He's sent off on a mission to prove that he is the chosen one. He finds not the Wicked Witch, but the good witch Glinda (the beautiful Michelle Williams). Oz finally realizes that he's in way over his head, and confesses to Glenda that he's not the powerful wizard, but her faith in him propels him into become not only the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, but becoming a better person as a whole. But first, he must defeat both of the Wicked Witches.

The film is based on L. Frank Baum's Oz novels, as well as the 1939 Hollywood film, but with slight differences. Remember that THE WIZARD OF OZ is a MGM film and this film comes courtesy of Walt Disney, so they couldn't have things too similar. The cowardly lion is just that; a lion. A real looking lion, not a man in a costume like previously portrayed by the great Bert Lahr. Glenda's costume is different than in the previous incarnation, but her means of travel, the cool bubble, is left intact. Oh, and don't bother looking for the famous ruby slippers in the film, for those are not in the book, but rather created for the 1939 film. The Emerald City looks almost the same, and the famed yellow brick road is there as well, just slightly different. However it does of the traditional black and white 4x3 formant intro.

Like the Hollywood classic, it's filled with cool characters that people will recognize, like the Munchkins in Munchkin Land. Plus there's new characters like China Girl (voiced by Joey King), and for the record, she's called that because she's made out of China, not the actual country of China. We also see Miss King early in the film as the crippled girl who asks Oz to heal her legs. Another new character is the winged monkey Finley (Zach Braff). Now Finely isn't like the evil winged monkeys from THE WIZARD OF OZ. He's more like Oz's faithful servant. Braff also portrays Oz's assistant Frank in Kansas. Both of these characters were my favorite because they brought both a breathe of fresh air to the film as well as humor and pathos.

Now as for the film itself.....well....OK hear me out. So about twenty minutes into the film, after Oz meets Theodora and Evanora and they mistake him as the prophesied wizard who would save the Land of Oz, I suddenly realized that this was a remake of ARMY OF DARKNESS! For those of you who may have never heard of or seen the film (shame on you if you haven't) ARMY OF DARKNESS was the third installment of Raimi's EVIL DEAD TRILOGY, which came out back in January of 1993. So let me tell you the plot of ARMY: When a man named Ash (Bruce Campbell) is time-warped to medieval times, he is soon revealed to be the prophesied savior who can quest for the Necronomicon, a book which can dispel the evil, so he can return home.Yeah, noticed the similarities yet people?!? We have a prophesied hero who comes from the sky, lands in a different world, forced to go on a quest that will save the land from evil. Whoa!! Is your mind blown yet?!? All that was missing from this movie was the catchphrases that Campbell spouted in ARMY! I was ready to hear James Franco say, "Groovy" or "Yo, she bitch!" or "Hail to the king baby!" If Franco would've said "Boomstick," I would have totally lost it! So this begs the question: did Sam Raimi realize that he was remaking his own film while making this film?!? Like they say in the Tootsie Roll commercials, "The world may never know."

So in the end, I liked OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL when it was called ARMY OF DARKNESS. The film relays on way too much CGI, had a weak story with uninteresting characters. It's nothing more of a pale remake of a cult classic. The only saving graces was Joey King and Zach Braff. Not even the beauty of Milla Kunas, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams could've saved this film from sucking. 2 out of 5 stars. This film is a rental at best.


OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL is currently playing in both 2-D and 3-D in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Phil hosts the Cult Movie Screening of THE GOONIES at the Camera 3 Downtown San Jose-March 14, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome to Month Two of the 2013 Cult Movie series at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose! Now for those of you who are late to the game, let me explain this cool series. In 2011 the Camera Cinemas started up the Cult Movie series (which for years had been called the Midnight Movie series). They would show one cult film twice a month (Thursday nights at 9:30 and Saturday nights at midnight) from February through November. Tonight we screened the 1985 children's adventure classic THE GOONIES. Once again yours truly was back as the host for tonight's screening. Prizes were donated by Streetlight Records and by Time Tunnel Toys, both located here in San Jose. There were also yummy donuts to eat, courtesy of Psycho Donuts located in the lobby.

Original Movie Poster (1985)
If for some strange, oddball reason you have never seen this movie before, here's the film's official synopsis: Mikey and Brandon Walsh are brothers whose family is preparing to move because developers want to build a golf course in the place of their neighborhood -- unless enough money is raised to stop the construction of the golf course, and that's quite doubtful. But when Mikey stumbles upon a treasure map of the famed "One-Eyed" Willy's hidden fortune, Mikey, Brandon, and their friends Lawrence "Chunk" Cohen, Clark "Mouth" Devereaux, Andrea "Andy" Carmichael, Stefanie "Stef" Steinbrenner, and Richard "Data" Wang, calling themselves The Goonies, set out on a quest to find the treasure in hopes of saving their neighborhood. The treasure is in a cavern, but the entrance to the cavern is under the house of evil thief Mama Fratelli and her sons Jake Fratelli, Francis Fratelli, and the severely disfigured Lotney "Sloth" Fratelli. Sloth befriends the Goonies and decides to help them.

The film was directed by Richard Donner (SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, LETHAL WEAPON series, 16 BLOCKS) and the story was by Steven Spielberg (JAWS, THE INDIANA JONES series, LINCOLN). The screenplay was by local filmmaker Chris Columbus (HOME ALONE 1 & 2, MRS. DOUBTFIRE, RENT). The cast reads like a who's who in Hollywood. Sean Astin (Mickey) as acted in films like TOY SOLDIERS, ENCINO MAN, and THE LORDS OF THE RING TRILOGY. Josh Brolin (Brandon) has been some major Academy Award winning and nominated films such as MILK, W., NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, TRUE GRIT and GANGSTER SQUARD. Corey Feldman (Mouth) has been in so many films it's hard to list them all! Some of my favorites of his are THE LOST BOYS, LICENSE TO DRIVE, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTERSTAND BY ME, and THE 'BURBS. Actress Martha Plimpton (Steph) is now famous for her role as Virginia Chance on the hit FOX comedy show Raising Hope. Jonathan Ke Quan (Data) was also in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM as well as ENCINO MAN with Sean Astin. 

The film was released by Warner Brothers on June 7, 1985. The budget was $19 million dollars, which was pretty pricey back in 1985. However, it went on to gross over $61.4 million dollars! Then it was released on VHS and it exploded even more! Soon there was the DVD and a couple of years ago, it came out in a special edition blu-ray boxset! Twenty-eight years after it's theatrical release, the film transcends time and now a whole new generation of kids are watching this timeless classic!


Tonight we had over 60 people in attendance! Not to bad for a Thursday night! Now like I said, the Camera 3 will be showing one cult classic film every month from now till November. Next month we'll be screening the 1978 comedy classic CHEECH AND CHONG'S UP IN SMOKE on April 18th and again on April 20th and it's a 35mm film print screening! So make plans to attend this screening folks! To view their upcoming schedule, visit the Camera Cinemas website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Phil reflects back on CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL 23-March 25, 2013


So another Cinequest Film Festival has come and gone. Looking back on it all, I have to say that this was the BEST Cinequest of all time! Now I know that I said something similar to this last year, but this was the best because of all the contributing factors that mad it the best.

1) Every single film that is saw for the past twelve days I enjoyed! I cannot remember another time when every single film I saw I liked. Usually there are some films that are just plain awful (last year there were three films that I hated). Not this year. It was one great screening after another. All 54 films that I saw were amazing!

2) The filmmakers that I meet were just crazy talented as well as just cool people to hang out with and get to know. Whether it was Cora Benesh and David F. Morgan from CITY BABY, Michael Ferrell, Devin Sanchez, and Chris Prine from TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE, Alev Aydin from LONELY BOY, Rob Grant and Teagan Vincze from MON AMI,  Christina Hatziharalabous and Goran Mojsin from LOVELESS ZORITSA, every filmmaker I met was awesome and down to earth! I am very fortunate to call many of these talented people my friends!

3) The audiences for every screening was excited to see some great indie films! An audience can make or brake a film. Everybody knows that. Well I was very happy to meet many new people who really enjoyed coming out to the festival and taking in some great art!

4) The Maverick Meet-Ups were off the hook! At the end of every day, there was a Maverick Meet-Up where filmmakers and the festival goers would meet up at a designated bar, hang out, drink, and talked about all the films they say that day. A lot of people came out to these and a good time was had by all!

5) The vibe of the festival was intoxicating! Everybody was talking about the last film they saw, telling other people about it, then getting all excited. Making new friends, talking about films, the parties, everything was out of sight!

At the end of the festival, I got a little teary-eyed. I made so many new friends that it was hard to say goodbye. So now I would like to say hi to all my friends, old and new, from the festival. I had the best time seeing you all again and I hope to see you at next year's Cinequest. To all the filmmakers I meet, good luck with your respective films and I hope to see them again on either the big screen or on DVD. And to all my friends, filmmakers, and followers who read my blog during the festival, thank you all! Take care everybody, and I'll see you all again soon!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Twelve-March 9, 2013

This is it folks! The official last day of the Cinequest 23 Film Festival! Tomorrow the festival will be having its Encore Day, but before I get into that, I have another four films to review.


I started my day off at the Camera 12 where the first film I saw the documentary LA CAMIONETA: THE JOURNEY OF ONE AMERICAN SCHOOL BUS. The film details on how several decommissioned American school buses are exported down to Guatemala. Once there, the buses are repainted and repaired to become the brightly-colored camionetas that takes its citizens to work. The documentary focuses on one particular bus that is reborn as a camionetas. Also highlighted in the film is the fact that since 2006, nearly 1,000 camioneta drivers have been killed "for either refusing or being unable to pay the extortion money demanded by local Guatemalan gangs."

This is one of the one reasons that I really enjoy watching documentaries. It tells a story about real people and events, topics, issues, and dreams. It was informative as well as entertaining! Today was the last screening but you can visit the film's official website at www.lacamionetafilm.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.


The second film I saw was the romantic comedy MOLLY MAXWELL. Poor little Molly (Lola Tash) is an art student who is having a hard time picking out her extra-curricular elective. When she finally settles on photography, her teacher Ben Carter (Charlie Carrick) becomes her mentor. However, things begin to get complicated as both fall in love with each other. Dealing with life, love and growing up, Molly must decide on how to handle it all.

This Canadian film was really a breath of fresh air. First you have the incredible performance by both Lola Tash and Charlie Carrick, who have great on-screen chemistry which creates some intense on-screen heat! Then you have the talented director Sara St. Onge (making her feature film debut) bringing this tale forbidden love and teenage angst to the screen. Third, a film that deals with the hot topic of student/teacher relationships and it's treated with a level of believability and honesty. This was a very entertaining film to watch! I loved it! Again today was the last screening but you can visit the film's official Facebook page and also on Twitter.


Film number three for today I went back and saw MON AMI again for the following reasons. First off, it's funny as Hell! Second, I had heard that it wasn't going to play on Encore Day so I had to see it again. Third, I wanted to experience watch the film with the day crowd, which is different from watching it with the midnight crowd last night. As you may or may not know, crowds that go to midnight shows are waaayyyy different that those crowds who watch movies during the day. Midnight crowds are louder, more rambunctious, more vocal, and more alive. However, the people I saw the film with were just as loud and rambunctious, plus they all laughed hysterically! Overall, I was really happy to see so many people laugh to this great dark comedy!

And in case you couldn't guess, this was the film's last screening. Make sure you check out the film's official website at www.monamimovie.com and follow the film on Facebook and Twitter!


For the forth and final film of the day, I made my way to the California Theatre for the festival's closing night screening of MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN. Before the film, Cinequest co-founder Halfdan Hussey came out to announce and congratulate the award winners, which in my opinion, every film was a winner! This was the first Cinequest that I attended where every film I saw was fantastic! This year was one of the festivals ever!

Then it was time for the closing night film. The screenplay was written by Salman Rushdie, which was based on his novel of the same name. "At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, as India proclaims independence from Great Britain, two newborn babies are switched by a nurse in a Bombay hospital. Saleem Sinai, the illegitimate son of a poor Hindu woman, and Shiva, the offspring of wealthy Muslims, are fated to live the destiny meant for each other. Their lives become mysteriously intertwined and are inextricably linked to India’s whirlwind journey of triumphs and disasters."

The film was directed by Deepa Mehta, who has helmed some amazing film such as FIRE (1996), EARTH (1998), BOLLYWOOD/HOLLYWOOD (2002), and WATER (2005). She did a really fabulous job of directing the film, which Rushdie has claimed that his novel was "unfilmable." She proved him with her talented gifts. It features some great compositions, some breathtaking views of India, and an interesting love triangle. After watching the film, I felt that there was more to the story that what was shown on screen. Granted, it's common law that the book is always better than the film adaptation. So while it was a good movie, it wasn't great, but I was entertained, so I liked it. Make sure you check out the film's official website at http://midnightschildren.com.

After the screening, there was an on-stage interview with Rushdie, which he not only talked about his most famous novel, but also the fatwah against him, "The Satanic Verses", and his special secret identity as Robert Anton (which is also the title of his memoir). Now while it was a interesting to hear Rushdie speak, I felt that the interviewee talked a little bit too much, and he didn't let Rushdie speak as much as he should have. But then again, that's just my opinion.

Soon after the interview, everyone in the audience made their way to the San Jose Tech Museum for the big afterparty! There was snacks, booze, finger foods, booze, dancing, booze, beer, wine, and more booze! Things got a little hazy after my fourth drink, but I know that I had a blast!

There you have it folks! That was the "official" end of the festival, which now brings my total screening to 54! Now there will be an Encore Day on Sunday, which means the festival will show the films that were the most popular as voted the audience's ballots. So make sure you come down and enjoy Encore Day with me this Sunday, March 10th. The Encore Day schedule is up on the Cinequest website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Eleven-March 8, 2013

This is it! The final weekend of the Cinequest Film Festival! For Day Eleven I saw a total of six films so let the movie reviews begin!


The first film I saw today was the Czech film IN THE SHADOWS (VIE STINU) over at the San Jose Rep Theatre. Set in the former Czechoslovakia during the 1950's, police captain Hakl investigates a jewelery robbery that leads to well known burglar. But then for some mysterious reason, he's called off the case. Nevertheless, he continues with the investigation on his own, leading him to a startling conclusion that could jeopardize his life as well as his family's.

Now I can see why this film has been winning so many awards! The film is brilliant; featuring amazing production value, superb acting, fanatic costumes, perfect musical score and great directing! My only real complaint (and it's not so much a complaint as to rather a wish) that given the time period and genre, I would have loved to see the film made in black and white. The film is a crime thriller/film noir in color. To see it in black and white would have been awesome! But that doesn't make the film any less incredible! Today was the last day to see the film, but make sure to check out the film's official website at www.intheshadowfilm.com and on Facebook as well.


Film number two was the Romania film EVERYBODY IN OUR FAMILY. Divorced dentist Marius is one his way to his ex-wife's apartment to pick up their five-year-old daughter Sofia for the weekend.When he's told that he can't take her because she's sick, Marius makes a series of wrong decisions that make the situation even more worse than it already was.

While I was watching the film, I found myself saying, "Holy crap!" A lot! I so did not expect the film to do a complete 180 degrees on me. Well I had the feeling that the film was going to get crazy, but not like that! And not that crazy! This is a very dark humored film! Make no mistake about that folks! Defiantly a dark horse contender for the audience picks for Encore Day on Sunday! Hopefully the film will get some kind of distribution here in the states! Again, today was the last screening of the film and I couldn't find an official website for the it either. If I learn anything more about the film, I'll let you folks out there know.


For my third film for today I headed back over to the Camera 12 to see LOVELESS ZORITSA (CRNA ZORICA). Zoritsa (the smoking hot Ljuma Penov) was born without a mustache, unlike the other women in her village. Because of this, the other women declared that she was cursed. However, in actuality, she is cursed! Whenever a man falls in love with Zoritsa, that man dies a horrible death. This causes a small village to become an angry mob, thirst for revenge. Big city cop Mane (Branislav Trifunovic) doesn't believe in any of these superstitions and soon falls in love with Zoritsa, but will he become her next victim or is he the one who can finally break her curse?

So this was such a funny movie to watch! The absurd humor had me laughing all throughout the film! Seeing old ladies with moustaches that I can't grow, shoes falling out of the sky, old lady villagers with shotguns, cops hiding in trees, everything about this film I loved immensely! After the screening, co-director Christina Hadjicharalambous and screenwriter Goran Mojsin participated in a fun-filled Q&A session. Today was the last screening but visit the film's official website at www.fcs.rs/eng/index.php and Facebook page.


I made my way to the California Theatre movie palace for the fourth film of the day for me. Actually there were two films: one short and one feature length featuring two of the greatest silent film comedians of all time. The short COPS stars Buster Keaton who, through a series of mishaps, is chased by a big city's entire police force. It's a hoot! And one of Keaton's funniest shorts!

The film SAFETY LAST stars Harold Lloyd in his most famous and popular film ever. Our four-eyed friend heads to the big city to make it big, but unfortunately comes up short. He lives with his friend (Strother) and can barely eat and pay the rent. When his fiance (Davis) arrives, he pretends to be the manager of the department store he works at. Desperate for money for his wedding, he convinces his boss to pull off a publicity stunt to attract more customers to the store so he can claim the $1000 bonus. With his pal being chased by a police officer (Young), it's up to Lloyd to climb the outside of the department store! The film was directed by Newmeyer and Taylor again, and was released by Pathe on April 1, 1923. Tonight on the mighty Wurlitzer was my good friend, the incredible Dennis James!

The image of Lloyd hanging on to the clock while hovering above traffic is one of the most iconic images in not only silent film history, but of film history in general. Whenever you open up a book that talks about the silent film era, you will see this picture. Lloyd was one of the "Big Three" comedians from the silent era (the other two being Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton). Even 89 years after the film's release, it is still being played to sold out crowds (like tonight) and it can be found on many top ten lists by both critics and fans. A true comedy classic that still stands the test of time!


For film number five, I made my way back to the Camera 12 where I saw the Norwegian film THE ORHEIM COMPANY (KOMPANI ORHEIM). Jarle is 24 years-old. When a phone call from his mother in the middle of the night, telling him that his father is dead, h is filled with anger and a sense of relief. You see, Jarle's father was an alcoholic who made life in their house painful and unbearable. And with his death, he can't help his memories from come flooding back.

Knowing many friends who have struggled with alcoholism in their families, this film really hit close to home. It showcased the horror of alcoholism first hand and how it can destroy families as well as the individual themselves. A powerful film to watch! Based on Tore Renberg’s bestselling novel, the film is the last chapter in the trilogy about Jarle Klepp, which started with The Man Who Loved Yngve and I Travel Alone. The film will have one last screening on Saturday, March 9th at 6:45pm.


The sixth and final film I saw was the special midnight screening of MON AMI. Meet Teddy Ivans (Mike Kovac) and Callum McDermott (Scott Wallis). They've been best friends since childhood. They do everything together. So when they come up with a "get rich quick" scheme, they kidnap their boss's daughter Crystal (Chelsey Reist) and hold her for ransom. However, things don't go exactly as planned, and soon all Hell breaks loose and our friends find themselves in one big gigantic mess.

I have seen my fair share of dark comedies, but I don't recall seeing anything like this before! And I watch Troma movies for crying out loud! It was funny, it was crazy, it was bloody, it was sick, it was out of control, it had everything in the film, including the freaking kitchen sink! And I loved every damn minute of it! Both Kovac and McDermott were hysterical in the film! This film proves that you don't need a lot of money to make a really good movie. It's smart script, top notch acting and great directing makes this film a big time winner in my book! After the screening, writer/director Rob Grant, actress Teagan Vincze (she played Teddy's crazy wife in the film) and producer participated in a hilarious Q&A session. Tonight was the final screening, but check out the film's official website at www.monamimovie.com and follow the film on Facebook and Twitter!

Another fun-filled day at Cinequest, which now brings my total screening to 50! Remember the festival ends this Sunday, March 10th so make sure you come out here to San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Ten-March 7, 2013

We're getting down to the final days here folks so welcome back to Day Ten of my trip to the Cinequest Film Festival! Another five film reviews await for you to read.


The first film I saw today was MUST HAVE BEEN LOVE (EN SOM DEG). The film's about a young Finnish woman named Kasia (Pamela Tola) who meets a striking Norwegian man named Jacob (Espen Klouman-Høiner) while vacationing in Istanbul. The two hit it off and explore all the wonder and beauty of the city. Soon they part, with Kasia not knowing his last name. Sometime later while grocery shopping in a store in Oslo, she meets man named Oslo in a shop, who's a dead ringer for her love Jacob.They begin to date, but it's not the same. Just when Kasia thinks she will never find love again, guess who walks back into her life again?

This enchanting love story was directed by Eirik Svensson, who also wrote the screenplay along with writer Jyrki Väisänen. Pamela Tola is simply divine in the film. Her long beautiful hair, big beautiful eyes, and her soft, pale skin glows in the film. She conveys an array of emotions without being overly dramatic. She performance was fantastic. I simply could not look away from the screen when she was on. Today was the last screening for the film but you can visit the film's website at http://www.nfi.no/english/norwegianfilms.


The second film I saw was the political drama THE CITIZEN. The film focuses on the one Ibrahim Jarrah (Khaled Nabawy), an Arab immigrant who five years ago won the green card lottery which allows him to became an American citizen. He arrives in America on September 10th, 2001. On his first day he's held at the airport for security reasons, then he checks into hotel where the meets Diane (Agnes Bruckner), who hides her from her abusive boyfriend. The two strike up a friendship and she shows him around New York. Then the next day, the world changed. He is then detained for six months by the government for no reason other than he's from the Middle East. Once released he's faced with racism, his friends being beaten and nearly shot; in short he's forced to see the ugliness in America, the country that he still wishes to be a citizen of. Five years later, Ibrahim receives a letter that threatens to take away his dream of becoming an American citizen.

What I loved about the film that it doesn't shy away from the themes it's addressing: racism, fear, intolerance, injustice, and more importantly, never giving up on your dreams. It's very easy to take things in life for granted, especially if you were born here. Those who come here have to try so much harder than I do, and are faced with so many obstacles that it's staggering. This was the feature film debut by director Sam Kadi, who did a tremendous job of telling this story that was "inspired by many true stories." The entire cast turned in outstanding performances, making this film a must-see! The film is being shown again on Friday, March 8th at 7pm. Also visit the film's official Facebook page and follow the film on Twitter.


Film number three was the romantic comedy ONE SMALL HITCH. Childhood friends Josh Shiffman (Shane McRae) and Molly Mahoney (Aubrey Dollar) are flying from LA back home to Chicago for her mom's wedding. On the flight, they agree to pretend they're engaged to make his dying father happy. However, their fake engagement explodes into a comedic series of events that causes real feelings to arise. Now they must decide whether to tell everyone their lie and go back to their separate lives in LA or stay in Chicago and become a real couple.

Director John Burgess and writer Dode B. Levenson keep the film and laughter flowing throughout the film. Great on-screen chemistry from McRae and Dollar, which really makes the film in my opinion. They were both just so much fun to watch. And awesome shots of Chicago as well! The film made me miss being in love. And I want that kind of love! The love that's there right in front of you, and then one day you see it. Then you can't imagine it not being there for the rest of your life. Another winner in my book! Again, like a lot of the other films, this was it's last screening (booo!) so check out the film's official website at www.onesmallhitch.com and look for the film on Facebook and Twitter as well.


For film number five I headed on over to the California Theatre for the screening of EDEN. Based on a true story, the film's about a young Korean-American girl named Eden (Jamie Chung), who was kidnapped from her home in New Mexico and then forced into prostitution by a domestic human traffickers, led by celebrated law officer Bob Gault (Beau Bridges) just outside of Las Vegas. For nearly to two years Eden was held there, until a series of events transpired that might just might give her back her freedom.

As I stated, the film is based on the true story of Chong Kim, who is now an legal advocate promoting both human and civil rights throughout the country. Director Megan Griffiths does a outstanding job of bringing Kim's story to the big screen. Jamie Chung turns in her best performance ever here. The film is beautifully directed and well acted that it will haunt you and make you think about the film (and its subject matter) long after the credits roll! Today was the only day that the film was screened, but you check out the film's official website at www.edenthefilm.com. Also look for the film on Facebook and Twitter as well.


The fifth and final film of the day was AGNUS DEI back at the Camera 12. Based on a true story, the film takes place during the Kosovo war. Peter (Astrit Alihajdaraj) is a teacher, loves his mom very much, despises his drunken lush of a father, and refuses to fight in the war. However, he's forced to join against his will, and soon becomes one of the finest and respected soldiers ever. But the slaughtering of the innocent civilians has worn him down, and he risks his life saving an Albanian girl named Maria (the beautiful Dafina Berisha). They travel back to Peter's mom's house, only to discover a terrible family secret that will destroy Peter's entire world.

So this was based on a true story?!? Unbelievable as it may sound, but it is indeed all true. Director Agim Sopi wrote the screenplay after reading a article in the paper about a man who discovered a secret family lie that unfortunately killed him. Sopi's directing is brilliant, capturing the ugliness of war and the lost of one man's ability to cope with what he has done. Astrit Alihajdaraj was Peter, no question about it. When I was watching the film, all I saw was Peter, not an actor. Dafina Berisha (with her mouth dropping beauty) was amazing in the film, propelling Peter to finally do the right thing. This was the film's last screening, but you can check out the film's official website at www.agnusdei-movie.com.

Another fun-filled day at Cinequest 23, which now brings my total to 44 films!  Remember the festival ends this Sunday, March 10th so make sure you come out here to San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Nine-March 6, 2013

Greetings and salutations everybody! Welcome to Day Nine of my trip to Cinequest Film Festival! I once again another five films today and all of them were over at the Camera 12. How convenient was that? So as the old saying goes, let's get this show on the road!


Film number one of the day was MUMBAI'S KING (MUMBIA CHA RAJA). The film's about a young boy named Rahul. His family is very poor and he's tired of eating rice and chutney every single night. His father is a violent drunk, who hits his mom and tries to tie Rahul's hands together so can beat him too. This causes him to leave home and to live on the streets of Mumbai. With his friends, they take to the streets causing mischief such as stealing potatoes, pulling pranks, swimming, and beating up his own dad! Oh dear, did I say to much? Well, tough because the bastard deserved it!

I thought the film was very well made. Again I was reminded of the New Wave films while I was watching it; with it's non-professional actors, hand held cameras, and using real locations, the movie is a far cry from its Bollywood cousins! It looked real because it was shot that way. Good story, good acting, and good directing makes this a good film to see. The film will be screened one last time on Saturday, March 9th at 12:45pm.


The second film I saw was the awesome punk rock fueled drama DETONATOR. The movie focuses on Sully (Lawrence Levine), popular punk rock lead singer turned family man. Sully is living the American dream: a wife, 5 year-old son, house in the suburbs, and a mini van. In all intents and purposes, Sully has it made. However he's in limbo, torn between his new life and the romance of his old punk rock world. When his old bandmate Mick (Benjamin Ellis Fine) shows up on night, he sucks Sully back into their old punk rock world of parties, pranks, and stealing back their old demo tape from promoter Dutch (Robert Longstreet). By the end of the night Sully finds himself at a crossroads, contemplating on which road to take.

This was a very interesting film to watch. It reminded me of my youthful punk rock days, when all I did was hang out with my friends, steal punk records and tapes, going to shows and causing trouble. And Like Sully, one day you wake up and realize that you're an adult and discover that you're too old to be that young a stupid anymore. Plus with the film set in the darkness of the Philadelphia punk world, it gives the film that certain authenticity feel. Amazing acting from all three leads as well! Bottom line this was an awesome film! Two big thumbs up! Unfortunately, today was the last screening of the film (boooo!), but you can check out the film's official website at www.detonatormovie.com. Also look for the film on Facebook and Twitter as well.


Film number three was again another drama entitled SOLACE. The film is divided into three story arcs featuring a different pair of characters, but they are all somehow connected in this strange web called life and coincidence. The film stars Robert Pralgo, Dupree Lewis Jr., Ric Reitz, Rhoda Griffis (from CONGRATULATIONS!), Russell Durham Comegys, and Dixie Light. To say anymore might ruin the film, so I'm going to leave it at that.

The film was written, produced, and directed by Vandon Gibbs, who has crafted an incredible, thought provoking, and highly entertaining film. The story is a work of genius; it's so simple and yet very complex and intricate. Beautiful cinematography, well established characters, and a unforgettable acting makes the film a winner! Unfortunately, today was the last screening of the film (noticed a pattern yet?), but you can check out the film's official website at http://graphitepictures.com.


The fourth film I saw today was MY LOWER CASE UNIVERSE (MI UNIVERSO EN MINUSCULAS). The film's about a young girl named Aina who lives with her grandmother. She sets out to Mexico City in search for her long lost father. The only clue she has is an old, beat up picture with the address "37 Juarez street" written on the back. Problem is that there's a ton of streets in Mexico City with that name. As she sets out to look for that particular street, she makes some new friends along the way, who help her in her search for the right Juarez Street.

This was a such a beautiful movie to watch. Capturing the beauty of Mexico City with natural lighting, hand held cameras and the amazing performance of Aida Folch. It's a combination of the coming-of-age and the self-discovery tale. Folch was just wonderful to watch. We feel so sympathetic towards her that we really do hope she finds her father. Overall a very well-made and heartfelt work of art!The film will have one last screening on Friday, March 8th at 9:30pm. Also check out the film's official at http://miuniversoenminusculas.weebly.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.


The fifth and final film of the day was the comedy OLD STOCK. Meet Stock Burton (Noah Reid). He's twenty years old, good looking, and living with his perverted grandfather at the Golden Seasons Retirement Home. You see, Stock became a hometown legend thanks in large part to an incident that forced him to hide out in his grandfather's retirement home. But life throws him an unexpected curve ball when he meets Patti (the lovely Melanie Leishman), the new dance coordinator. Soon Stock is forced to come to terms with his past so he can have a future with Patti.

Director James Genn and writer Dane Clark have crafted a well made, heart warming, and damn fine funny film. While we laugh at Stock, we're told in a series of clues that whatever had traumatized, he's still struggling with it. We've all had something to us in that past that had major ramifications later on down the road. However the key for release is to let go. Stock cannot let go of his past, which jeopardizes his chance with Patti. Both Reid and Leishman have great on-screen chemistry and do a great job of bring these characters to life. This was a fun film to watch. It's cute, it's sweet, it's funny, and it's a little sappy. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that. However, today was the last screening of the film, but you check out the film's official website at http://oldstockthemovie.com. And follow the film on Facebook and Twitter as well.

After the film, I headed on over to Maverick Meet-Up, which was over at Myth Tavern and Lounge on Post Street. And yours truly had a few shots, made some new friends, and chatted with filmmakers. 'Twas a fun-filled night!

Another day of moving watch here at Cinequest done, which now brings my total to 39 films! Remember the festival will be running till March 10th so there's plenty of time for you to join in on the fun here in Downtown San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Eight-March 5, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome to Day Eight of my trip to the Cinequest 23 Film Festival. And once again, I saw another five films: three at the Camera 12, one at the San Jose Rep, and one at the historic California Theatre! So let the fun begin!


My first film of the day was the comedy THE PLAYBACK SINGER. The film focuses on a married couple Priya (Navi Rawat) and Ray (Ross Partridge). She's a lawyer and he is a former school teacher who quit to become a successful jungle-gym architect. Unfortunately, all he does is sleep in late, smoke weed, and waiting for inspiration to come. Well, inspiration does come in the form of Priya's absent father Ashok (Piyush Mishra), who's in tour to perform a show. But he's having issues as well, like being cheated out of his money from his promoter, being arrogant, and drinking a lot of wine. Soon the three of them begin draw strength from one another, in hope to better themselves.

This little comedy gem was directed by Suju Vijayan, who keeps the laughter rolling with ease and simple setups. Suju lets the camera focus on the actors, which by the way, were all great! Special nod goes to Piyush Mishra, who had the best lines in the film! I wish I could rewrite what he said, but I can't because a lot of what he said was racist, but it was so damn funny! His delivery of his lines were so straight faced and serious! Every time he opened his mouth, I just laughed uncontrollably! Afterwards Suju and her producer came down to the front and conducted a quick Q&A. Great film to start my day off with! Unfortunately, today was the last screening of the film, but you can check out the film's official website at www.theplaybacksinger.com and on Facebook and Twitter as well.


Film number two was another great comedy called 7 LIVES OF CHANCE.  Meet Chance (Jodi Chase). Chance is different. She hoards a lot of things: art canvasses, dresses never wears, packaged foods in bags, see-through plastic containers, memories too dear to let go, and even people. When a series of surreal deaths surrounds her, she is forced to make some tough choices. One of them is going to her high school reunion, where she must learn to finally let go of the one regret that she has held on to for so many years.

This bizarre, trippy, kaleidoscope of Kool-Aid comedy was directed by Fred Zara and Banks Helfrich, who also wrote the screenplay and was one of the producers. Actress Jodi Chase does a great job of portraying the frantic, but cute Chance. She's flawed, she's troubled, she's has baggage, and she's pretty damn funny. The seems to be a theme for this year's Cinequest: I have seen a number of films pertaining to mental illness. Seems like everyone's gone bat shit crazy up in here!! But I digress, the film was cute. I liked it. You should see it too. However, today was the last screening of the film, but you can check out the film's official website at http://7livesofchance.com as well as on Facebook.


The third film I saw was the bad ass DOSE OF REALITY. Taking place in a bar after hours, bartender Matt (Ryan Merriman) and his shady manager Tony (Rick Ravanello) discover a woman lying on the floor in the bathroom, who appears to have been beaten and raped. When she finally comes to, the two men realize that Rose (Fairuza Balk) is suffering from amnesia, or perhaps something totally different? Soon the three are pitted against one another, trying to figure out what happened to Rose that night while some personal demons are finally exposed to the world.

This was such a cool film to watch! it had everything: a sexy, tough chick, great acting, awesome directing, and a wicked story that had one of the best twist endings I've ever seen at Cinequest. Of course if you pay close attention to the film, you would have noticed all the clues which lead to said twist ending. Now I've seen enough of these films, so I was able to deduce the ending, however, it was entertaining as hell and fun to watch! Major kudos to writer/director Christopher Glatis for crafting this excellent thriller/mystery tale. Also two very big thumbs up to Fairuza, Rick and Ryan for turning in one helluva performance! But to keep on sounding like a broken record, today was the last screening of the film. So check out the film's official website at www.doseofrealitymovie.com and its Facebook page or more info.



The next film I saw was over at the San Jose Rep Theatre, but before that, there was a half hour documentary short entitled DANCING WITH THE TREES. It was about Biloxi, Mississippi's OHR-O'Keefe Museum and the history behind the making of the museum building, eccentric artist George Ohr, Hurricane Katrrina, and architect Frank Gehry. Very cool and informative short.

The documentary STABLE LIFE follows a family of illegal Mexican immigrants who worked and lived at the stables of the now gone Bay Meadows. Told through candid interviews, it told the personal story of one illegal Mexican family, their duties at the track, their lives, their childen, and the threat of deportation.

Directed by Sara MacPherson, the film was shot over a span of three years, capturing the struggles of Dionicia M. and her family. Now I was at Bay Meadows last year for a work function. It was astounding for me to witness what was really going on behind the scenes of the famed racetrack. There was this whole other reality that was transpiring that it really opened my eyes up to those illegal Mexican immigrants who just trying to seek out a better life and opportunity for themselves and for their families. After the screening Sara, along with producer Tricia Creason-Valencia, and editor Herb Ferrette, participated in a very informative Q&A. And once again, today was the last screening of the film, but you can check out the film's official website at www.equipoisefilms.com.


After the screening I headed over to the Camera 12, where I meet my good friend Leslie again, who was joining me on my last screening. We walked over to the California Theatre where we saw the Chinese drama MYSTERY. So, check this out. It's about this woman, who's married to this guy, who she thinks is perfect. She then discovers that he's not only her husband, but is also having a series of affairs, and he's also married to another woman! And you won't believe who it is! It's gonna shock you! And then you should see what lengths they will do to keep their man! Oh yeah, it's that freaking crazy!

The film was based on a woman's real-life accounts about her unfaithful husband in 2009. Again, sounds crazy, huh? But director Lou Ye does a terrific job of capturing all the drama, betrayal, revenge, and murder oh so beautifully for the big screen! This was just an incredible film to watch! This I would see again! And lucky for all of you, there's one more screening of the film on Friday, March 8th at 7pm.

After the film, Leslie and I headed on over to Maverick Meet-Up, this time it was over at Gordon Biersch on San Fernando Street between 1st and 2nd Street. And once again we all partied the night away! Well, Leslie and I partied till about midnight, then we got some breakfast at Denny's by my place. I had the French Toast plate. It was yummy.

Another fun-filled night of movie watching here at Cinequest, which now brings my total to 34 films! Remember the festival will be running till March 10th so there's plenty of time for you to join in on the fun here in Downtown San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Seven- March 4, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome to Day Seven of my trip to the Cinequest Film Festival. Today I saw yet again five films! Yup just another typical day at the office for me. All five films I saw over at the Camera 12.


First film up is the outstanding Belgium film OFFLINE. Wim Willaert (EX DRUMMER) portrays Rudy, who's just been released from prison after serving seven years. He has two goals that he wants to accomplish: start up his own washing machine repair business and to reconcile with his family that he left behind. The latter, however, is easier said than done. While he tries to reconnect with his daughter Vicky, played by the stunning Anemone Valcke (OXYGEN from Cinequest 2012), his demons once again threatens to destroy all his plans reuniting with his daughter.

Writer/director Peter Monsaert does and incredible job of creating a film that is intriguing, dramatic, and mesmerizing. Willaert does an extraordinary job of bringing Rudy to life: thoughtful, hurt, and haunted are just some of the emotions that he conveys his performance. Valcke is just riviting in her role as Vicky; showing us that underneath her beauty lies a scared and broken little girl who missed her father. Truly a work of art! After the screening, Peter Monsaert himself was in attendance and conducted a Q&A session. This a fascinating and thought provoking film that you really should see! The film will be screened again on Tuesday, March 5th at 9:30pm and on Thursday, March 7th at 9:15pm. Also visit the film's official website at www.offlinedefilm.be.


The second film I saw was THE DEEP. Based on actual events, the film's about a fisherman named Gulli, who tries to survive in the freezing Atlantic Ocean after his boat capsizes off the south coast of Iceland. That's basically all you need to know.

All I can say is wow! This actually happened people! And what's cool is that during the end credits, we see the actual footage of Gulli being interviewed for the news in his hospital bed! Unbelievable but true! Unfortunately, this was the last screening of the film, but keep your eyes peeled if it comes out to a theater near you!


Film number three for the day was the comedy THE KITCHEN.  It focuses on a woman named Jennifer (Laura Prepon from That 70's Show) who is having her thirtieth birthday party. But what starts out as a day of celebration quickly spirals into a most ill-fated day Jennifer wishes she could forget, in this ensemble comedy set entirely in a kitchen.

This was a cute little film. Laura Prepon played her character sweetness, heartache, and gusto. Director Ishai Setton (THE BIG BAD SWIM) does a terrific job of keeping the laughs flowing smoothly throughout this one location. In fact, you could say that the kitchen is also a character in the film! Many talented actors and actresses appear in the film, such as Dreama Walker, Bryan Greenberg, Pepper Binkley, Matt Bush, Catherine Reitman, and Jillian Clare just to name a few. Now today was the last screening of the movie. However, it has been picked up for distribution by Monterey Media so look for it in select theaters and/or on DVD. Also check out the film's official website at www.thekitchenmovie.com and Facebook page.


The fourth film I saw at the Camera 12 was the comedy THE SPACE JOCKEY PURSUIT. The film's about two very different brother: the button downed, responsible older brother Tom (Matthew Titshaw) and his insane and inspiring actor baby brother Alvin (Barrett Doyle). Tom is about to take over the family business while Alvin is preparing to audition for Space Jockey, the most talked about role in Hollywood. Upon finding out that hit father is planning to commit Alvin back to the mental institute, Tom "borrows" his father's state-of-the-art solar powered car and drives Alvin to his audition, which is being held in Chicago. Along the way they pick up Alvin's muse and friend Cecilia Pinkerton (Jonette Page), but she has no interest in reliving Alvin's insane delusions of grandeur. Soon the three must band together as they must get Alvin to his audition on time and avoid their father and the police.

This was the film debut of director Brian Titshaw, whose brother Matthew Titshaw wrote the script. The film is laced with sincerity and humor, referencing film legend Marlon Brando's method acting technique (which Alvin does with hilarious results). While mostly a comedy, the film's handling with the issue of mental disease is pure and sweet. Alvin is crazy, in all sense of the word. But his ability to take chances and to live in the moment inspires Tom to re-examine his life and to live his live the way he wants to. Here's a film that I thoroughly enjoyed! After the screening, both Brian and Matthew Titshaw, as well as a couple of producers, participated in a fun Q&A session. The film will be screened on more time on Friday, March 8th at 4:45pm. Also make sure to visit the film's official website at www.thespacejockeypursuit.com and on Facebook as well.


The fifth and final film I saw was the incredible LONELY BOY. Franky (Alev Aydin) is not enjoying his life right now. He has a job that he doesn't like (mostly because he was fired), his sister is constantly calling him (because he doesn't answer the phone when she calls), he lives in a dumpy apartment, he's lonely and cannot connect with anybody. But all his problems stems from just one thing: he has schizophrenia. And he also decided to stop taking his medication, which poisons his ability to cope in the real world. But then he meets a young girl named Alex (Natalie Distler), who he develops a deep connection with, but the voices in his head threaten to destroy the one thing he loves the most.

Unlike the previous film I saw, this one deals with the issue of mental illness in a more serious tone. Alev Aydin just nailed his role as the mentally ill Franky, bringing a wide range of emotions and a high level of believability! He was just amazing to watch in the movie! And the lovely Natalie Distler also turned in a great performance, as her Alex character is the anchor that will prevent Franky from falling over the edge. Another highlight film from the festival!! Definitely go see this film!! Highly recommended!! The movie will be screened one last time on Thursday, March 7th at 4:30pm. Also visit the film's official website at www.lonelyboyfilm.com and follow the film on Facebook and Twitter too.

Another incredible day of movie watching, which brings my total to 31! Remember the festival runs till March 10th so there's still time for you to join in on the fun here in San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Six-March 3, 2013

Yes my friends I'm still here at the Cinequest Film Festival! For Day Six, I'll be reviewing five films, in my quest of seeing 60 films this year! Also, as an added bonus, my good friend Leslie accompanied me to all five films! This was her first time ever at Cinequest! So let us begin the reviews!


The first film I saw was THE PRETTY TIME BOMB, an off-the-wall comedy from Japan.The film centers on a beautiful young girl named Clara, who's ex-boyfriend implants her with a time bomb. If that wasn't bad enough, the bomb is wirelessly connected to a metal bracelet, which will make it explode if the wearer does not touch her every thirty minutes. And if that wasn't bad enough already, bubbling police detective Tel, while investigating a crime scene, discovers the bracelet (thinking it's watch), puts it on, and is now tied to Clara. With both of their lives hanging in the balance, they must locate the key that will free them.

The movie was preceded by a short film called FISH TALE: SECRET LIFE OF PLANKTON. And in case you were wondering, no it isn't about the cartoon character Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants. It's about real life planktons and all the different kinds of planktons. It was a pretty cool and educational film.

Now I have seen many Japanese films, ranging from the sublime to the "what the f*ck did I just watch?!?" This film falls into the latter category. The film is amateurish at best, but what it lacks in production, it more than makes up for its sheer randomness, goofiness, lunacy, and slapstick. But it's also a fun film to watch. It's so damn wacky that you can't help but watch it. I liked it a lot! The film will be screened again on Friday, March 8th at 4:30pm.


Film number two for me was the awesome THE RACKET BOYS. The film is about best friends Kara (Dannikke Walkker) and Alex (Paul Haapaniemi). After Kara catches her cheating boyfriend in the act, she convinces Alex to go on an impromptu road trip from LA to San Francisco. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker named Jonas, who completes this equation. Their journey to the city by the bay is filled with self-discoveries and the search for the one thing all three are missing: happiness.

The screening was preceded by a short film called THE IMMIGRANT. This hilarious short is about a washed up comedian who tries to attempt a comeback. However, all his former Hollywood friends reject him, with the exception of the migrant workers who help show him how to make it in America. Truly funny folks!

The film was inspired by the French New Wave directors like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, whose films forever changed the landscape of cinema and inspired numerous American filmmakers.  Writer/director Brandon Willer (who also portrayed Jonas) clearly pays homage to these great directors and to the movement here. Shot in black and white,, the film is a hybrid of French New Wave and 80's indie films like STRANGER IN PARADISE, with a dash of Kevin Smith dialogue. Willer, along with Walkker and Haapaniemi, have fantastic on-screen chemistry that makes the audience to become lost in their respective characters. What's really amazing is the rabid fire snappy dialogue, which comes at you at like 100 miles per hour! As an added bonus, all three were here to participate in a very cool Q&A. One of my favorite films so far at the festival! Highly recommended! The film is being shown again on Wednesday, March 6th at 4:30pm. Also visit the film's official website at http://theracketboysfilm.com and follow the film on Facebook and Twitter as well.



Film number three of the day was the comedy CONGRATULATIONS!. Written and directed by Mike Brune, the film's about a young boy named Paul who mysteriously disappears....in his own home. His frantic parents call in the police, and they send out their Missing Persons unit lead by Detective Skok (John Curran). What follows is one of the most hilarious investigations ever captured for the silver screen!

I met Mike Brune and producer Alex Orr seven years ago when they came to Cinequest with their film BLOOD CAR, which Orr directed and Brune produced. This film marks Brune's feature length debut, and the results are funny as hell! I have never seen a comedy film this ironic. While all the actors and actresses are playing it all serious, the irony just pours out of the screen and lands in the audiences' laps. From the house being completely covered with "Missing" flyers to hourly photos of what Paul would look like to his mom (Rhoda Griffis) re-enacting that day's traumatizing event, then doing it again for the officers because they weren't prepared to take notes, it's just one of the funniest films at the festival! After the screening, Brune, Orr, Curran, Griffis, and a few others of the film participated in a fun-filled Q&A. The movie will be screened again on Tuesday, March 5th at 4:15pm. Visit the film's official website at www.congratsmovie.com and also follow the film on Facebook and Twitter.


Next film I saw today was the drama ONLY DAUGHTER. Troubled 18-year-old Dawn (Emily Seymour), who lives with her single mother Gail (Dakota Benedetto) and her boyfriend Billy Corbett (Seth Chatfield) in a rural New Hampshire town Cowley, sets out to find her long, lost father Ed Briggs (Aaron J. Wiederspahn). Aiding her in her quest to learn more about her father is his girlfriend Pam (Morganna Ekkens). Eventually Dawn discovers the devastating secret that tore her family apart.

Words cannot express how much I loved this film! Shot in ten days and handheld, it looks like a real documentary but it's actually a narrative film. It was raw, real, unflinching, unnerving, and serious. Most dramas have moments of humor to lighten up parts of the film. Not in this case. The film is a serious drama; there is no humor whatsoever. Most of the cast and crew were in attendance and conducted a Q&A session. This is one of the most powerful, riveting, emotionally charged films I have ever seen at Cinequest! This is my favorite film of the festival! Very highly recommended!! The movie will be screened one more time on Wednesday, March 6th at 12:15pm. And don't forget to visit the film's official website at www.onlydaughterfilm.com and follow the film on Facebook.



The fifth and final film I saw was GIRL SHAPED LOVE DRUG (which is one of the coolest movie titles I have ever heard). Set in Manchester, England, the film tells the classic tale of boy meets girl and all the fun they share together. But the film is set in just one day! And we learn that each of them have issues that the need to work through in order to give their new found love a chance to grow.

Like THE RACKET BOYS, the film was influenced by the French New Wave movement and was also filmed in black and white. Now I enjoyed the film immensely. It's interesting to see how love, which is the universal language, is told in a different country. Using long takes with very little editing, we learn about our two love birds intimately and we see and learn what makes them tick and and fall in love. After the screening, several key members of the cast and crew came up and did a quick Q&A session. Overall a really fine film to watch. The movie will be screened one more time on Tuesday, March 5th at 4:45pm. Visit the film's official website at http://girlshapedlovedrug.com and follow the film on Facebook.

After watching all these films, Leslie and I headed over to Maverick Meet-Up, which was at The Loft Bar and Bistro on Second Street. Filmmakers and film fans drank and partied the night away! It was a nice way to end the evening.

What a night! And Leslie had a blast as well! She's already planning on seeing more films! So as of now, I have seen 23 film since the festival began! I'm getting closer to my goal of 60 films! Now remember the festival will be running till March 10th so there's plenty of time for you to join in on the fun here in San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!