Tuesday, March 5, 2013

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!


  1. Excellent; thanks, Phil!

  2. From another "Leslie" --- I was only able to make it over from Santa Cruz for one film this year, and I am so happy I decided to see "Only Daughter." Your review is spot-on, what an amazing production. I hope this film gets a lot of exposure, both because it is a wonderfully well-crafted story, but also as an example of what can be done with little money and even less time, but BIG talent and creativity. ~Leslie

  3. Thanks for the kind words "Another Leslie!" Glad you liked my review! Hope you can come out to San Jose and see more Cinequest films!