Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Phil attends Cinequest 24: Day 11-March 14, 2014

This is it! The final weekend of the Cinequest Film Festival! Now I had to miss a couple of screenings because today was also the big Best of the West Award Show for my job (which I proudly supported all the winners from my division) which was held in San Francisco. After the show was over, I flew back down to San Jose where I saw three films!

The film film I saw was the afternoon screening of ETERNITY: THE MOVIE! Now I already saw this film (in fact I was there for their big world premiere), but because of all the buzz they were getting, they were having a little something special for this, their third and final screening. Yes, it was the ETERNITY: THE MOVIE SING-A-LONG!! I was so looking forward to participating this even, which is a first in Cinequest history! After the screening, the cast came up and conducted a hilarious Q&A session with the audience. After seeing it a second time, it's still my favorite film of the festival!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Loved this movie!!

The second film I saw was playing at the historic California Theatre! Tonight the festival was screening of the 1924 silent film masterpiece THE HANDS OF ORLAC. Director Robert Wiene and star Conrad Veidt worked together previously on an earlier German Expressionism film, the 1919 horror classic THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. In this film, Veidt portarys Orlac, a concert pianist who survives a horrible train crash, but loses his hands in the process. However, surgeons are able to graft new hands on his arms, albeit the hands come from a recently executed murderer. Soon, Orlac's life spins out of control: he can't play the piano, the creditors are coming after him and his hands are to blame for it all, even murder?

A great example of German Expressionism! Viedt is magnificent in the role of Orlac, and director Weine controls the camera with such ease that he really does make it easy to watch and enjoy. This is way I love watching silent films. They are so clever that they are able to express such emotions without saying a single word. Here we have a chilling and frightening horror film that relies of its shadows, its camera work, and its eerie scenery and acting! Also helping making the film even more creepier is the astounding Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ! It's been a while since I've seen my old friend perform and his performance was just outstanding! Also contributing to the show was Michael Pecak on the grand piano! One of my favorite highlights from the festival!
After a late dinner, the third and final film I saw was GO DOWN DEATH. The film is about....well...OK I have to admit something here. I slept through most of the film and I am very sorry to say that. Now during the festival I would wake up about an hour before my first screening, so I would get a decent amount of sleep. Not much, but enough to get me through the day. However, since I had to get up early for my Best of the West Award Show (I woke up at 6am and left my house at 7am to make it to the city by 8am). I couldn't sleep in, so by this time I was working on fumes and I crashed hard at this screening. But I did see a little bit of the movie and here's what I think: great black and white cinematography, bold directing, not much of a score, and there were themes of death, discovery, and it's a experimental film. So there's a good chance that I would have enjoyed watching it. But since I slept through a majority of it, I cannot give it an honest rating. However, if I find it playing somewhere, or if I get my hands on a screener copy of it, I'll update my review.

Another day of moving watch here at Cinequest done, which now brings my total to an even 50 films! Remember the festival will be running till March 16th 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

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

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