Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Phil attends Cinequest 24: Day 9-March 12, 2014

Hello everybody and welcome to Day Seven of my trip to Cinequest 24! Once again I saw five excellent films today so let's get this show on the road, shall we?

The first film of the day was the very interesting VICTORIANA, which is about a married couple Tim and Sophie Becker that buy a rundown Brooklyn Brownstone.They allow the two tenants that are that were already living there to stay during the remodeling. One of them is a wicked old lady who just complains and complains and complains. That's when things hit the fan! The old lady gets accidentally killed, Tim an Sophie have to hide the body and so they bury it in the backyard, Tim takes her mail, places it all in a black garbage bag and dumps it 10 blocks away. The cops coming looking for clues but they can't find any. Oh, and then there's the uneasy strain between Tim and Sophie, there's some cheating going on, Tim takes a job he hates to finish off the remodeling but turns out he's really good at it. So in the end, all is right and all is miserable.

What I really enjoyed about the film was that even you may achieve this legendary American Dream, there's a good chance you're going to be unhappy! Here we have Sophie and Tim, who by the end of the film are just empty shells of there former selves, and are happy in their self-made misery. What a great social commentary on today's real estate world! 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended! The film will be played one more time on Sunday, March 16th at 3:45pm at the Camera 12.

The second movie I saw had one of the best titles at the festival! A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO A SPECTACULAR SUICIDE is about twenty-something Tom, who has tried every way possible to commit suicide, and has failed every single way. So he decides to think outside the box and devise the most creative way to die. During this time Tom struggles with his self-destructive tendencies while developing a relationship with a cute stalker, his shrink, and this old cranky dude that he helps out.

The best feel good movie about suicide of the year! It's witty with a nice sense of dry humor, which you can tell by the title alone. Great storytelling by director Graham Hughes, who keeps the laughs coming at the right times. What more can I say is that if you're looking for a dark comedy that treats the subjects of death and suicide with respect and comedic ridiculousness and lunacy, then this here film is for you! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!! Today was the last day screening for the film.

Movie number three was the quite drama NOBLE FIR. It's tree-harvesting season and Hank Dean is having difficulty with this paticular season. Hank's had a recent loss in his life that causes him to withdrawal from those around him who try to offer help, like his family, his friends, and the town's local preacher. However, nobody can help out Hank with his issues, except for himself.

The film caught me off guard right from the start. At first, I couldn't tell if this was a feature film or a documentary. Shooting with hand held cameras and on a real Christmas tree ranch, the movie takes its sweet time to establish the theme of the film and we learn more about Hank as the film progresses, slowly revealing the traumatizing event that destroyed his soul. Lead actor Richard E. Wilson delivers a powerful performance that needs to be seen! Truly a griping drama that makes us reflect and analyze ourselves. 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended! Today was the last screening of the film.

Film four had the other best title at the festival! The Norwegian teen comedy KISS ME, YOU FUCKING MORON is about a young 17-year-old girl named Tale who acts in her local amateur theatre troupe. She hires an aging mid-life crisis actor to direct them, however there's one little catch: Tale must also bring in the school's hot soccer star but true moron Lars as her lead! The heat of hatred for one another slowly turns into the heat of passion, and the two suddenly find themselves in a situation that wasn't in the script!

What a fun and refreshing teenage romantic comedy! Here the teenagers are just that: teenagers! The look, talk, and act like real teenagers and not the pathetic xerox copy of a typical Hollywood teenager. These lads have much more depth to them. Actress Eili Harboe is wonderful as the smart and witty Tale! The film is as sweet as it is hilarious and really takes the teenage comedy genre to the next logical level. Boasting a smart script and solid acting, the film is a sure winner! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

The fifth and final film I saw today was the poetic THE DESERT FISH. This stark and poetic drama is about a nine-year-old boy named Ahmad who's been having visions of his dead mother, who was lost at sea years ago. While his father dismisses his son's idea, Ahmad decides to travel to his parent's old village by the sea to seek out his missing mother, with the help from his uncle who he hasn't seen in years.

Director Mohammad Ghorbankarimi crafted a magnificent film! With its sheer size of emotional heartbreak and the sweeping landscape of Iran, which has never been captured on film before, the movie is a reminder of what art looks like. The combination of the beautiful scenery, amazing  directing, perfect cinematography, astounding script, and riveting performances, THE DESERT FISH is my favorite foreign film of the festival!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!! After the screening, both Mohammad and his wife/costume designer Nassim Azadi participated in an informative Q&A with the audience.

And folks, there you have Day Nine of Cinequest 24! All together I've seen 42 films in 9 days. So far I'm right on track to reaching 60 films! Remember the festival ends on Sunday, March 16th 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

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

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