Welcome to Day Three of my trip to the 24th Cinequest Film Festival! Already this year's fest is shaping up to be a fantastic one! Today I saw five films, so let's get show on the road!
The first film I saw was over at the Camera 12. HEART OF A LION is a Finland export that tells the story of Teppo, the leader of a racist skinhead gang who just got released from jail and flirts with a beautiful blonde waitress named Sari. The two fall madly in love with one another, but there's a problem: Sari has a bi-racial son named Rhamu from a previous relationship. Teppo's racial beliefs will be put to the test as he's challenged with accepting a son that is of a different race. And too make things even more complicated, what will his gang do if they ever find out about this?
It's always a surprise when I see a foreign film that displays racism right in the open for everyone to see. Here in America, we don't see that a lot, since this country is super sensitive about the topic of slavery still. Over in Europe, racism is displayed in all of its ugliness, and the film captures all of this and more. It raw, it's very in your face, it's violent, it's just one hell of a amazing film to watch! Not for the weak of heart or if your super sensitive, especially when you see the film's ending. 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!! The film will be screened again on Tuesday, March 11th at 9:15pm at the California Theatre and again on Saturday, March 15th at 11:30am at the Camera 12.
The second film I saw was again at the Camera 12. The documentary THE ARRIETA METHOD is about Mentxu and Lourdes Arrieta, two sisters that are born with a congenital disorder which makes them unable to speak or control their own muscles. Because of their handicap, the sisters create their own unique way of communicating with one another, and thus opened up a whole new world for them and for their family!
This was a very inspiring documentary, one that everyone should definitely see. What begins as a tragedy becomes a testament of the human will. In this case, two young girls who grown up to become women who helped make a difference. The only real negative criticism I had was that it went on a bit too long and I found myself getting out of the film. If the narrative was a little more streamlined then it would be better, but still go see this film. 3 out of 5 stars! The film plays again on Saturday, March 8th at 11:30am and again on Wednesday, March 12th at 4:30pm. Both screenings will be at the Camera 12.
Next up was another excellent documentary entitled THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT. Produced and directed by Emmy Award-winning journalists Dana Nachman and Don Hardy (and narrated by Executive Producer Sean Penn) the film explores the critical dangers of toxic chemicals that can be found in everyday consumer products: baby plastic bottles, tin food cans, bathroom soaps, etc. These common buys have been linked with the increase rise of unexplained health issues, the actual committees and bureaus that are supposed to be looking out for our own well being (the EPA and USFDA for example) have been bought out by the same corporations that are putting these toxic product on the shelves.
I was at a loss for words when I saw this documentary! While I do love my country, it has been bought out by all these corporations so now this is no longer the United States of America, it is just called the Corporate Sates of America. Now is the time for Americans to become political activists and take to the streets in protest, to email their Representative, to fight for our rights as to what are in our products that we buy in the store: our foods, our furniture, our clothes, everything! After the screening, Dana Nachman, Don Hardy and two other women from the film participated in a Q&A session. One of the most astounding and informative documentaries thus far at the festival! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!! The film will be screened again on Saturday. March 15th at 2:45pm at the California Theatre. Also check out their official website at http://thehumanexperimentmovie.com. Also check out their Facebook page as well.
Film number four took place at the San Jose Rep Theatre, where my new friend (OK drinking buddy) Harry Knowles was to receive the Media Legacy Award for his contribution to the world of online media. His website Ain't-It-Cool News was the very first website online that talked about films, reviews, and news long before anybody else was! Knowles was a pioneer, and for that he truly deserved this award! Congrats Harry!!
So for this special occasion, Harry brought to Cinequest his favorite film that he had at his film festival down in Austin, Texas. THE GRAND PIANO stars everyone's favorite Hobbit Elijah Wood as Tom Selznic, a renowned concert pianist, who is married to a famous actress Emma (Kerry Bishé). She arranges him to hit the concert stage for one last performance when he becomes engulfed in a deadly cat and mouse game with an unknown sniper (John Cusack).
Wow! I absolutely loved this movie! The acting was superb, the story was intense and dramatic, the directing was awesome, and the score was outstanding! Director Eugenio Mira channels the Master of Suspense himself as his directing employs both simple set ups and shot while simultaneously has extravagant camera pans and unique camera compositions. And what really makes the film work is Elijah Wood's acting, which was incredible! He was very believable in his role! John Cusack as the insane but brilliant sniper? What a great idea! And if you've been reading my reviews for a long time, you know that I'm a huge fan of Kerry Bishé. I believe that she is one very talented actress and I'm very happy to see her in these types of films which gets to show off her acting chops. Overall this was an amazing movie to see!
Now according to Mr. Knowles, the film is to have a limited release to theaters starting this Friday, but unfortunately not around here in the Bay Area just yet. However, it is available on iTunes if you want to download it now on VOD. To learn more about the film and when it will be playing in a theater near you, visit the film's page on its distributor Magnolia Picture's website.
The fifth and final film I saw today was also at the San Jose Rep. PARALLEL MAZE is the debut feature film from Chinese director Hua Ya. So the film is part Hitchcock and part experimental. Actually I had a hard time understanding the film due to the fact that there is a lot going on. The basic plot is this: a pregnant bank teller steals a suitcase full of money and hides out in a hotel room waiting for her boyfriend to arrive. But that still isn't the plot. Remember, there a parallel worlds that have parallel hotels with parallel bank teller in the almost same situation. So we see one such universe, then we are taken to the next universe, and so on and so.
It's clear to me that director Hua Ya is working on another film level (and the film proves that he is way more intelligent than me). This is a film that I would have to see another two or three times to digest the fundamentals of the film and to make sense of the parallel universes. But there is a mad genius at work here. A lot of people were leaving the screening, probably because it is such an experimental film. The one thing I would change though was the eight different endings, but then again, we are dealing with multiple universes, so we had to see them all. The film will be playing again on Saturday, March 8th at 2:30pm at the California Theatre and again on Wednesday, March 5th at 2:45pm over at the Camera 12.
After the screening, we all headed over the Maverick Meet-Up which was at The Blackbird Tavern. I didn't have anything to drink because I was too tired (and not because they stopped serving booze at midnight), but I did get to hang out with all my cinematic friends and that was totally fun!
And that was Day Three of my cinematic trip to Cinequest. So far I'm at 10 films in 3 days! Not too shabby!! 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 www.cinequest.org.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!