Monday, March 31, 2014

Phil attends the Final Day of Cinequest 24- March 16, 2014

Well here we are everybody and welcome to the final day of the Cinequest Film Festival! Now for the past couple of years the festival ended on Saturday with the closing night gala, while Sunday was dedicated as Encore Day. This year, the festival decided to combine both in one day. So today I was able to see three films during Encore Day and then attended the Closing Night Show and after party!

The first film up was the really crazy and truly dark comedy FRIENDED TO DEATH.  Meet Facebook junkie Michael Harris, a smart ass and annoying LA meter maid who's having a really bad day. First he gets fried from his job because of his tweeting pics of cars, and his best friend Joel ditches him for a new homie. Feeling like it's all over, Mike begins to question whether anyone would care if he died. So he comes up with the crazy idea of posting his fake death online! Why you may ask? To see if anybody would attend (and if Joel would show up)! Soon things get out of hand real fast as a mysterious person discovers the truth! And where the hell is Joel at?

What a freaking hilarious movie! The film brings the subject of self obsession with social media, which many of our youth are consumed with. We are not popular unless we have "this many friends" on Facebook or Twitter. Voyeurism is now common because we are allowing all these so-called "friends" into you private life to the point that we have no private life. With this film, director Sarah Smick and co-writer Ian Michaels poke fun at this and create a movie that is smart, dark, and funny as hell! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

Movie number two for Encore Day was ASQUARED, a dramatic teen export from Italy. The film tells the story of Amanda Bertini, who's your typical teenager. She goes to school, has homework and tests, plays sports, and listens to her iPod religiously. Fate throws her a curve ball during an overnight field trip to a museum where she meets her fellow shy and mysterious classmate Alberto. Soon the two fall in love with one another, but when Amanda agrees to do have sex with Alberto on camera, life becomes out of control as their love is put to the test.

Director Stefano Lodovichi does a terrific job of social commentating modern day's teens obsession with technology, which they know a lot about, and teenage love and sex, which they know nothing about. Maria Vittoria Barrella is phenomenal in her role as love stricken Amanda! Great script and powerful performances makes this a must see movie! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

The third film I saw was the amazing LOADED. Back in high school, Ethan, Raza, and Alex were the best of friends. Fast forward ten years later, and Ethan, Raza come to the aid of Alex, who is now your typical average alcohol and drug addict.  So the deal with Alex's dad goes like this: Raza and Ethan must pick up Alex in Los Angeles and drive him to San Francisco to check in to a rehab center to finally get cleaned up. Along the way the former friends begin to discover the secretes as to why they are no longer friends.

This powerful film walks that fine line of dark comedy and serious drama. One one hand, it's a guy's road trip comedy, but because of the seriousness of the subject matter, it falls in the drama category. All three male leads are fantastic in their respective roles and have great on-screen chemistry. But because it deals with the issue drug addiction, as well as lost childhood friendships, growing older and growing up into adulthood, the movie kept me glued to my seat! What a powerful, emotionally charged and funny film this was! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

Then it was time for the closing night film. Jason, Alison, Roy, Pete, and the rest of the gang headed over the California Theatre to see SMALL TIME. Meet Al Klein (Christopher Meloni), who owns a used car lot with his best friend Ash Martini (Dean Norris). His son just graduated Freddy (Devon Bostick) from high school. But instead of going to college like his mom Barbara (Bridget Moynahan) wants him too, he goes to work with his father at his used car lot. At first things are alright. Al gets to spend time with Freddy and teaches him about the family business while spending quality time with him. But as business grows, Freddy becomes too cocky for his own good, and starts to mistreat the customers and the work personal. Thus, Al mus make a decision that will no doubt drive his soon away forever.

This was such as fun indie film to watch! First Meloni, Norris, and Bostick have great on-screen chemistry together. Then you have the director Joel Surnow, who does a terrific job of keeping the movie moving fluently while finding the balance of comedy and drama. The film's theme of family and tradition can be found throughout the narrative, which is a very important theme to have. After the screening Christopher Meloni received the Maverick Spirit Award and he, along with Norris and Bostick participated in a fun-filled Q&A session with the audience. The film gets a 4 out of 5 stars and look for it sometime soon at your local independent movie theatre or On Demand!

Well folks, there you have it! Another festival goes into the history books! I have to say that this was THE BEST CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL EVER! What made it so great were the films, the filmmakers, the audiences, my friends, the afterparties, the whole vibe was intoxicating. Sometimes during the festival I thought it would never end, but unfortunately, it did. And I can't wait for next year's festival! Overall I attended 60 screenings in 13 days! I did it!! A new record for me!! 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 festival. To all the filmmakers I got to meet, good luck with your respective films and I hope to see them again on either the big screen or on DVD and Blu-ray. And to all my friends and followers who read my blog during the festival, I just want to say thank you! Take care everybody, and I'll see you all again soon!!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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