Friday, March 2, 2018

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 3 - March 1, 2018

Welcome to Day Three of my trip to the 28th Cinequest Film Festival! Already this year's fest is shaping up to be a fantastic one! Once I got to Downtown San Jose, I stopped at the Cinequest VIP Lounge over at The Continental Bar on 1st Street. Here I had some yummy treats, flavored water, and delicious coffee, courtesy of Whole Foods, Hint Water and local coffee shop Cafe Frascati, respectively. Then I braved this wet and rainy Wednesday to see my five films, so let's get show on the road!
The first film I saw was over at the 3 Below Theaters & Lounge was Norwegian drama DEMON BOX (which is one of the coolest titles ever). Amalie and her brother Emil head for their grandma’s house to clean and pack up some of her belongings. In the attic, the siblings discover a plethora of letters that hold some devastating information. The two decide to burn these letters so that their mom never discovers the truth. Soon, they meet a stranger that’s looking for his lost dog. But things turn sour very quickly when he shows up dead on their doorstep, and now Amalie and Emil have to work together to keep their situation a secretary or else.

So, unfortunately I didn’t get to see all of the screening. The English subtitles went off right in the middle of the film and everybody in theater were screaming bloody murder. When the staff realized they couldn’t fix it, the screening was canceled. A real shame because I was really into the film and was intrigued as to where it was going. The movie will be screened in Redwood City, but I won’t be able to attend those showings. Hopefully, it will on VOD or on Netflix soon. So I decided to head back to The Continental Bar and had more drinks and snacks before my next screening.

Click here to view the film's Redwood City screenings.
My second screening took me back to the California Theatre. BERNARD AND HUEY stars Jim Rash and David Koechner as our leads, respectively. Friends since high school, Bernard is somewhat still the same insecure nerd, but he’s having sex. Huey was the king of womanizing, now he’s down on his luck. When Huey shows up on Bernard’s door 20 years later, life comes full circle and the two find themselves in their respective high school roles. But when Bernard starts seeing Huey’s estranged daughter Zelda (Mae Whiteman), their friendship is put to the test.

The film itself was funny, but the laughs were scarce. Both Rash and Koechner did their best, but I felt their performances felt flat. It could also be that the script wasn’t fully structured and lacked character development. Because of these two missing ingredients, the movie couldn’t get off the ground. It had some good laughs, but this was advertised as a comedy, and it lacked the comedy. 3 out of 5 stars!

Click here to view the film's remaining screenings.
Film number three was MARISA IN THE WOODS (Marisa en los Bosques) at the Hammer Theatre Center. Meet Marisa. She has no job, no projects, no prospects for the future. She looks away from her own life's downfall to become the rescuer of her best friend Mina, who is immersed in a desperate crisis after the break-up of her relationship with Salvador. When she tries to get help from other friends, she only finds more lives adrift. Then, some unexpected news breaks the difficult balance of her life, and Marisa can only find comfort in the city nightlife. She is ready to disappear, silent and quietly, like fading into black.

While an interesting movie, there were too many characters coming in and out of Marisa’s life. At times I was completely lost, wondering if this was a new character or someone I saw earlier or one that was mentioned previously. The movie is visually beautiful and actress was lovely as Marisa, but the whole thing didn’t work for me. 3 out of 5 stars!

Click here to view the film's remaining screenings.
I headed back to the California Theatre for film number four which was BORG/MCENROE. Taking place during the summer of 1980, the movie chronicles the intense rivalry between Bjorn Bing (Sverrir Gudnason) and John McEnroe (Shia LaBeof), their upbringings, and their legendary match at Wimbledon.

Holy crap was this an outstanding movie! As a kid at that time, I was aware of Borg and McEnroe but I never knew just how important their match was, nor how historical it would become. This was LaBeouf’s best performance to date, as he nailed McEnroe’s character and mannerism perfectly! Gudnason shines as Borg and is a dead ringer of him! Both actors commanded the audiences’ attention as we were swept up into the movie. Janus Metz directed the hell out this movie, especially in the third act which kept me on the edge of my seat! This was my favorite film of the night! It was a magnificent, emotional, insightful movie about one greatest tennis matches in sports history!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

This was the film's only screening.
My last movie for me was back at the Hammer Theatre Center. The South Korean film THE POET AND THE BOY centers on Taekgi, a poet who's life is anything but decent. His poetry club don't recognize his poems. His wife wants a child, but has the sex drive of a stone and has a very low sperm count, two sperms to be exact. But when he witnesses two teenagers making out in the restroom of his favorite donut shop, his desires begin to arise. There's just one problem: his desires were for the teenage boy. Taekgi soon finds himself involved with the young man, and his desires begins to confuse him, eventually leading to emotions he never really experienced before.

While the film was poignant and interesting while exploring themes like coming out, teenage issues, depression, love and family, it was way too slow and dragged out for way to long. If the movie was re-edited down to 90 minutes, I think the story and emotional payoff would be more rewarding. I found the movie fascinating and I very much enjoyed all the characters, I found myself drifting in and out of the it. Overall, it was a decent movie. 3 out of 5 stars!

Click here to view the film's remaining screenings.

And that was Day Three of my cinematic trip to Cinequest. So far I'm at 11 films in 3 days! Not too shabby!! Remember, the festival will be running till March 11th 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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