Friday, March 15, 2019

Phil attends the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival: Day Eleven - March 15, 2019

This is it! The final weekend of the 29th Annual Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival! Hard to believe that the fun is almost over!! So let's not waste anymore precious time! There are movie reviews to discuss!! So for my first two screenings, I hung out at the 3Below Theaters & Lounge for two very awesome shorts programs!
The first screening I saw was SHORTS PROGRAM 1: INBOUND VISIONS, which consisted of 10 unique and interesting short films. Let's take a look at them, shall we?

1) The 17: Based on a true story. A tragedy befalls on a pregnant woman, resulting in her passing out on her bathroom floor bleeding. She awakens in the hospital handcuffed to her bed, charged with the murder of her stillborn baby.

2) Chickens: Two racist and violent police officers kill three innocent victims in fast food establishment. While they take the video surveillance tape, the worker had been broadcasting the officers' bloody crime via a live feed on the Internet for all to see. Very poignant in Trump's Amerikka of today!!

3) Hayley: A flight attendant is under the suspicion that a young child is being abducted by a sex and must find evidence to her claim in order to save the young girl's life. A very important message regarding child sex trafficking!!

4) Lamb: A young, inspiring actress has a meeting with a powerful Hollywood executive. She meets the assistant in the hotel bar, only to escort her to his room. A powerful social commentary regarding the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal!!

5) Nocturne: A women and her elderly mom are watching television in their retirement home when they receive a visit from a complete stranger. What happens next is murder, via a pie server! And it's pretty damn funny!

6) Notre Mort: A French short about a tale of two brothers who, after discovering their own dead bodies, conduct a series of tests to see if they're ghosts or not.

7) Nursery Rhymes: A heavy metal band pulls off on the side of the road to calm a baby down as we pan to a horrific car accident involving the baby's family and a cow.

8) The Revolutionaries: The longest short of the program, Set in America during the early 1970's a young student radical, who was involved in a bombing, is taken to her sister's husband's family house out on the East Coast to hide out. Unfortunately, an unexpected guest confronts the young radical woman to show her her past and what the future holds.

9) The Wind Phone: Inspired by true events. A phone booth on a remote ocean cliffside brings together seven strangers, having different conversations with their loved ones, but it's not your typical phone booth, and not your typical conversations.

10) Woman in Stall: A young woman rushes into a bathroom stall to change clothes for an important interview. All of a sudden, a strange man begins to talk to her while she's in the stall, and he has no interest in leaving her alone. Another important social commentary regarding women being stalked and the paranoia that women live with!!

This was the last screening for the program at the festival.
After that, I again stayed at the 3Below Theaters to watch the second shorts feature entitled SHORTS PROGRAM 6: DOCUNATION. Here, I got to see some really incredible and informative short documentaries. Here are the thirteen shorts that I saw in this program!

1) 49 Mile Scenic Drive: A fun and insight full short on the history of one of San Francisco's most famous and beloved signs, and how the community came together to restore this local and iconic sign!

2) Bones: An artist creates and carves bone sculptures while it damages his body in ways we cannot even imagine.

3) Double Exposed: Filmmaker Julie Buck narrates over a double exposed film that her grandfather did while she tells us how he had molested her and all the women in her family.

4) I am Thinking of Pierre Cardin: A loving tribute to fashion designer icon Pierre Cardin.

5) Lion in a Box: Told through photographs, it's a tale of overcoming obstacles and adversities in the pursuit of achieving her goals.

6) Nazi VR: The longest short in the program and the one I found most fascinating, it's about the trail of a WWII war criminal and how technology, more specifically virtual reality, is used in its prosecution.

7) Project Chick: An autobiography of actress, poet, and award-winning playwright Kim El, and the struggles she faced in her youth.

8) Shades: A hilarious short about the iPhone's emoji people, the choice of colors, and what people of different races think of them.

9) Shout at Me!: Melissa is a student, daughter, and a professional wrestler, and we witness first hand the trials, obstacles, and judgements she faces everyday in her life to become more than the labels she is dealt with.

10) The Spring They Didn't See: One of the most shocking and disturbing shorts of the program, the film documents the tragedy and outcome of the Kurdish genocide, and the chemical weapons that killed hundreds of men, women, children, and even babies. This left me emotionally crippled and scarred.

11) Super 80: Filmed on Super 8mm filmstock, it's about a man who turns 80 years old and his wife who makes him feel young. Super sweet short.

12) Swan: Focuses on dancer Duane Gosa of Ballet Trockadero and his transformation into The Swan.

13) The Swimmer: An quick look at an Irish long-distance swimmer and what his life means as he's swimming in the ocean.

This was the last screening for the program at the festival as well.

After my shorts screenings, I went back home to take care of a few things, then picked up my son from school, waited for our old friend to come over a babysit him, then hurried back to Downtown San Jose to see one of my favorite silent film comedies of all time at the historic movie palace the California Theatre! Plus, my old friend Dennis James was on hand playing the Mighty Wurlitzer organ! The man being highlighted was none other than the great silent film comedian Buster Keaton!
Before the main feature, the festival screened the short two-reeler THE HIGH SIGN, which I've been fortunate to have seen several times at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Buster is hired as a hitman by a criminal gang called Blinking Buzzards, only to be hired by the man they wanted him to take out. The short is best remembered for the hysterical house with all the secret walls and trap doors that Keaton flies through! Comedy gold folks!! 

STEAMBOAT BILL JR. is considered by many film historians and silent film fanatics as one of Buster Keaton's best comedies! And it was his last independent film he made before heading over to MGM. In the film, Keaton plays the son of a riverboat captain (played by Ernest Torrence) who tries to earn the respect of his father. Then he runs into his old childhood sweetheart (Marion Byron), who's father (Tom McGuire) is trying to put Steamboat Bill Sr. out of business. Much like Romero and Juliet, both fathers refuse to let their respective children see one another. Then out of nowhere, a devastating cyclone comes hits the town, and what comes next is a series of hilarious spots featuring Buster in his element: unbelievable hilarious slapstick comedy that only Keaton himself could've have pulled off!!

The film was shot on the Sacramento River up in here in Northern California across from the junction with the American River in late 1927. They also built three full blocks of city sets near the state capitol itself. The film was released to theaters on May20, 1928, and believe it or not, actually lost money at the box office for United Artists. As I mentioned earlier, this was Keaton's last truly independent silent film he made. The very next year, he would sign with MGM, and, unfortunately, this move would cripple he genius and his films suffered from studio interference.

Another day of moving watch here at Cinequest 29 is done! Remember, this is the last weekend of the festival so make sure you 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!

No comments:

Post a Comment