Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Eight-March 5, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome to Day Eight of my trip to the Cinequest 23 Film Festival. And once again, I saw another five films: three at the Camera 12, one at the San Jose Rep, and one at the historic California Theatre! So let the fun begin!

My first film of the day was the comedy THE PLAYBACK SINGER. The film focuses on a married couple Priya (Navi Rawat) and Ray (Ross Partridge). She's a lawyer and he is a former school teacher who quit to become a successful jungle-gym architect. Unfortunately, all he does is sleep in late, smoke weed, and waiting for inspiration to come. Well, inspiration does come in the form of Priya's absent father Ashok (Piyush Mishra), who's in tour to perform a show. But he's having issues as well, like being cheated out of his money from his promoter, being arrogant, and drinking a lot of wine. Soon the three of them begin draw strength from one another, in hope to better themselves.

This little comedy gem was directed by Suju Vijayan, who keeps the laughter rolling with ease and simple setups. Suju lets the camera focus on the actors, which by the way, were all great! Special nod goes to Piyush Mishra, who had the best lines in the film! I wish I could rewrite what he said, but I can't because a lot of what he said was racist, but it was so damn funny! His delivery of his lines were so straight faced and serious! Every time he opened his mouth, I just laughed uncontrollably! Afterwards Suju and her producer came down to the front and conducted a quick Q&A. Great film to start my day off with! Unfortunately, today was the last screening of the film, but you can check out the film's official website at and on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Film number two was another great comedy called 7 LIVES OF CHANCE.  Meet Chance (Jodi Chase). Chance is different. She hoards a lot of things: art canvasses, dresses never wears, packaged foods in bags, see-through plastic containers, memories too dear to let go, and even people. When a series of surreal deaths surrounds her, she is forced to make some tough choices. One of them is going to her high school reunion, where she must learn to finally let go of the one regret that she has held on to for so many years.

This bizarre, trippy, kaleidoscope of Kool-Aid comedy was directed by Fred Zara and Banks Helfrich, who also wrote the screenplay and was one of the producers. Actress Jodi Chase does a great job of portraying the frantic, but cute Chance. She's flawed, she's troubled, she's has baggage, and she's pretty damn funny. The seems to be a theme for this year's Cinequest: I have seen a number of films pertaining to mental illness. Seems like everyone's gone bat shit crazy up in here!! But I digress, the film was cute. I liked it. You should see it too. However, today was the last screening of the film, but you can check out the film's official website at as well as on Facebook.

The third film I saw was the bad ass DOSE OF REALITY. Taking place in a bar after hours, bartender Matt (Ryan Merriman) and his shady manager Tony (Rick Ravanello) discover a woman lying on the floor in the bathroom, who appears to have been beaten and raped. When she finally comes to, the two men realize that Rose (Fairuza Balk) is suffering from amnesia, or perhaps something totally different? Soon the three are pitted against one another, trying to figure out what happened to Rose that night while some personal demons are finally exposed to the world.

This was such a cool film to watch! it had everything: a sexy, tough chick, great acting, awesome directing, and a wicked story that had one of the best twist endings I've ever seen at Cinequest. Of course if you pay close attention to the film, you would have noticed all the clues which lead to said twist ending. Now I've seen enough of these films, so I was able to deduce the ending, however, it was entertaining as hell and fun to watch! Major kudos to writer/director Christopher Glatis for crafting this excellent thriller/mystery tale. Also two very big thumbs up to Fairuza, Rick and Ryan for turning in one helluva performance! But to keep on sounding like a broken record, today was the last screening of the film. So check out the film's official website at and its Facebook page or more info.

The next film I saw was over at the San Jose Rep Theatre, but before that, there was a half hour documentary short entitled DANCING WITH THE TREES. It was about Biloxi, Mississippi's OHR-O'Keefe Museum and the history behind the making of the museum building, eccentric artist George Ohr, Hurricane Katrrina, and architect Frank Gehry. Very cool and informative short.

The documentary STABLE LIFE follows a family of illegal Mexican immigrants who worked and lived at the stables of the now gone Bay Meadows. Told through candid interviews, it told the personal story of one illegal Mexican family, their duties at the track, their lives, their childen, and the threat of deportation.

Directed by Sara MacPherson, the film was shot over a span of three years, capturing the struggles of Dionicia M. and her family. Now I was at Bay Meadows last year for a work function. It was astounding for me to witness what was really going on behind the scenes of the famed racetrack. There was this whole other reality that was transpiring that it really opened my eyes up to those illegal Mexican immigrants who just trying to seek out a better life and opportunity for themselves and for their families. After the screening Sara, along with producer Tricia Creason-Valencia, and editor Herb Ferrette, participated in a very informative Q&A. And once again, today was the last screening of the film, but you can check out the film's official website at

After the screening I headed over to the Camera 12, where I meet my good friend Leslie again, who was joining me on my last screening. We walked over to the California Theatre where we saw the Chinese drama MYSTERY. So, check this out. It's about this woman, who's married to this guy, who she thinks is perfect. She then discovers that he's not only her husband, but is also having a series of affairs, and he's also married to another woman! And you won't believe who it is! It's gonna shock you! And then you should see what lengths they will do to keep their man! Oh yeah, it's that freaking crazy!

The film was based on a woman's real-life accounts about her unfaithful husband in 2009. Again, sounds crazy, huh? But director Lou Ye does a terrific job of capturing all the drama, betrayal, revenge, and murder oh so beautifully for the big screen! This was just an incredible film to watch! This I would see again! And lucky for all of you, there's one more screening of the film on Friday, March 8th at 7pm.

After the film, Leslie and I headed on over to Maverick Meet-Up, this time it was over at Gordon Biersch on San Fernando Street between 1st and 2nd Street. And once again we all partied the night away! Well, Leslie and I partied till about midnight, then we got some breakfast at Denny's by my place. I had the French Toast plate. It was yummy.

Another fun-filled night of movie watching here at Cinequest, which now brings my total to 34 films! Remember the festival will be running till March 10th 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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