Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Phil attends Cinequest 24: Day 6-March 9, 2014

Howdy folks and welcome back to my trip to the 24th Annual Cinequest Film Festival! For Day Nine, I saw another five films! Yup, I'm hardcore like that. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the reviews!

First film up was the documentary THE FRONT MAN. This little whimsical doc tells the story of Jim Wood (the front man for excellent The Loaded Poets) and his dreams of becoming a rock star. However, while on his dreamquest he almost misses out on the most important things in his life, mainly is sweet and lovely wife Christie. who wishes for them to have a baby soon. Can Jim have it all or does he have to make a sacrifice of one or the other?

Director Paul Devlin had the advantage of being Jim's best friend for the last 30 plus years and what we have is more than just a simply documentary. What we get is a personal story of a man who we get to know inside and out. We see him play with his band, being around his family, his love for his wife Christie, we see it all. Paul is able to really capture those special moments in Jim's life and it feels more like a home movie than a doc. But we sympathize with Jim and we cheer for him, because he's us. Jim is your average Joe who somehow got to have a family and make music at the same time without compromise. How can you not root for this guy? THE FRONT MAN is a celebration of being able to live out all your dreams while being able to walk in the real world! 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended! The film will be screened again on Thursday, March 13th at 5:00pm at the Camera 12.

The second film I saw was being shown over at the San Jose Rep Theatre. EAST SIDE SUSHI is about a young Latina named Juana (Diana Elizabeth Torres), who's been working in food industry for years, finds financial stability in the high paced, male dominated world of a local Japanese restaurant. Finding her passion for food once more, Juana sets her sights on a local reality sushi competition show to prove to herself that she has what it takes to become a sushi line chef at the restaurant she works act, despite what her boss thinks.

Actress Diana Elizabeth Torres shines in this, her first feature film role and she knocks it out of the park. One can see Diana as a positive female role model, who has big dreams for herself and will not let others stand in her way. Director Anthony Lucero keeps the fun and laughs flow fluently and I walked away feeling so happy that I got to see this funny and heart warming comedy! 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended! The film will be screened again at the Camera 12 on Thursday, March 13th at 4:00pm.

Film number three of the day was the dramatic comedy ACTING LIKE ADULTS. While on a scavenger hunt throughout the LA area, couple Brett and Shannon (Mark Famigletti and Leslie Murphy respectively) begin to see each other as who they really are. With the grand prize of an diamond engagement ring, the competition brings out the worse in Brett, which causes Shannon to have doubts about marrying him. By the end of the day, no one knows for sure if they will remain together as a couple or go their separate ways.

I walked into the theatre having no expectations and by the end of it I was completely blown away!  I absolutely loved this movie! Both Mark Famigletti and Leslie Murphy have magnificent on-screen chemistry that I became emotionally invested in them. It was hard to see them fight and I loved it when they made up. However, this isn't your typical dramatic comedy. It feels very real, and what I also enjoyed was that the film's directors Kyle Laursen and Eric F. Martin also made the city of LA it's own character, with its rolling hills and congested freeways and scenic parks. The film is a perfect example of what an indie film should be! One of the best films I've seen at the festival!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!! The movie will be screened again at the Camera 12 on Friday, March 14th at 4:15pm.

Movie number four was the very funny and interesting documentary TEENAGE. Based on author Jon Savage’s book of the same name, director Matt Wolf answers that age-old question: When did the teenager come into existence? Using a collection of archival news footage, old time movies, and diary excerpts read by four teenage voice overs, the documentary traces the evolution of the teenagers: from their humble beginnings in the 1930's to their emergence and dominance in the 1950's.

Before the main feature, there was another Ciniequest Picture The Possibilities (PTP) short. Entitled REAL FRIENDS, the film is about two young girls who are best friend and they spend their afternoon texting to each other rather than actually talk to each other. A very funny short with an interesting social commentary.

This fun little documentary caught me off guard. It was informative, it was funny, it was historical, and it was a very well made film that took me to school again. This is one of the reasons why I love watching documentaries. Here we get an inside look at the pre-history of the teenager and the end results of their discovered presence in society and in America. 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended! Today was the last screening but be sure to visit the film's official website at

The fifth and final film of the day was the insanely hysterical HUNTING ELEPHANTS. Poor Yonotan. He's twelve-years-old shy boy who gets bullied at school and his bank security father died while on the job. However, according the bank's president, there's a loophole stating that they don't have to pay him or his mother any sort of financial compensation. To make matters even worse, the bank president is courting Yonotan's mom! To get back what they deserve, he comes up with a plan to rob the bank. Enlisting the help of his grandfather, his uncle (the magnificent Patrick Stewart), and his grandfather's best friend, they will attempt to right the wrong that their family has suffered.

Now this is was one of the funniest film that I've seen! Stewart steals all his scenes, which isn't easy because the entire cast does the impossible and create a modern day comedy classic. What's even more impressive is that this is in Hebrew and was shot over in Israel! Who knew they made comedies? This is a comedy that transcends language and culture. It proves that everybody laughs the same! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!! Today was the last screening for the film.

And that was Day Four of my cinematic trip to Cinequest. So far I've seen 27 films in the past 5 days! Getting closer to my 60 films goal for this year!! 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

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

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