Saturday, March 31, 2018

Phil attends the Final Day of Cinequest 28 - March 11, 2018

Well, here we are everybody and welcome to the final day of the Cinequest Film Festival! Hard to believe it's all over, but at least I have the memories! For the last day of the festival, I saw a total of zero films. OK, I know that I said that I was going to attend the last day, but life throws a lot of curve balls at you. And so, I missed the last day of Cinequest.

However, at least I got to see some excellent films during the festival, and I am very happy to have meet some truly talented filmmakers and extraordinary actors and actresses. And I saw a total of 31 screenings! And seeing how I've been gone for the last three years, this was something that I have been looking forward to once I moved back to San Jose!

And it was just announced that next year's Cinequest Film Festival will take place on March 5 to March 17, 2019!! By that time, I will be able to take time off to work and check out all the films, and maybe, just maybe, set an all-time world 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, home release or on VOD. 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!

Phil attends CInequest 28: Day 12 - March 10, 2018

OK folks!! This is it!! The final weekend of the Cinequest 28 Film Festival! For today I saw a total of zero films! Yup, you read that right. I didn't attend the festival again today.

To be completely honest, I was dead tired from work and I was totally broken. I was sore, tired, sleep deprived, and was just extremely exhausted. Again, I am very thankful for having my new job, but I was way too tired to go to the festival, so I'm hoping to attend the last day of it.

Please visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 11 - March 9, 2018

This is it! The final weekend of the 28th Annual Cinequest Film Festival! So after not attending any screenings yesterday, I was planning to make up for it today by seeing four films. But I had to drive out to Santa Rosa for work, where there was a meeting I had to attend. So I didn't get back to San Jose in time for my afternoon screening. Then my girlfriend and I couldn't find parking at the 2nd Street Garage above the 3 Below Theaters, so we missed the silent film at 7pm. Once we did find parking, ate dinner at the Blue Chip on First Street, then made out way back to the California Theatre.

YOU & ME stars Hillary Baack as Ella, a sweet and beautiful book author, who falls in love with a recently blinded man named Tony, played by Paul Guyet. They soon realize that it's not all sunshine and rainbows, as they come across many obstacles that could tear them apart if they don't stick together.

The film was written and directed by Alexander Baack, along with his wife and lead actress Hillary. Together, they've produced a film that shines a spotlight on not just the deaf community, but also the blind community. Hillary Baack is deaf in real life, but Alexander is hearing, and the film reminds us that people in these communities can function just fine in the real world and shouldn't be ridiculed or put down just because they can't hear or see. We shouldn't feel sorry for them, instead, we should just treat them as just people. 

After the screening, Alexander Baack participated in a Q&A session. He mentioned that Hillary was supposed to be there at the screening, but was ill and couldn't attend. Also, they had just moved to their new home and the timing wasn't there, but hopes to come back to Cinequest with Hillary and maybe a new film as well.

Another day of moving watching here at Cinequest 28 is done. To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 10 - March 8, 2018

We're getting down to the final days here folks so welcome back to Day Ten of my trip to the 28th Annual Cinequest Film Festival! Well, to tell you the truth, Day Ten didn't really take place, and here's the reason why.

My first week of my new job has been very rewarding, but also very tiring. I get up at 3:15 every morning so I can drive out to the peninsula to start work at 5am.  By the time I get off work, it's about 2pm and I still have to drive all the way back to San Jose. After a hot shower, I take a two hour nap. By the time I wake up, I would head over to Cinequest. However, everything finally caught up with me, and therefore, I collapsed and I didn't have the energy to attend the festival tonight. So, I would like to apologize to all the filmmakers, to whom I told that I would see their films today. But I am expecting to attend some screenings tomorrow!

 To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 9 - March 7, 2018

Hello everybody and welcome to Day Nine of my trip to Cinequest 24! Again, because of my new job, I only got to attend one screening, but it was one that I have been anticipating since it was announced during the Cinequest Media Launch Party back in January! After getting my grub and drinks on at the Cinequest Soiree at the Cafe Stritch, I made my way to my one and only screening of the night.

I made my way over to the 3 Below Theater for the groundbreaking and innovative traveling film festival LUNAFEST SERIES. The series of short films were all made by talented female filmmakers that will no doubt be making a difference in the male dominated Hollywood. Moderated by Carly Severn, the screening consisted of nine extraordinary shorts:

YOURS SINCERELY, LOIS WEBER: Introduced by Elizabeth Banks, the short is a tribute to silent filmmaker and trailblazer Lois Weber, who was then the highest paid director at Universal Pictures. Infusing social commentary and feminist issues, some of Weber's most famous films include THE BLOT, SHOES, and THE DUMB GIRL FROM PORTICI, which are available to purchase from Milestone Films and Flicker Alley.

GIRLS LEVEL UP: A documentary about a young Muslim woman who sets up a special camp for middle grade school girls. Here, they are taught how to design their very own video games. A powerful message that girls are gamers too, and are a force to be reckon with!

WAITING FOR HASSANA: In this dramatic short that's set in 2014, 276 teenage girls came together for exams in Chibok, Nigeria -- by dawn, nearly all had disappeared and their school was burnt. Jessica, an escapee, shares her haunting account of a friendship violently interrupted by Boko Haram.
LAST SUMMER, IN THE GARDEN: An animated short about nature, seasons, cycles, and the unavoidable speed bumps in the road of life.

FANNYPACK: A young Indian-American woman who wants to follow her dreams, and a fanny pack clad Indian father who chases his daughter through an airport hoping that she will follow his.

JOY JOY NAILS: Sarah manages Joy Joy Nails with a cheerful iron fist, but she gets her manicured claws out when Chinese Mia, a manicurist trainee, looks to be stealing the boss's son's affections, soon discovering that under the varnish, everyone's a victim.

TOYS: In 1930s farm country, a father wants a son, but he gets a little girl. He tries to toughen her up by giving her toys intended for boys. His efforts backfire when she proves a little too capable for comfort.

BUTTERCUP: As Maggie struggles with her mother's death a surprise visitor helps her find joy again.

JESSZILLA: Jesselyn "Jesszilla" Silva is serious about boxing, and at 10 years old trains seriously with dreams of becoming a professional fighter. Her father, Pedro, finds himself caught in between supporting her dream and worrying about her future as she tries to master a combat sport.

After the program, Carly Severn interviewed director Svetlana Cvetko and Erin Palmquist, whose film FROM BAGHDAD TO THE BAY was screening at the festival. After a very informative and insightful interview, they participated in a fun Q&A with the audience.

And folks, there you have Day Nine of Cinequest 28! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 8 - March 6, 2018

Welcome everybody to Day Eight of my trip to Cinequest 28! As I stated in a previous entry, I mentioned that I started a new job, which I am very happy to report that it's been going extremely well! Unfortunately, it's taking up a lot of my time, due to training and learning my route, which has be starting at 5am Monday thru Friday. As a result, I won't be seeing a lot of movies as I had originally planned on. So for today, I only attended on screening, so let me talk about that!

After work, I headed on over to the Cinequest Soiree, which was held at the awesome Scott's Seafood up on the 6th floor. There, I had plenty to drink and eat, but mostly drank like a fish! Afterwards, my old friend and fellow blogger Jason and I headed over to the 3 Below Theaters for our 6pm screening!

The screening I attended was the SHORTS FILM PROGRAM 6: DOCUNATION, which featured some extraordinary documentaries! I was very excited to watch this program, and had the pleasure of watching the following shorts:

6th Graders School Roy Moore's Attorney: Director Sam Frazier Jr. filmed his two 6th grade nephews correcting the grammar of the infamous letter from Roy Moore’s attorney, which was shot on Thanksgiving Day 2017. Yes, these kids rip the letter to shreds and is damn funny!

Describe What You Heard: A special effects expert gives advise on how to make gunshot sounds with your mouth. Informative, yet heartbreaking considering what just happened in Florida.

The Duel: A short about when a 16 year-old girl who saves her brother from their father's sudden and deadly mental breakdown that resulted with the father challenging his son to a knife fight. In the end, it was their mother who helped save them. Powerful and disturbing short film.

Free Fall: Adults and kids alike, there's one thing we all love the most: bouncy castles!

The Happiness Machine: Meet Carl, who gives up being an academic librarian to become a sharecropper on 22 acres in rural Iowa, which he now calls The Promised Land. Here, he shares his ideas, his philosophies, and what it means to pass on the gift of place. I wish Carl was my grandfather! My favorite short of the program!

The Lectora: The short takes a look at the long-standing tradition of having a reader in the factory in one of the most famous cigar factories in Cuba.

Mister Sunshine: An old black man, who used to be a millionare, jettisons his old life to take on the life of a shoeshine man in Auckland, New Zealand, teaching us that life's about the shine on your face and not on just your shoes. Really moving short film!

Nobody Dies in Longyearbyen: Yes, nobody dies there because the permafrost will push the body back out of the ground. Think NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD meets THE THING, but it's a documentary.

Phototaxis: An animated short about the legendary demon Mothman in West Virginia and set to Narcotics Anonymouss literature, the primary treatment program in West Virginia’s addiction epidemic. Are the two somehow related? Maybe...

Twilight Dancers: Due to a colonial history, Indigenous youth from a small remote reservation use square dancing to heal the trauma from the recent suicide epidemic.

Unspoken: A short focusing on spoken word poet Farah Chamma and how she expresses and censors herself with her poetry while keeping her work raw, authentic and real.

The Velvet Underground Played at My High School: An animated short film when The Velvet Underground perform at a New Jersey high school in 1967, narrated by one of the students who was there. I wonder if Lou Reed was wearing shiny boots of leather that night.

And folks, there you have Day Seven of Cinequest 28! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 7 - March 5, 2018

Hello everybody and welcome to Day Seven of my trip to Cinequest 28! So my life is full of surprises, and the biggest surprises I received was I started my BRAND NEW JOB TODAY!! Yes, I am very excited about it! However, because I started today, it meant that I wouldn't be able to reach my goal of 60 films this year. So I'm just going to try for a personal best for myself. And after my first day of work, I headed back to the festival and saw two films today, reason being is that I have to get up early for work. now. So let's get this show on the road, shall we?

The first film of the night was the Spanish film CYGNUS over at the California Theatre. The movie follows astronomer Fabian, who receives a signal from an unknown object near the Cygnus constellation 37,000 light years from Earth. But he's not the only one that wants to know what the signal came from, as he soon discovers that the signal wasn't the only thing that came down to Earth.

Mexican cinema focuses on only four genres: musicals, comedies, romance and action/adventures. Filmmaker Hugo Felix Mercado, producer Hugo Espinosa Juarez, and Carlos Alvahuante Contreras saw that there was a hole in Mexican cinema, that being science fiction films, and decided to rectify that problem. This movie is a pure sci-fi film, featuring real science, fiction, space monsters, and intrigue. All three were there at the festival to take part in a Q&A session. This was a big surprise for me at this year's festival and a rewarding one at that!! 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!!

I stayed at the California Theatre to see THE LAST MOVIE STAR, my second film of the day. Legendary actor Burt Reynolds stars as Vic Edwards, a washed-up, has-been actor whose glory days a long behind him. When I he accepts to attend the Dallas Film Festival, he is paired with the organizer's eccentric sister Lil (Ariel Winter), who takes him on a trip down Memory Lane, only to discover what it means about growing older and coming to terms with your past.

I absolutely loved this movie!! Mainly because I related so much with it. Even though I'm only 45 years old, I find myself longing to return to the past to right my mistakes, while coming to terms on growing older, feeling like my best days are already behind me. Like his character Vic, Reynolds is in the same situation as well. His performance was just incredibly poignant, remarkable and all-too real. And the film was written and directed by Adam Rifkin!! I have been a fan of his for years!! He started off making low-budget B-movies and horror flicks like THE INVISIBLE MANIAC and PSYCHO COP RETURNS before helming the cult classic DETROIT ROCK CITY and his segment "Wadzilla" in the horror anthology CHILLERAMA. This, for me, marks his return to the mainstream and a turn in his career. If you didn't get the chance to see this at the festival, don't worry! The movie will be released by A24 to theaters on March 30th! My favorite spotlight film of the festival!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

And folks, there you have Day Seven of Cinequest 24! So far it's been a fun-filled festival!! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 6 - March 4, 2018

Howdy folks and welcome back to my trip to the 28th Annual Cinequest Film Festival! Now originally I was planning to see five movies, but sometimes life gets in the way. However, I am not complaining at all. Life has been very good to me! But I did get to see three movies today! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the reviews!

The first film I saw was being shown over at the 3 Below Theaters. The amazing drama VENUS tells the story of Sid (Debargo Sanyal), a transgender woman who finds out she has a 14 year old son named Ralph (Jamie Mayers). Soon, Sid's life is giving him more than he can handle, with dealing with a closeted boyfriend, establishing a relationship with her parents, and learning how to be a parent to a son she never knew she had.

This was such a rewarding film to see! I've always been a huge fan and supporter of queer cinema (I was an intern at Wolfe Video while a film student) and what I discovered a long time ago was that it doesn't matter if your gay or straight, we all have the same emotions. We get angry, sad, happy, silly, horny, lonely, and depressed. We are all human!! So here I am watching Sid find love, acceptance from her parents, learning parenting skills and dealing with her sexuality while discovering herself. This is nothing new to the human race, as we all had to deal with the same issues. Congratulations to director Eisha Marjara for making such a warm, funny, sincere and important movie and lead actor
Debargo Sanyal for a commanding performance! Good news for all of you out there: the movie will be released by Wolfe Video later this year!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

My second film of the day was BIKINI MOON, which I saw back at the 3 Below Theaters. The film's about a documentary film couple Trevor (Will Janowitz) and Kate (Sarah Goldberg) who take in a charismatic but unstable homeless vet named Bikini Moon (Condola Rashad) as the subject for their film. Eventually, Bikini's presence begins to shake everybody's lives to their core and reveals that all is not right in this picture perfect world.

Along with co-writer W.P. Rosenthal, writer/director Milcho Manchevski is one of the most visually stunning directors ever! His eye captures every beautiful, funny, unnerving, and grotesque moment in the film superbly!! And it goes without saying that actress Condola Rashad turns in her best performance ever!! If this film gains more speed and recognition, maybe she will receive an Independent Spirit Award nomination!! 5 out of 5 stars!!
The third and final movie of the day was preseted by the animated short film VALLEY OF WHITE BIRDS. In the pursuit of the white bird, Sheng has to face his own inner guilt, fear, haze, after a tortuous journey of searching, born again finally. A beautifully animated short about letting go of our guilt and past in order to become who we were meant to be.

Next was the main feature ARUN,  a Thailand drama about three childhood friends: boys Arun and Kasem and girl Isara, who grow up into young adults with dreams and ambitions. However, when Isara's mom sends her off to Bangkok in the middle of the night, the boys head there to find her, but Isara is in more trouble than Arun and Kasem could ever imagine.

The film deals with the harsh reality of children being sold as sex workers. It's an ugly truth that people would like to either ignore or pretend it doesn't exist. Writer/producer/director Sarah Hanks is very familiar with this topic, having worked as a teacher in Thailand. Her movie is a narrative film but looks and feels like a documentary; it's both dramatic and unflinching look at a topic that, unfortunately, will not go away. Hanks along with student/actor and his translator took part in a Q&A session with the audience. A powerful film that hopefully will be seen by more people!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

And that was Day Six of my cinematic trip to Cinequest!! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!  

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 5 - March 3, 2018

Welcome everybody to Day Five of my trip to Cinequest 28! Today I ended up seeing six films today. Yup, I'm going to be tired when all this is over. OK folks, let's talk all about the films I did see today!

I started off over at the Hammer Theatre for the shorts program entitled SHORTS FILM PROGRAM 7: SOMETHING FUNNY and holy crap was it funny!! Here is the list of shorts that was screened:

Bigfoot's Love Slave: The short that played on Opening Night. Funny then and still funny now!!

Fuck Everything: A funny music video starring The Hairy Soul Man singing life's main mantra!!

Graham's Mate: Looking for a car part with your mate has never been this funny!!

Mixtape Mauraders: Two stoners talk about the days when you made a mixtape for the girl you love like one of them did....who then says that she's dating some drummer in some stupid band!  

Multiverse Dating for Beginners: With just a flip of her scarf, a young woman tries to create the perfect way of being asked out on a date!

Must Kill Karl: A bunch of friends try to come up with killing their annoying friend Karl. Yeah, he's that annoying and stupid!

Positive: A man receives a call from his doctor telling him he has herpes. He meets a girl who also has herpes. They have sex. Man receives a call from his doctor saying that there was a mix-up and he actually doesn't have herpes. He does now!

Space Butthole: A animated sci-fi short about a group of scientists trying to figure out how to plug up a space butthole before it shits all over the galaxy!

The Spectacular Summer of Weredog and Amy: Amy has sexual relations with he dog when he becomes a human male once a month! And she looks hot when she's wearing a strap-on! 

We Know Where You Live: What would you do when the house of your dreams is rented out to another couple? Yes, that's exactly what you would do!

We Summoned a Demon: Oppsie!! We summoned a demon!

For my second film of the day I jammed on over to the 3 Below Theater to see the adult drama ENTHUSIASTIC SINNERS. The film's about a police officer who comes to the home of a widower after receiving reports of gunshots there. From there, the two embark on a lust filled 24 hour adventure of sex and fun, but ending up falling in love with each other. However, as the day ends, so does their fantasy world and both must face their real world personas.

What I really loved about the film that it was a film about adults having sex, enjoying sex and treating it as a human emotion, rather than something that is used for comedic purposes or treated with such disrespect. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sex, but for some reason, we are so hung up on it. Writer/director Mark Lewis treats sex with honesty and care, showing us that it's an emotion, much like love. His movie is on par with the European films from the 1960's, the Dogma 95 movement and LAST TANGO IN PARIS, in terms of storytelling, visuals and the idea of shutting out the world but for only a short time. Actress Maggie Alexander bares not only her body, but her soul and emotions as she bring vulnerability, humor and longing to her character Shelby. Her performance is so raw and captivating that she commands the audiences' attention. Same can be said of her male co-star Christopher Heard's performance as Officer Bruce Durant. 5 out of 5 stars!!

Film number three for me today was the KAISER PERMANENTE THRIVE AWARD WINNER: PICK OF THE LITTER at the California Theatre. The documentary follows a litter of puppies from the moment they're born and begin their quest to become Guide Dogs for the Blind, the ultimate canine career. Cameras follow these pups through a two-year odyssey as they train to become dogs whose ultimate responsibility is to protect their blind partners from harm. Along the way, the dogs meet a community of dedicated individuals who train them to do amazing, life-changing things in the service of their human. The stakes are high and not every dog can make the cut. Only the best of the best.

I can see why the documentary received the Kaiser Permanente Thrive Award! I enjoyed this film so much! I found this so interesting and fascinating! I learn so much about the process of training on becoming a Guide Dog, but how it also affects the humans that travel along with these dogs. Of course, the dog that I was rooting for was named.....what for it......Phil!! Yup, there was a dog with my name! And I was so happy to see Phil go on to have so much success!! Way to go Phil!! 5 out of 5 stars!!
My fourth movie for the day was being shown at the Hammer Theatre Center. A retelling of the Louisa May Alcott classic, LITTLE WOMAN follows the lives of four sisters - Meg (Melanie Stone), Jo (Sarah Davenport), Beth (Allie Jennings), and Amy March (Elise Jones as child and Taylor Murphy as adult)- detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. Despite harsh times, they cling to optimism, and as they mature, they face blossoming ambitions and relationships, as well as tragedy, while maintaining their unbreakable bond as sisters.

Directed by Clare Niederpruem, I found the film very lighthearted and fun to watch while it addresses modern day scenarios and themes. Niederpruem did a great job of directing. Lead actress Sarah Davenport was fantastic as Jo, but my hats goes off to Allie Jennings for performance as the sweet but ill Beth. I loved seeing Lea Thompson as the girls' mom Marmee. After the screening, the cast and crew participated in a fin Q&A session. Overall, this was a great retelling of a literary classic! 4 out of 5 stars!!

Film numero five was the world premiere of the drama LOCATING SILVER LAKE. Upon graduating college, a brokenhearted aspiring writer named Daniel (Josh Peck), without a dime or connections, packs his bags and heads to Los Angeles in the hopes of finding a new beginning. He quickly gets immersed into two very different worlds - one young, provocative and alluring, the other rooted in diversity, community and loyalty - both with their own unique appeals, advantages and dangers.

It's been fun watching Josh Peck grow as an actor for the past couple of years. He's acting was great and very humorous and sad, which sums up his character perfectly. Finn Wittrock of American Horror Story fame is deliciously evil as Seth, who is both a friend and an enemy. Caught in the middle is Talya (Aubrey Peeples), who must decide what she wants in her life, more specifically whom. After the screening, writer/director Eric Bilitch, producer Deborah Del Prete and Peck were on hand to conduct a Q&A with the audience. Another great film that I hope to see again in the future! 4 out of 5 stars!

The sixth and final film I saw on Saturday was the midnight film TELL ME YOUR NAME! Troubled teen Ashley (Sydney Sweeney) moves to live with her Aunt Tanya (Jessica Barth) after the tragic death of her mother. Bu when Ashley starts to think that her mom is trying to contact her, she along with her friend Hannah (Madison Lintz) performs a séance that ends with horrifying results. Soon, it's up to Reverend Michael (Bruce Davison) and Pastor John (Matt Dallas) to help save Ashley's soul from the demon that now possesses her.

Holy hell was this a fucking wickedly scary ass movie!! First off, hats off to co-writer/director Jason DeVan for making a horror film that is both a nod to horror film of the past like THE EXORCIST, THE OMEN, SUSPIRIA and injecting new ingredients to the tired formula. He along with Dylan Matlock and his wife Heather DeVan crafted a smart, intriguing and batshit terrifying film!! Second, kudos to Sydney Sweeney for one of the best acting performances in an indie horror film!! She is an example of an actress taking on a role and going all the way into the deep end to have it come out phenomenal! After the screening, the cast and crew were there to pass out T-shirts, signed posters and do a Q&A with the audience. My favorite horror film of the festival!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

And that was Day Five of my cinematic trip to Cinequest 28. My new total now is 23 films in 5 days! So far so good! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 4 - March 2, 2018

Greetings and Salutations folks! Welcome to Day Four of my trip to Cinequest 28! Today is the day that the festival kicks off into high gear. And today I saw SIX films today!! So let us begin the reviews, shall we?
The first film I saw today was at the 3 Below, but before that there was a short. ROBOT AND SCARECROW take splace a concert, where a scarecrow from the neighboring field meets the concert’s dancing AI robot. The two fall in love with each other, but the romance only lasts for that day!

I was completely blown away the short! It was the most polished, stylized, and visually stunning short I’ve ever seen! The directing and cinematography was gorgeous, editing was invisible (which is very important) and the CGI of our two leads . My favorite short of the festival thus far!! 

The Spanish movie PEACHES (Melocotones) is about Diego and Laura, a couple that is trying to rekindle their relationship, due to Diego being unable to divert from the schedule, which makes him predictable and boring. So he takes her resort that stayed at three years ago. When her macho ex-boyfriend shows u, all hell breaks loose, until Diego realizes how to fix everything: he simply builds a time machine. And that's where the fun begins!

I couldn’t believe what I was watching! I absolutely loved this movie! With its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, the movie is a homage to 1980’s films, complete with cheesy infomercials, bad sci-fi props, Casio soundtrack, and cheesy special effects. Filmmakers have been making retro-styled 80's movies for about six years now, but it was so refreshing to see a film that was from another country and what they bring to the table. Director Hector Valdez is an incredibly talented filmmaker and I hope to see more of his work here at Cinequest! Somewhere in the Caribbean, in a future that never was…one of my favorite foreign films so far of the festival!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

Click here to view the film's Redwood City screenings.
Film number two was the Indonesian export SKULL (Tengkorak). A devastating earthquake has rocked Indonesia and reveals an unbelievable discovery of a nearly one-mile-long, 170,000-year-old skull. With this revelation, it sparks a flood of controversy among scientists, government officials, and religious leaders, who wish to preserve the peace and not to reveal any details about the skull. But when college student Ani (Eka Nusa Pertiwi), who works at the skull research center, discovers a conspiracy about what the government is hiding about the skull, her life becomes in danger and must rely on an unlikely hero (Yusron Fuadi).

The film is an amalgam of sci-fi and fantasy films, with a hint of political commentary. I was thrown off at the beginning of the film, thinking I was watching a documentary. Instead, I was watching a movie from a very gifted filmmaker. Yusron Fuadi is an up and coming director from Indonesia, a country that doesn't release too many film withing the sci-fi genre. He set-ups and compositions are great and engaging, the camera sweeps of the country were beautiful, and the ending was very spiritually and hauntingly poetic! The cast was fantastic as well, bringing a level of realism that I very much enjoyed. After the screening, Fuadi and Pertiwi participated in a very fun and informative Q&A with the audience. Overall, this might be the hidden gem of the whole festival! 5 out of 5 stars!!

Click here to view the film's Redwood City screenings.
The film drama FACADES focuses on Alex (Natali Broods), a lovely married woman who works as a translator, who one day visits her dad Jean (Johan Leysen), only to discover that her mom has disappeared without a trace. It also doesn't help that her father is suffering from dementia. Now she must care for her father, which leads to a series of revelations that Alex was hiding for years, only to resurface at this, her most vulnerable time of her life.

Another fine example of European films addressing topics that are often over in American movies. Focusing on infidelity, family dynamics, elderly health issues, sex, and confronting ghosts from the past, the movie takes Alex and makes her the vessel the audience is transported in. We relate to her and we sympathize with her. Life has been hard on her and it leaves scars on Alex - mentally, emotionally and physically. An examination of the human condition and what we do for our family, even if it means lying to them! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommend!!

Click here to view the film's final Redwood City screening.
I made my way to the Hammer Theatre Center for the fourth film of the day for me. The imaginative TOMMY BATTLES THE SILVER SEA DRAGON is a musical about Tommy Silver, a young man who struggles to overcome the guilt of his mother’s death. On a quest for absolution, Tommy finds himself on trial in a courtroom crowded by his inner demons. His confession alternates between flashbacks and fantasies as we journey into Tommy's budding romance with girlfriend Carolyn, whose experience as a woman is overshadowed by the weight of Tommy's maternal loss. Dream and reality blur as the Prosecutor and his agents infiltrate Tommy’s memories, dragging him back to the courtroom of his convoluted psyche. Can Tommy break the cycle of guilt before it destroys him and the one he loves?

Combing elements and themes from Broadway shows like Rent and Next to Normal and with visuals from Michael Godry, Luke Shirock wrote, directed, and wrote the music for the film. The end results were simply astounding! It felt like someone punched me in the chest with a Buick. The movie is so powerfully open and honest with its themes that I found it hard to looks away from the screen. Shirock is one of the most talented filmmakers I have ever meet at the festival, and his film is a welcome addition to the festival's history! I cannot say anything else but one of my favorite films so far!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

Click here to view the film's remaining screenings. 
For film number five I made my way back to the The California Theatre to see my next screening, which also had a short film before it. HOME is about a young man (Chandler Duke) who is back home to spend some time with his grandpa (Gordon Swaim) and tries to build a relationship with him while probing him some life lessons he can bestow upon him. And the answer from his grandpa is to shoot everything and everybody in sight. Silly and funny short that tickled my funny bone. 

The main feature THE GO-GETTERS tells the tale of Owen (Aaron Abrams), a lazy, good for nothing drunk, and Lacie (Tommie-Amber Pirie), a pill popping prostitute who was just fired by her pimp. Basically, they are pathetic losers who team up to scheme, steal and con their way to get the $98 they need to escape living in the city and in the country where Lacie's grandmother's house is. Of course, things go from bad to worse for these two sad sacks as they wonder if they can even work with each other.

If you’re a fan of Canadian exploitation movies (of Canuxploitation as it’s affectingly called), then you’re gonna this cinematic export. I laughed so hard during the screening that I thought I was gonna bust a gut! Both Abrams and Pirie are extremely hilarious as their amazing on-screen comedic chemistry is displayed up on screen. Credit also goes to Jeremy LaLonde for his excellent directing and screenwriters Abrams and Brendan Gall for their uproarious story and characters that I fell in love with. Also, there is enough F-bombs in the movie that it would make Martin Scorsese blush!! My favorite comedy of the festival!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

Click here to view the film's remaining screenings.
The sixth and final show of the day was the excellent midnight screening of SHORT FILM PROGRAM 5: MINDBENDERS. So I was expecting to have my mind bend extremely bad! Wait, that came out wrong. Anyway, here are the shorts that I saw:

Arcane: Set in here in America in the 1950's, a young woman is questioned regarding a brutal murder that she claimed that is was done by mysterious creature of some unknown origin. Creepy mindbender.

Cargo: Basically, a music video taking place in an elevator. Not so much a mindbender.

Contact: An young man's date with his boyfriend is interrupted as the ship's internal system begins to shuts down as the ship is in trouble. Whoa, mindbender blown here!

Defunctionary: Like in life, death is full of hilarious bureaucracy and stupidity. Funny mindbender!

Filippa: Dad comes home to his daughter, but was it really his daughter? Scary mindbender!

Immersion: A thief wakes up and finds a suitcase full of money, two dead guys and a gun. But is it real or is it a test? Or maybe it's both! Thoughtful mindbender.

Information Superhighway: A man participates in an experiment to test artificial intelligence in driverless cars. Decent mindbender.

Pie: Carol invites Annette over for homemade pie, but what's in the pie? And what's up with Carol's husband? Dark and hilarious mindbender!!

Steve's Kinkoes: A man goes to an all-night photocopy place to make posters of his missing cat. But why is the copy machine scanning the man? Copy induced mindbender!

Strangers: Another artsy music video. Nothing new mindbender.

Valentina: On the hottest day ever, a maid finds out that her vagina talks and complains about the heat. Funny ass mindbender!!

Yoshua: A group of outcast teens must flee their hometown of South Central, Los Angeles in order to keep their blue alien friend safe from a hunt against his kind. Feelings mindbender!

And that was Day Four of my cinematic trip to Cinequest. So far I'm at 17 films in 4 days! Getting closer to my 60 films for this year goal!! 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! 

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!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 2 - February 28, 2018

Hello again everyone and welcome to Day Two of my trip to the Cinequest 28 Film Festival! Today I had the pleasure of seeing five diverse films, and all five films were foreign films; all ranging from the emotional to the thrilling! So let's not waste any time and get on with the show!

I headed over to the newly renovated 3 Below Theaters, formally known as the Camera 3 Entertainment. The first screening had a short film screened before it entitled LEMONADE. The short focuses on Kristin Farrell (Katie Kerr) who is having a hard time in her life, but has an incredible girlfriend Liz (Sujata Day).  However, life throws her a curve ball when her mom (Dawn Alden) calls and tells her who her father is. Directed by Troy Price, the short was simple, sweet and funny. I liked it a lot and was a great way to start off my day!

After that I saw the Finland export STAR BOYS (Kaiken se Kestaa). Written and directed by Visa Koiso-Kanttila, the movie focuses on the relationships between parents and their kids. Best friends Vess and Karrlo must contend with their parents' hang ups, swinging parties and their mistakes that affect them each differently, but the results are still the same. Soon , they begin to rebel and defy their parents as they grow in their identities and learn that being a parent doesn't mean you know what your doing.

This was a very deep and moving film. Its theme is quite simple: what parents do, regardless if it's good and bad, it will always affect the children. Set against the simple ways of life and the serene beauty of Finland, the movie proves that even though there is a language barrier, we all feel the same, we all make the same mistakes, and no matter how hard we try, we're still only human. A really powerful film to start my day off with! 4 out of five stars!

I made my way over to the Hammer Theatre Center for my next screening. Set in China during the summer of 1988, END OF SUMMER tells the story of fifth grader Xiaoyang, who is a major soccer fan and wants to try-out for the soccer team at his school. Alas, it is a reality that might not come true when his dad, who just happens to be the academic director of his school, looks down on sports and wants him to excel in his studies. But things become complicated his dad becomes infatuated with the school's new English teacher, which causes an even bigger riff between them. However, the young boy finds a friendship with his neighbor, who is a huge soccer fanatic.

Director Zhou Quan really brings on screen and pure and loving friendship between Xiaoyang and his elderly neighbor he calls Mr. Grandpa Zheng. They both wear their emotions on their sleeve as they both have issues they need to work out. Despite that they come from different generations, their is a mutual respect and love that radiates on-screen. Pao-Ming Ku (Grandpa) and Zishan Rong (Xiaoyang) are simply fantastic and play off one another beautifully. It was very reminiscent of the relationship I had with my Papa when I was that young. Again, language barriers do not exist because love is the universal language. Another powerful and emotionally charged film! 5 out of 5 stars!!

I stayed at the Hammer Theatre Center for my third film of the day. Taking place in Central Eurpoe,  THE LINE (CIARA) follows Adam as he is struggling to find the balance family and his work, which just happens to be as an international cigarette smuggler (Smoking is bad kids. Don't smoke!) He's the man in charge, but when the border of the Schengen area is secured, he begins to lose his cool and the line between his personal and professional lives become more complicated than even he could ever imagine.

Wow, was this movie amazing!! Director Peter Bebjak is one damn fine director! His compositions, set-ups, and camera panning are really polished and extremely stylized. Not only was this a beautifully shot movie, Bebjack also wrote the screenplay, which if filled with themes of family, loyalty, life, love and death. It was thrilling and moving, funny and sad, there's something for everyone to love. Imagine THE GODFATHER was made in Slovakia/Ukraine. This era's version of a crime family! 5 out of 5 stars!!

After the screening, I went back to the 3 Below Theaters to see my fourth film for the day. MANY HEAVENS (Vele Hemels Boven de Zevende) is about family with some serious drama. Eva is the person that everyone in her family counts on, but she is only one person and that is too much too handle. Her sister is in an unhappy marriage so she begins to have an affair with a dark and handsome artist, her niece is constantly being picked on and school and has no real friends, her mother comlains about everything because she has nothing better to do, and her father is carrying a deep and dark secret that he's been carrying for years. Her job as a social worker is starting to take ts toll on her, and she's single with no boyfriend in sight and a weight problem, this according to her mother. Eventually, Eva's silent pain begins to take a hold of her, forcing her to make a decision that will affect her family forever.

Again, another powerful, emotionally charged film that looks at family dynamics, the secrets that we withhold from one another, and how we can overlook the pain in others while trying to work on our own. Eva's condition is something we can all relate to, thanks in large part to Brit Van Hoof's acting! Her performance was absolutely phenomenal! Add director's Jan Matthys visually stunning, dream-like reality and this was a film that will stay with you long after the credits end!! My favorite film of the day!! 5 out of 5 Stars!!

The fifth and final film was at the 3 Below Theaters as well. AMATEUR begins with poor Martin (Esteban Lamothe), who works at a television station. Having been just dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his manager contacts the station's owner Battaglia (Alejandro Awada), who puts him up in an apartment that he owns. Thing look up, but when his manager asks him to look for an old horror film (BLOOD OF THE VIRGINS in case you were wondering) on U-Matic, he reluctantly agrees and begins to look for it. But when he an amateur pornographic film, he soon realizes that it's his his neighbor, Isabel (Jazmin Stuart). Add some healthy doses of sex, murder, and blackmail, and you have a film that is full of surprises.

The film is filled with references to the past: Alfred Hitchcock, old horror films, New Wave Films from the 1960's, Dario Argento style lighting, and sexually provocative movies. This was a fun movie to watch, as it entertained the hell out of me! Sebastian Perillo directed the film, while he and Lucila Ruíz co-wrote the script. Together, they made a smart, funny, sexy, and thrilling movie that spoke to my inner film nerd! 5 out of 5 stars!!

And folks, there you have Day Two of Cinequest 28! What an amazing array of films I saw today! All together I've seen 6 films in 2 days. So far I'm right on track to reaching 60 films! Remember the festival ends on Sunday, March 11th so make sure you come out here to 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!