Cinequest Mar 4, Meet, Greet and Critique

Hung out at the lounge on the second floor of San Jose Rep and met Corpse Run‘s director John-Michael Thomas, who is proceeding onward to the Phoenix Film Festival; this self-taught filmmaker was talking about how he cast star Brea Grant right before she went up to the big time in TV’s Heroes. He also insists there’s a false dichotomy between indie and Hollywood films, feeling that one feeds the other. He’s sending me his film so more on it later.

Mostly, I yakked with Charlie Cockey, CQ’s man in Brno, who is still couch-camping to Follow That Dream; we were mostly talking about his former life as a folk rock musician in the Haight Ashbury days.

Arrived too late for the Chekhov adapataion of The Bet, though according to Alejandro Adams, it has the movie has that thing where there’s a “swoosh” sound every time there’s a whip pan. The programming was going smoothly, though sometimes films get held up in customs, presumably because some members of the Medellin Cartel are pressing loads of cocaine into the replicas of a 35mm film or something like that.

Went with Charley to Bitter and Twisted on multiple recommendations, and wasn’t disappointed. First came the in-house ‘Quest promotional film, with Danny Masterson being interviewed (and being a bit of a ween, if you ask me) as well as previews for Blue Road. “Bullcrit,” according to M. Snyder of San Francisco, is the term for the practice of relying on someone else’s review for judgement in yours. And yet, from the trailers, it looks like Metro’s Michael Gant nailed the film.

 I mean, it’s great seeing the Vegas lights slide over a polished car hood; it was great even back in ’78 when the car was being driven by Dan Tanna. However (as per the unjustly laureled In Search of a Midnight Kiss*) it’s good to see visuals making a comeback, after the indie-film movement had got rid of plot, writing, acting, and visuals. One out of four ain’t bad.

As for Bitter and Twisted—agree with Charlie that the title is awful, as awful as the title of Mommy Is at the Hairdresser’s (another must-see in Charlie’s estimation). But B & T, this wryly Australian twist on the Ordinary People plot, really had a lot going on. Noni Hazelhurst, as the neglected wife of a mountainously obese car salesman (Steve Rogers) starts looking for love in the wrong places; meanwhile “funny puppy” son Ben (Christopher Weeks) is getting picked up by a snazzy male friend. And the girl he thinks he loves, Indigo (Leeanna Walsman, Zam Wessell from the Star Wars saga, ahoy geeks) is of  in love with a married man, and is bringing a baseball bat to the m.m.’s house to prove it. Melbourne stands in for Moscow in this Chekhovian drama of all-around failure and dashed hopes; Hazelhurst herself is the one who seemed like the standout in a melodrama-free comedy of disappointment. Good on yer, director Christopher Weekes.

Didn’t stay to see Kevin Pollak, but am good with that decision on the grounds that I had deadlines galore. I did hear his Shatner on KFJC, and it is a stitch.

Would like to recommend a couple of local attractions to visitors. “Some films are a slice of life, mine are a slice of cake,” said Hitchcock. If you’re looking for a slice of cake that’ll dwell in your memories, check the Flames Coffee Shop right next to the big San Jose library; the “Wheel of Ginormous Cakes” is an ancient San Jose pre-movie trad dating from the Flames’ other location next to the Domes on Winchester Boulevard.

Afterward, check out the Window Gallery on Fourth near Santa Clara for a display of eccentric and antique bicycles, including one Believe It or Not relic, a bike impaled by the trunk of a “Tree of Heaven”—”tree of heaven” being the pestilential exotic camphor that I dug up by the cord from the backyard of my Willow Glen house, enough to call it Tree of Purgatory. Was delighted to hear this plant has been nicknamed “Ghetto Palm.”

*to steal a joke from the outtakes of Tropic Thunder: “Runner Up at the Everyone Wins Film Festival”

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