We’ve got two San Jose Rep screenings—March 7 at 7pm and March 8 at 10pm—of Glory Boy Days, Paul Encinas’ locally made story of a group of downtown college-aged pals. Miss these screening and you can also catch the film at the SF International Asian-American Film Fest’s local weekend-long stand, March 22 at 9:15 at the Camera 12.
Considering the large local cast and involvement, Glory Boy Days has to be called a long-awaited movie by the SJSU students who worked so hard on it. It follows the afternoon and long night of Lando (Jared Mendiola), a film-fancying, music-loving young man from an abusive home. He’s just turning 21 and he’s uncertain about what to do with his life. He’s hoping to celebrate the important birthday at the premiere party-palace in town Aces’ place.
Aces (Eric Callero, very good) is a slightly older guy. A local legend, and he knows it, as we can see from the scene of him preening in a mirror. Unfortunately, Aces’ housemates are down with chicken pox and so Lando’s big night turns out to be a rudderless search for a party. Meanwhile his friends, in a sort of San Jose Graffiti, tour around looking for action during the course of the evening.
Two romances hold it together. The first of the two is the deepest, the story of Lars (Riley Kempton) and his slightly unstable girlfriend Friday (Charisse Loriaux), who are squabbling over matters they can’t quite get their tongues around. Encinas gives full weight to the drama, particularly its resolution in a long scene in a car, but he also tries to add some Kevin Smith-ish quality in an argument about an unnatural act Friday supposedly committed with her old boyfriend. Starting-out filmmakers: the bumpkin joke is not your friend. It’s nobody’s friend.
The other romance occurs between Lando and a girl he’s sweet on, Tara (Lauren Plaxco), a renegade member of Alpha Zeta sorority and a serious film fan. I loved the scene of the two hanging around Le Video in San Francisco, though it introduces a problem. When Plaxco looks at a picture of Bogart and rubs her lower lip with her thumb like Belmondo did in Breathless when he saw the poster for In a Lonely Place—when we see Lando and Tara standing full length, like Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, talking about the films they love—and when Encinas fades out on a shot of Le Video’s Charlie Chaplin mascot, he’s got us on one level. We know the director knows and loves classic movies. But he’s also accidentally invited us to compare his work to the masters, and that’s something you don’t want to do when you’re starting out.
Anyway, in coming years after they’ve gone on to bigger things, Encinas and his actors are going to be pleased they recorded that fleeting mood of college life: the melodrama, the instant romances that seem to mean everything in the whole wide world and the devastating importance of finding the right Satuday-night party. And it’s always surprising and revealing to see our area through the lens of a camera, whether it’s the blaze of neon on a sign sighted through a car window or a time-lapse sunset over the city.