Cinequest 2020 was cut short. Three flicks I liked.

Fried Barry. My mind was bent! And not by the Mindbenders shorts, which were a bit tame in my opinion, maybe I am getting jaded. But in the movie Fried Barry, a drug addict is abducted by aliens, his body is taken over by one of them, and Barry/alien experiences stuff on Earth for the first time, mostly at night. Do not expect 3-act story structure. Barry goes from dance floor to flying over hills to rescuing child prisoners to giving a prostitute a big and very fast surprise, and Barry speaks very few words. Instead, Barry emotes with wide intense trying-to-comprehend eyes, a wild mop of hair, a mouth alternately stone-face Buster Keaton and Tina Turner’s Acid Queen, and a lanky, electro-shock moving body. Fried Barry reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix’s one-man-performance in Joker. The director told me others had made the same comparison. This movie pushes the hard-R line, but you have never seen anything like it. The soundtrack’s hard base beat is a match for Barry. He inspires me to create a character sorta like that, if that is physically possible. Fried Barry is one of a kind.

Asking For It. A comedy about a young woman being stalked, and stepping up to fight back. Actually, the young woman gets a lot of help from a tough, snarky, strong new roommate (Irene Morales). And no help at all from the police (best you-hate-him but he-makes-you-laugh obnoxious cop ever). I talked with Irene Morales, and she was much like her character, I wish I had more friends like her. When I asked the director and actress about what they like and dislike in women in today’s movies, and I said I have created a super heroine, the director said she disliked when the message is delivered with a overly heavy hand, and Irene said how can some superheroines run without their boobs flopping them off balance? I absolutely see her point, but I always wondered how their costumes do not give them super-wedgies while fighting the baddies. Maybe my mind is a bit lower than hers. They said the movie was about 10 percent improvised, and the cast knew how to toss in even better lines. Fun movie, great characters.

Breaking Fast. A gay muslim romantic comedy. I saw it in the California Theater in San Jose, and that was the right venue. It had the audience laughing and applauding. Before I saw it, I was concerned that the lead character would be too perfect, but the movie expertly played his niceness and his flaws. And when he meets his love interest, and they said they both loved Christopher Reeve’s Superman, I was rooting for them. But I loved even more the lead’s best buddy. A flamboyantly gay character: kinda swishy body language, his gay voice lets you know that he loves musicals, and I was a little surprised I liked him. A LOT! If you remember my review of the Catwoman movie (scroll to the last paragraph), its gay stereotype character made my blood pressure go nuclear. Why did I love the Breaking Fast best buddy? Because he was funny, confident, smart, and heartfelt. You laugh WITH him, not AT him. Breaking Fast knew the difference, and the director of Catwoman never will. (Did I mention that the food on the screen looked so good, I could have sworn I tasted it?)

The rest of Cinequest 2020 has been postponed to August. I intend to be there. I have other Cinequest movie reviews that I intend to post also. Stay tuned.

Cinequest 2019 – how actors do it!

I try to get into character and deliver emotion when I read my stories at open mics. I recently read (out loud!) some of a Kittygirl story at my critique group. I did LOTS of villains, which the group liked. But the leader pointed out that I did not put Kittygirl into the narrator (point-of-view) voice.

I bought my usual Film Lovers pass for Cinequest (San Jose and Redwood City film festival). Shamier Anderson was in Negroland, a short sci-fi film inspired by the poisoned water in Flint, MI. Since his performance was mostly silent, I asked him how he put emotion into his performance. He said he gets the emotions inside, which gets them into his face, body, and eyes. It worked!

Later, I watched the movie Auggie, about a retired guy who gets glasses containing an augmented-reality companion. I met the lead actor Richard Kind there, and I asked him if he had an internal process he used to deliver emotion. He looked amused and said, “Nope, I just get up there and pretend.” That works for him pretty well.

I’ll pretend. And feel. And do the right voice at the right time even when a bunch of my supervillains argue all over each other’s dialog.

Michael Ironside and me at Cinequest!

For the past few days, I have gone to Cinequest 2018 in San Jose and Redwood City. The photo is Michael Ironside and I. You cannot see it, but he put his arm around me. Nice guy! He chuckled and poked me in the tummy when I told him I’d never forget Darryl Revok (the villain from the movie Scanners who made a guy’s head explode by thinking at him, although I think he could have done that with his evil smile). His performance in Knuckleball showed that he’s still GOT IT! I love older actors, their talent and skill age like fine wine. During Q&A for the movie Knuckleball, Michael pointed out so much about the movie’s themes (like love given and love withheld) that made me think, yeah, he is so right! He knows his craft!

Here is a rundown of the movies I have seen so far.

Short Film Program 1: Too Much Pressure. Too many sad violins. Okay, so I am a happy ending kind of guy. I liked the first short, Fighter, about a young man with Down’s Syndrome deciding if he really wants to step into the boxing ring (I was rooting for him). But as for the others? When they start with a long, drawn out, monotone violin note, I know I am in for a depressing time.

Short Film Program 2: Bending Space, Folding Time. The Apocalypse Will be Automated: Siri and zombies do not mix. Hybrids: Fantastic visuals. Rakka: Sigourney Weaver in an alien invasion short, and she’s still got it! Space Girls: Adorable! Tree House Time Machine: Best short film title ever, excellent kid actors!

Flin Flon: A Hockey Town. A feel good documentary. I am not a sports guy but I loved that high school hockey team!

The Go-Getters: Made me think of Repo Man, in a good way. The low I.Q. protagonists had rapid-fire dialog and the lowest goal ever: 50 bucks.

Peaches. Time travel comedy complete with retrofuture commercials!

Short Film Program 4: Animated Worlds. I missed the first short because Peaches ran a little long. Catherine had the best gloomy humor I’ve seen in years. Darrel and Our Wonderful Nature -The Common Chameleon were goofy rivals to Pixar. I Like Girls was cute and made me smile. The Edge of Alchemy was the longest short and had the least amount of story, funny how that happens.

From Baghdad to The Bay. Documentary about Ghazwan Alshari, a translator for the U.S. forces in Iraq, who was tortured for trying to help. I thought of George Carlin’s bit about oxymorons, like “Military intelligence.” Ghazwan came out as gay, which referenced another oxymoron: “Honor killings.” Homophobes have NO HONOR!!! Ghazwan is a gourmet chef, and the food looked YUMMY. I rooted for him. A lot. And I got my happy ending.

Skull. My good clone (my lookalike whom I met at Cinequest years ago, and we have been movie buddies ever since) picked this one. Science Fiction from Thailand. Unfortunately, the filmmaker needed to learn a big rule of writing: if a scene does not move the story forward, cut it. Skull was 2 hours and 10 minutes. With proper editing it could be a good film short. But I am rooting for that director, he made this with a lot of personal effort and on a very tight budget. Keep trying, kid, but study screenwriting.

Knuckleball: The director said the movie is a more realistic Home Alone. During Q&A, I made my usual comparison to Alfred Hitchcock, but the director said he was more inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and I can see that. Lotsa suspense served hot and cold!

Short Film Program 7: Something Funny. I love this, lots of laughs. My faves were Space Butthole (so many butt puns!!!), The Spectacular Summer of Weredog and Amy (sad ending but I still smiled), and Bigfoot’s Love Slave. It is hard to go wrong with this program.

Short Film Program 6: DocuNation. Good lineup. My fave was 6th Graders School Roy Moore’s Attorney. You’d think a highly paid lawyer would be able to put sentences together. Nope.

Pick of the Litter. Follow one litter of puppies growing up, in training to be guide dogs for the blind. Most do not make the cut. There was a row of little girls behind me going “Aw!” Dogs are cinematic naturals. And yes, I got my happy ending.

Speechless. Joined my good clone for this one. About a writer who is trying to care for his senile mother. Scandinavian, sad, but an uplifting ending. I have to admit that as a writer, I would have liked a little more about him as a writer.

You & Me. Romantic comedy. Deaf girl, blind guy, goofy relatives, and a baby at the end. Lots of great performances: the girl’s way-too-many-philosophy-classes father was a hoot.

My Tourette’s. I liked it a lot. I only saw part of it because I had to meet my good clone before it ended.

My Cinequest 2016 Likes

cinequest2016-mindbendersI have been slow rating what I have seen at Cinequest 2016. Here is what I have really liked so far.

How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town. I grew up in a small town. This town looked better than mine. There is a real affection for the small town characters. And I got to see some of them do an ORGY!!! I rated it highly, it’s a feel good movie, and what makes you feel better than an orgy?

The Brainwashing of My Dad. Young woman’s dad goes right-wing dittohead after listening to Fox Snooze and Rush. She studied the right-wing media machine: over 90% of radio talk shows being right-wing is spooky. So is so many old white males swallowing any lies spewed at them, what is WRONG with you guys? I am 60 but my brain has filters, GO GET SOME! Happy ending: the dad went back to normal after his wife took away his Fox.

Mindbenders shorts. Short films to stretch the mind. I took a selfie (bad focus, darn it) with two guys who did shorts, both named Monster. The one on the left did a spoof of Godzilla, the middle guy’s flick was about a boy whom monsters under the bed would be wise to avoid. (He recognized me from a comic book shop, fanboys are great.) My fave was How Deep Can I Go: best twisted musical number I have seen in years.

Love Is All You Need? Simple idea: show a world where homosexual is the norm and heterosexual is gay. Turns the tables, and (excuse the pun) it is played straight. (I admit if I wrote this, I’d go for laughs.) I talked to Kim Shields (director) briefly: the inspiration for this was bullying. It hit the heart: it got tears from the audience, and I wanted to jump onto the screen with a baseball bat and give the bigots a wood shampoo.

Chuck Norris Vs. Communism. How can I NOT see that? About how videotapes of American TV and movies translated for Romania helped overthrow the rotten dictator. YAY!

Buddy Solitaire. A story of a flawed comedian, and it had an impact on me. I will rewrite my novel to put a BIGGER flaw into Super Holly Hansson: her helping to bring superpower to the fanboys should have a sneakier and selfish ulterior motive, and it should get her in TROUBLE with the fanboys later on.

Transfixed. A little transsexual slice of life. I was rooting for her.

I missed the Sally Field movie (Hello, My Name Is Doris) about the older woman pursuing the younger man. Darn it.

Cinequest: Survival kids, and where’s a Klingon when you need one?

Walked out of the Maze Runner (yes, THAT Maze Runner) and instead saw Operation Arctic, about three Norwegian kids stranded on an Arctic island. Those kids made some mistakes, but I say they still had more brains than all the Maze Runner kids combined. One maze kid says no matter what you think of to get out of this prison, we tried it twice, we’ve been here years. I thought of something, and I watched the movie less than fifteen minutes. And what’s with having every new prisoner fight the leader? They are in a tall wall prison guarded by killer robots. To rephrase what was said to Al Capone: Maze kids, your fists are no good there!

Also saw Three Windows and a Hanging. It has won awards. Quiet, slow, no big fights or bangs, and it held my interest. It covers the touchy theme of cultures where if a woman is raped, she shames the family’s honor. Still, I admit I wanted Star Trek next gen’s Worf to beam down, grab that village’s leader by the neck, hoist him high, and growl, “I am KLINGON, and you have NO honor!” It’s the geek in me.

Cinequest: Motormouth Inspiration! And a twin.

I saw “Songs She Wrote About People She Knows” at Cinequest. A very funny movie. The lead actress gives an emotionally restrained an d singing performance that reminds me of Buster Keaton and Daffy Duck: she did not have the most lines, but boy can she emote! Her face was a joy to watch. She was paired with a guy who was a motormouth. His blabbing was a symphony of laughs. She and he were a perfect duet.

I need a bit of motormouth in my writing.I am thinking of my scene where fanboys argue with the villainous John Glutt. John does a lot of windbag exposition. Fanboys love to argue. I need to rewrite that into rapid-fire dialogue. Readers do not skip dialogue.

cinequest-twinP.S. I met my twin at Cinequest. At least, according to his friends and his wife. (Well, I assume it was after their lips touched). I am the one on the left. Or is it the right? Darn you, my evil twin! Or is he the good one?

Cinequest: an old email from Richard von Busack

Last night, I saw the old restored black and white movie L’Atalante. It was hosted by Richard von Busack, the chief film and literature writer for Metro Newspapers. Years ago, Richard reviewed the Cowboy Bebop movie and said the character Edward was the most irritating character in cartoondom. I emailed him and mentioned several more annoying cartoon characters, such as Orko, Snarf, Hello Kitty, and a few others, one that was a true horror. Below is his reply, showing that he too knows his cartoons. I reprint it with his permission, editing out a little non-cartoon stuff at the start. Yeah, he remembered this after about ten years!

Dear David–
     Thank you for the praise and for your funny and even-handed (under the circumstances) letter. I saw that Hello Kitty animated, and it befouled the world by its very existence. I thought the point of Hello Kitty was that she had no mouth. And all of a sudden she’s saying these cutesy-poo things and trying to molest a bulldog in some kind of distressing cross-species romance.
     The bad magician character [Orko] in He Man was deeply hideous and turned up in a drawing by Butch Bradley in one of Peter Bagge’s comics…I never saw Thundercats, but they, too…
     oh, why pussyfoot: Scrappy Doo is a horror beyond reckoning, and the fact that he turns out to be the villain in the Scooby Doo movie gave it a few points in my book. Not that “points in my book” is worth much at the bank. Scrappy Doo’s annoying Brooklyn accent, his hydrocephalic head, his psychotic willingness to pick fights, places him below many other Hanna-Barbarous nervous-system abraders including Ogee (toddler slave master of Magilla Gorilla) and Tubs and Tyke–whalewatchers in Moby Dick: The Godawful Cartoon Series. Let’s remember least loved cartoon characters like Sick Sick Sidney the complaining elephant, would be hip 60’s Poochy-progenitors like Kool Kat, Drive-in movie fly repellant like Honey Halfwitch…I really should have watched my tongue about Edward,
who is merely the most aggravating JAPANESE cartoon character, making Sailor Moon look like Susan Sontag.
     Let’s don’t forget Ku Klux Clam and Yellowbelly Yak–best, Richard