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 an Iraq has 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.

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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.

Meeting short filmmakers!

As in they made short films: the filmmakers I met Sunday at the San Jose Short Film Festival were not physically short. I like meeting filmmakers. They appreciate their audiences. They will talk to them. I like their creative minds.

whenfishflyLisa Rose Snow did When Fish Fly. She said the lead girl in the short got the part when Lisa asked her to emote (not speaking) being sad that her cat had died. Reminded me of when Gene Simmons of Kiss got a part when the director said convince me you want to rip my heart out without saying anything. Lisa is a nice lady with a great taste for color; When Fish Fly has colorful houses, cereal, balloons, and fish.

fosterdogLisa Alonso Vear did Foster Dog, with an adorable dog in the lead. Lisa told me she directed him with laser pointers (I had thought that was a cat thing!). The film has voiceovers for the dogs, and the voices fit perfectly. She said that she is looking to make a feature film. Lisa and the doggie deserve that. I asked if the dog’s agent might demand a raise: bigger laser pointer, yummy doggie treats. That discussion veered slightly into my thoughts on power: I believe power does not corrupt, it just makes you more of what you already are. She felt that power could corrupt, in that we all had some things in us that are, well, kinda icky. It was a friendly discussion. Probably because neither of us have much power.

wildandprecious2Cusi Cram did Wild and Precious, a comedy about family. All the actors were fun to watch, but two really stuck out: the 12 year old girl, and the older, leather-jacketed, uber-tough&cool grandma with the younger biker boyfriend (a nice switch on the older-guy/younger-girl cliche). I have come to love tough female characters since I created Holly Hansson. I think Cusi said this was her first film, and she did GOOD! Please make more, Cusi!

intothedarkLukas Hassel did Into The Dark, a SciFi short with a twist ending. He also was the lead actor, and did the entire performance while strapped to a metal grid. Now, THAT is something to put on the resume! He said that a big theme for the short is the five steps to accepting death, and that we might think we are independent but we all need people. By the way, I did not recognize he was the actor until he said so: he is much taller and less scruffy in real life. He says he made it to help open the door to full-length screenplays. I identify with that, having switched from my novel to short stories. Try to prime the pump.

Several of these wonderful filmmakers gave me cards. I gave them my Holly cards. Now I’d better get my short stories out. If they can get on big movie screens, I can get onto Kindles.

Hellyfish RULEZ!!! (I HEART the San Jose Short Film Festival!)

hellyfish_posterI’ve been at the San Jose Short Film Festival Friday and Saturday. Short films from around the world. Smart, funny, scary, thoughtful, and I’ll be there tomorrow also. My faves so far:

HELLYFISH! Radioactive-mutated killer jellyfish! A tough Russian lady! Dumb surf guys and almost as dumb beach babes! A crusty old salt! FUN! I met the filmmaker, Patrick Longstreth, and his wife. I asked if he was inspired by older horror movies. He said, yes, and that Jaws and Piranha and beach horror movies start at night. Patrick did most of the special effects, and his killer jellyfish are funny and KEWL! He gave me a sticker and a card. I think I’ll put it on my iPad, since I do a lot of writing with it. He mentioned that he liked Sharktopus better than Sharknado, and I agreed. I gave him my Holly card. He and his wife liked it. I think there is a connection with indie people.

Other shorts that fit me nice and tight:

Gear. Blade-Runner-esque, except Gear keeps the story tight. The filmmakers said they kept the story focussed on Mazzy (the girl hero) and her relationship with the robot. The story structure, foreshadowing, and character development were perfect.

Cooped. Cartoon of doggie who really wants to go out. Plympton-esque hilarity.

Rabbit and Deer. Long at 17 minutes, and it held my interest the whole time. Plays with 2D and 3D animation, and how Rabbit and Deer maintain their love through the third dimension.

Shotgun. Three girls burn rubber and toast film cliches.

One Armed Man. Starred Charles Haid, who played Renko in Hill Street Blues. This guy is a great actor. During a Q&A (and between my coughs, still had a cold), I said that writers get advice like show don’t tell, write what you know, and so on, and I asked if there is such advice for actors. To thine own self be true, he said, find the emotion in yourself, and also get your SELF out of the way. He was more elegant about it. He teaches acting, he directs, this guy was GOOD.

Catch trailers for The Gunfighter, Rabbit and Deer here.

Cinequest is over. Last movie bits.

littom-final-poster-web-readyFinal highlights. God, I love Cinequest.

Love In The Time Of Monsters: A delightful throwback to goofy cheap horror flicks of yesteryear, except in this case, the actors and actresses can act and get lotsa laughs. Killer zombies in bigfoot suits! One electrified zombie, funny how nobody thought of that before! A mutated moose! Tough sexy girls! A tuff old hermit! EEEEEVIL slimy squirrels with BIG NASTY MOUTHS! Dastardly ducks! Lots of laughs! This will wash that bitter, hating Paranormal Saw movie crap outta yer skull and replace it with fun, fun, FUN! Check their blog, uncleslavkosfuntimeblog.com, I’ll try to post there also and point here.

Cheatin’: I have followed Bill Plympton’s work for years and years. No dialogue, hand-drawn animation with Bill’s usual crazy surreal bendiness, and a smart story of love and heartbreak and revenge and crazy tech and a happy ending.

Slingshot: A documentary about Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway) and his water purification device called the Slingshot. Inspiring. Heartwarming. Hopeful. Smart. Why can’t America admire scientists as much as athletes?

Blood Punch: Twisted and bloody and supernatural and funny and a hoot and a half! The guy and girl main characters are touching, the other male lead is a psycho who’ll make you laugh as he is killed, killed, killed. A smart, well-structured script that takes you for a looping ride.

Dom Hemingway: Jude Law as a larger than life loser, his own worst enemy, always fun to watch and to root for (no matter how nutzoid he gets) who finally finds what he really wants from life. Funniest and most human slo-mo crash I’ve seen in ages (Michael Bay and Matrix crashes are just noise by comparison).

Cinemaquest sci-fi

Some shorts worth mentioning that I saw at Cinemaquest.

I’m 23 and there’s a effing monster under my bed. (Okay, I cleaned up one word in the title.) What if monsters under the bed are real? Get a hot chick to help get rid of it, of course!

A stitch in time for $9.99. Witty slapstick about time travel and a lady more worried about a guy liking her than another urgent matter.

Shift. No dialog, great effects, perfect editing. I had to mention during Q&A that in comic books, someone invents a super-powerful device and instead of running to the patent office, he starts casing banks. (Although Shift gets around that loophole neatly.)

Park Arcadia. A dimension-hopping story with a strong female lead and San Jose settings.

I talked to James Croke, who made Shift. He has a couple of movie scripts optioned, I hope they get made! It was midnight when he, I, and a media lady I had met earlier in the week went to a bar. He told interesting stories over the usual music and crowd noise. I did not last long there, I am older. I was tired out the day after, so I stayed home and polished another Holly short story. Her fight with the deadly and boyfriend-stealing Karate Queen, who is loosely based on a writer/poet from the Peninsula Writers Club. I think she’ll help with the technical terms for karate blows. She showed me some blows a few weeks ago. On a punching bag, not on me, that would hurt some.

Going to Confession

miguel-ali-and-meConfessions of a Womanizer was rapid-fire funny, my kind of comedy. Had dozens upon dozens of funny ways to refer to sex, both the act and the body parts. Gary Busey was in this, and he is a HOOT. The lead actor plays another flawed guy (boy do I sense a pattern here, I am glad my superheroine Holly is flawed, Superboyscout, I mean Superman, can be a little boring). A flock of ladies  in the flick are great eye candy and turn in great performances, especially the cougar (RAWR!!!) and the Bella twins, twin sister pro wrestlers who do a GREAT acting job in this flick. There’s also a transgendered lady who provides laughs and some heartwarming.

That’s the director and writer next to me: Miguel Ali. Nice guy, and he writes well judging by this movie. During Q&A, I asked if the script was based on anything personal. He mentioned sex addiction therapy. Do writers need addictions? My Cousin Ben once asked me, “Dave. Do you drink?” Me: “No.” “Do you smoke?” “No.” “Do you do drugs?” “No.” “Dave, you’re a writer. Writers should have addictions.” I said, “I drink coffee.” Miguel has a nice wife (I know because I talked to her) and a sweet-natured 1.5 year old boy (I know because he smiled at me, and I think I got the boy’s age about right).

P.S. I STILL need to put my Holly story about her bad hair day on Amazon, but Cinequest is keeping me busy. Sometime next week. I really want that story out there so I can write more stories and finish that novel I been workin’ on, you know, that novel I been workin’ on for about, oh, five years now, that nnnnnnnnnovel? Okay, enough Stewie Griffin.