Art At Its Finest – A First Look at Silicon Valley Contemporary Art Expo

I went into the Silicon Valley Contemporary thinking I could walk through the exhibit in an hour and I’d maybe see a few pieces that appealed. I was completely unprepared for how MUCH art I’d see, how many different KINDS of art there would be and that I’d like so much of it. The vibe running through the Exhibit Hall at the San Jose Convention Center was electric AND eclectic. What a fine gathering of people, an truly international, cultural crowd, unlike anything I’ve seen Downtown before. A people-watching extravaganza in and of itself! Remarkable and SO fun!

52 galleries from 10 countries are represented in the 50, 000 square foot hall. So much to see and so much intriguing, smart, fun and amazing art, it’s kind of mind-blowing. REALLY creative sounds terribly obvious, but it really was astounding. This show really is the best of the best, so well curated, with pieces that are so interesting conceptually as well as beautifully crafted and presented.

Some  of my favorite pieces were the ones that look very different from a distance than they do up close and when you see what materials were used and you get to talk to the artists and the gallery reps about the inspirations, techniques and the meaning behind the pieces, it just opens up a new way to look at each piece. I don’t always get that personal story in a museum or even in some galleries and it was refreshing. This was a perfect environment to get everything you needed in order to “understand” a piece and increase your chance of being affected by it.

Don’t miss this opportunity (Through this Sunday only). Go and go with friends (or be prepared to talk to strangers there) because it’s all about perspective and individual impact and dialogue with this event. Give yourself at least 3 hours if not twice that to explore ALL the variety! 5 out of 5 well deserved jewels in the review tiara for what is eye-opening, awe-inspiring and hopefully will become an annual event! A FREE day pass is available here while supplies last!

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REVIEW – Game On – San Jose Rep

So the Rep has been batting .400 this season…

Yeah, sorry, I can’t do it. I don’t even know what that means. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t get baseball. I’ll give you a second to get over that. There. Can we move on now? Great. Baseball definitely plays a significant part in San Jose Rep’s current show Game On, but it’s got so much else going on for it, you can, like me, be ignorant of most things baseball and still really enjoy this production.

Aside from hockey (which I adore on every level possible for some odd reason) I’m not a big sports fan. What I do get though is the spectator sport that involves watching OTHER people (namely guys, because I’m a girl and I’m kind of hardwired that way) WATCH SPORTS. Watching anyone be passionate about anything is pretty fun, but a sporting event somehow brings out the savage actor in people. They get big, over-the-top, loud, they use fabulously colorful language and they invent new facial expressions on a minute by minute basis. Observing collective joy (and agony) is quite enjoyable and Game On has some really well done, hilarious opportunities to engage along with or simply appreciate from the sidelines, a rousing display of “game talk.”

On the whole, this is a genuinely original script, heavy with intelligent, well-paced, believable dialogue. I didn’t spend time in my head comparing it to something else and that’s a rarity for me. It did a decent job of sucking me in relatively quickly. This is certainly due in large part to our two main characters who are easy to like and easy to feel for. They are desperately flawed and tightly wound, but somehow also both adorable and painfully empathetic. The actors ARE good and the characters too are “putting on a show” both because of the game they’re watching and the pitch they’re about to throw out to a Venture Capitalist. It’s a nice thematic parallel with some rousing and poetic choices which I very much appreciated.

I think the biggest surprise was the arc of this play. Be forewarned; while comedy dominates the first half/inning (you see what I did there? Okay fine, I’ll stop) it takes a real turn to the dark side in the second half. This is a high stakes play, with a realistic intensity that kind of blindsides you. It builds well (as a good play should) but it does take you on a bit of an edgy and uncomfortable ride. While entertaining, I can’t say this is a light show ultimately, so just be ready for some seriously unnerving drama.

The Silicon Valley is the butt of many jokes throughout the 90 minute (no intermission) show and while they aren’t always the kindest of stabs or stereotypes, as a native, I have to say they kinda nailed that aspect of it. I’m pretty sure I’ve been in that EXACT Los Altos house before and I feel like I totally KNOW these people. The Silicon Valley feel was helped along with a clever use of video and music that aided in indicating the passage of time and smoothly concealing scene changes. Technically the show didn’t SEEM overly complex or demanding, but that may honestly have been due to the slick efforts of a solid technical team. They certainly made it look real and thus…easy.

On the flip side, I had just a few things that didn’t sit well with me. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy our female characters commitment to baseball at all. I wanted her far more abrasive and confident in her delivery somehow. I needed more control and demonstration of her power to allow me to believe she is where she is in the world she is moving in. I also would have been fine without the last 10 minutes of the play. I could have easily traded some closure for the omission of a very, very dark quasi-tangent that fell short in both the humor and the realistic departments. Up until that point I was sold, but ultimately I think the deal fell through with an idea that maybe went just a bit too far for me.

Those minor tweaks aside, it’s a smart show with some dynamic performances and clever twists. 4 well-earned stars for a new and fresh feeling show, with suspense, fun and a social conscience to boot. Game On plays through April 19th at the San Jose Repertory Theatre in Downtown San Jose.

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Musing/PREVIEW – The Soul Stirring of Visual Art & the upcoming Silicon Valley Contemporary Art Event in San Jose

I know it doesn’t seem “right” but, if I’m totally honest (and I think you know I usually am) I don’t understand or really like probably 95% of the visual art I’ve seen. I’ve been lucky enough to see some world-class art and on the whole…as much as I’d love to say it moves me, it does not. That sounds awful, but here’s the thing; when I DO find a piece I like, it grabs me on dramatically visceral, complex and intense level. So, while the day-to-day art rarely sways me, when a piece decides to have meaning for me, it does so by pulling me close, looking deep into my being, and knocking the breath right out of me. There’s nothing passive about my relationship with visual art, it is wickedly impulsive, indulgent and supernaturally unsettling when it demands to be noticed. While a greater quantity of dance, music, film, literature or theater pieces can lay claim to a spot in my cerebral catalog of “personally impactful art” the pieces of visual art that make the list do so at an entirely different level of stimulation, domination and inspiration.

Ever slow, ever the late bloomer, it was 20 years before my heart was finally first captured by a piece of visual art and not at all what one might expect in the creation of such an ineffaceable memory. Not the Sistine Chapel or the David, not a Rodin or anything remotely “grand” or even revered by a substantial populous. I was wandering through the empty galleries of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome. Just 5 days in to my 2 week solo journey to Italy, it was my first trip abroad and I was humming with adventure and an abundance of previously untapped emotions. As I rounded a corner I saw a modest sized painting of the lovers Paolo and Francesca and it physically commanded me to stop. The scene, in which he was leaned in to kiss her, a mix of desperate adulation, deepest adoration and insatiable lustful, passion, absolutely mesmerized me. In that moment, the paint told a story of a thousand emotions and each layer, each stroke seemed to sing to only me. I don’t know how long I stood there, only that the painting must have eventually released me. I am certain I would not have been able to tear myself away without explicit instructions to do so. You must see this painting is what I hear you say!? Oh, I’ve searched all over, even the online galleries of the Museum and while many paintings of the duo exist, I have been unable to identify what I saw. And, who’s to say it would even have the same power today? We always remember our first as being particularly special in that moment, no? Who’s to say it would stand up to the test of time.

It’s true, while travelling I seem to be more open to such experiences. Now, there’s a ridiculously romantic notion which simultaneously melts and nauseates me. Still. While travelling in Arequipa, Peru a few years later, I came across an abstract painting amongst several very realistic still-life’s on the walls of, of all places, an Italian Restaurant. This one very different painting (and not even very “attractive” in the traditional sense) was quite loudly haunting me as I ate my dinner. I tuned completely out of the conversation at the table and was magically taken to other worlds inside the muddy swirls and textures of this inexplicably impossible gateway through time and space. Entirely lost in the painting, I was eventually approached by our tour guide. As it turned out, the artist, who was not local and only stops in every couple of months to check and see if anything has sold, happened to have just walked in. When they told me he was here and asked if I was interested in purchasing the painting, I was barely able to utter an immediate yes, before I burst into tears. And, then the artist burst into tears. It was the only abstract painting he had ever done and his entire life philosophy was poetically represented in it using an alphabet he’d created based on ancient Incan symbol. We stood there a while equally shocked and comforted that art chose that day to speak a universal language, that there was no translation required. He sat looking at me, overwhelmed that his muse had seemingly whispered his deepest secrets directly to me; I sat, my soul forever altered at the discovery of raw truths, hidden on a canvas, buried in a tiny corner of the world. As the realization I was now a guardian sunk in, we completed the financial transaction ($50 American) in what seemed like an almost unfeeling and insulting gesture. He would not take more and he himself even gave the waiter 5 Nuevo Sol (the so poetically named Peruvian currency meaning “New Sun”) to cut the painting out of the frame. I carried it with me for the remaining two weeks, unable to trust that I would be reunited with it if I dared part from it for a moment. The muddy window back to Peru hangs in my apartment still.

So… why share these stories with you? In my observation, it’s becoming easier and easier to go through life overly critical, cynical, jaded, disconnected, negative and unfeeling. Emotion is being alienated, even rejected and in many ways demonized as an undesirable weakness. Art (all forms of it) can, I feel, be an antidote for this unnerving trend. If nothing else, art helps to remind you that your heart beats and that is a gift. In my experience you can never have too much exposure to any art, so whether you’re moved by visual art daily or like me, you tend to have to work harder to be more open to its format, the more you see, the more likely you are to eventually FEEL. Which is where Silicon Valley Contemporary comes in. In just two weeks this is what you have to look forward to (and if you act fast, for FREE, by using the links at the bottom of this post):

On April 10-13, 2014 the first ever contemporary art fair arrives in Silicon Valley and it represents a unique opportunity for locals to view, discover and acquire the finest contemporary art on the market today.

This landmark fair will present the finest in video art and digital installations from around the world. Many of the world’s most respected and renowned video artists will be on display with their works for acquisition. SVC intelligently explores the dynamic and alluring intersection between art and technology like no other art fair in America.

SVC brings the magic and excitement of the NYC and Miami art fair scene and selection to Silicon Valley. Like any other major international fine art fair, we present the finest in all media: paintings, works on paper, photography, prints, and sculpture. Artworks on display will be from the 1970’s to the present day.

SVC will present approx. $100 million in the finest contemporary art for acquisition, representing the very best work by 300 respected artists, showcased by 50 prominent galleries from 10 countries. There are valuable must have treasures for every budget level, ranging from a few thousand dollars into the hundreds of thousands for gold chip masterworks by the legends. It is by far, the most significant and expansive selection of important art work for acquisition ever assembled in the region.

In addition to the impressive art on display, the fair offers a robust and intensive speaker program, designed to educate and inspire. We invite you to witness the region’s first ever fine art fair, meet many of the art world elite, enjoy lunch and drinks while meandering down the aisles in your search for finding the perfect piece for your wall. Discover the joys, satisfaction and benefits of starting and growing an art collection and there is no better time to invest in art.

An exciting opportunity to see, learn about, talk about, experience, participate in, create and even purchase a variety of art! THIS, this is really what’s at the core of my personal mission with Artsalot. Ways to connect and enhance people, art, artists, new experiences, technology, perspective and just provide chances to LIVE fully and FEEL something. So, come on out for a day or all 4 and have yourself some LIFE.

And, because I’m a Princess that know that sometimes money gets in the way of living from time to time, for a limited number of people you can grab a free VIP PASS HERE or a DAY PASS HERE.

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MUSING – The Influence of Film and the Impact of Cinequest

No doubt there are a lot of people who LOVE movies. There are, I’m quite confident, many people who see far more movies and know much more about them than I do. Films haven’t moved me more profoundly (or even all that differently, I’m sure) than they have many, many other people. But, the fact remains I am not, nor have I ever been, indifferent about films. They have always been important to me (and my family). Movies have not just been in my life, they intersect my living.

Films bookmark the passage of time and the moments when time refuses to pass. Films helped to raise me, a two-dimensional, but multifaceted, long-lost 4th sibling, there to teach, comfort, socialize and yes, sometimes, just entertain. Films whisper secrets and give me hope and show me new perspectives. Some of the most amazing things in my life and the deepest emotions I have ever experienced are wrapped up tightly in memories made of celluloid.

I remember being allowed to stay up late to watch The Wizard of Oz and doing so, sitting on the floor in front of the TV, clutching my blanket, one eye open, so tired, but compelled to get to the end, needing that happy ending, waiting for the Technicolor to finally fade back to shades of gray. I remember vividly the first film I ever went to in a movie theater, my four-year old self mesmerized and a bit petrified at Maleficent’s transformation into a dragon during Sleeping Beauty.

Indeed, film has left indelible marks upon my skin. I cut my ankle on a sprinkler head taking a short cut through a parking strip when I was 12. I probably should have had stitches, the blood soaked sock was of course ruined, but I figure not missing the opening of Spaceballs was worth the scar. It’s a happy wound. Other cinematic accompanied injuries were not so visible, nor so welcome.

I remember watching Oklahoma, home sick the day the Challenger exploded and the movie being interrupted with the news. I remember watching Patton with my older brother a dozen times before I was old enough to understand it, before I knew it was real, and my grandfather had been there, and what he had survived and seen. And, I remember bailing on my movie buddy Aaron one night only to discover he went to the hospital hours later and never left, passing of a heart condition at the impossibly young 22.

I remember Edward Scissorhands being the first film I ever cried at in a theater, though I honestly couldn’t tell you why of all films, that one.

The Ring was the first movie I ever covered my eyes in and screamed out loud in a theater at, but in that case, I can tell you exactly why; it’s a freaking frightening film.

I remember watching Dead Again and gasping along with everyone else in the theatre at the words that changed everything.

I remember seeing The Sixth Sense and feeling both cheated and in awe at the first movie I hadn’t successfully predicted the ending to.

I’m reminded every time I get a cold that Raiders of the Lost Ark and Labyrinth are every bit as powerful as over the counter medication.

I remember seeing Run Lola Run and thinking OH, that’s film. And, then I remember seeing The Fall, and thinking oh, THAT’S film. And then, the 1926 silent film Faust and thinking, holy crap, so THAT’s FILM.

I’ve fallen for films, sometimes against my better judgment. Sometimes superficially. Sometimes deeply. They have seduced me like a lover, intimately taking me into myself, unearthing long suppressed vulnerabilities and discovering exciting power and possibilities within. The subconscious and ridiculously overly conscious parts equally attended to, stroked and calmed through cinematic courtship. Some I loved for a while, some a while longer. Some were eye candy, others…candy for the soul. Often the ones I loved so much proved confusing upon viewing years later. What DID I see in this film. No matter.

I remember falling in love with Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boys Life and falling out of love with him less than an hour into opening night of Titanic. I remember seeing Rhett and Scarlett in Gone with the Wind and thinking I want to BE kissed like that. And then, seeing Han and Leia in The Empire Strikes Back and thinking, I want to KISS like that.

And, of course films have always been there during the trials and tribulations of real love. My very first date I ever had in 7th grade was Beetlejuice. We sat in the back row. We shared a hot dog. We didn’t so much as even hold hands. We did however, both really like the movie. And, as it turned out, we both really liked boys, too. Years later, my first utterly devastating heart-break, more of a life-shattering, occurred after watching Lost in Translation. Though I understand neither one of them was directly to blame for the year it took me to recover from the end of my relationship,I only forgave Bill Murray; I’m still somehow holding a grudge against Miss ScarJo. Don’t ask.

All this to say, films have accented, underlined, punctuated and added so much depth to my life, I am exceedingly thankful that I was born in an era that gets to enjoy the art form. I never get tired of sitting in a theatre or putting in a DVD. There are as many stories as people and I want to know them all.

And then, there is Cinequest. And, probably many film festivals around the globe, but my own experiences with the film festival environment start and stop with Cinequest. A place where you can literally see hundreds of films inside of two weeks, some that no one has seen yet, aren’t even done in some cases, are the next big thing, and are launching careers alongside yes, a few films that no one will likely ever see again.

At Cinequest you get to see these films with other people who love film, who applaud at the end and in many cases are the filmmakers, cast and/or crew. And, you’ll be able to ask them questions, pick their brains, give them feedback, shape their futures, encourage and touch them with your stories and discuss everything you feel or don’t feel about what you saw, are seeing and will see. And what you want to see.

You will change your mind, you will get advice, you will change your mind again and you will absolutely revel in the resulting conversations and insight that will occur, spontaneously and constantly, throughout the festival (even for a relatively shy person like myself).

At Cinequest, you get to connect and reconnect with such a variety or folks, it kind of blows your mind that you have anything in common with them, but you do. And, it is powerful. And, that will thrill you and inspire you. It will awaken your creativity and then some.

At Cinequest, you drink beer. Or Vodka. And, you may well do it until all hours of the night. With the strangers who became your friends and who you noticeably miss when the festival comes to a close.

At Cinequest it is an honor and a privilege to be in a room where absolute truth, brilliance, humility, wit, intelligence and success is awarded, and being in its presence, hearing those words, a worm hole to your best future self might be opened, stirring you unexpectedly, brining your eyes to an unusual liquid state. Yes, you might find yourself eating lunch next to Neil Gaiman and thinking, I wonder if he has a clue that he just opened a damn worm hole! And, then thinking what it was he ordered to eat. And, did he like it.

Yes, there ARE a lot of stories and a lot of films are made and not many of them make it to theaters or online and THAT is a tragedy. Cinequest gives us, me, little old me, an opportunity to remedy that and actively participate in FILM. This year, after 4 years in attendance, I’m fully converted. Film always got me, but now, I finally get it. I get to be in a place that celebrates and fosters the very thing that I have never been indifferent about.

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REVIEW – SlingShot – Cinequest Film Festival

I’m going to do this review in the reverse order I normally do. SlingShot screens once more, Sunday, March 16th, 2:30pm at the San Jose Rep. You’re going to need to see this film. It scored entirely off the review tiara charts. It got an 11. The chances that you WILL see this documentary film at some point in your life is, I feel, very likely. You’re being given an opportunity to see it sooner rather than later though. Thanks to Cinequest I was able to be in the 2nd audience to ever watch this film, a film which took 7 years to complete and was done so this past Wednesday. This film is the first chapter of a greater story that we will all be a part of, whether we choose to or not. I happen to think we want to.

When you’re in the presence of greatness, or introduced to it through the magic of a well-made film, it’s a bit overwhelming. Your mind starts to fire all its synapses at once and if you’re me (which would be weird) you sort of lose all your words (Well all the good ones anyway).  When exposed to someone with true intelligence and creativity, selflessness, whimsical childlike curiosity and such a high ethical and moral compass and who is successful in assembling and leading a team of also brilliant people to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, it kind of makes me feel like words are an inadequate way to express ones awe and respect. And, it makes me feel like breeding. Okay, that’s not exactly what I mean. It’s just that these problem solvers, THESE are the people we need, the people who should be passing along their genes. They are the hope of generations to come and more importantly, the hope ensuring THIS generation survives and thrives. Innovation is a turn on, people. There I said it. Problem solving is a ridiculously sexy beast and when it comes to this film where I’m concerned, it might as well be Jason Statham. It’s that exciting. It’s that hot.

While, SlingShot doesn’t glorify a single man, that’s not its point at all, at the center of the film is the genuine,  warm, articulate, spirited, determined, very, very, very, very, very smart Dean Kamen. The film follows his journey to solve the world clean water crisis effecting billions of people. It outlines a problem and highlights the possibilities for solution, the achievements already made, and the critical call to action for the next steps we as a species need to take. As with everything one solution leads to the discovery of a new problem, and another and so on and nothing is ever as easy as we think it ought to be. One of the things this film does so well is chronicle the fascinating and frustrating  process of getting a technological solution to market and all the pitfalls and phases and different approaches you need to get someone to “bite” as it were. Even with a solution to a HUGE problem being handed to any number of organizations, the execution of mass production and distribution is a challenge we are still coping with globally. (By the way, the entrepreneurs and business savvy folks are going to LOVE this movie on a whole different level).

It’s a beautiful and important film, one that is pivotal to us living better lives.  It tells what could easily be a preachy, depressing, angst-ridden, hot mess of a story into one of true hope, encouragement, inspiration and action. It does so with facts, heart, humor and the same innovation that our scientists are using to solve these big world problems.

This film did a lot of things in 90 minutes, but one of my favorite was bridging the gap between Science and Art. Often times Science and Art are described as being at the opposite ends of the mental spectrum. Often there is a perceived wall separating scientists from artists. To me, it’s all just creativity and critical thinking. It’s asking questions and looking at something differently. It’s finding the root of problems, expressing solutions, trying to just sleep at night and unearthing ways to shine a little light on as many people as you can for as long as you are able.  At the core of SlingShot we have an individual. A human and his story. But, we also have a human problem, a huge one, one that affects millions of people across our globe and a problem that happens to have a solution in reach.

Seeing this film may change you and you may feel compelled to learn more and even contribute. Through word of mouth, the film can spread, the problem can be communicated and the ENTIRE solution arrived at. This year there seems to be a recurring theme at Cinquest in the vein of “don’t waste time.” For the little or the big, the day-to-day goals and the life long pursuits, the micro ambitions and the reaching for the stars kind of dream-sized accomplishments, the message is act, don’t wait. Life is far, far too short not to be living it. One very easy way is to start HERE. Whether it be educating yourself more completely on the water crisis and the crisis solution, or to donate, or to socially connect and help get the word out about this film you can help insure we are not too late.

In closing, if ever I happen across a Tardis, a DeLorean or a time machine of any kind, in my path, Dean Kamen, you will be my first stop.  Have a bag packed.

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MINI REVIEWS – Shorts 6: Docunation – Cinequest Film Festival

I look at the Cinequest short documentaries as an opportunity to travel the world and learn at least a few new things in 90 minutes or less. You don’t always get a whole story, sometimes you leave wanting more, doing your own research on the topic, and sometimes you are totally satisfied with the sound bite of information imparted and the vehicle in which it is delivered.  This year the curated shorts were very fulfilling for the most part and I left the cinema with my eyes a bit more open as well as my heart.

American Lawn – The really diverse group of well-made films started out with an absolutely (unintentional according to the film maker) hilarious look at the LAWN. American Lawn was exactly what it sounds like, people talking about their very strong feelings about the lawn. People apparently have, very strong opinions in Washington about the upkeep standards, social implications and impact of the lawn and consequently very often judge people by… their lawn. Honestly, very interesting, not something I thought about, and clearly an important piece of what appears to be largely American culture. Good times.

Disarming Falcon – While I loved the shots of the birds in this film, and the gentlemen who owned them seemed to treat them well and respect them, this is a film that was a bit of a draw for me. A mixed bag if you will. It took a look at the business and sporting side of falconry, specifically the use of falcons by Arabs in the hunt for an, elusive dessert bird. The falcons do all the work and the thrill of the hunt is an odd juxtaposition between letting a bird of prey do its thing naturally and keeping what essentially should be a wild animal in captivity. There was a brief mention of the illegally trapped falcon trade in Pakistan and other countries being discouraged now, because the wild population is threatened. I would have loved to hear more about the conservation effort which the business men who own the falcons seem to be actually spearheading.  A good topic, I’m not sure I hear all the sides of the story to the extent I wanted.

Etched in Skin –  This film was an exploration of the Quebec tattoo industry. I love a good tattoo expo but this one fell a bit flat for me. They don’t seem to be a population of artists with any specific edge, history, or tradition that stands out amongst other documentaries I’ve seen on the art or the industry, the subculture or the storytelling power of the art itself. Lacking I thought in-depth and I spent more time looking at the subtitles than being able to enjoy the tattoo art and the artists.

Fabia Debora, A Life for Art – Get your tissue out and make room for your prejudices to be challenged and your heart to grow three sizes. This film took a moving look at a former gang member in Los Angeles and how he was able to change an entire community by changing himself; through art. I LOVE this film and think it should be required viewing. This is such a heartbreaking, difficult and absolutely affirming story. So well told visually and it thoroughly investigated, explored and dug down into the personal stories. The possibility of change, even in what seems to be the most difficult situation, is a fascinating topic and so very touching in the presentation. This was the one film I could have seen even more of, I easily would have been riveted with a full length feature. Just a tremendously important film that has the power to CHANGE neighborhoods and the world. In a word, hope.

Herd in Iceland – Not only did I super enjoy this films gorgeous capturing of the rural Icelandic landscape, this short was full of lovely twinkling people, lots of fluffy horses running free, sheep and even massively happy, tail-wagging , herding dogs. It had all the great ingredients of a perfect film if one were making one just for me. It told a unique story in a wonderful way and even found a way to tell some of the harder parts of the story in a gentle, balanced, informed way. This was probably my second favorite of the lot and I think inspired the entire audience to sell their worldly possessions and head for the horse breeding Nordic country sides. This was such an intelligent, gorgeous and insightful film! YAY and YAY again!

Margo –  This film took a very sad and ironic look at a hospice nurse who found herself in hospice, dying of Ovarian Cancer. This would have been a tough topic anyway, but the fact that I wasn’t sure what the angle was, challenged me. I wanted to know more about her process prior to being in the situation she found herself in, the same she helped so many with in her professional life. It felt a bit unorganized, and shallow in a way. It didn’t dig deep enough into how her thoughts, faith, or process may or may not have changed from before her diagnosis to the end. Sadly, I felt there were just too many missing parts about this film.

Sticky – This film explored in a nutshell the extinction of a large stick insect native to an Island in Australia. While the topic was informational and cautionary, the WAY in which the information was relayed was really interesting. All in animation with audio from the scientist involved in the story, I found it to be creative and well-rounded.

Overall the collection of these films offered a great journey with varied topics and method of storytelling. A successful screening with more YAYS than NAYS.  4 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for the collection.

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Cinequest Film Festival – Mini Review – The Purple Onion

While most of the time I go see films I think and hope I’ll like, Cinequest is an opportunity to get outside your comfort zone and see things you might not. The Purple Onion was just one of those films. While a work in progress and a rough cut certainly sets a slightly lower expectation, it was billed as a dramatic comedy and I struggled to find anything dramatic or funny about it. Uncomfortably awkward, seriously depressing, confusing and genuinely a turn off for me, while watching this film, I was worried my face would get stuck in permanent sneer.

It felt disconnected and disjointed from the beginning and I was frustrated with these characters. I didn’t get them, like them, care at all about them aside from a turtle. As a rule,  I feel there’s only so many times you can watch a guy masturbate on-screen, before it just seems like…well… cinematic masturbation. We get it. He’s a guy and he’s especially lonely and given some other scenes, we can conclude he has some additional issues he doesn’t see as issues.

I like to think that there is always a take away; no matter how much you dislike a film there is value to seeing it, it’s never a waste.  In this case, a wonderfully eclectic soundtrack that worked to precisely score the scenes with no dialogue, a very interesting turtle that didn’t get enough screen time, and a half a dozen very well composed, striking images made up the total plusses in my book. I was waiting for the film to end rather than following it. I was completely uninvested in it.

On the plus side, I didn’t walk out, so while unrecognizable at the time, there must have been a sense of hope I suppose somewhere in there. I will say this, interestingly enough, there were more opinions and debate and conversation that occurred after this film than almost any other I’ve seen this festival. My group of friend did feel strongly and not all disliked it as much as I did. There seemed to be a gender split too with more men finding it relatable and less perverted than the females I was with did. We certainly WANTED this film to be better, so I guess on some level we must have cared some. Also, it should be noted that I couldn’t stand Lost in Translation and that won an Oscar. So, there’s that.

Art moves and even if that movement is toward the door or the razor blades, I cannot say this film did not stir up feelings. In that respect, it did its job. Perhaps the feedback and edits will streamline this into a much tighter and effect short or bring out a clearer, more universal through line in a final cut. Sadly though, based on what I saw, a wholly unpleasant film for me. 1 ½ jewels out of 5 in the review tiara. The Purple Onion has one more scheduled screening this Saturday, March 15th at 9:15pm.

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