I’m 8 days into Cinequest and the energy in downtown San Jose is electric! At all hours people can be seen on the streets talking film. They are meeting up early, staying up late, and literally closing down restaurants and bars with conversation. It’s absolutely lovely to see passionate people from all over the world downtown. It really is so much more than films. The screenings are just as entertaining and diverse as the friendly, fun, intelligent crowds and what an incredibly priceless opportunity to be able to access filmmakers (new and experienced) so effortlessly and shower them with questions! Once I come out on the other end of  it, I’ll likely put down some more thoughts on the festival (which is celebrating its 24th year this year) overall. In the meantime I encourage you to pick at least one film from the remaining screenings and experience the magic. Parking is validated (EASY!) and plentiful. Shy? No problem, come find me tomorrow (Wednesday, March 12th) where I’ll be celebrating my 39th birthday (I’ll be the Redhead in a crown) at Kiss Me You Fucking Moron and then The Illiterate both playing at the Camera 12. I’ll be happy to save you a seat and introduce you to some Cinequestors. Consider me your Festival Ambassador, here to jump-start your Cinequest 2014 experience. Encore day March 16th will show a number of films that were popular again (to be announced in the next few days) so be sure to check back on the Cinequest site for updates. Below find quick thoughts on some films I’ve seen in the last few days.

I always try to catch at least a couple of the Shorts program. There is a little something for everyone with shorts and they’re themed so you have a better chance of liking more of them. The comic shorts, Shorts Program 3: Humor Me was fantastic this year with 4 of them being outstanding, 3 of them solid and only 2 of them leaving me with a question mark. The Ghost Pepper Eating Contest of Jefferson County had me in stitches, by far my favorite (SO BRILLIANT) and #twitterkills, Thank You, Cabbage, and Reel Life were all very well done too with a lot of therapeutic laughter as a result. The thing about the shorts are, unlike a really great full length feature, you don’t have as many opportunities to see many of them outside a festival circuit. A lot of great filmmakers got their start in shorts as part of a school project and so it really is an honor and a joy to discover the next big thing and enjoy the plenty of great films that WON’T likely launch a career either. 4 1/2 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for a well curated, diverse program of chuckles, chortles and snorts. Shorts Program 3: Humor Me has one more screening this Saturday the 15th at 4:15pm.

Friended to Death is a fabulously ridiculous and uber satirical look at social media so very thinly veiled as a BRO movie. Think Swingers, The Hangover, Dumb and Dumber, and  Ace Ventura Pet Detective, but with so much fantastically funny and TRUE  #SocialCommentary on our #SocialMediaCrazy  society (for better and for worse) that it ups the IQ of the film and broadens the impact 10 fold. While some of the social media laughs are a bit close to home for me personally and the comedy is dark, I found I really enjoyed this film. I’m NOT a fan of the crude “bro” genre at all, but I have to say I was taken in by its sincerity and wit. There’s a heart to the story despite it’s crassness that makes it feel less superficial and cheap than some of the comparable comedies I’ve seen lately. There’s also a great soundtrack, some really hilarious acting (expect to see all of these actors in the future) and the overall production value is totally ready for prime time. 4 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for a #clever, #self-deprecating look at social media. Friended to Death has one more screening this Friday at 12pm.

Eternity: The Movie in its basest form, chronicles a couple of guys in the 80’s who form a band…called, you guessed it, Eternity. Oh this film is so silly. As a huge Erasure, Boy George, Wham and Thompson Twins fan (just to name a few), I appreciated the details of this film immensely. The fashion, my god the hair, the interior design and yet the music are all hilariously and embarrassingly realistic. There is a huge “are they or aren’t they gay” thread throughout and while very funny in places, I personally found that to be repetitive after the first hour. There is a HUGE audience for this film…I think I’m just sitting in the back row of it. Enjoyable, light, funny, absolutely. Nostalgic, yeah a little. Well produced, yes. If you are in a good mood and looking for something just super fun (and with a beat you can dance to) I think you will find this film to be  just what you need. 3 1/2 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara. Eternity: The Movie has one more screening this Friday the 14th at 4:45pm.

Horror is probably tied with Science Fiction as my favorite genre. Since I was about 11 I think I have sought our and mostly enjoyed the whole spectrum from seriously pee your pants scary all the way to campy, wink wink, nudge nudge. Love in the Time of Monsters fall more in the camp end of the two extremes, but has several moments of sisterly bonding and serious dialogue in it too. While I could have done without the serious bits for the most part, what’s really important about this movie is that they went through 55 gallons of fake blood while filming this epic tale of big foot impersonators at a family tourist camp who accidentally go mental when they are exposed to toxic waste. It’s kind of the best plot ever with some fun effects and surprises as well as some NOT surprises. It’s quirky and bizarre, but a good effort. 3 1/2 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for a classic camp cult in the making. Love in the Time of Monsters has one more screening on Saturday the 15th at 9:15pm.

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