Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm Thankful For

1. Joseph Campanella's dream of a weekly blog-a-thon was an inspired one.
2. Its demise was sad to me.
3. Risen from the ashes like Phoenix, Arizona (thanks to the LAMB), the blog-a-thon is back!
4. It's monthly now.

This month's theme: Who I'm Thankful For

My hometown used to have an amazing one-screen, independently-owned, art house movie theater. Before the theater closed, I had a job there and I loved it. My true love for film began at the Granada Theater. Films like El Crimen Del Padre Amaro sold out to half-overjoyed/half infuriated filmgoers with me sitting in the back row, amazed at the new shapes and forms that movies were taking.

One night, I was sitting in the office, flipping through a newspaper. Then I saw a picture of William H. Macy, who I immediately recognized as The Shoveller from Mystery Men. Later, I found out that I should have recognized him from Magnolia, Boogie Nights, or State and Main, but I hadn't seen any of those back then. I loved Mystery Men. The Shoveller was making a personal appearance at a film festival in San Jose, CA. Thinking it might be fun to meet my favorite garden-tool weilding superhero, I asked my dad if he'd go with me to Cinequest. A few weeks later, I was shaking hands with The Shoveller. I'm thankful for the Cinequest Film Festival.

[Note: If ANYONE can find this film (any region)
with English subtitles, I'll pay top dollar.]

After listening to William H. Macy talk about how everyone involved with Pleasantville thought it was going to change the world and about preparing for his sex scenes in The Cooler (which was in post-production at that time), my dad and I bought tickets for a Chinese film called Violin. We'd never heard of the movie before, or any of the people starring in it, but we thought we'd check it out anyway. Clearly, the movie was great. That's why I've been trying to hunt down a copy for five years.

My dad and I have been back to Cinequest every year since. We've seen countless movies, seen a couple celebs (Ben Kingsley, Jon Polito, Danny Glover, Kyle Gass, etc.), and had a great time every single year. Cinequest is known for their shorts programs. We scheduled our weekends around the Comedy Shorts programs until they stopped holding them.

When we first started attending the programs, the quality of the films varied greatly from movie to movie. Some where shot by semi-professional crews while others were shot at home on camcorders by total amateurs. Since the festival has begun to gain notoriety, the budgets of all the films have risen greatly. The first hint of change is when Alex Borstein showed up in one of the shorts (Billy's Dad is a Fudgepacker). Then another short (D.E.B.S.) was picked up by a studio for a full-length adaptation. Nowadays, it isn't strange to see end credits that are longer than the film you just watched. It's different with the higher budgets, but it's all part of the Cinequest that I'm thankful for.

A lot of things have changed since the Granada Theater closed. The next year, I worked for a video store and rented over 1,000 movies from them in 365 days. By then, I had seen nearly every mainstream studio picture put out between 1980 and 2000. As it turned out, that wasn't quite the greatest preparation for film school, which was my next move. Now I'm working on my thesis, living in another state, and enjoying the 7-at-a-Time Netflix rentals that my girlfriend and I get in the mail less constantly than one would hope. And I'm blogging. But while all of that is going on, I'm waiting for Cinequest 2009. Actually, what I'm really waiting for is Cinequest Schedule Day. That's the day that I cancel every other plan. Call in sick for work. Turn off the phone. Log on to the Cinequest site. RefreshRefreshRefresh. Timetables, running times, scheduling conflicts, back up schedules. It's better than Christmas.

I'm very, very thankful for the Cinequest Film Festival and all the people made it possible to shake the hand of The Shoveller.


MinceyFresh said...


I had such a huge crush on her back when I watched Jackie Chan's First Strike way back like in 97 (wow, was it that long ago?). Good to see that she's still getting work!

elgringo said...

Wow, I had no idea that she had been in anything else. That's rad. I loved First Strike when it came out. I think there was a seal hat that he wore and it was during my "every movie I see has a hat I must own" period.

Fletch said...

I always preferred the Sphinx because, you know, you can't have a balanced attack until you can balance a tack hammer on your forehead...