Starting at standup. A truly evil murderer. Sleeping with strangers but not having sex. And an alien who took over the body of the wrong human. Here are four films that will screen at Cinequest, listed from best to worst.
B+ All Joking Aside
Dramas about comedians can be tricky, and although this one is more of a melodrama about comedians, it’s still a good one. Lovable Raylene Harewood carries the simple story of a young Brooklynite who learns standup with the help of a misanthropic former star. And no, this is not The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This young woman dies on stage over and over before she learns how to pull laughs out of her reluctant audiences. Some of the supporting performances felt fake, and you can see some story points coming way too soon. But overall, it’s a heartwarming story about getting into a difficult kind of work.
- California Theatre, San Jose, Friday, March 6, 9:30
- Century 20 Redwood City, Sunday, March 8, 11:40am
- Century 20 Redwood City, Tuesday, March 10, 1:45
- Century 20 Redwood City, Friday, March 13, 2:30
You’ll find surprisingly high production values in this Bay Area-set thriller, which is about as dark as noir gets. The protagonist is an aging, overweight, soon-to-be-homeless ex-con fighting with alcohol, rage, and other demons. Soon he’ll be fighting worse things. Beware: This is an extremely gruesome movie, with one major character who likes to kill people with brass knuckles. The story? Well, that’s kind of complicated – and you’ll have to figure out who is connected to who.
- California Theatre, San Jose, Saturday, March 7, 11:30am
- Century 20, Redwood City, Wednesday, March 11, 9:15
- Century 20, Redwood City, Sunday, March 15, 10:15am
A young man gets an unusual job – sort of a cross between a counselor and a whore. He goes to people’s homes, talks with them, cuddles with them, and sleeps with them, but no sex. The company has strict rules about that. His clients include a sexy woman, a successful gay man who lost his closeted lover to suicide, and an old widow with strong feelings for her pet lizard. But this Japanese film is unshaped, and I wanted to know more about this man and more about some of his clients.
- Century 20 Redwood City, Sunday, March 8, 4:15
- Hammer Theatre SJ, Wednesday, March 11, 9:30
- Century 20 Redwood City, Friday, March 13, 4:15
- Century 20 Redwood City, Sunday, March 15, 7:30
C+ Fried Barry
Gary Green gives an entertaining and funny performance as an alien’s mind stuck inside the body of a thoroughly useless heroin junkie. Individual scenes sometimes work, but the movie as a whole is disjointed and meaningless. The alien’s character arc seems to go in one direction and then, for no apparent reason, it goes elsewhere or just goes back to where it was. For instance, in one scene he magically saves a man suffering a heart attack, but we never see such capabilities again. This South African film is set in a grimy, crime-ravaged city that appears to be almost entirely white.