Saturday, March 15, 2008

CIFF Report: Day 2

Okay…now that the hotel Internet seems to be working again, I’m good to go for my report on yesterday’s film festival happenings.

I made my way down to the festival at about 10:15 on Friday morning, hoping to get in there early enough to take the shuttle in and meet John before our 11:30 movie. John had been in town since 8:30, since he can’t seem to sleep past 4 a.m., and he claimed to have gotten about the last parking space in the lot at that point, so I pretty much figured I’d be hopping on the shuttle from the overflow lot again—and I was right. By the time I finally got inside, it was 11 or so, and we had just enough time to make our way into the theater, check the dailies, and get to our first movie of the day.

The first movie was Gone with the Woman, a Norwegian romantic comedy of sorts. Did I mention that I love Norwegian movies? Because I do. Anyway, Gone was cute and funny and smart and painfully perceptive. It was a good pick if I do say so myself.

After the Movie #1, we had some time to hang out. Carla, one of the former reps in Columbus, was in the area, and she stopped in to say hi to John. We ended up grabbing a quick mini-lunch at KFC before running off to Movie #2.

At this point, John was pretty impressed with my first choice of the day, so I was a bit nervous about the second pick. Movie #2 was Otis, an American horror farce that could go either way. Fortunately, it was another good pick.

After we got out, we met up with Jing, one of John’s former students. Jing had shown up for some of the festival fun—and he was just in time for the biggest fun—because after Movie #2, we had scheduled some time for Happy Hour.

Our original plan of attack was to head to Houlihans for their Mini Tini Happy Hour. We stopped by and ended up chatting with a few women who were on their way to the festival to check out the shorts. But then John discovered that there were no specials on real martinis, so we headed next door to a bar that did. So we ordered up a round of martinis (gin for John, vodka for Jing, and apple for me), and then we ordered more food than three people should probably consume. The bar was loud and crazy, but we ended up sitting there for a couple of hours. I introduced Jing to his new favorite food: fried pickles. He looked at me like I was on crack when I suggested them. He also called me “very white” (Jing, you see, is from China). But, in the end, I won him over. Or perhaps it’s just that he didn’t really care so much after his first martini.

A couple of hours and three martinis later, I was ready to take on the world—and another movie. So we headed back to the theater for Movie #3. This time, we were headed to see The Substitute, a Danish sci-fi thriller. Since John had also had three martinis, he made all kinds of friends as we were waiting for the movie to begin. And then the trailer started. You see, John, as a general rule, hates the annual film festival trailer that plays before every movie. This year, it’s actually not that bad, but it’s ridiculously long. It follows some kid as he goes through his day—and then his life is changed for the better by his first independent film. The most irritating thing about it, though, is that it has this really catchy song playing in the background, and all the biggest festival geeks (the ones who like to talk really loudly before movies, to let everyone know how many movies they’ve been to and which great movies they’ve seen) all start singing along. To me, this is the most painful thing about the trailer. But, for John, everything about this trailer is painful. So as usual, John complained through the whole thing (which, actually, makes it all the more entertaining). And when it was done, I told him that three martinis actually made the whole thing easier for me to handle. We were chatting about it (John at his three-martini volume level) when the guy in front of us turned around to tell John, “It’s quiet time now.” John patted him on the shoulder and said it wasn’t quite yet—but he promised that the man wouldn’t hear a word out of him once the movie began. And he kept his promise. The women behind us, however, didn’t. I’m guessing they must have had even more martinis than we did—because they were hilarious.

After yet another hit pick with Movie #3, we rushed to get our seats for Movie #4. Then we ran out to the bathrooms. Since it was 9ish, the other bathrooms in the mall were no longer open—which meant that the line to the women’s room in the theater was ridiculously long. Also, there was no toilet paper left in any of the stalls, turning the theater women’s room into a war zone. I was happy to get out with my life.

Movie #4 was Entry Level, an American comedy. I figured it would be a nice light way to end the day. As we were waiting for the whole hoo-hah to begin, I caught a sight in the crowd. I nudged John and nodded toward it. It took a while, but then he caught sight of it, too—the woman with the headlamp. We’d heard about these people—the ones who bring real headlamps so they can read their programs in the theater before the movie starts. These people are seriously hard-core. And totally ridiculous. It was probably the funniest thing we’d seen all day.

For Movie #4, the director was there. I felt bad for the guy—because the screening didn’t go very well. The sound was bad, and the picture was slightly out of focus. But at least the movie was cute. Nothing brilliant, but I was right—a nice, light way to end the day. Afterwards, the director stuck around for a Q&A, which would have been great to attend, but it was 11:00, and we were all pretty beat. So John and Jing headed to their hotel, and I headed to my shuttle. As I waited, I chatted with a couple of women who told me which movies to avoid and which ones they’d liked. That’s one of my favorite things about the festival—comparing notes with strangers. You meet some pretty cool people at Cleveland—and it gives the whole thing a great community feel. We’re all in this thing together.

Once again, I crashed by about 1—and the alarm went off again at 8. And now it’s time to head back into the trenches for another day…



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