The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan

CineVegas X – Pt. II

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by Jacqueline Monahan
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CineVegas X – Pt. II

CineVegas has been over for a week, and still the memories linger. The following are the rest of the offerings that your humble (but intrepid) correspondent was able to view despite a restrictive, multi-tiered press access and somewhat withering glances from festival-related personnel. Lots of Red Bull (a CineVegas sponsor) helped.

CineVegas Lounge

Wellness – Dreary, dismal, but effective portrait of a salesman who grinds through life in small-town America pitching a product that he’s never seen and probably does not exist. The pyramid scheme is built on the gullible selling and buying the “product” and is sometimes too painful to watch. Directed by Jake Mahaffy, in attendance, who said this particular work was described alternately as a comedy and as soul-crushing. Watching the salesman with a penchant for abandoned hornet’s nests trudge through snowy streets hawking a pipe dream will make you count your blessings.

Preceded by A Catalog of Anticipations, a short in which a young girl on a horse farm, finds a collection of fairy corpses in all manner of demise (some are burnt, some are in pieces) and adds them to her collection of fossils, bones and found objects. One night, one of the fairies comes to life with unexpected results. What could have been charming and whimsical ends on a very depressing note. Directed by David Lowery

Donde Estan Sus Historias? - This film was probably titled from a comment someone made after seeing the rough cut. There are stories to be told here, but this slow collection of tracking shots and pensive, uncommunicative characters makes for a long wait with no payoff. A man walks away from the camera, which follows his retreat for several minutes. Two people at a table eat in silence for several minutes. The “action” or lack thereof is rarely punctuated with any type of dialogue. There is only a tiny hint of conflict and that revolves around a land grab from an elderly woman by greedy relatives. A subplot touches on surrogate motherhood. The protagonist, a devoted grandson, looks as bewildered as we do by film’s end. Directed by Nicolas Pereda.

Jack the Ripper - In gorgeous black and white, sepia-toned actually, this visually arresting short is an artfully enacted scene of bloody murder, almost seductive in its execution (no pun intended). As Jack reads an actual letter he sent to Scotland Yard, the viewer is witness to several of his crimes. You won’t be able to look away for a few reasons: the cinematography is like a series of stunningly composed stills and the actors, including Jack, are visually pleasing as well. Directed by Jonpaul Lewis, who also stars as the titular murderer, Jack the Ripper received the CineVegas Nevada Short Film Jury Prize presented by the Nevada Film Office.

Small Apartment – Quite an understatement for this 7-minute short. A couple make love while the man’s father spies and videotapes for his own self-gratification later on. The old man also masturbates to a bathroom painting imbued with only a hint of sexuality. He is aware of how pathetic he is, although the couple is blissfully unaware of his pastime. A look at what happens when people almost literally live on top of one another. Directed by Andrew T. Betzer.

Your Name Here – Bill Pullman embarks on an unbidden journey of the mind and body as Science Fiction writer William J. Frick (remember Philip K. Dick of Blade Runner fame?). It’s the 70’s and recreational drugs are nearly required for daily life. Frick never quite knows if he is asleep of awake as his plots come to life, his dreams seem to materialize and his worst fears are realized. He’s revered and esteemed, reviled and jailed. His best advice comes from a long-dead infant. His journey seems nightmarish and oddly recycled, flashes of memory combined with déjà vu, combined with uneasy discovery. The multi-layered, sometimes confusing plot will keep you guessing until the end. Bill Pullman won a Special Jury Award for his performance as the Sci-Fi master. Directed by Matthew Wilder.

Cast, director and producers of "Your Name Here"

The Great Buck Howard – A quirky little movie about a once-famous but now small-time magician, past his prime and out of his league. John Malkovich is the titular mentalist, a prissy, asexual Felix Unger type, completely without insight into how he is perceived. Colin Hanks co-stars as Howard’s latest road manager, defying real-life dad Tom by leaving law school for the endeavor. Emily Blunt is the savvy publicist and love interest for Hanks. Malkovich gives Howard a vulnerability that transcends the character’s delusional pompousness. Hanks is great at looking bewildered and exuding a sympathetic aura in ludicrous situations. Blunt is the smart female who injects a much needed bit of realism into the proceedings. Written and directed by Sean McGinly

CineVegans party every night of the festival, and this year was no exception. From the opening night Party at Rain nightclub at the Palms to closing night party at the Palazzo Pool, the CineVegas nights were filled with events that took place in such varied venues as Tao at the Venetian, The Downtown Cocktail Room, The Beatles Revolution Lounge at The Mirage, Dos Caminos Restaurant at The Palazzo, Blush Nightclub at The Wynn, and The Planet Hollywood Pool.

"Low vs. Diamond" perform at the Party at Revolution Lounge in the Mirage

Body Painting at the Palms Place pool

Another year, another ten days of celluloid in Sin City (okay, digital, but celluloid sounds more poetic). Despite its growing pains, this is Las Vegas’ very own film festival and like a wild, recalcitrant sibling, we welcome its yearly visit with an anxious anticipation and maybe a little trepidation. Still, the call of new talent, freshly captured images, and complimentary Fiji Water guides us back to the red velvet seats in large dark rooms, with a feeling that, sometime soon, seatbelts may well be required.

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