February 28-March 6, 2007

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Stewart Copeland

Police action: Police drummer and soundtrack wizard Stewart Copeland will be honored at a Maverick Spirit Event on March 3, 5-7pm, at the California Theatre.

Cinequest 2007: Insider's Guide

Week One

By Richard von Busack

feb 28
The only activity is the opening gala for The Namesake, with a reception afterward at the Montgomery Hotel's Paragon Restaurant. There may be celebrities there, practicing the difficult craft of getting chicken satay off a jumbo toothpick without puncturing the uvula. Take today to reflect upon the proper way of approaching celebrities. Remember, they put their pants on one leg at a time. Do not ask if you can watch them put their pants on.

mar 1
The agenda today favors Mexican movies. Begin the day with Resisting Life (1:30pm, C12) by Ramon Cervantes. Cervantes' set-in-1960 film is a sober critique of that traditional figure in Mexican film, the long-suffering mother. Afterward, head to the 10 shorts in the Cortos de Mexico program (4pm, C12). Everyone knows the real story of last year was the rise of Mexican film, and this program allows you to handicap the up-and-comers.

mar 2
"The Day of Distribution" includes a discussion with J.J. Abrams. (3:30-5pm at the Rep). The hotter-than-hotter writer/producer (Lost and M:i:III). The event is called "Revolutionizing Content for Audiences," and maybe Abrams can be prevailed upon to discuss how he plans to get the Enterprise back in the air. We're guessing that advance tickets are a must. An earlier workshop, "Getting the Word Out—How the Media Effects Distribution" (noon-1:30pm), includes hard-working local Variety critic Dennis Harvey, who will have something to say about the way independent filmmakers try to work the media.

mar 3
3pm: Minnie Driver turns up at the splendid California Theatre to accept a Maverick Spirit tribute (and answer some questions, too). Driver has impeccable indie-cred as far back as Good Will Hunting. And recently she appeared in a true-life horror story of the maquiladora zone, The Virgin of Juarez, which played at the Latino Film Festival last year. Driver is a hard-to-peg actress, who seamlessly eases between patrician and working-class roles. One thing especially marks her: having one of the most mellifluous voices in the movies led her to extensive vocal work in animation. She's a singer, too. Recently, as a hilariously crass diva—Maria Callas done as a Batman villain—she saved 2004's Phantom of the Opera from imploding from the force of sheer garishness.

5pm: Stewart Copeland arrives at the California Theatre with his self-made documentary Everybody Stares, concerning his time as the drummer of the Police. A quick revisit to the album Synchronicity explains it all: Copeland's innovative percussion elevated the Police from a mild power-pop band to something really earth-shaking.

Also tonight: the vanished-friend mystery Who Loves the Sun (9:30pm, C12). Matt Bissonette (of the Montreal heist-pic Waiting for Leonard) gets special props for naming his movie after a very obscure Velvets track—anyone could have named their movie "White Light White Heat" or something. Added bonus points for Lukas "The Pin" Haas as the Harry Lime guy and the sleek and adorably freckled Molly (Deadwood) Parker as the Valli girl.

mar 4
Blood Car (8:30pm, C12) is a lesson to all of us not to turn our automobiles into cadaver-powered murder mobiles. Also in car-related cinema: Swedish Auto (9:15pm, SJ-Rep)—more Lukas Haas as mechanic by day, sneaky voyeur by night.

mar 5
The Prince of Soap (9:30pm, C12) is too slick to be an independent—but it comes from Finland, so it's all good. With a raft of talented comic actors, director Janne Kuusi gently ribs the daytime drama industry. Star Pamela Tola has a future in American films if she wants one.

mar 6
Curiosity Kills the Cat (9:30pm, CAL) is not to be confused with The Curiosity of Chance, or, for that matter, Dimension, which stars a guy named Chance. It is a modern story of a young female photographer who, as Thelma Ritter put it in Rear Window, sees something out her window that gets her into trouble.

mar 7
Go political. At 7:15pm is Making It Right, a documentary by SJSU's Bob Gliner, concerning a reality-TV show based on solving social problems. The Third Monday in October (7pm, C12) shows the politicians of tomorrow at middle-school student council races. Out of Balance (2:30pm, C12) considers Exxon-Mobil's contribution to global warming.

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