Cinequest 2015: Booze Boys and Brownies

CFoCinequest is San Jose’s preeminent film festival, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In this daily film journal, I’ll be trying to spotlight films you might otherwise miss and let you know when you’ll be able to catch them again.

 Booze Boys and Brownies

Directed, Produced, Written and Starring Veronica Mannion
Wed, Feb 25 7:00 PM, Thu, Mar 5 1:45 PM, Fri, Mar 6 9:30 PM
Buy tickets here

booze_boys__browniesWhen you think about it, the movie musical is a very strange animal. Like any other film, the story is likely humming along with dialog, action, exposition, and the occasional kiss or explosion. Then, exactly as it doesn’t happen in real life, someone bursts into song.

Well, maybe not your real life, happens all the time for me. But I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the average bear.

Movie musical songs typically express a pivotal point in the plot; the awakening of feelings, dealing with stressful or happy situations, a convergence of character plotlines, any of these and more being the things that capture us and get us involved in the story.

Whether meant to be actual songs or fantastic insights into characters’ otherwise unspoken truths, the musical uniquely involves us in the character’s motivations and reactions unlike any common voice over or narration.

bbbVeronica Mannion has provided us with a very modern look at the musical form in Booze Boys and Brownies. Her semi-autobiographical tale of a young woman trying to “find it all” in today’s Los Angeles is frank, charming, rough, and quirky. Fans of independent film will be lulled into what is a fairly compelling set of circumstances and clever dialog and visuals, and the odd lifestyle in which Vivian finds herself at the beginning of the film. She will discuss, text, argue and ponder what it is she wants from life, career, and men at length. It’s a very indy feeling movie.

And then someone will burst into song.bbbfb

To be fair, after one viewing, I can’t recall any of the tunes or specific lyrics. Perhaps that will change when I watch it again, but it’s not as damning as it sounds. They’re charming at the time, but simple and workable. It’s the spontaneity in which a brief performance punctuates the current situation that make this unorthodox aspect really work. The heart of the film never really feels like a musical, but all of a sudden there is it again, jumping out at you.

It really should be noted that Bay Area native Veronica Mannion is doing all the heavy lifting here. Producer, director, writer and co-composer of the music, plus she turns in a terrific performance as her alter-ego Vivian Lynn. Vivian is a recently established Angelino trying to garner fame and fortune, or at least a toe-hold for same, by preparing and performing in a one-woman show. Along the way, she has encounters with past and present romances, a grounding gal-pal in Amber (Ariel Hart), and the occasional song about it all. It’s core musical comedy and it works, freshly and completely.

Thanks for inviting us along Vivian.

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Tomorrow we’ll take a look at another Cinequest movie musical offering, and then you can break into discussion groups and compare and contrast.  Don’t worry, this won’t be on the final exam.

Ric Bretschneider
February 24th, 2015

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