San Jose's Cinequest unleashes stars, docs, dramas, and zombies -- plus Harrison Ford, Salman Rushdie, and Chuck Palahniuk
Also highly enjoyable is Tom Bean and Luke Poling's Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself, an affectionate portrait of the longtime Paris Review editor and "professional collector of experiences" who wrote books, articles, and made TV specials about his delight in being "the universal amateur." His endeavors included playing football with the Detroit Lions, hockey with the Boston Bruins, and the triangle with the New York Philharmonic, among even more unusual pursuits. Some called him a dilettante (to his face while he was alive, and in this doc, too), but most of the friends, colleagues, and family members here recall Plimpton — born to an upper-crust New York family, he was friends with the Kennedys and worshipped Hemingway — as an irrepressible adventurer who more or less tailored a journalism career around his talents and personality.
Less upbeat but just as fascinating is Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross' The Believers, which starts in 1989 as University of Utah scientists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons hold a press conference to announce they've discovered cold fusion — a way to make clean, cheap, plentiful power by fusing atoms instead of splitting them. But the initial excitement over their announcement soon gave way to skepticism and widespread dissent; eventually, their careers were in ruins, and by 1996, cold fusion was reduced to being a plot device for Keanu Reeves in Chain Reaction.
With new input from nearly everyone who was involved in the controversy (save the intensely private Pons, who's seen in archival footage), The Believers captures cold fusion's slow and spectacular fall from favor, while giving equal screen time to visionaries who believe it may still be possible. More importantly, its broader message explores what happens — or more pointedly, what doesn't happen — when a radical idea appears, seemingly out of nowhere, to challenge an established way of thinking.
Feb. 26-March 10, $5-$50
Various venues, San Jose