Pete (Jesse Wakeman) is a jerk, and always has been by most accounts. At the beginning of Donald Cried, the smarmy Manhattan banker begrudgingly returns home to upstate New York hoping to scatter his dead grandmother’s ashes and attend to her affairs as quickly as possible. Things don’t go according to plan; after losing his wallet on the bus ride up, Pete’s forced to visit his grating former best friend Donald (Kris Avedisian).
Donald Cried takes this conventional set up and makes it unexpectedly complex. Having not seen each other in 20 years, the old pals awkwardly dance around old wounds while still clinging to good old times. Pete has shed his slacker façade for Wall Street slickness but Donald hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still the abrasively crass but kind-hearted soul who has no filter or short supply of loyalty, the guy everyone takes advantage of.
Written and directed by Avedisian, Donald Cried is a sharply funny debut that considers whether flawed people can ever truly recognize their own faults. Pete’s passive-aggressive selfishness parallels Donald’s penchant for delusion in ways that bring out the worst in both men. It seems theirs has always been a broken relationship, but time has only amplified the cracks.
Early on Donald describes their forced reunion aptly: “It’s like taking your brain and dropping it down a time hole.” Pete tries squirming out of spending time with his friend, but the film’s prickly narrative keeps pushing them back together in hilarious and uncomfortable ways.
Rarely does this messy friendship get laid bare on the big screen. Avedisian’s singular performance comes to embody these unpredictable and daring virtues. His specific mix of sad-sack idleness and defiant resilience is thoroughly rooted to the film’s snowy small town bubble. Unworthy and preoccupied by success, Pete will never understand why his friend chooses to stay.
Beauty and the Beast: Disney reboots their animated classic with live acting and singing. Emma Watson stars as the innocent young Belle who is captivated by the forlorn Beast.
Donald Cried: After his grandmother passes away, a Manhattan banker returns home to deal with her affairs only to be lured back into hanging out with a taxing old friend.
San Diego Latino Film Festival: Now in its 24th year, this local arts event will showcase over 150 narrative features, documentaries and short films including a special retrospective on Mexican master director Arturo Ripstein. Opens Thursday, March 16, and screens through Sunday, March 26, at AMC Fashion Valley and Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Last Word: Shirley Maclaine plays a retired businesswoman that decides to write her own obituary, drawing the attention of a young journalist keen on getting the truth.
The Sense of an Ending: In this drama starring Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling, a man becomes haunted by his past and is presented with a mysterious legacy that causes him to reconsider his current situation in life.
One Time Only
Animal House: A group of college outcasts start up their own fraternity in National Lampoon’s crass comedy starring John Belushi. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Collateral Beauty: When a talented advertising executive grows increasingly depressed after losing his daughter to cancer, his business partners hatch a scheme to jumpstart the grieving process. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 17 and 18, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Stanley Kubrick’s biting Cold War satire looks at how easy it could be to start a nuclear war when the government is run by idiots. Sound familiar? Screens at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, at Arclight La Jolla Cinemas.
The Karate Kid: Ralph Macchio’s bullied teenager seeks the help of a martial arts master to help even the odds. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.