I have returned triumphant… sort of, from the 5th annual Secret Film Festival held at the Del Mar Theater in downtown Santa Cruz. Here’s the format. It starts at midnight on Saturday, and by noon Sunday you’ll have seen six films there’s almost no chance of you having seen before. You don’t know what the movies will be (it’s a secret) and other than the cryptic clue given right before the reel starts, you won’t know until the title screen. Besides the lost day it’s kind of a steal. Paleoposse members know we regularly talk trailers on the show, and so this year I was more prepared than usual to guess the movies as they came. A few of the movies I had seen the trailers for while researching potential previews for the segment, and the rest I often able to recognize just from seeing their poster on the apple trailers site. So in keeping with that theme I’d like to give you a brief run-down of each movie (spoiler-free), whether I’d seen the trailer before or have watched it since, and how the two match up. I may toss in a few words about my level of consciousness during each film just to add context to my increasingly nonsensical ramblings. Alright, let’s dive in!
Trailer Status: Seen before, but not used on the show. (Watch it yourself)
Before I tell you about the Square I should tell you about Spider. This was a short film they showed before The Square, presumably because it’s by the same director, and can be viewed in full right here. If the audience was having trouble staying awake at midnight, watching this certainly woke us all up. If you plan on seeing The Square in theaters make sure you watch Spider first. It has the same kind of tension and violence you can expect to find in the full-length film, and there’s a shared sight gag waiting for you too.
The easiest way to describe this movie is an Australian Macbeth, which is hardly a story that hasn’t been retold time and again, but such is the role of these classic themes of betrayal and murder. Sometimes money really does just bring out the worst in people. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this film set the stage for the overall theme of the night, “How some dude accidentally gets involved with murder and stumbles around trying to get off the hook.” It may sound like a convoluted theme, which makes it all the more astonishing how many movies managed to fit the mold.
The saddest moment in this movie will not be spoiled, but just remember that no one, and I mean no one, gets a happy ending.
Trailer Status: Pretty sure I watched this one, but it clearly didn’t leave much of an impression. (See for yourself)
Tied for my favorite movie of the night (and probably should win if I didn’t care to maintain indie cred). The stand out star of this movie has to be David Duchovny. He is supremely charming and likeable the whole way through and easily the most ‘human’ of characters in a movie that does a great job with the themes of family, home, work, consumption and just what a jumbled up mess those all can become. After suffering through the heartache of the square (not that it still wasn’t a good movie) this was a welcome relief.
I went back and rewatched the trailer and it sells the movie very well. You might worry that it gives away all the good bits but I have to say the good bits go throughout so I think your funny-bone is safe from being disappointed.
Trailer Status: I’d never even heard of this movie. (But Apple does have the trailer here)
Based on a true story? I hope that unlike some other movies the claim is more truth than fiction because it was what made this movie worth watching at all. It would have been interesting if it was straight up fiction but it would have been so off the wall weird that I think I would have tuned out. The fact that Bronson is a real person is just nuts. He’s been in prison 34 years, 30 of which have been in solitary confinement, and for good reason. Dude just loves to fight. Most of the movie is a beefy British guy punching prison guards to then be beat down by the guards much harder. In this regard it is a bit repetitive but the story-telling wasn’t quite linear, or at least didn’t seem to be, and there’s some other interesting experimental story-telling choices going on in the film making it a bit easier to engage and watch the often bloody interludes of violence. The trailer seems all over the place, the movie is much slower placed to its benefit and really gives you time to (try) get in the head of an utter nutter.
Trailer Status: Even the name was French, so no. (avant-première)
I was in and out of consciousness for this one but that may be what the filmmakers intended because I’m not sure I even really missed anything. The basics are, it’s French, it’s claymation, and it’s about a horse’s birthday which goes awry. The use of traditional claymation was impressive, but folks in the crowd who’d seen The Fantastic Mr. Fox (I haven’t seen it, but would like to) said that A Town Called Panic wasn’t quite up to the same standard of excellence in terms of animation alone. I still laughed a lot, but I was really tired. For a few of the movies we had a choice between going upstairs and seeing a different movie than the one shown in the main theater. The upstairs option for this one was “The Secret of the Kells” and after watching the trailer for that I may be ready to admit that I just flat out chose to watch the wrong movie.
I was hoping for this one to be shown. Often you can guess what a few of the movies will be based on the posters displayed in the lobby and since I’d like this trailer enough to feature it on the podcast I was really hoping it’d be one of the movies we got to see. I was glad I’d napped though parts of A Town Called Panic because I really wanted to be awake for this one. On the show I made comparisons between this movie and the comic series Fell, but I think after watching it I have a more accurate description. It’s Hot Fuzz if Hot Fuzz were serious and in Dutch. Big city cop moves to creepy small town and bad stuff happens interspersed with a lot of tension. Consistent, maybe a touch too long, but overall a very good film. Glad we gave it a thumbs on the show, now you go see it too so it actually does well on the HSX. Mojn.
Trailer Status: Saw it on the Apple trailer page, but didn’t watch it. (Watch it yourself)
Technically a sequel, but story was clearly not this movie’s strong suit. If anything, the story was a vehicle to give the characters an opportunity to do parkour around a “futuristic” Paris. It is very important to put quotes around “futuristic” because even though this takes place in the future I didn’t see one sci-fi trope outside a general whiff of the dystopian. There weren’t even any future gadgets, everything was very modern. I expect a bit more from a movie set years down the road, even a movie made in 2005 would have seemed futuristic if they set it in an accurate representation of 2010. I digress, and should just accept that the tech wasn’t the point of the movie by a long shot. The point was parkour. Therefore why did the movie end with me feeling like I could have watched parkour? There was a lot more kung-fu style fighting than I expected and a lot more clunky corny dialogue than any movie should have, even if they’re speaking French. I’m just saying, you tell me I’m getting parkour, I want a lot of parkour. I think my advice on this one is to watch the trailer, then do a youtube search for parkour.
So those are my thoughts from another year’s Secret Film Festival. My write-up of last year’s festival is still available at murmur.com. My body is still recovering from the ordeal, I’ve gone back and made some edits to make the capable of being comprehended but I tried to keep the general tone of my original sleep-deprived rambling intact. Now, I want to hear from you! Have you seen any of these movies? What about the trailers? You agree with me? More likely you disagree, so tell me about it in the comments or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!
P.S. I still love watching trailers, that cannot be broken.