Nyteschayde and I went to the sixth annual Santa Cruz Secret Film Festival last night/today and it was packed. We arrived just at midnight with a line to the end of the block, and were told that there were only 12 tickets left. The Del Mar Theatre was FULL. We got the couch style two-seater in the center very back, just where we wanted to be, which was rather lucky. I brought snacks, he bought popcorn and drinks.
The quirks of the festival are that it runs from midnight until noon with only ten minute breaks between films. Also, patrons have no idea what films they will be seeing. I ruined that last quirk for myself.
The gentleman who runs the festival is named Scott. I met him through email when I posted here about the film Rubber and asked why Magnolia Pictures was advertising an opening for the film in Santa Cruz while the Del Mar's website said no such thing. After some prodding, he broke the "secret" and told me that Rubber would be at this year's festival. Damn, I always ruin surprises for myself. I did get to meet Scott at the show and we chatted a bit. Nice fellow.
- Super - What a great film to start the fest. It was funny and super brutal. I felt like it was a Kick Ass for the 30-somethings. Less flash and style but much more heart (sorry that sounds so lame to say but it's true) and grounding. I don't watch The Office but the main actor was just awesome. Ellen Page lit up the screen in every scene she was in. Her character was just so damn excited abut everything, a very fresh "uncool" character. Lloyd Kaufman was in it briefly. William Katt from The Greatest American Hero was also briefly in it.
- The Legend of Beaver Dam - A twelve minute short. A seventies slasher, campfire song, comdey, musical. Super funny. Try to find this film.
- Hesher - I had never heard of this film. Confusing and scattered but very good. The dude from Super is the dad. The guy from Inception who had the zero g fight also the kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun, you know the guy, played the title character. Hesher drops into this kids life and fucks it up but acts as a sort of an eye opener, enjoy what you have kind of guy. The more I'm thinking about the film, the more I'm liking it. The guy who plays the undertaker has one of my favorite minor roles of all time in Wild at Heart, cool to see him. Natalie Portman is in it as a middle class, work-a-day chick. This bugged the hell out of me. She is now Hollywood royalty and has been an actor since she was a little kid. To think she related to her character at all is a HUGE stretch. Just really bugged me seeing a princess act like one of us commoners for a paycheck.
- I Saw the Devil - A goretacular revenge flick from Korea. Serial killer murders a chick. Her boyfriend gets revenge in an unusually long and drawn out, cat and mouse fashion. An alternate, less disturbing film, played in an upstairs theater, for those that could not handle the "intesity." It started twenty minutes into this one. After ten minutes, some people were literally running for the door.
The cast of characters is super strange in this film. The world primarily consists of police, women, and serial killers.
The pallette is beautiful and a touch over saturated which made the whole film sort of jump out at you.
The film upstairs was Win Win.
- Rubber - So, a film about a psychic tire waging war on mankind is a great idea. Who can argue with that? But adding a layer of jackasses on a hill watching the film as it happens, knowing it's a film, but being in our film just threw the whole thing off. It was needlessly surreal and the basic premise would have been enough. If the director would have forgotten flash and gone with subtlety, he could have made a film like Gerry, one of my favorites. Disappointed. The poster is so kick ass, though.
- Stake Land - I tried to hate this film. Honestly, I tried. A second rate post-apocoloyptic vampire movie. A boy (everyone keeps calling him a boy, but he looked twenty-something to me) and a guy travel the land killing vampires and steering clear of cannibals and religious nutcases. My early notes say, "No one here to like." But by the end I actually did start caring. The film is super duper Hollywood with not a new thing in it, but it does it's job pretty well. I was liking it. UNTIL the fuckers straight out broke their own vampire rules and committed an unforgivable foul in my book. If you've seen every other post-apoc film, and are looking for something to watch, check it out.
- The Troll Hunter - From Norway. Everyone will compare this to The Blair Witch Project. A group of students are shooting some footage on bears and catch up with a government sanctioned troll hunter. Now, you will probably chuckle at the site of a troll at first, it's just funny, but they are so well done and so cool, you may fall in like with this film, as I did. The earnestness and professionalism of the troll hunter is perfect without being to much like all the other surly old experts in every Hollywood film. This guy is likeable, serious but friendly, and above all, interesting. The students are not annoying at all. There may be a little too much down time, but it was hard to tell as it was around 10am when we watched this. I loved it.
It was a great time. Scott and the good people of the Del Mar put on a fabulous show and I would guess that 75-80% of the movie goers were still there when we were let loose at 12:30 this afternoon.
I will definitely be there next year. But now I am amped after walking home. Think I'll watch some old Italian Hercules movies.
Man, this trailer for The Troll Hunter does not do it justice. You should really try to see it in the theater.
On the topic of small screens not cutting it, here's David Lynch: