Arts & Culture

I Locked Myself in a Cinema All Night

At noon on Sunday, March 13, a crowd of bleary-eyed locals poured out of the Del Mar theatre into downtown Santa Cruz. This group wasn’t merely under the influence of marijuana — although, that can’t be ruled out — it had been inside the theatre since midnight the night before.

Not only did we pay $25 to forgo sleep and watch six movies in a row, we did so without knowing any of the movies’ titles.

“Why?” you may ask. For the glory.

An hour before the Santa Cruz Secret Film festival was set to begin at midnight, the power went out. Thanks to El Niño, the Del Mar theatre and the downtown block it inhabits had gone dark.

Nonetheless, dedicated film nerds formed a line to get into the theatre. One block over, closed businesses sparkled ostentatiously with garish lights. Chilly without a jacket, damp from the rain and tired after my road trip to Death Valley, I was less than ecstatic about the prospect of a 12 hour movie marathon. So I was a little miffed when the power went back on. I’m no humbug though, I joined in the collective cheers.

For years I have wanted to check the Secret Film Festival off my Santa Cruz to-do list, but it had never seemed feasible until this year. Is there ever really an ideal time to pull an all nighter though?

I am not exaggerating when I say sleep is my number one priority. Even so, I was able to make it through all of the movies, taking a brief, purposeful nap during a film I did not care to watch (Tales of Tales). Unfortunately, it was still going when I woke up. Those who stayed up through it said it was not unlike a dream in that you had no idea what was happening and in the end it didn’t matter.

Luckily, most of what I saw was really great and inspired me to write this post! Here are my reviews organized under the following headers: “Must See,” “Probably Want to See,” and “Must Miss.”

Must See

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

If you have ever wished Rambo was a comedy…

Therapy for a Vampire

If you hate Stephenie Meyer but love Freud…

Probably Want to See

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

If you grew up watching Spielberg and tried making movies of your own as a kid…

Operation Avalanche

If you want to see how Canadian film students think the 1969 moon landing was faked…

Confetti of the Mind

If you like the following short film, and want to see more by Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo…

Must Miss

Tales of Tales

Unless you’re a Dungeon Master, like my friend Steven…


I offer these hard won insights so that you may use your time more wisely, perhaps, than I did. I still maintain, it was worth it for the glory!

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‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ and his White Friend

If you were at the San Francisco International Film Festival last week, you may have seen the teaser trailer for The Last Black Man in San Francisco. As a part of the festival’s Boomtown: Remaking San Francisco program, this film-in-the-making highlights issues of gentrification through the “fantastical retelling of Jimmie H. Fails’ true-life story.” The narrative focuses on Jimmie’s dream of buying back his childhood home in the Fillmore. While the film is an accurate depiction of Fails’ relationship to a booming San Francisco, it is his real-life friendship with the director, Joe Talbot, that may seem stranger than fiction to some.

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” from Joe Talbot on Vimeo.

“When people see us walking down the street together they think we’re an odd pair,” said Talbot of himself and Fails. Fails interjects, “Just because I’m a tall black guy and Joe’s white. Why would that be weird? If you know us, then you know it’s not weird.”

Talbot first recognized Fails’ “natural presence” on film when he was just a kid documenting Bernal Heights goings on with a Hi8 camcorder. Fast-forward 12 years and the duo are still at it with a bigger vision and a deeper friendship.

It was the long walks Talbot and Fails took through “the roller-coaster hills of Bernal Heights” that inspired this project. As Talbot came to know Fails’ life story — shaped by upheaval throughout San Francisco — the more strongly he felt it needed to be told.

Talbot believes it is precisely because Fails grew up in so many “different worlds” within San Francisco that he is able to have a distinct personality in this film while also speaking to the universal feeling of being an outcast.

A close up the "Where's Jimmie" t-shirt The Last Black Man in San Francisco made for the film's Kickstarter campaign. (Courtesy of Joe Talbot)
A close up the “Where’s Jimmie” t-shirt The Last Black Man in San Francisco made for the film’s Kickstarter campaign. (Courtesy of Joe Talbot)

 

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‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ and his White Friend

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My Year-Long Nicolas ‘Cage Rage’

If you’ve watched any movies in the past thirty years, chances are you’ve seen at least one featuring Nicolas Cage. In 2014, I watched more movies featuring Nicolas Cage than movies not featuring Nicolas Cage . . . on purpose. After “Cage Raging” for 12 months, I have still only glimpsed a small portion of the nearly eighty movies Nicolas Cage has acted in since 1981.

Around this time last year, my friends and I opened a package at a holiday party sent to us from Afghanistan by a mutual friend stationed there with the U.S. Army. Under an array of colorful pashmina scarves, we discovered Nicolas Cage’s face staring up at us from the bottom of the box.

Tal Kamran, Nicolas Cage Fan Art, 2014.
Tal Kamran, Nicolas Cage Fan Art, 2014. (Adrienne Blaine)

Our initial shock was followed by confusion and glee as we realized our friend had sent us a “Nicoalse (sic) Cage All Movies Collection” box set. The exact provenance of this particular box is indeterminate, however, it contains twenty-five plain DVDs with handwritten numbers, which you can draw your own conclusions about.

Although there is a long list of titles on the outside of the box, we never knew which movies to expect on each disc. Most marathoners opt for the Cage cult classics, such as The Wicker Man, Con Air or Face/Off, which feature Cage at his rage-y-ist. But we diligently sat through blockbuster movies (National Treasure), kids’ movies (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) and movies that didn’t even appear to have Cage in them (Grindhouse).

It wasn’t until we encountered Captain Corelli’s Mandolin that we finally broke down and watched the majority of the film on fast-forward. For this slow-moving period film, watching Cage move and speak at double speed was not so different from the Cage we had come to know and love in other films. See the video below for supercut of Cage’s notable freak-outs (warning: contains explicit language).

 

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My Year-Long Nicolas ‘Cage Rage’

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