Secret Cinema

GOOD LogoDon’t tell anyone.

No, seriously.

It says so on the tickets. In big sensible writing it says TELL NO ONE.

Of course, I’m going to tell you though. I mean, keeping secrets is what you’re great at huh, Internet?

Secret Cinema is a new, different, immersive way to watch movies. Have you ever seen a film and loved it so much that you just wanted to live in that world? Secret Cinema, for one night, lets you do that. Have you ever thought about just booking a ticket for a movie, not knowing what you’ll see, but knowing that you’ll meet fantastic people and have a great time, no matter if you like the film or not? Secret Cinema gives you that too.

Last weekend Gabby and I travelled down to our fair (?) capital to attend Secret Cinema 20. After having a thoroughly good, if abjectly scary time at Secret Cinema 19, we decided to go again this year. Am I glad we did!

I’m not going to tell you what film we saw, but I will tell you that after we bought our tickets, we were sent a link to the intranet site for an organisation called G.O.O.D. and told that we’d been given new jobs and had to visit the intranet site every day. Closer to the opening day of SC20 a huge meet up happened in London, bringing with it news of a popup shop for G.O.O.D. Careers and a music video featuring Thom Yorke dancing. Closer to the day of our visit we were given our new jobs at G.O.O.D. I was to be in the Committee for Credit Creation, and was advised to bring a solution to the financial crisis and a penny (to help us get out of debt, you see). Gabby was given a different job and we both queued up at different entrances.

For the first hour we both went and did our own, odd tasks which included pointing, shouting, throwing, headdesking, drinking booze and chatting to folks. We finally met up and explored the rest of the huge Croydon office that Future Cinema (confusingly, the company that runs Secret Cinema) had rented out for the event.

I’m not going to tell you anything more, save that there were brilliant improv performances by so many actors, and you get much more out of the experience the more you put in. Going in costume is only the start. If you’re willing to engage with the actors, make a fool of yourself and get into the spirit of the thing, you’ll have an even better time.

In that way it’s a bit like D&D.

You should probably try it.

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A Cinematic Quest of Rediscovery

I used to be very “into” going to the movies. So much so, in fact, that I can remember one occasion when my now wife and I went to the local picture house (a horrible chain multiplex, but it’s nearby) and, after looking through all the listings of movies to be shown later that evening, we couldn’t find a single film we hadn’t seen. These were the good times. The features were much the same as they are today; some good, some bad, most pass the time well enough and will be forgotten in six months.

The differences from today’s experience of the cinema are the price, which has almost doubled, and the audience, which has massively declined in manner and increased in the number of light-emitting personal devices on constant show… Oh yeah, and they never turn the bloody lights off anymore. This is not the distant past I speak of but a mere decade!! Anywho, these factors combine have served to put me “right off of” going to the movies anymore.

The glasses I use to view my old cinema-going days

Partially in an attempt to resurrect my love for the movies, a few months ago I tried the new fangled IMAX screen that had opened up at the slightly less local horrible chain multiplex. This, however, turned out to be something of a disaster. Besides sitting through 2 hours of Ridley Scott doing to Alien what George Lucas so successfully managed to do to Star Wars ten years earlier (FYI; That’s not a good thing), I found the whole experience even more off-putting. The screen is massive, but not in a cinematic ratio, the sound is massive, but so loud it physically hurts and the price tag, you guessed it, is MASSIVE. £13 per ticket! Are you bonkers? I will certainly not be returning to one of those screens any time soon.

In between times I’ve visited the cinema now and then but have come away largely disappointed. I did happen upon the excellent “Sightseers”, a real “must see” for anyone with a dark sense of humour but, in the main, movies such as Captain America, The Avengers and, most recently, Skyfall have been seen but were all very blah.

That brings us pretty much up to date and to the reason for this piece. Tomorrow, my lovely wife and I will be attempting to simultaneously reignite our love for the movies and make best use of a (n Orange) Wednesday we both have off by going to the cinema to watch three movies in a day. It’s something neither of us has done before but it seems like something we should have. We won’t be helped by the fact that one of our planned features is the almost-three-hour The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but it is so rare to find three films you actually want to see that we’ve thrown it right in there. The others are: Life of Pi 3D, I’m not really into threed but this is supposed to be very well made and my wife loved the book, and Safety Not Guaranteed, which I stumbled upon last week and is an indie film about three reporters investigating a guy who’s put out a small advert in their paper asking for a volunteer to go back in time with him.

We’ve worked out our schedule, allowing for trailers, and we should be able to work it to see The Hobbit at 10:45 first then run straight into Safety Not Guaranteed after which we have just over an hour break for dinner and finish off with Life of Pi 3D until about 19:55. That is, of course, if all goes to plan and we don’t get Deep Vein Thrombosis for our efforts.

I ought to get off now, as tomorrow has turned into later today, but I wanted to share with you all the peculiar adventure the Wifflecopter (TM) and I will be going on.

Wish us luck and see you on the other side…

UPDATE:
Well looks like we’re back on the cinema horse now, we had a really good time watching three very good & completely different movies with well behaved audiences. Couldn’t have asked for more.

We had to reorganise immediately on arrival, as the 10:45 showing of The Hobbit was sold out (we found out later this was probably because the 2D showings were in very small screens!) but the reschedule worked out best for us, giving us 50 mins between each film instead of the first two following through immediately.

I think three films in a day is definitely our limit but, that said, enjoyed every second spent reacquainting ourselves with our love of the pictures.

Turn eyes to MAX

Tomorrow I’m hopefully going to have my first “IMAX Experience”, as they call it, and I’m rather excited about it too.

I’ve wanted to go and see what all the IMAX fuss is about for quite some time now. I’m a regular listener to the Mayo & Kermode Film Review podcast from BBC Radio 5 Live, in which chief contributor Mark Kermode has continually insisted IMAX, and not 3D, is the future of cinema. Combine this with some independent research into the cinematic standard (it’s extraordinarily high resolution, stadium style seating and gargantuan concave screens) and my appetite is whet to the point being positively submerged…

Until recently IMAX screens were few and very far between but I’ve noticed them popping up in many of the cities I’ve visited of late, though I’ve never really had the chance to pay any of them a visit, as I’m usually there to do something else, either that or there’s nothing on I really want to watch. However, with the opening of an IMAX screen at Sheffield’s Centertainment Cineworld complex, one of these mammoth venues is easily at hand, so all I had to do was wait for a movie to come along that would justify the rather costly £13.10 admission.

Enter “Prometheus”, Ridley Scott’s return to the Sci-Fi genre and prequel to the Alien(s) franchise. I saw a trailer for this before a release day screening of “The Cabin in the Woods” and was so impressed by the visual quality and shear scale of the thing I made the decision, then and there, that this would be the one to take my IMAX flower.

Looking further into it, now the time is upon me, the only thing that’s giving me second thoughts is that you can only see it at IMAX in 3D (or threed) but I’m willing to overlook this in this case as it was filmed in threed (so it wont be one of those awful pop-up book looking retro-fits) and I’m hoping the extra umph of the IMAX projection might compensate for the usual dimming effect.

So, there you have it, I’m on the verge of what might be an incredible experience or a rather expensive disappointment. As far as the film goes, I have great confidence in Scott to deliver, if not a classic film, then at least an epic feature. He has a great pedigree for such things and given the cast he has to work with, I feel sure he’ll not let me down. I watched Alien in Hi-Def on my mate’s wall last night too, so I’m all kinds of prepared. Now it’s just a waiting game. I’ll b sure to report back on how it goes, on all fronts.

Roll out your shiniest bells and finest whistles IMAX. I’m coming over there and I expect to be impressed.