Secret Cinema X event 2017 – What is it?

Note: Super sleuth Oliver Morris can have most of the credit for this article!

This morning all previous attendees of any Secret Cinema events were unexpectedly sent an email providing limited details on their next fully secret event.

Launching on Sunday 9th April and running until Friday 14th April, the email promised that they would be “presenting a yet unreleased secret film in a secret location”.

“Exploring vivid, enigmatic landscapes ripe with intrigue and coded messages, you will become part of a world that blossoms like a delicate flower to reveal a clandestine, unforgettable experience”.

The tickets for the event go on sale tomorrow (Wednesday 22nd March) at 13:00 (GMT).

You may be intrigued by the idea, but if you want to know the likely films that it could be, read on.

The facts

The email states that the event is strictly for people over the age of 18, which indicates that the film has been rated with an 18 certificate by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification).

We can also deduce that the film is probably going to be released in a short window between late April and the end of June. The film must be ready for viewing by the general public and it wouldn’t benefit from the extra press this will generate if its release date is too far in the future.

There is also a lot of allusions to plant life, flowers, growth and blossoming, which indicates that this is a strong theme in the film.

The quote “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming” is a quote from Pablo Neruda and is possibly a red herring, but could be a clue to the film’s country of origin. My hunch is the former.

The final clue provided in the email is the visual title, which features a sketched eye pouring into a waterfall, set amidst a backdrop of a Japanese-style sun that is reminiscent of their flag. It looks Dali-esque, but is certainly very much something that makes the viewers think of the country Japan.

So what films could it be?

This leaves not many option for films. Here are the best guesses.

The Handmaiden


Park Chan-wook’s latest film is an erotic mystery horror that lit up the end-of-year lists for many of the in-the-know critics last year. It is based on the Sarah Waters book Fingersmith, but is set in South Korea under Japanese colonial rule rather than Victorian Britain. The story revolves around a young woman who has been raised as a thief and working as a handmaiden undercover in a rich heiress’s house.

This might seem like quite a leftfield choice for Secret Cinema to tackle, but it certainly fits the bill. It’s essentially set in Japan and has already received a BBFC classification of 18.

It is set for general release on 14th April, which is the day the Secret Cinema run finishes.

Park Chan-wook’s previous work includes two films from 2013 – Stoker and Snowpiercer – along with 2009’s Thirst and 2003’s Oldboy. His films are certainly beautiful works of art and their quality belies the fact his wider work is largely unknown in the west. But perhaps that is the perfect reason for Secret Cinema to base a whole event around his new release.

Alien: Covenant

The only other feasible alternative to The Handmaiden in my eyes is Alien: Covenant. Set for release in May 2017, the film concerns a new crew visiting an uncharted planet that looks on arrival to be full of blooming flowers and plantlife – initially appearing to be a paradise planet.

It is a direct sequel to Prometheus, which itself was subject to a Secret Cinema event in June 2012 immediately prior to its release.

This sequel is set for general release on 19th May 2017, which would put it in the frame for being tackled.

It is probably going to receive a 15 rating (the trailers were rated 15), but that doesn’t mean the night can be so horrifically planned that they don’t want to admit people younger than 18. Plus there will probably be alcohol for sale, which would also need an age restriction.

Certainly the spending power of 20th Century Fox would lend itself to a last-minute decision to be subject to a huge Secret Cinema event, with increased cost as a result of running it in parallel with the Moulin Rouge event across London. Would the Secret Cinema team put so much pressue on themselves to run two concurrently unless they were set to make a lot of money on the back of it?

Conclusion

Honestly, it could be either of the above. Or neither. The beauty is in the guessing and the not knowing.

Either way, the nights will be a wonderful treat for fans of cinema and well worth the money.

Act fast tomorrow at 13:00 to avoid disappointment.

Note: This article proved to be spot on (2 for 2!). Check out the follow-up here and a quick haiku review here.

Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later Preview

It’s back and it’s hungry for flesh!!

Secret Cinema have announced their next big event. It’s a good one! Read on for more details.

What is Secret Cinema?

Secret Cinema is a company that specialises in totally immersive cinema experiences. You spend an evening totally absorbed in surroundings typical of the film on which the night is based.

There are two types of event Secret Cinema organises. Both are highly similar but with subtle differences.

Secret Cinema: Tell No One (not this event)

The first is the kind they made their names doing – completely secret smaller events for films many would consider to be cult classics. Nobody knows the film until they show up, and from then on anything can happen. 

When they tackled The Shawshank Redemption, for example, people were snarled at by an angry police officer who informed them they were all convicts. He then walked them, single-file, through a busy shopping centre to their transport to a local high-security prison. It’s all good-spirited and great fun for those with an interest in surprises and adventure. The recent Tell No One event falls into this category (and is still going on so the name of the film won’t be revealed). 

Secret Cinema Presents (this event)

The second type tend to be larger in scale and the film is announced well in advance. This is the category last year’s Empire Strikes Back event falls into, along with the previous year’s Back to the Future. Both were excellently received and left people wanting more large-scale events.

The latter type is better for those unfamiliar with more obscure films who want to know that they’ll enjoy the night before they attend and pay for the tickets.

Either way, whatever they do the nights are always highly immersive experiences and well worth the money. They have carved out a massive area of the market that most people didn’t even think existed.

What’s the next event?

This next event in their calendar is Danny Boyle’s zombie survival horror 28 Days Later. It is a Secret Cinema Presents night, so the film is common knowledge. No surprises this time around!

What’s the film like?

28 Days Later revolutionised the popularity of zombie films as a genre. It was a shift in terms of the technology used. Boyle used Canon XL1 digital video cameras to allow the manoeuvrability to shoot the desolate London scenes, but they had a knock-on effect that gave the film a sort of CCTV-type feeling to it, like it was recovered footage. It starts with the lead character Jim (Cillian Murphy in his breakthrough role) waking up from a coma in a hospital with no knowledge of how he got there.

We learn what’s happening as he does, finding fellow survivors along the way and hoping to reach some kind of freedom. It captured the imagination of cinema-goers during its original release, instantly becoming a hit in both the UK and USA.

 

What can we expect?

It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that it is really just any excuse to do a zombie-themed event. Anyone who has experience of Secret Cinema will know that this is very unlikely.

The event will, inevitably, involve hoards of zombies. One way that the film kept us gripped is the constant use of impending terror. It was the first film to use running zombies, so expect these to be present at the event too. Better take your running shoes!

I imagine it will incorporate the military as a key element. In the film they weren’t necessarily to be trusted, and there’s a fantastic scene in a fortified mansion that could utilise the open-air quite well if that’s the path they choose to go down.

Whether or not we’ll be killing zombies or just avoiding them remains to be seen. If we are doing that, it will need to be reasonably safe or there could be some serious injuries. No head-shots people!

Clothing is always a key part of the events and advice on outfits will be sent out in advance. It’s possible that it will be one of the easiest Secret Cinema events to dress for. The film is set in the present day (or ten years ago at least) and presumably we won’t be asked to dress up as zombies. I’d imagine it will be a case of wearing anything for once rather than trying to get hold of any specific costumes. No desperate searches for tan and black scarves required this time! Perhaps a medical outfit will be required for some people.

It will be a great experience to witness a modern cult classic on a massive screen with an enthusiastic audience.

 

How do I buy tickets?

Tickets are on sale for the event right now and are selling fast. Head to the official webpage for more details.

Secret Cinema February 2016 Preview – Update

Well, tomorrow’s the day that the Secret Cinema 2016 Tell No One event kicks-off. If you’re taking part this year you’ll no doubt be fully engrossed in the messages we’ve all been receiving as part of the D. O. C. S. organisation. 

The picture has become much clearer since I first wrote about the event in December. There have been a heap of clues left across social media about what film it will be. Based on my character description – Montgomery McCord of the Data Operations Department – and the costume I’ve been recommended to wear, I’m fairly confident of the film it will be.

However, playing along with the game doesn’t involve telling everyone what the answer is. I will be reviewing my time there, but that review will go live on 13th March 2016 so I don’t ruin it for anyone.

I may provide a spoiler-free guidance sheet after I attend, but the important thing is to get involved, take part, make a half-decent attempt at your costume and have a great time.

Enjoy it!

Secret Cinema February 2016 Preview

Secret Cinema is a company that puts together immersive film-based experiences, set around one film. You step into an alternative reality and live in the film for a few hours, somewhere along the line actually watching the film too. Having thoroughly enjoyed the Star Wars Secret Cinema earlier this year, my first Secret Cinema event, when Secret Cinema announced their next project was coming in February 2016 I instantly put my name down for tickets.

The biggest difference this time is that nobody knows what the film is. We’ll be stepping into a world of the unknown, much like the older Secret Cinema events. A lot of people have rushed to buy tickets but are now wondering what exactly they’ve signed up to.

So what clues have they given to us? Let’s break it down.

What films won’t it be?

I think we can safely rule out any film that Secret Cinema and Future Cinema have already performed. The following films have already been covered.

A Night at the Opera (2008)
Alien (2009)
Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2009)
Back To The Future (2014)
The Battle of Algiers (2011)
Blade Runner (2010)
Brazil (2013)
Bugsy Malone (2009)
Dead Poets Society (2014)
Dirty Dancing (2013)
Funny Face (2008)
Ghostbusters (2008)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Harder They Come (2009)
if…. (2008)
The Interview (2014)
Lawrence of Arabia (2010)
Paranoid Park (2007)
Prometheus (2012)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (2010)
The Red Shoes (2011)
Saturday Night Fever (2013)
The Shawshank Redemption (2012)
Star Wars: A New Hope (2015)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (2015)
The Third Man (2012)
The Warriors (2009)
Wings of Desire (2010)

Quite an extensive list there. It’s a shame some of them have already been done and may never be repeated. The videos of some of them have been reported recently on the Secret Cinema Facebook page. The Third Man looked particularly immersive.

What clues have we got?

Perhaps the biggest clue as to the content of the film is the fact it is simultaneously being played out in London and Moscow. Secret Cinema regularly performs in London, but Moscow seems to be significant.

There are a number of popular English-language films wholly or partly set in Moscow that could be relevant:

The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Ultimatum
Cast Away
Iron Man 2
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Rocky IV
Rocky V
X-Men: The Days of Future Past
X-Men: First Class

These films are all fine, but the Moscow connection is tenuous at best. The Bourne series could be the best option. However, they simply don’t fit the cult film status that you could categorise all the previous films as.

Surveillance seems to be key

Throughout all the visuals about the event have been suggestions of spying and surveillance. Going to the official page on the website, you are greeted by audio that sounds like a submarine sonar blip, with someone typing on and old-fashioned typewriter overlaid. These also feature on some of the visuals.

Quotes 

Elsewhere there are quotes featured, which include the following:

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest)

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” – Anais Nin

“Everything is relative in this world, where change alone endures.” – Leon Trotsky (The Revolution Betrayed)

“Take a walk on the wild side.” – Lou Reed (Take A Walk On The Wild Side)

“Hence a commander who advances without any thought of winning personal fame and withdraws in spite of certain punishment, whose only concern is to protect his people and promote the interests of his ruler, is the nation’s treasure. Because he fusses over his men as if they were infants, they will accompany him into the deepest valleys; because he fusses over his men as if they were his own beloved sons, they will die by his side. If he is generous with them and yet they do not do as he tells them, if he loves them and yet they do not obey his commands, if he is so undisciplined with them that he cannot bring them into proper order, they will be like spoiled children who can be put to no good use at all.” – Sun Tzu (The Art of War)

“Wild honey smells of freedom
The dust — of sunlight
The mouth of a young girl, like a violet
But gold — smells of nothing”
– Anna Akhmatova (The Smell of Gold)
Note: This was a quote provided in Russian

These quotes imply some kind of war theme, or perhaps people being oppressed or under over-zealous surveillance. There are also hints of revolution against it.

So what are the best bets?

Possibility 1

It is unlikely that the film won’t be English-language, but not impossible. What if the film wasn’t language-dependent at all? Silent films would be a bold move but one that could pay off if it was the right film.

1924 film Aelita from director Yakov Protazanov is an early silent film and is often cited as an influence on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Based on a novel by Alexei Tolstoy, it features heavily topics of sci-fi but its setting in 1920s Russia allows themes of political and social commentary that meant it was banned from cinemas in the Soviet Union.

You can watch the whole thing for free here.

I also found an excellent article on the film by Andrew J Horton at this location. A fascinating read.

I’d love to see this but in all honesty it seems highly unlikely.

Possibility 2

  

One film that seems to be cropping up in discussions across the Internet is Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The satirical comedy from 1964 certainly has the surveillance and war themes running throughout and is also considered a cult film by many. Its 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes shows it would be a popular choice.

The opportunity to witness a live recreation of the war room scenes would be hilarious. However, how they would skip between the war room and the B-52 bombers is a mystery to me so I’m not convinced this is the best option.

Possibility 3

Before George Lucas took on the universe with Star Wars, he had an extremely popular cult film called THX 1138. A little thought makes this a real possibility. 

The tickets on offer come in two categories: Operative (standard) and Operative X. The latter comes at twice the price, but the use of the word Operative brings the suggestion of a dystopian reality where names are gone and people are just a number. 

The lead characters in THX 1138 included the titular character played by Robert Duvall, an operator in a factory building android police officers, and SEN 5241 played by Donald Pleasance, a CCTV operator in charge of surveillance. Both are operatives but one has a distinct superiority over the other.

The world would be immersive if done properly. Imagine plentiful android police wandering around and telling us to not do certain things. White rooms with seemingly no walls with everyone wandering around aimlessly. 

Whether enough people know of the film to really enjoy it is another matter. For me, this is a strong contender based on what we currently know.

Possibility 4

  

The final option considered is 1984 (Michael Radford, 1984). If you’re going for a surveillance-themed film then you can’t go wrong with this film. It is the quintessential film and book on the topic, so much so that the words “Big Brother” are used in common vocabulary to describe anything the public seems to be over-bearing on the surveillance front.

The totalitarian state rules the world in which it is set, and the main character Winston Smith (John Hurt) works for the Ministry of Truth rewriting history to suit the desired story. 

The settings would be much easier to achieve than THX 1138, and it is slightly more mainstream than that film. Imagine being sent into a huge office block to rewrite a scandalous news story into something far more saccharine. The dystopia on the outside of the buildings and attempting to avoid capture by the Thought Police… All very appealing!

The only downside is the similarity to the film Brazil, already featured in a previous Secret Cinema event.

Conclusion

Well, nothing is nailed on and their clues don’t really help too much, but there are some strong contenders I wouldn’t mind experiencing. Hopefully this article has got you a little more excited.

Tickets are almost gone but some nights have limited availability.

Update

I’ve written an update following the recent communications. Check it out here.

A preview for the next event, Secret Cinema Presents 28 Days Later, can be found here.

The Force Awakens… quite a few questions…

Warning: This article contains spoilers. Reading it will probably ruin the film for you.

The film is out now and the whole world is busy digesting their first viewing, whilst kicking themselves for not buying more tickets earlier now they’ve realised how good it is.

Whilst the film has achieved a lot, it has also left us with a few questions that may not be answered for another 18 months. Here are a selection.

Rey’s History

forceawakensreyandbb8

Rey has abilities never-before-seen by any untrained Jedi. The ability to use mind control, telekinesis and force pushes are usually only achieved by Jedi masters, yet she was able to perform everything with no training whatsoever.

In this case, it does make us wonder who her mother and father are. One guess would be that she is the daughter of Han and Leia – Leia is after all a carrier of Jedi abilities (though has never been seen to use them on screen).

Perhaps instead her father is Luke Skywalker, though this would require an explanation as to who her mother is. Given the final sequence of The Force Awakens, this could be a more feasible option and gives room to develop Luke’s recent history through flashbacks.

I’m foreseeing the line “Now the circle is a figure of eight.” Or something.

Where did this guy go?

forceawakenszuvio

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Constable Zuvio Ph: Elena Dorfman © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

Constable Zuvio has a very sinister look about him. In the pre-release press he was a reasonably prominent character, and was most recently featured in a large Empire Magazine article about the new film. There was also an action figure released when there wasn’t really many characters to get your hands on.

In the article, Empire reported that LucasFilm described him as a “vigilant law officer on a mostly lawless world” and a man who “keeps order in a frontier trading post”.

Well, his story obviously wasn’t important enough to warrant avoiding the cutting-room floor. I fully expect to learn about his whereabouts when the Blu-ray is released as his is inevitably going to be one of the deleted scenes, probably around the same time as the alleged Chewbacca arms-ripped-from-sockets scene that made the novelization but not the film.

What happened to make Leia and Han lose touch?

forceawakensleia

One of the most unexpected elements of the film was when Han and Leia were reunited after a seemingly long time. They passed some comments that seemed to suggest there was some history between them. Furthermore, when the final battle had finished and the remaining team returned, Chewbacca and Leia didn’t seem to even acknowledge each other. That seemed a little strange. Clearly something has happened beyond the fallout from the unexpected turnout of their son Ben, and I’m not buying that Han was just wanting to keep “doing what he did best”. I wonder whether this will be explored in future films or left as it is.

How much of Episode VIII has been filmed?

There were clearly some shots in the trailers that weren’t used in the film and whole characters that were taken out. Given the final scene left Luke with Rey on a distant island, it would seem like a bit of a waste to get everyone over there just for 30 seconds of film. This makes me wonder if they’ve also filmed the opening sequences of the next film.

Why was Captain Phasma so underused?

forceawakensphantasm

Captain Phasmastic

This may be the same reason as Constable Zuvio, but Gwendeline Christie seemed criminally underused when she was so featured in the run up to the film and the press. Perhaps it was due to filming conflicts between The Force Awakens and Game of Thrones, but I’m hoping we either learn her backstory through future installments or perhaps a comic book series. It just seemed really unusual when she’s done so much promo for it and was limited to just a handful of appearances.

Why was C-3PO’s arm red?

Maybe it was explained at some point but I don’t recall when. Seemed a little pointless.

The full review of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is here.