Hero Complex Film Festival – Clockwork Orange with Malcom McDowell
I had known about the Hero Complex Film Festival since around April, before that I had not been enlightened about this L.A. Times event. As soon as I heard about it I felt curious to see what this festival would entail; naturally I was feeling rather excited.
This year, it will be the 3rd annual occurrence of this event; although in previous years it was held at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. From the 18th to the 20th of May – previously 21st, but Stan Lee dropped out from closing the festival on Monday – the Hero Complex Film Festival will honor the Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live audiences in its beautiful installations.
The HCFF, presented by the L.A Times, hosts a number of – outstanding in their own rights - films with a preemptive Q&A segments with cast or crew aforementioned film. Only last year the line up of films included Dick Tracy (with speaker Warren Beatty), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (presented by director Nicholas Meyer), the 2009 Star Trek (with writers/producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof), Superman (with Richard Donner and an appearance by Geoff Johns), and lastly Iron Man (with John Favreau and Robert Downey Jr.).
Having arrived at the L.A Live I found my excitement to fizzle when the reality of the event hit me. I expected hundreds of people either waiting for their showings to begin and perhaps more advertising for the event. I wanted lights, colors, laughter, crazy fans; I wanted an experience more than “hey wanna go to the movies?”. There was little to no indication that something important, or at least a somewhat interesting was happening in the theater with a silver 5 plastered on top, where inside lied a group of film enthusiasts who came to see not just a movie but to experience the interview with the talent that brought the aforementioned film to reality. It’s almost as if the festival didn’t really exist or was being kept an absolute secret for fear of shame of some sort.
I was present for A Clockwork Orange with special guest Malcolm McDowell on the 19th. I would like to say that A Clockwork Orange is one of my favorite classics, not an original feeling since hundreds of other people have clamored for it since its original release. Before the movie was presented, Geoff Boucher (Fromt the L.A. Times) hosted a quick 50minute Q&A with Malcolm McDowell about his stories on Kubrick, Peter Sellers and his own career.
Present at the Q&A with McDowell, much to my dismay I noticed that the theater was not only not full but perhaps somewhere between 1/4 to 1/2 filled. This may have been the best indication that the festival did not deliver to the audiences, lack of enthusiasm and attendance only strengthened my disappointment in the event. Even the actor, at times, seemed to have been brought here by force or by a attractive appearance fee. The thing is, and he did mention it subtly in one of his stories when he was asked something along the lines of “You are one of the most recognizable figures and characters; do you ever feel worried about the fans that approach you in the streets?”, that he appreciates his fans very much but his main concern is that people often quote or ask him about things that have long past and yet that’s all people want to talk about. A Clockwork Orange was originally released in 1971, and there is a lot of interviews and information about it; I’m quite sure that he was also referring to being part of this discussion causes him some grief. I fully sympathize with what Mr. McDowell was referring to, but perhaps that is the price one has to pay when being a part of a classic. To make things even worse for him (and me, for I felt very in-tune with the actor), was that whenever he made a joke and during his stories, the audience remained not only distant but very quiet. I have been a part of the stand-up comedy scene (amateurishly I may add), and I can honestly say that he massively bombed that night. I don’t quite understand why though, his stories were very interesting and funny and he was being cool an relaxed but somehow the audience remained absolutely terrible.
Near the end of the talk with actor Malcolm McDowell, he mentioned that – if he can avoid it, and he will at all cost – he will not see this particular film again, yet he is proud of it and is highly grateful for the fans and their love of it and him in it. So as the claps subsided, at the end of the talk, he promptly rushed out of the theater before the beginning song and red screen were projected on the silver screen.
The best part of my night was hearing Mr. McDowell share his stories with us, I wish that the rest of the audience would have joined me. Unfortunately for us, we ran out of time and could not participate in the Q&A, but maybe some other time I will be able to ask him some 1 on 1 questions; I had a few up my sleeve, and fortunately for both of us, they were not about the film.