Every year, the Chicago International Film Festival holds a secret screening night. They tease the film with all sorts of possibilities and keep under tight wraps what the film will be. You simply walk into the theater, take a seat and await fate. It’s seriously the closest thing to Christmas presents as a kid. I sit there anxious, my brain starts racing as title cards flip and my feet dance around as the waiting game begins. Needless to say, it’s my favorite event of the whole Fest.
This year’s proved to be a stellar pick from director J.C. Chandor, Margin Call. While the financial sector has never been a field of particular interest, this movie sucked me in. I’ll blame the stellar cast from Jeremy Irons to Paul Bettany to Kevin Spacey and Zachary Quinto. The movie felt all too real as it depicts the downfall of a financial agency and the eventual collapse of the economy. Needless to say, I have a new appreciation for financial dudes who slave away staring at screens and doing things with numbers I never could understand.
Then, by some grace of God, Chicago unearthed ANOTHER secret screening, this time at famed Music Box. While the feature leaked along with talent who would appear, I was completely shocked by the OTHER talent that walked out the curtain. Patton Oswalt took the stage to introduce….Jason Reitman. Reitman came out and then introduced Chicago-gal…Diablo Cody. And the three musketeers talked briefly before screening Young Adult.
Young Adult was a fantastic exposé of Mavis (played by Charlize Theron) on her quest to bring meaning to her life as her book series wraps with her final book. Naturally, she returns to her small hometown to find this solace, but instead, just finds her life is truly a wreck. Diablo Cody put it perfectly during the Q&A: “I wanted to show you that sometimes, assholes don’t change. In too many films you find the asshole becomes good. But as we all know, that isn’t the case.” The film is raw, the shots are amazing and it’s chocked full of awkward moments and delusional dreams.
I’m a sucker for secret films. I love the feeling you get while sitting there waiting for the film to happen. And the fact you’re walking in without knowing what awaits. It’s a thrill that just does not exist anymore in a world of instant, on demand and leaks on the world wide web. It’s the little things in life. And I’m so glad Chicago delivered two this week. If you find out your city holds a secret screening, immediately go. Even if the film’s bad (like last year’s Three Days at the Fest), that opening sequence of feelings is something everyone needs to experience.