Hero Complex Film Fest '12: Peter Weller, 'A Clockwork Orange', 'Super'
by Ben Pearson
May 20, 2012
While the first night of the third annual Hero Complex Film Festival was all about zombies, the movies presented on the second day covered much more cinematic ground than just one genre. The day started with a screening of Paul Verhoven's 1987 film Robocop, with by a very bizarre Q&A with star Peter Weller. Legendary makeup specialist Rick Baker was also a surprise guest, followed by a Q&A with Malcolm McDowell and a screening of Stanley Kubrick's 1971 classic A Clockwork Orange. James Gunn's 2010 indie film Super finished off the night, with a Q&A from Gunn and star Rainn Wilson, too. More below!
Following the screening of the more violent director's cut of Robocop, star Peter Weller came out dressed in Native American leather jacket and proceeded to give one of the strangest public speeches I've ever heard. Moderator Geoff Boucher could barely get a word in edgewise as Weller launched into an aggressive series of lectures about art history, sociology, anthropology, and "art as a continuum" that lasted an entire hour. Confused? You're not the only one. This was not what anyone was expecting from a post-Robocop Q&A, mostly because Weller only briefly touched on the movie before bouncing into the next tangent about a film class he once taught, directing a TV series for A&E, or any number of bizarre segues that left the audience with our mouths hanging open in disbelief. It truly was one of those "you had to be there" moments, but unless you're a fan of spectacularly weird interviews, you're probably glad you weren't there for this section.
Seven-time Oscar winner Rick Baker came out after Weller wrapped up his lecture, immediately making fun of Weller's antics by saying that once you give an actor a microphone, they just won't shut up. He spoke about his long and storied career, explained how he embraced digital technology in the early days to avoid becoming obsolete, pronounced his work in Harry and the Hendersons as his personal favorite of his own work, and praised the practical effects in John Carpenter's The Thing as his favorite effects that he did not do himself. He's a funny, genial guy who clearly loves his job, and he has a childlike sense of giddiness about him when he shared stories about working on Tim Burton's Ed Wood. He also brought along the head of one of the aliens from Men in Black 3, which looked very cool and had multiple rows of eyes. Even sitting twenty feet away in the crowd, I could see the immense detail that went into this creation, and this was just one of over 100 aliens he and his team designed for that film.
Actor Malcolm McDowell is 68 years old, but he's still a charismatic dude who really knows how to work a crowd. He told stories about working with Stanley Kubrick, and admitted when he was first cast in A Clockwork Orange, he got the names mixed up and thought he'd be working for director Stanley Kramer. He was moved at times, remembering the time he shared with Stanley Kubrick, but lightened the mood by recounting a story about coming to Hollywood during the film's release and being introduced to Gene Kelly, who was not too thrilled with the way McDowell completely subverted Singin' in the Rain during a rape scene (Kelly looked him up and down, and then stormed away without saying a word). He also poked fun at Star Trek and praised Abrams' updated movies, saying that they gave the series a much-needed spark.
I missed James Gunn's Super when it came out in America back in 2011, and though I missed out on a pretty awesome movie, I'm glad my first viewing of it was on the big screen with an audience. I said earlier that this day of the festival didn't seem to have any connective tissue like the first night's zombie theme, but after seeing Super, that may not be true; all three of today's movies were extremely violent. Wilson and Gunn addressed that in their Q&A, emphasizing the death of a certain beloved character that I won't spoil here. They are both really proud of how this is a small movie that has elements of action, drama, romance, and superhero movies, all with a kind of low budget cult classic vibe. It was another solid day of movies at this year's Hero Complex Film Festival, which you can find out about here. Final day's recap coming soon.