There’s a movie called Third Contact by Simon Horrocks, (who wrote, directed, filmed and edited this “epic” work), that is set to make a tour of the US and Canada. I am completely intrigued by this project, and it’s my hope to be sitting in Salt Lake City’s Brewvies Cinema Pub on July 1, at 7:30 pm, so that I might see this masterpiece, myself; as-well-as, meet this phenom for a question/answer discussion afterwards. It’s also my hope that you will fill the seats in your area, as this film is being heralded as a triumph. Please continue reading, then pledge for your reserved seats, here, by May 15th: Third Contact
Read on… And, Thank you, for your support.
“Would Hamlet have felt the delicious fascination of suicide if he hadn’t had an audience?”
Though I have an ear for avant-garde sound-collage poetry, an eye for the most abstract of abstract paintings, and a taste for politically-driven bizarre performance art (the creepier and less traditional the better), my taste in film is not what most people would call sophisticated. I like movies where things blow up. This is a big part of the reason I am as fascinated by my attraction to Third Contact, the feature-length debut of director Simon Horrocks. I did not head towards this film with the intention of meeting it halfway; I approached my viewing with the taste of copper in my mouth, the sad anti-adrenaline of an assignment rotten from its beginning. Listening to a friend describe it, the crinkle of my eyes glazing over and the bellowing approach of a lion-like yawn forced me to stop and ask him the title a couple of times, to make sure I watched the right flick.
About twelve minutes in I paused Third Contact in order to nail down the Jean Genet quote above and to run the film back to the opening. I was enjoying the heck out of it. The look on my face and the thrill at the back of my brain were similar to my first viewing of Die Hard. For a guy who loves films where girls with big bosoms flit from one explosion to the next, being drawn to this brainy philosophical textbook on nihilism, quantum theory, and morality made me feel like a grown-up. Finally an art-flick I could boast about enjoying!
Know this – you won’t walk away from Third Contact with a smile on your face … at least not a smile engendered by the movie’s happy content, its uplifting message, its Hollywood-perfect deus ex machine designed to make us all feel better about our own rotten lives. The movie is dark. Over and over again, I thought of Genet’s gem from above; in a sense, everyone on screen is a cut-out of Genet’s vision of Hamlet as a teenager starved for the audience’s attention, threatening to cut her wrists so someone would look at her with something other than lust or derision.
That description makes the film seem like a homework assignment. It isn’t. I appreciate beautiful language, and Third Contact may as well be a poem; not only do the images (the imagery, even) of the camera paint a picture, the dialogue itself is another way the filmmaker lets us into this weird and wonderful little world. Oh man, I envy the viewer who takes a first shot at this feature. Simon Horrocks and his cast and crew (not to mention whoever makes up the creative team as a whole) have here a true gem of a movie, much to be proud of; if nothing else, they’ve turned an unabashed blood-and-gore shoot-em-up movie fan (and Third Contact ain’t no shoot-em-up) into a guy who is outright thrilled to engage with what some may (even derisively) term an art-house flick. Here’s the thing – it ain’t an art-house flick, either.
Yes, it is an independent film. But besides some rough-and-tumble camera work, it is anything but indie-quality. The scuttlebutt is that Horrocks did the whole thing on a camcorder. Why do I say it’s anything but indie-quality?
This film has that nearly seamless combination of theme and sense appeal we’re used to from big-budget releases, the kind of perfect wedging of “sense and sensibility” (ten points for me!) that usually comes with a major production house release. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be grabbed from the first ten minutes by the filmmakers attack on your senses and your intellect, and I have no doubt that the movie cost about as much to make as my first car, a 1990 Toyota Corolla. I’d have trouble producing a good wedding video on this kind of money, and Horrocks and company will have you doubting the movie’s indie cred before the halfway mark.
I hate when reviewers wax poetic about camera work. The word “cinematography” is a dead horse that reviewers and wannabe intellectuals continue to flog long after burial. But Good Lord in heaven – Horrocks turns his camera into our collective eye in a way I have never experienced outside of movies with multi-million dollar budgets. We see the doctors’ spiral into madness, plain and simple, and we do it with very little effort. The director’s done the work for us. A color palette of grays and blacks and shadows is briefly and skillfully interrupted with flashes of memory, shown in color, and in perfect proportion.
I’m used to indie films that are so self-indulgent, so dishonest (artistically-speaking), so intellectually transparent, I’m asleep by the second reel. The pure honesty of the dialogue and the characters of this film are worth a round of applause. The film’s ability to captivate a guy who wouldn’t normally consider watching a movie without several fiery auto crashes, well it astounds. I’m sure I’m not the first reviewer to call this movie a work of art (I checked), and I don’t think I’ll be the last. The surrealists in France (between the Wars) would be proud, as would the German Dadaists. But art comparisons aside, practically any movie fan will be sucked in. Even those of us that prefer big booms.
I won’t break the movie down plot point by plot point; I won’t do this first and foremost because it would ruin your experience, but another reason is that I simply can’t. The explorations here (of grief, of death, of morality, of SANITY, even) involve a character named Dr. David Wright, who is portrayed by Tim Scott-Walker in a performance that ranks among my favorite of 2013 so far. The word torment isn’t quite strong enough to describe Dr. Wright, a psychotherapist dealing with the apparent suicide of a patient and the loss of his own lover.
The question that makes up the bulk of the film is one many of us have probably thought about – does a human being have to be crazy in order to be happy, truly happy? When Dr. Wright tries to wipe his own map, he’s stopped by the sister of the suicidal patient, a character named Erika Maurer played (in another amazing performance) by Jannica Olin). She wants to talk about her brother’s apparent suicide. The memories of the two, a series of memories related in some way to his treatment of and her life with the patient in question) are the mystery that sets Third Contact in motion. And oh, how it spins.
Again, I hate to make the movie seem like a mid-term essay; it isn’t that. But you might want to get used to thinking and hearing about suicide. You might browse through Wikipedia’s take on string theory and quantum physics, especially if you aren’t all that familiar with the science behind bubble (or parallel) universes. It may help if you have a background in Eastern religions, where a death in our world can be a release, a suicide can be the grip of a key, leaving one shell equals entering another (a kind of freedom) in another universe or plane of existence.
That description above is not entirely accurate; it isn’t a good summary of Horrocks’ feature-length debut. There is no good summary. The film is visually beautiful, plain and simple. If it’s true that the flick was made with a camcorder . . . Horrocks has done something truly epic.
See http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thirdcontact/third-contact-on-the-big-screen-make-it-happen for more information about Horrocks’ attempts to get his movie on the big screen.
Third Contact is a dark, mind-bending, surreal sci-fi thriller which has been gathering momentum after selected shows in Europe. For its final cinema event, we are bringing the film to the USA and Canada!
Pledge in return for a seat at one of these shows:
June 16 – 7pm – Boston, MA ~ Embassy Cinema
June 17 – 9.30pm – New York, NY ~ Stone Creek Bar & Lounge
June 18 – 7.30pm – Philadelphia, PA ~ The Trocadero Theater
June 19 – tbc evening – Lexington, KY ~ The Farish Theater
June 23 – 7.30pm – Miami, FL ~ Cosford Cinema
June 24 – 7.15pm – New Orleans, LA ~ Indywood Theater
June 25 – 7.15pm – Atlanta, GA ~ The Mammal Gallery
June 26 – tbc evening – Austin, TX ~ The Hideout Theatre
June 30 – 7.45pm – Denver, CO ~ Chez Artiste
July 1 – 7.30pm – Salt lake City, UT ~ Brewvies Cinema Pub
July 2 – tbc evening – Long Beach, CA ~ Arts Theatre
July 3 – 7.45pm – San Francisco, CA ~ Embarcadero Center
July 5 – 6.45pm – Portland, OR ~ Academy Theater
July 7 – 6.30pm – Seattle, WA ~ SIFF Cinema
July 8 – 6.30pm – Vancouver, BC ~ The Rio Theatre
July 10 – tbc evening – Minneapolis, MN ~ Trylon Microcinema
July 11 – tbc evening – Chicago, IL ~ The Logan Theatre
July 15 – 7pm – Toronto, ON ~ The Revue Cinema
July 16 – tbc evening – Ottawa, ON ~ Club SAW
July 17 – 7.15pm – Montreal, QC ~ Cinema du Parc
At each show you can see the film and put questions to the film’s writer-director Simon Horrocks.