News Column

Trylon's 'Defenders' series puts spotlight on bad movies and the people who like them

September 17, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 17--Hey, wanna see a bad movie?

It is not the most appetizing pitch but, in a way, that's what has happened 26 times at Trylon Microcinema with its periodic "Defenders" series. Each time, a "defender" -- former news anchor Robyne Robinson, The Current disc jockeys Steve Seel and Jennifer Neal -- selects an under-appreciated film, shows it to a hardy band of moviegoers who do not know what they are going to see and then makes a case for the movie's worthiness.

I will be doing the defending at 7 p.m. Wednesday night and, although I think the movie I've picked is great, it remains to be seen if anyone will agree.

"The idea for The Defenders came from two different things," says Jim Brunzell, creator of the series. "When I went to the Seattle International Film Festival in 2008, they had something called the Secret Festival. In order to go, you have to sign a waiver, and you can't announce what you're seeing. If you do, you're forever banned. And John Waters, in Baltimore, would do these really bizarre screenings. He would announce what the films were -- really low-grade, underground stuff -- and the screenings were free. But, if you wanted to leave, you had to pay."

Tickets for The Defenders are $8 and there's no additional fee for those who bail, but you may miss out on an unappreciated gem if you do.

"I'm interested in Defenders picking films I haven't seen, personally. Part of the joy is seeing what people come up with. There also have been titles I'm not so curious about but that I'm interested to see how people will defend them," Brunzell says. File MPR personality Stephanie Curtis' choice of "The Main Event," the Barbra Streisand boxing movie, in that category.

Robinson's choice, "Man Bites Dog," is the only foreign-language title The Defenders has featured. Brunzell says it ended up being one of his favorites because the TV anchor had a unique perspective on the story of someone who follows, and films, a serial killer.

By the way, it's somewhat unusual for these titles to be revealed by Brunzell, who says a good rule of thumb for Defenders movies is that they have less than a 50 percent rating on rottentomatoes.com. For the most part, the titles remain a secret, unveiled only at celebrations of the series' first and second anniversaries.

So, get 'em while you can: Musician Jeremy Messersmith showed "Sex and Fury," a kung fu sexploitation movie whose misogyny inspired a handful of walkouts ("Jeremy had a really good defense of it, though," says Brunzell). Walker Art Center curator Dean Otto showed "Baby," about a woman who raises her adult "child" as an infant. And Brunzell himself offered the much-reviled "Hudson Hawk," "a film I absolutely love."

Half of the proceeds of Defenders events go to Trylon; the other half to a charity of the Defender's choosing (mine is Open Arms of Minnesota). Initially envisioned as a six-month-long series, The Defenders is in its third year, with no end in sight.

Speaking from experience, I can guarantee they will never run out of movies that a lot of people think are bad. Although, in the case of the movie I've chosen, those people are obviously, definitely, absolutely wrong.

Chris Hewitt can be reached at 651-228-5552. Follow him on twitter.com/ChrisHMovie.

What: The Defenders

When: 7 p.m., Wednesday

Where: Trylon Microcinema, 3258 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis

Tickets: $8

Visit: take-up.org

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(c)2013 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)

Visit the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) at www.twincities.com

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