Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jason goes to the Black Hole Cinematheque to see some Surreal Slavic Strangeness

Last Monday night I checked out a new (well, new to me, apparently they've been around about a year) underground film hangout in Oakland, the Black Hole (no affiliation with the Raiders fans). Nice place, and although there were a few technical glitches, they have a 16 mm projector and a very nice digital projector. They're active Mondays or Tuesdays all month, so I'm sure I'll be back.

One note, 8:00 really meant 9:00 (they host punk shows there, too, and never expect anyone to show up until at least an hour after the posted start time. Movie fans are different). Besides, with the long summer days they do have to wait until there's no light coming through the skylights (they don't put a thick blanket over it like the Vortex does).

But while we waited, they had some clips to entertain the people who were there. A WWII Newsreel, an animated song about the ridiculous of the arms race, and a lightning-quick slide show through the history of art in the short GALLERY. (note, these are not included in the total running time).

Then the program proper, starting with the cartoon ROMEO I JULIA (1984) from the former Yugoslavia. With apologies to Shakespeare (who appears in a cameo and blows his brains out), the Montagues are two-headed green dragons and the Capulets are white monsters with red polka dots. But Romeo and Juliet still find each other, despite everything. Pretty funny.

And then the feature BARON PRASIL (1962), Czech auteur Karel Zeman's whimsical retelling of the Baron Munchausen story combining live-action and animation (and at least in part inspiring Terry Gilliam to make his own Baron Munchausen movie years later). The Baron, along with the travelers from Voyage to the Moon, and Cyrano de Bergerac hang out on the moon, where they meet an actual moon man--who just happens to look exactly like a human being wearing a space suit. And in fact he claims to be from Earth, but the Baron instead takes him to Earth to show him a good time. They go to Turkey (very thoughtful of the baron--the land of the crescent moon), where they rescue the princess and escape from the army, only to be pursued and the baron has to defeat the entire Turkish army on his own (by riding a cannonball, in a scene that's repeated in Gilliam's THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN). But still, the princess favors the moon man over the baron, how odd.

A beautiful and weird little adventure, and a good time was had by all.

Total Running Time: 94 minutes
My Total Minutes: 242,284

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