lets play pretend today. imagine we all live in the same city. and imagine that somehow i’ve obtained the use of a cinema for a weekend, perhaps through luck, or maybe some kind of bloodless coup took place in front of the concession stand. the point is, i’m holding an imaginary late night film festival! starting late and going til the early morning (and bending the laws of time to fit five movies into one night!), we’ll all meet up at this amazing imaginary cinema. you know the kind of cinema i mean: it’s falling apart, the seats are hard and lumpy and the term ‘flea pit’ might not do justice to just what a dive this place is. but it wasn’t always that way and there are the faded remnants of this cinema’s golden age in unexpected places still. but in the dark, with some excellent company and some fun distractions on the screen none of that matters.
while we wait for our friends to arrive we’ll loiter in the foyer admiring the art deco ornamentation and dog-eared coming attractions posters. wait a minute, that concession stand is really a fully stocked bar, and do my eyes deceive me or is that gentleman fixing me a perfect manhatten? he asks what you’d like to drink, and tells us the chef will be arriving soon to take snack orders. do you feel like some nachos? or maybe some kind of outrageously large ice cream sundae? oh and there’s pick and mix candy too!
we head into the cinema and find a perfect spot and start to settle in. i’ve bought extra pillows and blankets and of course the invitations specified a strict pajama dress code! i hope you’re comfy. its going to be a long night but such a fun one.
the lights dim and the curtains part. the chatter and giggles die down to a hush as our first feature starts…
brewster mc cloud directed by robert altman, 1970.
starring harold and maude’s bud cort and shelley duvall in her first role, brewster mccloud is a quirky and pretty much forgotten movie about a boy obsessed with birds. the absurd action builds to a spectacular finale in houston’s astrodome.
how about another drink? maybe get some popcorn, freshen up, have a stretch before returning to see…
bananas directed by woody allen, 1971.
woody allen seems to divide opinions, but i love him, and this film is classic comedy gold. while trying to impress a girl, typical woody allen character fielding mellish gets caught up in a south american revolution only to come out the other side the country’s new president. the clip above is fielding on trial in the US. keep an eye out for j edgar hoover, look carefully though: he’s in disguise!
ooh your coffee smells good. i think i might go grab some hot chocolate. can i get you anything? i think the chef mentioned something about fresh cookies…
beyond the valley of the dolls directed by russ meyer, 1970.
WARNING: possibly not office friendly! there’s a nipple slip & a derriere.
the clip just about makes as much sense as any other part of this film. it really is a completely bonkers classic. taking the ‘valley of the dolls girls find fame followed by downfall’ plot and running wild in la-la land with it, this movie will delight, horrify and confuse in equal measure. record producer “z man” is apparently very closely based on phil spector and lets just say the ending of this movie could have been a case of art predicting life. if that’s a thing. i desperately want a party like the one featured in the clip. where can i get me a pool of mayonnaise?
ok time for another stretch.. i know! time for a 5 minute dance party! let’s put something silly on. ready to boogie?:
theme from the blob – burt bacharach
i love you alice b. toklas, directed by hy averback, 1968
peter sellers, bored with his straight life as a lawyer, falls for doe eyed hippie girl leigh taylor-young. she makes brownies. those kind of brownies. hilarity ensues. and another excellent party scene!
we’re on the home stretch now, last movie. did i hear some one snoring at the back? oh dear. maybe they ate the brownies too.
barbarella, directed by roger vadim, 1968
its the 40th century. jane fonda must bring dr durand-durand back to earth. on the way she gets to know some new friends (in the biblical sense) meet some ferocious dollies and vanquish an excessive pleasure machine. all in a couple of days work for ms fonda i guess, but it certainly makes for a movie like no other! did you know frank zappa nearly compose the soundtrack? try not to imagine that or your brain might fall off with the wonderfulness of it all. i guess there is a thing as too much perfection!
yawn… what a great night! what say we go find an all-night pancake joint?
thanks so much for coming to my imaginary film festival. we should do this again – i had to narrow my favorites down so much and leave out so many other ‘favorites’. what films would you show?