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October 9, 2005

Midnight Madness

I've been thinking about the concept of independent cinema at some length this weekend (more on that later), and with those questions in mind, I went to a midnight screening of Russ Meyer's wonderfully trashy cult classic, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (BVD from now on), at the Landmark last night. I'd forgotten that 20th Century Fox produced the film, but Russ Meyer's status as an "independent" director shaped my curiosity about the film (plus I thought it'd be fun to see it on the big screen).

I'm not sure I'd be able to say anything about BVD that hasn't already been said, but as Roger Ebert, who co-wrote the film, notes, BVD is certainly a product of its era, one in which the studios were struggling financially and in which an X-rating was not necessarily seen as box office poison (as the NC-17 is often characterized today). It's fascinating also as a satire of the late '60s culture and the Hollywood conventions that had grown stale. Ebert's comments also reminded me that the film appeared relatively soon after the Sharon Tate murders. But there's also a degree to which Ebert's comments (he describes it at one point as "an essay on our generic expectations") seem motivated to clean up the film, to deny its trashy fun.

The midnight screening at the Landmark was a pretty groovy event, though, and I'd say that even if I didn't win a free copy of Oldboy (now I can finally see it). In addition to a few freebies, the guys behind Heavy Metal Parking Lot (which will soon be released on DVD) introduced the film and screened one of their short films. I also learned that the E Street Cinema (Landmark) is applying for a liquor license, which will make the art house experience that much more enjoyable.

Posted by chuck at October 9, 2005 11:41 AM

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What a coincidence, I was about to write about my own prize-winning midnight movie experience from last night as well. All the Landmark theaters in Dallas have bars in them; in spite of (or perhaps because of!) the slightly overpriced drinks, being able to sip a whisky or a glass of wine while watching what might be considered a 'classy' film makes one feel that much more bourgouisie....

Posted by: dvd at October 9, 2005 3:13 PM

I think the Landmark in Atlanta was working on getting a license when I left, and my understanding is that the DC Landmarks are relatively new....

Of course, now that you mention it, maybe that's the reason I insist on beer when I see a "classy" movie, ahem, film, at a Landmark: I'm warding off my own anxiety about being bourgeois. Of course that may also be why I went to see a Russ Meyer film last night rather than something artier.

Posted by: Chuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2005 5:26 PM

For a long time, Russ Meyer's films weren't available on DVD. With his recent passing, they are now showing up, and I just acquired a copy of Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill, one of my all time favs. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls has long been a camp classic.

Washington Cube Was Here. #247

Posted by: Washington Cube at October 9, 2005 6:52 PM

I think this is why I delayed seeing Meyer's films. I have a VCR, but anticipated that they would get picked up on DVD eventually. BVD was a lot of fun. I'm often disappointed by "cult classics," but this one exceeded my expectations.

Posted by: Chuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2005 7:36 PM

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