capsule reviews: mayday movie nite

Sharon Mesmer, Dainipponjin

Rock Star Sharon Mesmer brought her comedic superpowers to full throttle on this Japanese fantasy. Sharon made a many breasted giant monster sing with the voice of Robert Plant. Dainipponjin made my nipples cringe and bent my reality into new kawaii shapes: Peppermint Jihad!

David Larsen, Immortalistic

I like anything with Michael York in it, so this is easy. Sigh! Michael York + David LRSN’s smoothtalking neoclassical brilliance layered atop prescient New Age fascist imagery (including killer stadium crowds, braless in pastel tunics) = a formula for sheer awe.

Linh Dinh, A Smooth Life

Continuous thwacking sounds, cloying images of romance, marriage (mainly between a dumpy white guy and a vivacious-looking Vietnamese woman), crocodiles, and women dancing gracefully in white gowns, topped with Linh’s convincingly creepy narration of perverted (? I don’t mean a value judgment here, but I think that is how they were supposed to sound) masturbation fantasies. Smooth, indeed.

Brandon Downing, The Psychic, The Spaceship, Fu Xin De Re, Interlude, and Inside My Story

Profundity nestles inside the banal: Brandon is its rescuer. Many signature Brandon moves here: high tech images (of an immense bladerunner-y space station) up against lowest possible tech images (a b-movie penis-shaped robot (?) and a woman in a silver robot-y bodice lie together on the sand and are covered by it); the New Age is indicted by a wonderfully paranoid critique of “mind control” and a woman in a ritual trance sings (in subtitles) “I need a shower” (here the banal penetrates the profound).


Nicole Peyrafitte, A Voyage to the Moon

An ensemble cast of Nicole, Pierre Joris, and a guitarist brought sound to Méliès’ groundbreaking film. Text sources included Kennedy on the Moon Landing, Méliès’ daughter’s original narration script to the film, Brakhage on Méliès, and the jazz standard Fly Me To The Moon. Nicole’s singing was transportative! And I agreed with Drew’s insight about the original film, whispered to me as it played (the moonmen were being smashed into powder): “colonialist.”

Nada Gordon, Articua

(can I do a capsule review of my own movie? why not?) Eight tracks of choral Nada singing a perfectly illogical poem over images of Mexican transvestite carnaval revelers, a hysterical woman in an elaborate floral hat, and Van Johnson as a slightly sinister Pied Piper of Hamelin whirling about in the forest in slow motion in a magnificent checked cape. A charming early effort.

Abigail Child (with Nada Gordon), If I Can Sing a Song about Ligatures

Sepia nudes of 19th century New Orleans prostitutes with fruitlike bodies and often scratched-out faces, transitioning to 70s chicks with dicks, ending in a brief motion sequence of fabulous insouciance, all to Marty Erlich’s kinda wistful kinda hypnotic music and studded with words and phrases (“mooning,” “laciness,” “Is this a triangle within liquescence?”) from a recent poem series by Nada Gordon (that’s me).

Konrad Steiner, Devil Egged

Acrobats, skeletons, and costumed crowds in lush, crazed, visual explosion, in perfect sync to an astounding (and sort of nostalgic) extended (FAST) Zappa guitar solo. Superimpositions, myriad effects, and intricately rapid edits contribute to the overall feeling of a 60s drug trip. Whoa: beautiful.

Julian Brolaski (with Paul Foster Johnson), Another Man’s Poison

Who knew that Julian could do a perfect vocal impression of Bette Davis? To knock off one’s socks? The original version of the film was said to have “a wooden script”: This torqued and linguistically inventive version (lots of crazy words substitutions), and its stunning spot-on delivery, is a benshi masterpiece.

Bruce Andrews (with Brandon Downing), Sip Girl

Two master collagists in collaboration. Dewy gossip girls in scenes of pantyflashing and parties, their pretty boyfriends looking peeved and petulant. Brandon intercut scenes of a two-headed dragon with the privileged Manhattan youths, and Bruce narrated what I can hardly believe was improvisation, (although wow, it was!) with his signature percussive blasts and wry critique.

I’d give three thumbs up if I had them for this first Movie Nite and now must get working on rehearsing my performance for tonite’s show! As I type this, Gary is rehearsing his Darby O’Gill benshi in the living room, and I can tell you (having had numerous sneak previews) that it is EXTREMELY funny. Please come see us!

One thought on “capsule reviews: mayday movie nite

  1. So sorry to not have been there with you all! Sorry to miss such great work.

    Much of the footage from my video is from Halloween/Day of the Dead in SF, on witch night Zappa gave many concerts in NYC. The name of the guitar solo is “Rat Tamago” (tamago = egg in Japanese). Hence the title.

    Break all legs tonight!

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