Friday, 2 December 2011

Winter At The Cinema

If you're like me, you dread winter at the cinema. Oh, which movie should I choose to see, a dreadful animated movie made just for the merchandise sales that Christmas, or Reese Witherspoon kissing someone in the snow?
Well fear not dear readers, for I have searched high and low to bring you some of the most exciting and original cinematic events of the season, and I'm not asking for anything from you in return (please send all gifts to the magazine's main office).

Starting strong with a personal favorite, The Guild is showing a remastered print of Fritz Lang's famous Metropolis on November the 11th and 12th at 11pm. A warning to fans of the original, this is the 1984 reissue with Giorgione Moroder's contemporary score, with songs by such famous names as Freddie Mercury and Adam Ant, so it might not be to the likings of the traditionalists.
For those who don't already know, Metropolis is one of the first great sci-fi films, set in a dystopian future where society has been divided into two extreme classes; the managers who live in tall luxury skyscrapers, and the workers who live below. It reflects the worries of capitalism at the time, and one could argue, now.

Sticking with The Guild, on November the 12th at 6pm and 8pm, Albuquerque-based drag troupe 'The Dolls' present their spoof-and-filth-filled comedy musical Malice In Wonderland.
I review this movie in this month's copy of the magazine, so look there for more details, but suffice to say, if you enjoy naughty musical comedies like The Rocky Horror Show, then you will love this innuendo-filled romp through a hand-drawn background to attend the Red Queen's orgy.

Over at the KiMo, also on the 12th at 8pm is Kyuketsu (Sanguivorous), a silent Japanese film. It tells the story of a young Japanese woman who is constantly finding herself feeling very ill, as though malnourished. She discovers that her ancestors were vampires, and that it is getting harder and harder to not see her boyfriend as a meal.
For anyone not already sold on this hidden gem, it will be presented with a live jazz accompaniment, so enjoy the perfect blend of aural and visual entertainment.

We're off to the opera! On the 29th of October, The Metropolitan Opera performed Mozart's Don Giovanni live, simulcast to cinemas all over the world, and on November the 16th, the event is to be shown again at all Cinemark theaters for anyone who missed it the first time.
Directed by Tony Award-winning Michael Grandage and conducted by the truly great James Levine, this classic tells the story of the drunken salacious Don Giovanni, and how his life of debauchery and corruption leads to his downfall.
To any newcomers to the opera, this is the perfect show to get you hooked, but I should warn you, it starts at 6:30pm, and you'll be lucky to be out before 11pm, so make sure to prepare ahead of time. I recommend trail mix, two espressos and a cushion!

Heading back to The Guild (which is fast becoming one of my favorite places in Albuquerque) for November the 18th and 19th with a special treat for all you sickos. Human Centipede 2 : Full Sequence will be haunting your dreams at 10pm and midnight, and anyone who knows the first film will realize that I am understating. I think Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman summed it up perfectly when he said that the movie "would have the Marquis De Sade gagging into his popcorn". It got banned in England for goodness sake! Do you know the stuff we ALLOW out there? All I can say is that this triumph of gore deserves a watch from those with the strongest stomachs, purely for the sake of morbid curiosity.

Something a little bit cheerier to celebrate over the festive week, still at The Guild, there will be a whole week of Marilyn Monroe to enjoy. From December the 23rd to the 30th, you can see Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Seven Year Itch, How To Marry A Millionaire, Let's Make Love and The Misfits.
I suppose if you only have time for one, then I'd have to recommend The Misfits. It's not one of her best-known movies, but I just love it. I do, however, strongly encourage you to attend as many as you can, if anything just because you may never have a chance to see them on the big screen again.
I've avoided giving you the specific dates for each showing as it would be a long and very confusing paragraph so I invite you to check on The Guild's website, www.guild

So there you go. Now I don't want to hear any complaints that you are stuck with the usual dross this winter, because there are some of the most unique cinematic experiences right on your doorstep. Isn't this city wonderful?

Dominic Wingfield is a British journalist and novelist who lives in Albuquerque with his wife and their rats, Yahoo and Firefox.

Malice In Wonderland

Ever wonder what would happen if an Albuquerque-based troupe of drag queens (is troupe the collective noun for drag queens? A Minnelli? A stiletto?) decided to make a filthy version of Alice In Wonderland, combined with The Wizard Of Oz and Mommy Dearest? Yeah, me neither.
'The Dolls' have though, and on November 8th, The Guild Cinema will be exposing you to the same insanity that I experienced tonight.

A VERY adult retelling of Alice In Wonderland with too many references and homages to mention starts off with "Nanny Dearest", portrayed with machiavellian glee by Tequila Mockyngbyrd, being called to a house to deal with the overly-precocious (and worryingly pretty) Alice, played by A.J. Carian, who smokes, drinks, and does other things an innocent ten year old shouldn't be involving herself with.
After having to put up with Alice's bad behavior and constant use of those damned wire hangers, Nanny has no choice but to flush her down the loo, into Wonderland.

In Wonderland, Alice is invited to the Red Queen's orgy, and while following a 'gangsta' rabbit called White Chocolate, she meets the caterpillar. I'll give you three guesses what long pink object he is dressed as. She also has tea with the mad hatter and meets the dormouse, who has recently become the titmouse, with a huge pair of...well, not doors!
Discovering a Wonderland trailer park, Alice is shocked by two rednecks who reveal themselves to be Trannydum and Trannydee, who argue over how classy you should dress for a visit to Walmart compared to the dollar store.
Finally arriving at the orgy, she is soon adopted by the Red Queen (also played by Tequila) but is tricked, once again, into using wire hangers, for which the queen puts Alice on trial. Sentenced to death by beheading, using a guillotine made with a wire hanger instead of a blade, Alice seems ready to meet her doom. As for what happens in the end, I'll let you find that out for yourself.

I have a real soft spot for movies with a budget that the director found down the back of the sofa, and with a hand-drawn background on a green screen at all times this movie really fits that bill. The juxtaposition of such a childish whimsical background on which characters are chasing each other brandishing magic golden dildos adds to the bizarreness and insanity, and is enough to leave you in a fit of giggles.
To use a cliche, this movie is not big, nor is it clever, but if you're not easily offended, you'll get a kick out of it.

And if there is anyone reading this who was involved in the film, especially in the music department, then genuinely, well done for the song "Wonderland". It is of such high-quality, I wouldn't be surprised to hear it in a 'real' Alice movie, let alone a spoof!

My final verdict? It is one hell of an acquired taste. There are going to be a lot of people who don't enjoy the crude tasteless humor, but I think it deserves a chance for originality alone.

Lost In Old Town

"Where the heck am I? Whose bright idea was it to send the British guy without a car to review all of Albuquerque, one district at a time?"

I'll admit, my day in Old Town didn't start well. I had lost my phone so didn't have access to a map. That meant that my two mile walk had to be memorized before leaving home, and I'm not exactly known for my memory. As a red-headed Brit who's a little on the heavy side, the Albuquerque heat has been a real shock to the system, so I plan ahead. There I am, wandering somewhat aimlessly, trying to find a street name that sounds familiar.

"Well, at least I'm fairly comfortable in my T-shirt and shorts. Hmm, it seems to have gone a little dark. What was that roaring thundery sound? Oh good, an impromptu wet T-shirt contest."

At this point, I was just about ready to go home. Scratch that, I tried to go home, but thanks to my terrible memory combining with the fact that my internal compass seems to have a magnet next to it, I actually ended up in Old Town, and I'm very glad I did.

The first thing that hits you is the authenticity of the place. It's like a living museum. Old Town was founded in 1706 by Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdez and it seems like not much has changed since then. I didn't feel right walking along the porches without wearing spurs.
This is something I love about Albuquerque as a whole. Since it was started by literally drawing a circle around smaller villages, the city is so eclectic. Here I am playing 'cowboy' when last month I was reviewing the Greenwich Village-like Nob Hill, and before that, I was likening North Valley to the south of France.

"Well, this isn't so bad. Most of these buildings have porches outside, so my shirt should be opaque again soon. Time to find something to eat."

Seasons Rotisserie and Grill (2031 Mountain Road NW) was a nice surprise. I found it by accident just wandering around, and thought I'd give it a go. Now, it's far from cheap, so I would recommend choosing it for a special occasion rather than a quick lunch.
The staff were very welcoming, and the restaurant felt very relaxed. Since I was alone, I sat down with a paper, and felt like I could chill out there. I just wanted something small, so I chose the sweetcorn griddle cakes from the appetizers, and they really were sublime. I was slightly concerned that they might be bland, but served with goat's cheese, cherry chutney and arugula pesto, the flavors managed to be subtle, yet bold. Every smoky hint was balanced with sweetness, and vice versa. It might not be perfect for you if you have a mean hunger going, but it hit the spot wonderfully for me. If it wasn't for my typically British fear of even positive confrontation and drawing attention to myself, I would have asked to see the chef just so I could say that it was probably the best thing I've eaten since being here.
In fact, you there! Yes, you, sitting at your desk reading my article instead of doing your work. Go and get me some more, now!

"It's finally stopped raining, I'm going to go back to the plaza to let my lunch go down and finish my paper."

Sitting down in the plaza, watching the world go by is wonderfully relaxing. The world seems to slow down to whatever pace you're running at, and if you've just walked for a few miles and then eaten, that probably isn't going to be very fast. It's almost as if someone has put a spell on the plaza. It's not a very big space, so you're still close to the road, and the hustle and bustle, but you feel miles from anywhere busy.

"Right, I better go and do something that isn't eating so my article has some variety. Hey, a map! Now I don't just have to wander around until I find something!"

From what I have seen of Albuquerque so far, Old Town is the cultural center. As well as beautiful little shops full of local arts and crafts, the area is also surrounded with museums, the zoo, and the gardens.

"OK, so I'm here, that museum is over there, round here is a gallery and...oh that place has dinosaurs, I'm going there!"

The sun was out when I headed towards the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (1801 Mountain Road NW). I am constantly amazed by Albuquerque's museums and zoos and the like. I suppose I'm always expecting a smaller, less impressive version of what I've seen in bigger cities, but I'm happy to report that your city holds its own.
The Natural History and Science museum has the perfect mix of fun and education. The exhibits are not too stuffy that children will get bored, but they also don't try so hard to be fun that kids will ignore the informative parts. I can confirm that all of the fun interactive exhibits work perfectly, as, just for you guys, I made sure to try every single one of them while giggling like a five year old.

"Running around pressing buttons and pulling levers has made me hungry again. Time for dinner methinks, where's my map?"

Hidden slightly down an alleyway at 400 San Felipe St NW, La Crêpe Michel serves up the best crêpes I've had outside of Paris. Quite unprepossessing, I wouldn't blame you for walking past without a second look, but don't, because you are missing out. A wonderfully polite waiter settled me at a nice little corner table, and offered to explain anything on the menu to me (since most of it is in French).
The Crêpe aux Fruits de Mar was overflowing with perfectly-cooked scallops and shrimps in a rich mushroom sauce, and the Salade Mesclun is one of the most 'exciting' salads I've had in quite a while. Dandelions, mustard leaves and goat cheese croutons come together to give your taste buds something they'll never get from iceberg lettuce and tomatoes!
What I really loved about La Crêpe Michel is that, despite having wonderfully cooked French cuisine, it felt totally unpretentious. Rather than having some snooty Michelin-star chef cooking for you, it was more like the home cooking of an old French farmer's wife, and I have much more respect for good hearty food than confusing fiddly nibbles.
By now, I was truly full, so just couldn't handle dessert, but I recommend taking a look, they sounded fantastic.

"Time to go home I think. Jeez, I can barely walk!"

With aching legs and a full stomach, everything was telling me that a two mile walk wasn't going to agree with me, but it was time to leave.
As I started walking, Old Town was starting to get busy, lighting up as the sun went down. It reminded me of being on vacation in Greece. Very relaxed, bustling but not uncomfortably busy, ancient yet modern.
If you're looking for a break but can't afford to travel, just come here. It's like its own little world.

"Oh no, I lost my map again. Where am I? Where's my house? Help!"