Cool and Unusual

New collection, ‘Cinemad: Almanac 2009,’ is not for everyone. 

By Nancy Ford

cinemadMaybe it’s a taste thing. Cinemad: Almanac 2009 is curated by Cinemad Magazine founder Mike Plante, and commemorates the magazine’s 10th anniversary of “covering unusual films and filmmakers.” Emphasis on unusual.

In this fourth installment of shorts available on DVD from Aurora Picture Show’s Aurora Video Label, Plante stays true to that lofty raison d’être.

Most of the shorts here are painfully cool, the high art factor getting in the way of entertainment for this humble reviewer. For example, Kevin Jerome Everson’s 35mm, seemingly disjointed Pictures from Dorothy (2003) is described as “relating to The Wizard of Oz.” But the only relation we could detect to the classic Judy Garland movie was its being shot in Kansas in black and white with breakaway color scenes, plus a late appearance of a tornado.

On the other hand is Cam Archer’s lovely 16mm above below (2008), part one of his dead letter series. In it, Archer addresses the heady, anticipatory, atmospheric, exquisite plight of gay youth as they explore the first stirrings of affection for each other. The young director gained industry notoriety by turning down big production bucks offered
by MTV’s Real World producers, Bunim-Murray, based on his unwillingness to relinquish creative control over his previous project, Wild Tigers I Have Known.

Each of the 14 films in this quirky collection, with its imagery, symbolism, and sheer “artiness” reflects the uncompromising individuality of Houston’s Aurora Picture Show. That’s befitting the award-winning nonprofit venue that’s the best re-do of a defunct church since Mark’s American Restaurant on Westheimer.

Ultimately, ultra-cool hipsters and the cinematically informed will likely greet this collection with bravos. The rest of us simple cable subscribers, who typically enjoy Pixar animation and Michael Bay blow-’em-ups, simply don’t get it.

Aurora Video Label, distributed by Microcinema International DVD with funding from The Brown Foundation. More:

First love in the Cinemad

Photo caption: Aurora aura: first love is confusing, nonlinear, dizzying — just as filmmaker Cam Archer portrays it in above below (pictured above), one of 14 selections of shorts included in Mike Plante’s Cinemad: Almanac 2009.


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