So I finally got myself to Blue Sunshine last night. It's a pretty cool concept that I've been kicking myself for not checking out earlier, basically a mini-movie theatre/cinema hang-out scene. It resides on the top floor of one of the commercial/residential buildings on the lower Main in a pretty sweet apartment that has been converted into a screening room with the kitchen at back as a little bar/refreshment stand. They play a wide range of movies, going about as obscure as any movie house I've ever known. They also hold classes, workshops and lecture/slideshows. It acts as the classroom for the Miskatonic Institute, a film school that deals with horror filming techniques and history, which I think may even be properly accredited. They also have a lot of links with Fantasia. All in all, a super cool thing and I'm psyched that they have managed to hang on for year.
Last night was the 1-year anniversary and they screened Blue Sunshine, the cult film (can't say classic, though it probably is, just because so few people even among cult movie fans have heard of it, though that is changing obviously) that they got their name from. I was a bit hesitant to go, but Ariel, a young but already high-level movie geek and moviemaker to be, whose excellent and active tumblr blog I follow, encouraged me. He does a good job selling, an excellent trait for the movie business!
The scene is super mellow. There are something like 30 chairs in a large front room. They've got a built in booth with a 16mm projector, DVD, betacam (borrowed, I think, for the occassion). Around the back is the kitchen, where you can get a beer or soda and some snacks (with some various cool movie books and mags for sale). There were free cupcakes last night as well, but that may have been for the anniversary. They were quite good! All in all, it's a very mellow almost family-like feel. I could see how this could become a regular hang-out for movie geeks. My dance card is full these days, but were I in an earlier phase of my life, I would probably have been a regular here. There is the undercurrent of that nerdy intensity, though, that these days makes me feel tired (I overheard several "here's this cool movie thing!" "oh yeah, and here's this one!" type of conversations, I even almost got caught up in one myself!) But really, that goes with the territory. If you are a movie geek, you need to get your ass to Blue Sunshine basically.
The movie itself is a small-budget thriller from the mid-70s about a group of people who had all taken a specific strain of LSD 10 years earlier that had changed their DNA and was causing them all to turn into hairless homicidal maniacs. Jeff Lieberman, the director, was present. He is an amiable, engaging New Yorker who told a hilarious story about the ramifications of the one time he took acid as a very young man. After years of anti-LSD fear propaganda, he was convinced that he may have damaged himself in some serious way. When his first child was crowning, he having no experience of childbirth (and having skipped the Lemas classes his wife wanted him to take), saw the folded head of his child and thought that his wife was birthing a mutant sparrow-child because of the acid he took! Quite a funny story. At the beginning of it, he asked who had taken acid in the audience. Nobody in the first two rows raised their hands! What the hell, didn't you people go to middle school?! Man, what is this world coming to?
Jeff Lieberman, director of Blue Sunshine (the movie) at the Q & A
Blue Sunshine the movie was actually quite entertaining and well done. It was surprisingly not that weird and culty. At times, I felt like I was watching a particularly energetic and edgy movie of the week from the 70s. The main actor, Zalman King, had a pretty good Sean Penn thing going on. I guess he later went on to become a fairly successful producer of big budget soft-core movies. I also noticed Brion James (of Blade Runner fame) playing a weirdo at a party who starts flapping his arms around the living room. The Q & A at the end was quite interesting as well. The finale plays out in a disco, but at the time, disco hadn't made it to the west coast. Lieberman basically recreated the scene that he knew from New York in a honky-tonk club (I wonder if it was the same one where Road House was filmed). Was he responsible for bringing disco to the west coast?
After the movie and Q & A were over, the place basically turned into a house party. I had a nice conversation with Ariel and his friend, saw a couple of local film luminaries (Rick Trembles, sans dark glasses) and checked out a small bookshelf with some sweet old paperbacks including what looks like a series of British youth novels (starting with Skinhead) that were quite intriguing. Because I'm an old man and am watching the neighbour's dog, I snuck out early, but I suspect the party went on. All in all a good time and I will be making it back there.