The Art House Beat: Grant Morrison and Secret Monsters at Grand Illusion
The Sci-Fi Saturday Secret Matinee (Grand Illusion, Every Saturday at 2pm from Jan. 8 to March 26)
The most fun I had at the movies in 2010 was at the Grand Illusion’s Halloween triple features. The titles were a secret, and half the fun was not knowing what you were going to see. When we go to the movies today, we often know so much about the picture that seeing it is anti-climactic. But in the old days, when people just went to the movies to go to the movies, what was showing was secondary to the experience itself. We were surprised at what popped out of the screen at us, be it a monster, an Elvis, a sex kitten or a Chicago gangster.
When you first start going to the movies, the titles are nearly meaningless. At most, they give you a sense of the type of picture you are going to see, be it musical, western, or science-fiction. Soon you get wise to the difference between a Hammer film and one sporting the American International logo, and eventually the world is divided between the Merchant/Ivory crowd and those who prefer Martin Scorsese.
Before the free advance screenings of new movies became an institution, movies were given what they called “sneak previews.” Attendees had no idea what they were going to see, so their reaction was untainted by expectations. I saw “Blazing Saddles” at a midnight sneak preview without any pre-knowledge of anything, not even the name of the movie. The titles came on, with Frankie Laine singing a corny theme song, and it looked like we were in for an old-fashioned western. Some cowboys, bossing a gang of black laborers who were laying railroad track, asked the workers to sing a black work song. They complied with a greasy rendition of Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You.” Had I known this was a comedy, I would not have found it funny. But I was so taken by surprise that I was in hysterics the whole movie, thinking it the funniest thing I had ever seen in my life. When the director’s next movie, Young Frankenstein,” came out, I sat there stern-faced from beginning to end. It wasn’t that the jokes were no good. On the contrary, the movie was everything one could hope for from a parody of Frankenstein. Which meant it only met expectations.
Which is just to say that these Saturday afternoons at the Grand Illusion should bring back the fun of going to movies without expectations. Just get your ticket, go inside, and enjoy an old –fashioned Saturday afternoon at the movies.
In January: cower before Japanese Giants!
In February: marvel at Weird Worlds!
In March: boggle at Crazy Creatures!
Monthly pass: $24 general / $15 members
Entire series pass: $64 general / $40 members
Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods (Grand Illusion, Jan 7-13)
I would never have guessed that the most inspirational picture on the state of the creative imagination in the 21st Century would be a documentary on a guy who writes comic books. My own experience with this literary substratum was limited to an indecisiveness regarding the relative appeal of Betty versus Veronica in a social world in which all three guys, Archie, Reggie, and Jughead, were creeps. For Grant Morrison, comic books were an alternative to world annihilation, a way of surmounting and derailing the inevitable catastrophe of nuclear war. His own work is fueled by a belief in magic as a means of supplanting negative reality with the manifestation of one’s own wishes. He has succeeded in developing the super heroes of his childhood into literary characters with depth and substance, placing them into a cosmos that rivals that of Philip K. Dick for its view of human perception as a stack of reality pancakes that has been befuddled by too many broken egg yolks.
“Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods” is an 80 minute monologue punctuated with comments from the peanut gallery, most of whom have good things to say about their friend and associate. Morrison is an incessant talker who can’t talk fast enough to get all his ideas out. He is charismatic in a way that makes the audience feel like they are doing half the thinking. “Tell me what happened to you and I’ll tell you what happened to me and if they are they same thing, we might get somewhere,” he says, or something very like it, which is not only the starting point of communication, but the basis for the literary conversation that crosses the sea of centuries every time a reader and an author connect. There is something timeless and universal in Morrison’s shamanistic role-playing. And, although I haven’t picked up a comic since Archie disappeared, this movie makes me want to go right out and get whatever I can find of Morrison’s, from The Invisibles to his new tales of Superman.
PostGlobe relies on your donations. Please support this writer’s work by going to our donate page and let us know where you’d like your donation to go.