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sexploitation at fairfax’s silent theater

Posted by rollinsloane on 1 March 2008

It’s hard to consider Fairfax’s Silent Movie Theater a hidden LA gem, especially considering the packed house that showed up for last night’s screening of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (even the theater’s 3-to-a-seat couches were stuffed, presumably by some uncomfortable strangers). But I certainly haven’t come across much press coverage of what must be the top arthouse theater in this very movie-minded town. Even my LA-born-and-bred cinephile butt had never before been; last night’s wham-bam conclusion to SMT’s Russ Meyer month proved the perfect introduction.

The thin wooden seats are too hard and too close together, but they all come with plump corduroy pillows and it’s the sort of place where you might get to know your neighbor anyway. In lieu of pre-screening ads or trailers, the 4×3 screen played a real police training video from the 70s featuring “To Shoot or not to Shoot” scenarios (hilarious for its paranoia, frightening for being real), and I for one didn’t miss the bogus pre-show usher speech now playing in every hoity-toity cineplex in this goddamn town.

Then on to the main event. Where to even begin. Pussycat (1965) is trash cinema at its most innocent, as if all involved were simply riding high on the freedom of being totally outrageous. Its violence is unmotivated, but cleanly bloodless; it oozes with the sexuality of tight leather and innuendo, but plays it for laughs and holds it to mere kisses. Pussycat wise cracks — it’s too happy-go-lucky to offend.

Don’t get me wrong, though — it’s still sexploitation. How many countless feminist film majors have earned their Ph.D with a lengthy examination of writer-director-producer Russ Meyer‘s sexual politics? This man’s bread-and-butter was the burgeoning soft-core industry; as a Playboy centerfold photographer, Meyer was in the perfect place to nudge the new, ahem, art form along. But Pussycat‘s backbone remains its strangely theater-ready script, a tangle of fascinating character dynamics that go beyond its ludicrous plot.

Basically, three go-go dancers-cum-renegade bad-asses stalk the California desert in a trio of sweet 60s sports cars. That’s it. Along the way they terrorize a wholesome young and try to rob a crippled rancher and his two sons, and murky chaos ensues. But mostly they wear tight close and sling about their fantastic hair. Led by tough-talking fem-sadist Varla (Tura Satana, with her own soap operatic backstory and a downright perfect name), these sex-starved ladies (played by embodied by Haji, a purring Italian-looking Canadian, and Lori Williams, the ultimate all-American blonde) could single-handedly bring back high-waisted jeans.

 faster pussycats

(Let’s just hope Quentin Tarantino’s recently announced desire for a remake featuring Eva Mendes, Kim Kardashian and Brittany Spears will never in a million f-ing years come to pass.  I can’t even believe I just read that.  I mean, I know he’s all about the homage, but if he does this out of love it would the ultimate in cinematic OJ Simpson. )

Check out the trailer below for a full-dose of the old-school soundtrack and cheesetastic acting:

Sexuality and strength and violence are all twisted up in there somewhere, and one of these days I’ll get my head around the mess. For now I’ll just be heading to the Silent every chance I get. This month’s calendar includes Philip Marlowe and 30s chorus lines, so feel free to shun Hollywood’s annual crap period and still get out to a hell of a show.

Sloane

faster pussycat kill kill poster

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