Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Daybreak Ain't No Time for Gullibility

Talk about your unlikely double feature after eating a musician's pie...

For those of us who've been eagerly following the dough-making journey of a certain local percussionist for months, the payoff finally arrived last Thursday when he announced to the Facebook world, "It happens tomorrow! Come and kick my ass! Please!"

"It" was the pizza-making operation at the new Galley Market and the photo he posted showed stacks and stacks of pizza boxes, so, sure, I was curious, although southside isn't exactly part of my regular rotation. Then he posted a picture of his Bianca pizza with house Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, garlic, black pepper and olive oil and I couldn't schedule a time to get over there soon enough.

As it happened, tonight I was headed to southside for the final installment of the International Film Series and what could be more perfect than pie to sustain me through two movies?

After ordering from the cashier, I nabbed a stool at the counter to wait for my Bianca to emerge from the oven. To kill time, I picked up the Richmond Times Disgrace laying on the counter only to see some editorial adjustments to a front page article.

A headline that read, "Should Virginia Decriminalize Marijuana in Certain Cases?" had been altered to read, "Should Virginia Decriminalize Marijuana in All Cases?" with the word "YES!" scribbled at the end of the question. No, tell us how you really feel.

I glanced at my horoscope for today - "Gemini, gullibility will be your downfall"- and decided I didn't need to to be told the obvious yet again. Fortunately, my pie arrived and I have to say, Giustino knows how to make a damn good pie: the crust was as satisfyingly chewy as a good baguette and the cheeses were portioned exactly right with just a hint of Gorgonzola on the finish.

Oh, great, now I'm going to have to drive to southside for really excellent pizza.

I only had to drive back to Westover Hills to see the black and white 1955 film, "Death of a Cyclist," which, being mid-century Spanish (and directed/written by Javier Bardem's uncle), managed to roll adultery, a hit and run, a grading scandal at university and a whole lot of metaphors about Franco and the hollowness of war - with a lot of moody Hitchcockian cinematography and a dash or two of film noir tropes - into a completely engrossing realist film about guilt and class.

Of course, in 1955, there was no getting away with misdeeds without punishment, so our adulterers and murderers paid the ultimate price (with a solid dose of Catholicism for good measure) for breaking multiple commandments.

But woman does not live by pizza and realism alone, so I wound up at the Byrd Theatre standing in line outside waiting for the theater to clear and freezing while doing it. Around me, fools in short sleeves shivered visibly.

The first distraction was the organizers of tonight's event coming by to give everyone a raffle ticket for a chance to win a free ticket to see John Waters when he comes to the Byrd to do his Christmas show.

Then there were the inane conversations I had no choice but to overhear. In front of me were two people arguing whether mushrooms counted as a veggie or a fungus, a disagreement they gave up only when she mentioned she was wearing a Dad sweater for warmth.

"It's a nice sweater, so why isn't your Dad still wearing it?" the bearded one inquired of the "Cosby" show-era relic. "Cause it's from the '80s and you don't get to wear it in the '80s and still wear it," she explained matter-of-factly. "So only 20-somethings can wear Dad sweaters now?" he wondered. "Right. He's 65, so he can't wear this," she proclaimed, ending the conversation.

You can only imagine how glad I was that the line began moving to go inside. Soon I was comfortably ensconced in one of the new seats for a black comedy crime film courtesy of Movie Club Richmond's screening of the John Waters classic, "Serial Mom."

Next to me was a young woman who recently moved here from Alabama and had come to see her second John Waters movie, "Crybaby" having been the first. I advised her to go back further in his catalog and see what John Waters' films were like before he rated Hollywood stars and bigger budgets.

When it came time to pull raffle tickets, manager Todd strolled up the aisle to get a patron to pull one out of the popcorn bucket. "I know exactly who I can ask to do it," he said, heading directly to me. It was probably a good thing that I didn't pull my own number.

I hadn't seen "Serial Mom" since it came out in 1994, so while I recalled the basic premise, I'd forgotten just how graphic and dark it was when bodies began stacking up almost from the movie's beginning. I know for sure that the quintet sitting behind me weren't prepared for such a black comedy as they continually commented on what was happening as if they couldn't quite believe their eyes.

My guess is they hadn't even seen "Crybaby."

One thing that occurred to me as the saga unfolded was how dated some of the references were, to the point that many millennials probably didn't get them at all. Richard Speck? Premiere magazine? Jason Priestly? Franklin Mint? Did they even recognize the Barry Manilow song "Daybreak?"

And you should have heard the groans when a character at the video store said how much she liked Bill Cosby's funny films. Way too soon.

But I have to admit I wasn't without knowledge myself. When I first saw the movie, I'd only just barely learned who L7 was, so I got a kick out of seeing them perform as Camel Lips during the raucous club scene.

Perhaps most interestingly of all, unlike the Spanish realism I'd enjoyed earlier, this was a movie with a psychotic central character, much use of the "pussy" word and no retribution for bad behavior whatsoever.

Sort of reminded me of our current administration. Leave it to John Waters to predict the future.

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