Peripheral Visions

Stay home this Thursday evening. Sequester your house pets. Lock your kids in their rooms or pack them off to spend the night with out-of-town relatives. Get to Blockbuster early before all the copies of Another Stakeout are rented. Throw some Orville Redenbacher into the microwave and settle down in front of the tube for that exhilarating Simpsons-Sinbad-Seinfeld run. Embrace the epic existential dilemma over whether to take the intellectual high road with Frasier or revel in the mindless charm of Herman's Head.

Whatever you do, avoid the Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach. There will be a block party going on, part of the South Florida Art Center's weekend-long RoadArt festival. Lincoln Road will be noisy and crowded with those trendy, attractive young people you hate. They'll be dancing uninhibitedly to the music of Nil Lara and Adrian Castro from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Let them court eternal damnation with their pagan behavior while you chill up a six-pack, commandeer the La-Z-Boy, and seize control of the remote.

You especially don't want to be anywhere near the Colony Theater at eight o'clock, because the Alliance Film/Video Co-op will be hosting their first-ever Anti-Film Festival, and you don't want any part of that. You know those filmmakers. Even the famous ones are a little nutty, and those Alliance fruitcakes are even worse. They don't have a whole lot of money to work with, so they have to rely on wit, creativity, and guerrilla tactics to make their films. Turns them into anarchists.

Sure, they all talk about art, but what they really want is a fat Hollywood contract. The Anti-Film Festival can try to make light of real film festivals like Cannes and Sundance by bestowing something called the Golden Coat Award upon the maker of the film deemed most popular by audience response, but you know they really wish it were a big-money prize symbolized with a gaudy statue of some sort. All that highbrow B.S. about challenging the status quo, making films that force people to think, democratizing and demystifying the whole production process A they're probably just not good enough to get noticed by the big shots. It's all about mink coats, fabulous parties, multimillion-dollar budgets, fast-talking agents, champagne-and-caviar fetes. You're not buying any of that crap from the Co-op's promotional flyer. "These films come from the heart and shoot straight to the big screen. No slime, no middlemen," it reads. Yeah, right. They forgot to add, "No talent."

Of course, there will be exceptions. David Schweitzer's fanciful The Last Temptation of Cheezus for one. The zany, colorful, stop-motion visit with an off-the-wall family whose matriarch (played by local drag queen Adora) attempts to cook a meal none of her kin have sampled before (cheese fondue) is clever, innovative, and extremely entertaining. And then there's Bad Dog Ltd.'s X Equals X, which tells the story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas's early incarceration. The mass murderer is visited by the ghost of his dead mother (whom he killed), attempts to commit suicide, and incites a prison riot. While faithful to the details of the Lucas saga, suffice it to say the tone of the Bad Dog version is a radical departure from that of the controversial Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

Bad Dog has another entry in the festival, a frenetically edited tribute to their favorite movie star, Godzilla, that is actually more fun to watch than one of the monster's full-length movies. Tag Purvis, whose Sweet N Sour was one of the few (and best received) offerings produced by a Miami-area filmmaker to be exhibited at the South Beach Film Festival, will be displaying his newest work. And Alliance Co-op staffers Mark Boswell, William Keddell, and Mark Holt all maintain a strong presence on-screen to match their behind-the-scenes work. Boswell's latest film, State Sponsored Cinema, is a noirish black-and-white condemnation of cultural terrorism as it manifests itself in Hollywood's obsession with violence. "Shoot people, not film," is Boswell's tongue-in-cheek theme. Keddell plays the lead role in Holt's The Handsomely Bound Dictionary and proves himself as adept in front of a camera as he is behind one. Keddell's eerie, quirky performance highlights Dictionary, a sort of William S. Burroughs-meets-Mr. Rogers cinematic mirage based on a short story by former Antenna writer Michael Morrison.

But let's not waste time talking about those films or the fifteen or so others that will be shown. They're way too artsy-fartsy. You want Jurassic Park. You want Ace Ventura. Stay home.

 
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