Friday, January 13, 2012

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same
seen @ reRun Gastropub Theater @ reBar, DUMBO, Brooklyn NY

There's a great old Star Trek episode where Mr. Spock, under the influence of alien plant life, loses his emotional control and is able to express his love for this human woman who has a crush on him. For an alien who practices stoicism as a survival method, Spock always managed to be attractive to the ladies - and that was as much true in real life as on the show. Of course, this can't last, and when Spock becomes himself again, the chick's all broken up, but he tells her he can't willingly change, even if he wanted to: "If there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else's."

Now, in Spock's case, he has to maintain emotional control because Vulcan emotions are so passionate and dangerous they can do serious harm, to himself and to others. The aliens of the indie flick Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same are similar, only their lack of emotional control is believed to have led to an environmental crisis on their planet. Three of their worst offenders have been exiled to Earth, never to return unless they can purge their emotionalism by having their hearts broken.

I was expecting this to be a parody of 50's sci-fi alien invasion movies with a post-modern sensibility, and while it kinda is in a superficial sense (the makeup, the costumes, the spaceship), it doesn't go far in that direction, though I suspect that wasn't really the intent anyway. As the title makes clear, the emphasis is on exploring romantic relationships, and of course there's a human woman who falls for one of these lesbian space aliens. There are also a pair of government agents on the hunt for the aliens.

While there are some mildly amusing scenes (the one where they're dancing in the bar is perhaps the funniest), I didn't feel like Space Alien explored its premise deeply enough. We're told stuff more than we're shown stuff. For instance, we don't get to see a lot of the past of Jane, the human protagonist (who rides a bike!), and why she would be more susceptible to falling in love with a female alien than with another human woman. We are, however, told quite a bit in her therapy sessions. The subplot with the two aliens who try to start a relationship with each other goes somewhere for a while, but then it fizzles for no good reason. And every time we see the G-men, they're yammering, Pulp Fiction-style, about minutiae not directly related to their mission. They're no Mulder and Scully.

I never felt like there was a great sense of risk. Tying the aliens' emotions to an impending planetary disaster that we don't even see the consequences of was a mistake. This is sci-fi! Instead of a hole in the ozone layer (Really? That's the best you can come up with?) how about having their world blow up unless they kick these overly-emotional aliens the hell out of there quick? How about dealing with the fact that by being true to their natures, these exiles can never go back home? And how about giving Jane a wider arc than "she meets an alien - she falls in love with her"? One with more at stake for her personally? And either get rid of the G-men or make them more a part of the story. They were dead weight.

Space Alien played at a new venue for movies in New York: reRun, a screening room that's part of the DUMBO restaurant reBar. It's particularly unique in that the cooking staff of the restaurant also provides eats and drinks for reRun, and it's a cut above standard movie theater fare: gourmet hot dogs and pretzels (!), stuffed baked focaccia, popcorn with flavored powder coatings, and more! And of course there's also a bar.

All this week at the Space Alien screenings (last night was the last night), reRun offered a deal where if you arrived a half-hour earlier or more and spent at least $7 on food (the same price as admission), the admission was free. I, naturally, chose to take advantage of this, but I didn't expect so large a crowd a half-hour before showtime. All told, there must have been 100-125 people in this small screening room and half of them were bellying up to the lone person behind the bar taking all their orders. A second bartender arrived later, and by then I was able to order my $7 popcorn.

reRun actually has stadium seating, if you can believe it, though last night they actually had to add folding chairs in the front to accommodate the large crowd. The seats were comfy - high-backed, just the way I like them - but the floor came up higher than usual, so my knees were almost up to my chest. Plus, my seat kept leaning back when I first tried to sit back in it, which made getting comfortable a bit tricky at first. 

I sat next to an old dude who had a copy of the 2012 Leonard Maltin guide with him. He said he writes about movies too, but he just makes lists of his favorite movies for his friends. Going in alphabetical order, he's only on the B's so far, so we ended up talking about movies beginning with B, like Bringing Up Baby and Bridge on the River Kwai. He said he likes supporting indy films, but he wasn't too impressed with Space Alien either.

Space Alien writer-director Madeleine Olnek was on hand, along with several cast members and the makeup artist. Afterwards she talked about the movie, saying it was shot guerrilla style, without permits, all through Greenwich Village, which she said she wanted to make as much a part of the movie as anything else. She also talked about the venues she had to film in - bars, restaurants, etc. - and working with the owners to get their permission. She wouldn't discuss budget. Her elderly dad had a couple of scenes in the movie, and he was in the audience as well, though he left before the Q-and-A afterwards. The makeup artist said it took about two hours to get those bald-caps on the actresses playing the aliens, and she did a good job from what I could tell.

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