Review :: Cinemania
December 20th 2012
The most recent instalment of Diana Smith’s Cinemania series at the MCA celebrated the cinematic curiosities of two local artists: Dara Gill, and SMAC award nominee Zoe Coombs Marr. Dara looked at the (sometimes quite gory) history of censored cinema in his presentation ‘You weren’t supposed to see that’, while Zoe let us peek inside her obsession with old-timey movie musicals in ‘Whip, Crack, Away!’ The combination of these two topics sat strangely together, but in a good way, like… haloumi and watermelon.
Dara kicked things off by explaining that he would be the “boring information section” of the evening, and then proceeded to unravel this promise to the audience. He presented a “jazzed-up” explanation of Australia’s classification system: this was both informative and (you guessed it) jazzy.
Dara then focussed in on two films that have been banned in Australia, the 1980 film Cannibal Holocaust and Larry Clark’s infamous 2002 film, Ken Park. Due to legal uncertainties around showing stills from Ken Park, a film that is still currently banned in Australia, Dara decided to use images by the one-and-only Anne Geddes to explain the plot of Ken Park.
Dara was not very enthusiastic about the artistic merit of either of these films, but that kind of wasn’t the point. We were left with the idea that a small group of officials decide what Australia can and can’t watch, and this is currently completely undermined by the Internet.
‘Whip, Crack, Away!’ began with Zoe telling us that she “should know better” than to love musicals, but she can’t help it. I could relate to this. (This reporter may or may not have cried when Zoe showed a clip from West Side Story.)
When Zoe was little she would watch musicals with her Grandmother (an ex-vaudeville star) and she has never looked back. As an adult Zoe can explain that she loves musicals because they are queer and subversive, but as a child “you don’t even know enough to be embarrassed yet; it just feels good, like rubbing yourself against the sprinkler.”
With the help of some hilarious footage, Zoe examined the musical as a camp in-joke, which undermines heterosexual structures with a wink and a smile. Zoe’s argument was strong, funny and nuanced. To illustrate her point she lovingly cut together a queer version of her all-time favourite, Calamity Jane. Incredible.
The best thing about the evening was that both talks seemed to be the result of life-long fascinations with their respective topics. This week at Cinemania, Alaska Projects’ Sebastian Goldspink will present a lecture about ‘the Brunette’ in film, and FBi’s own Kate Jinx will talk about teen witches in cinema! A must see.