John Waters'
CRY-BABY (1990)
Weds, October 9, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepherd Dr
During the run of New Line's Cry-Baby
Tickets $10, at the door only

Starring Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Polly Bergen, Mink Stole, Joe Dallesandro. Directed and written by John Waters. 85 minutes.


Good girls want him bad. Bad girls want him worse.


Eisenhower is President. Rock 'n' Roll is king. And Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker is the baddest hood in his high school. Johnny Depp heads up a supercool cast as the irresistible bad boy whose amazing ability to shed one single tear drives all the girls wild - especially Allison Vernon Williams, a rich, beautiful "square" who finds herself uncontrollably drawn to the dreamy juvenile delinquent and his forbidden world of rockabilly music, fast cars and faster women. It's the hysterical high-throttle world of 1954 in director John Waters' outrageous musical comedy.

This teenage culture is divided into two opposing camps: the drapes and the squares. The drapes slick their hair into ducktails and wear black leather jackets and are proud to be juvenile delinquents. The squares wear crew cuts and want to go to college.

The movie tells the story of the juvenile delinquent Cry-Baby, who forever has a tear sliding halfway down his cheek, a reminder of a grief he will live with forever, a teenage tragedy that has left its mark on his soul, a lost romance. Into his life comes Allison, the good girl who's got it bad for Cry-Baby. The movie's bad guy is the good guy, Baldwin, who loves Allison in the right way, which is to say he loves her so boringly he might as well not love her at all.

In every generation, teenagers find a way to express themselves and annoy adults. And the adults find in this teenage behavior signs of the collapse of civilization as they know it. Cry-Baby is a loving recreation of 1950s teenage exploitation movies, but also, a reminder that today's teenagers grow up to be tomorrow's adults, and yet in every generation, teenagers and adults seem to have no understanding of that fundamental fact. Luckily, for John Waters.



ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS (1986)
Weds, March 18, 2020, 7:00 p.m.
Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepherd Dr
During the run of New Line's Head Over Heels
Tickets $10, at the door only

Starring Eddie O'Connell, David Bowie, Patsy Kensit, James Fox, Ray Davies, Anita Morris. Directed by Julien Temple. Based on the novel by Colin MacInnes. 108 minutes.


Welcome to the World of Your Dreams!


The Broadway musical was in a slump in 1986, but British film director Julien Temple was re-imagining the movie musical with the daring, fascinating, and thoroughly entertaining ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS, a first step on the long road to the post-modern movie musical Moulin Rouge. The editors at Amazon.com describe the film’s setting this way: “a period piece exploring London's social transformation at the edge of the sixties – a fleeting moment in the pop zeitgeist that may as well have been the Cambrian Age to Temple's MTV-generation audience. This is post-World War II London turning the corner from economic austerity, giddy with jazz and early rock, yet to witness the Beatles and the Stones.”

The film opens with the voice-over, “I remember that hot wonderful summer, when the teenage miracle reached full bloom, and everyone in England stopped what they were doing to stare at what had happened.” Temple found the perfect blend of old-fashioned MGM movie musical, rock opera, and MTV music video. With a dash of social commentary, fairy tale, pop culture satire, and tragic romance, the film both captures and re-imagines 1958 London, and in the process, Temple created a new look for movie musicals – daylight shots on location (like contemporary films), nighttime shots on sound stages (like 1940s MGM movie musicals), a new color palette for each major scene, choreography that had one foot in the work of Gene Kelly and Jerome Robbins and one foot in eighties rock music video.

With character names like Dido Lament, Crepe Suzette, The Wizard, Fabulous Haplite, Big Jill, Vendice Partners, Ed the Ted, Baby Boom, Mr. Cool, and Henley of Mayfair, the story focuses on two teenage lovers, Suzette, a fashion designer, and Colin, a photographer, as she skyrockets to the top of the fashion world and he tries to hold on to his artistic ideals while he loses her affections. The film touches on several issues, including the birth of The Teenager as a cultural phenomenon (and potential market), British racism (directed at West Indian immigrants) and class prejudice, rabid post-World War II commercialism, early rock and roll, and race riots (based on the real life Notting Hill riot in 1958).

In terms of cinematography, Oliver Stapleton gave the film a look unlike anything that had come before. One extended steadicam shot near the beginning, worthy of A Touch of Evil and The Player, follows Colin throughout SoHo, up and down gritty, neoned streets, in and out of clubs, all in a brilliantly choreographed, high-energy montage that establishes the film’s heightened sense of time and place, and all without a single (visible) cut.

Variety said, “Absolute Beginners is a terrifically inventive original musical for the screen. Its daring attempt to portray the birth of teenagedom in London 1958, almost exclusively through song is based upon Colin MacInnes’ poetic cult novel about teen life and pop fashion in the percolating moments just before the youth cultural explosion in the early 1960s.” Caryn James wrote in the New York Times, “More than the stylish movie it is, more than the two-hour music video it threatens to become, Absolute Beginners is a movie about style – the 50s roots of 80s clothes and music, echoed through 40s musicals. Set in a neon-bright London in 1958, it has some of the 40s artifice of boys and girls bursting into song, yet is full of 80s rock stars and 70s survivors like David Bowie and Ray Davies. Looking through these layers of time, this flashy, extravagant rock musical elevates style to a symptom and cause of social change. And though it aims for more coherence than it delivers, it has endless flair with no self-importance. . . Mr. Temple never loses grasp of what this film is about. ‘It's my mission in life to bring pop culture to the masses,’ says a record producer Colin knows. For all its unevenness, Absolute Beginners is high pop culture.” The Chicago Reader said the film was built on “some of the stylistic innovations of Frank Tashlin, Vincente Minnelli, and Orson Welles, and put to best use a fascinating score by Gil Evans that adapts everything from Charles Mingus to Miles Davis.”



MACK THE KINFE (1989)
Based on The Threepenny Opera
Weds, June 17, 2020, 7:00 p.m.
Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepherd Dr
During the run of New Line's Urinetown
Tickets $10, at the door only

Starring Raul Julia, Roger Daltrey, Richard Harris, Julie Waters, Julia Migenes, Clive Revill. Directed and written by Menahem Golan, based on The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. 120 minutes.


Scoundrel, liar, thief, murderer... They all loved Mack.


Before there was Urinetown, before Cabaret or Sweeney Todd or Hamilton, there was this dark, comic masterpieces of the art form, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's world-famous musical comedy thriller, The Threepenny Opera. Urinetown's aggressive, confrontational roots are surely found in Brecht and Weill's iconic show, retitled for this film version.

Like its source, Mack the Knife focuses on the career criminal Macheath who plans to marry the innocent Polly, daughter to Mr. Peachum, the King of the Beggars, all with the help of Mack’s old army buddy, Chief of Police Tiger Brown. So Peachum threatens to organize London’s beggars to ruin Queen Victoria’s coronation unless Brown arrests and hangs Macheath. Of course, at the last minute, the Queen pardons Mack, makes him a Baron, and bestows a lifetime pension on him. Lots of darkly comic double crosses and skullduggery combine into a scathing indictment of the dishonesty and cruelty of “polite society.”

The movie, set in the streets of London at the time of Queen Victoria's coronation, tells the story of the poor and desperate people who formed the London underclass: the beggars, the prostitutes, the homeless, and the criminals. The underworld is ruled by the enigmatic Capt. MacHeath, aka Mack the Knife, who is attracted to the Peachum's ripe young daughter, Polly. Their marriage causes war on the streets of London, as the Peachums oppose Mack and the riffraff of London chooses sides.

Brecht surely would have enjoyed Mack the Knife, despite the changes, because the entire movie is an alienating device, keeping us constantly aware that we are watching a movie. By mixing the realistic with the theatrical, the film left many critics confused and uncomfortable, which made them hostile. But after all, isn't that really the point of Threepenny...?

MORE INFO

All screenings are at 7:00 p.m., at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in the Grand Center Arts District. Tickets are available at the door ONLY. Tickets are $10 for all seats, no discounts. There is a small parking lot directly across the street from the theatre, and lots of free street parking. Click here for directions. All programs subject to change. The New Line Film Series is curated by Brian Claussen. New Line Theatre receives funding from the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council.