Summer nights in the Starlite

by Charlie Hobart

It is not everyday filmgoers get the opportunity to see Memento‘s Guy Pearce in drag, but starting this month, the Bobino Wine Bar & Cafe/Starlite Lounge, in association with Backdrop Productions, offers a ruby-red lipped Pearce and more in their fourth annual Summer Movie Series.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert stars the Aussie hunk, as well as The Matrix‘s Hugo Weaving and The Limey‘s Terrance Stamp – all in transvestite attire. This film launches the festival – a fitting commencement to a wildly eclectic and diverse assortment of films.

Just as unique as the selection itself – which ranges from near-classics such as Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck (starring a particularly leggy Cher), to the cult-classics like John Waters’ Hairspray (with Cher’s onetime hubby, Sonny Bono) – all films will be shown Monday nights, free of charge, in an outdoor patio setting.

“We’re trying to create community,” says Rick Hansen, programmer for Backdrop Productions. “We feel strongly about neighborhood development.”

With input from cafe patrons and owners, as well as Hansen himself, eleven films were selected to comprise the weekly schedule, running June 18th through August 27th. In between might be just the antidote film fans are looking for this season when the plastic and neon-fixed multiplexes offer nothing more than cinematic convention. One particularly absorbing gem included in the series is the 1970 Best Picture winner, Midnight Cowboy, where a ratty Dustin Hoffman furiously proclaims, “I’m walkin’ here!”

Another film of interest is High Art (“a real independent sleeper,” says Hansen), Lisa Cholodenko’s depressing yet highly effective take on modern relationships, which stars – of all people – an unyielding Ally Sheedy.

Though the series boasts a collection of solemn performances and examples of big name career highlights – Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys, Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider -it wisely chooses to end the summer on a lighter note with the 1979 Bill Murray romp, Meatballs. Guy Pearce in heels and Jack Blum as Spaz…isn’t that what summer is all about?

For screening information, a full schedule and directions, call (612) 623-3301.