Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mayfair Theatre Ottawa Noir

Mad Lieutenant: Port of Call – Orleans (Andrew Lapointe, 2010)
*** (A Must-See)

On February 12th 2010 at 8PM in Vancouver, British Columbia the Winter Olympic opening ceremonies were starting. The Prime Minister Stephen Harper was saluting, the national anthem was being sung, and nine Mounties carried a spread out Canadian flag.

Being aired in Ottawa at 9:00PM it coincided with the Painted Lips and Lolly Licks Sexy Film Festival presented by the Drunken Master Revue at the Mayfair Theatre. Even with this intense competition (three million people worldwide watched the ceremonies), the film festival was a huge success with the 343-seat theatre being almost at capacity. For the occasion the Mayfair was selling beer, they had a keg from Beau’s brewery (5.25$ for a Dixie cup). The film theatre programmer Lee Demarbre prefaced the festival with commenting that he thought pornography killed eroticism as it took people out of a communal setting and into the privacy of their homes, and that the goal of the festival was to bring people together again to enjoy the simple pleasures of amateur and professional, soft-core and hard-core pornography.

The films came from several countries and the quality varied. Ken Takakeshi’s The Milkman was awarded the top prize from the judge Sasha Grey. I think I might recognize the obese star Rémi-Serge Gratton from around the University of Ottawa campus(?). Signe Baumane’s Teat Beat of Sex episodes were pretty good, they were animated experiences of a women’s sex life. I thought Johan Planefeldt’s Incubus was a very frightening work. It is about this woman touching herself in a dark oil infested room in what looks like an abandoned office building, there are many close-ups and fade-outs. I thought it was an analogy for the self-destructiveness of the Alberta Tar Sands, you know like how Martin Scorsese’s The Big Shave (1967) is supposed to be an analogy for the Vietnam War, at least until I found out the film comes from Sweden.

The film that I was most impressed with was Andrew Lapointe’s Mad Lieutenant: Port of Call – Orleans (2010). It starts out with an establishing shot of Parliament Hill. People and tourist walk by a parked car. Inside the car the Mad Lieutenant (Lee Demarbre) is getting a blowjob, an Asian women head bobs up and down over his lap until he pushes her out.

The Mad Lieutenant is in an uncharacteristic Ottawa Police Service officer. He does not even dress in the typical uniform! Instead he is dressed in a buttoned down royal blue shirt revealing his chest hair with a black blazer and jeans. The mustachioed hero in Lee’s trademark thick-rimmed black glasses drives across Ottawa for drugs and pussy. The first stop: the Mayfair Theatre. He gets some cocaine from the drug dealer/theatre owner. Though he already owes him money, his badge, he claims, makes him untouchable and he also nabs the drug dealer’s Russian taser.

In the tradition of the bad/mad police film genre the rest of the film is the expression of the lieutenant’s corruption, drug addiction, and lust. He sees one of his women squeeze (Jenilee Murray) outfitted in a tailed cat suit. Does a line of cocaine off of her ass. Takes a bath with her. Everything culminates with a showdown between the Lieutenant and a sociopath cross dresser who is dressed in black lingerie, is wearing a yellow wig, and is wearing heavy blue mascara.

Mad Lieutenant homage’s the director and star of the original Bad Lieutenant (1992) Abel Ferrera and Harvey Keital as well as Werner Herzog and Nicolas Cage the director and star of the 2009 remake Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. The tile Mad Lieutenant: Port of Call – Orleans riff’s the title of the remake but it also calls attention to Orleans, a district of Ottawa in the eastern part of the city. The city of Ottawa, the capital backdrop is given some attention in the film. It incorporates local landmarks like the gothic architecture of the parliament buildings and its peace tower and the Mayfair theatre marquee and its projection hall. The showdown apartment includes fanboy paraphernalia of music and films that remind the viewer of the cinephilic objects interlaced throughout the cinema’s concession stand and ticket booth.

I would classify Andrew Lapointe as a member of the “New Mayfair Theatre School” of Ottawa cult cinema. The “New Mayfair Theatre School” of filmmaking gets its name from the 2009 renovated film theatre on 1070 Bank Street. Its first-string representation is Lee Demarbre who has already completed five full-length features. Ian Driscoll is the scriptwriter for his films. Lee not only directs but he is also the programmer at the cinema. He makes sure all the appropriate posters are up in the lobby and outside. He even announces some of the late night screenings providing interesting context and interpretations of the films being shown. Andrew Lapointe can usually be found at the Mayfair whether at the ticket booth or the concession stand. Andrew is also responsible for running the Facebook group. Mike Dubue who has done the sound mixing and acted in Smash Cut, is credited for the story of Mad Lieutenant. The band Mike is in, The Hilotrons, did the film score for Mad Lieutenant. At the Sexy Film Festival, Miles Finlayson who was the sound recorder for Smash Cut and The Dead Sleep Easy aided Petr Maur’s Tank Girl, Blue Girl and a Time Machine. Some of the “New Mayfair Theatre School” regular actors include Jennilee Murray (Smash Cut, Mad Lieutenant) and Phil Caracas (Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, The Dead Sleep Easy). The films are distributed and produced by Lee’s company Odessa Filmworks Inc.

Mad Lieutenant is the antithesis of the flag-waging Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic ceremony, and this is kind of the point of it. As citizens we can pursue whatever we desire no matter what is the dominant cultural ethos. Andrew Lapointe created a character with Lee Demarbre that is similar to what Lee did with Phil Caracas in the Harry Knuckles film. Mad Lieutenant is definitively a character worth pursuing.-David Davidson

(The Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street, 12/02)

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