There’s weird, and there’s weirder. It’s weird to think of a metal-eating bird, who then lays an egg which hatches into an automobile. It’s weirder, I submit, to think of living in a rural western state, and going out at night to hear gypsy jazz performers play along to silent movies that are almost forgotten. The Hot Club of San Francisco was in town (performing tonight as well), playing Django Reinhardt tunes while also showing a couple of weird Charlie Bowers films.
More about Bowers here. In brief: he was making silent films at the same time as Charlie Chaplin, but without the success. He introduced strange, quirky animation into the live action, as needed by his strange, quirky storyline. Example: The Liars Club meets and is disappointed by one another’s lies, so they go out and find Bowers (who is about to commit suicide by firing a cannon with his head jammed in the opening, but he can’t then reach the fuse). Bowers tells a story about a miracle plant-grafting agent that allows him to grow an eggplant containing a hard-boiled egg and a salt shaker. He travels to the country to sell this agent, encounters a farmhouse besieged by a pistol-packing mouse, and sets about growing cats from pussywillows to fight off the mouse. I could go on, but it only gets weirder. You get the idea.
Anyway, I love gypsy jazz, and was at first disappointed to have to watch silent movies while trying to listen, but the whole gizmo worked amazingly well. The Bowers’ films, along with two others, were fascinating, and the combo of film and music really worked. The whole evening, in summary, is this: dally around the fringes, and something interesting is bound to turn up.