Monday, March 15, 2010

MARCH 2010: Svankmajer's ALICE; Welcome Back Kotter's Bobby Hegyes

8 PM, Fri. March 19
Directed by Jan Svankmajer
Film Screening

Think Burton is gloomy? Well, comparing him to Czech surrealist filmmaker Jan Svankmajer is like comparing Chuck Jones (the creator of Pepe Le Pew) to, say, Chuck Palahniuk. Svankmajer, previously acclaimed for his short subjects, made his feature-film debut with ALICE, a grotesque adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic starring Kristyna Kohoutová, the only human character in the film. The other roles are variously filled by animated taxidermy, disarticulated skeletons, clay figurines, puppets, and slabs of dancing meat (yes, meat). After falling asleep beside a stream, Alice follows a stuffed rabbit (not stuffed in a plush, propped-on-your-pillow sort of way, but stuffed in a shot dead, posed-on-peice-of-wood sort of way), bristling with mounting pins and trailing sawdust, into a nightmarish world where she encounters a menagerie of other stop-motion monsters (including a tube sock with teeth), all of which might have emerged from the triptychs of Heironymus Bosch. It's not 3-D, but it's one of the most inventive films I've ever seen. Not for kids (unless you're progressive, arty parents and your children are fearless and sleep without nightlights or those sticky glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling). FREE! Comp wine.

8 PM, Fri. March 26
Former Sweathog ROBERT HEGYES

Since my very first associations with Metuchen I've heard marveled murmurs about three celebrities with erstwhile Metuchen addresses: John Ciardi, a poet/translator so popular he was on Johnny Carson twice; David Copperfield, a magician famous for epic stunts like disappearing the Statue of Liberty and levitating over the Grand Canyon; and Bobby Hegyes, best known for his portrayal of Juan Epstein in the 1970s television series Welcome Back, Kotter. Ciardi's long deceased. Copperfield lives on a secluded Musha Cay island. But Hegyes, after a thirty-five year absence, has come home. Following his five year run on Kotter, Hegyes starred as series regular "Manny Esposito" in the Emmy Award-winning drama, Cagney & Lacey, and has since appeared in more than 30 television shows, including Saturday Night Live with Quentin Tarantino (who, on the set of Pulp Fiction, reportedly sat on the floor and played the Kotter board game with Travolta). Hegyes will talk about the Kotter years, Cag & Lace, his enduring friendship with John Travolta (he's the godfather of his daughter), and babysitting Bon Jovi (they're cousins). Plus assorted Kotter memorabilia, including a foot tall Epstein action figure and Hegyes' pride and joy, his Mad Magazine cover. FREE. Comp Wine.

8 PM, Tues, March 30
BEARCUBES (with special guest)
Live Music

Known for the distinct penetrating sound of their twin oboes (an instrument that sounds sort of like a duck, if a duck were a songbird), The Bearcubes' deceptively straightforward music(literate, witty lyrics and catchy compositions) embody timeless qualities of humanity, optimism, emotional insight and a boundless sense of humor, untainted by cynicism or transient notions of hipness. Essentially poppy songs played by folk instruments. Not cool enough for you? Well, maybe their too cool. Maybe they're so cool, their hot. Free. Comp wine. CDs on sale at the event. FREE!