Cinewomen Offers Shorts; Jackson’s ‘Feebles’ at NuArt


Cinewomen, a nonprofit organization of professionals in the entertainment industry, is presenting a smart, entertaining program of shorts Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, as part of a monthlong celebration of its founding.

After Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s intriguing but all-too-brief fragments, “Me/We, Okay, Gray,” the evening settles down to a series of pleasures, commencing with Adele Bertei-Cecchi’s enticing trailer for her yet-to-be-made “The Ballad of Johnny Jane,” a kind of “Bagdad Cafe”/”Border Radio” desert roadside romp featuring, among others, a peroxide blonde Amanda Plummer.

Jane Campion’s notable pre-”Sweetie” shorts continue to surface, and “Passionless Moments” is one of her best, a series of amusing, sharply observed vignettes she wrote--and apparently also directed--with Gerald Lee illustrating those moments that commence to fade from our consciousness just at the instant our attention is diverted by some incident or object. Carolyn Chen’s “On Seeing the Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning,” based on a Haruki Murakami story, is itself a perfect, lyrical gem with an ironic twist in which a reflective young man (Todd Field, as impressive here as he was in “Ruby in Paradise”) locks glances with a beautiful young woman (Alice O’Neil) but misses his chance to follow through when he finds he can’t think of the right thing to say.


Julie Delpy, the protean young French actress, turns director and writer in her “Blah, Blah, Blah,” a deliciously incisive comment on self-absorption, L.A.-style, starring her co-writer Emily Wagner and herself. Leslie McCleave’s “Avenue X” is a beautifully evocative and poignant tale set in a faded, desolate Coney Island and featuring a young boy (Nickemil Concepcion) urgently trying to connect--with good reason--with a young man (Brian F. O’Byrne), just home from work and too tired to give him the time of day.

Tanya Miller and Julie Wyman’s “I Shot My W.O.D.” is a fearless, funny collection of encounters as the two take to the streets of San Francisco, asking other women, lesbians or not, what kind of women they’re looking for.

Although Stacy Title and Jonathan Penner’s “Down on the Waterfront” received an Oscar nomination it is actually no more than a filmed playlet, albeit one replete with funny dialogue and good performances. Penner and Jason Alexander play makers of instructional films who are approached by an underworld kingpin (Ed Asner) to make a movie that will depict “the happy life of the longshoreman” to counteract the impact of the just-released “On the Waterfront”; amusingly, Title’s father, a maker of industrial films, actually was approached by a longshoreman’s union official to make such a film.

Information: (310) 855-8738.


Puppet Nightmare: New Zealand’s prodigiously talented master of the macabre Peter Jackson has a unique gift for projecting nightmarish universes. Before he took us into the warped imaginations of a pair of teen-age killers in “Heavenly Creatures” he sent up zombie flicks with the grossly hilarious “Dead Alive,” but even before that he laid waste to the Muppets and Sesame Street with his 1989 “Meet the Feebles,” a darkly comic satire on the deadlier human sins--even though there’s never an actual human in sight.

It’s at the Nuart for one week, starting Friday, screening at 9:30 p.m. only, with an added 11:30 p.m. show Friday.

It’s not for nothing that the Nuart is not letting in anyone under 17. The Feebles are a bunch of deceptively cute-looking anthropomorphized puppet creatures who have a long-running variety show in an old theater.


The Feebles’ upcoming evening performance is crucial, for it is being televised live, with the prospect of a syndicated series looming. Unfortunately, the show’s singing star, Heidi Hippo, who’s grown hefty with the years, learns that her long-time lover, the show’s producer Bletch, a cigar-chomping walrus, is having an affair with Samantha, a diminutive Siamese cat.

The show also boasts a knife-throwing frog and a drug-addicted Vietnam vet (whose war experiences are recapitulated as a take-off on “The Deer Hunter,” no less).

Jackson is onto something as disturbing as it is funny, but in piling on the excesses of human behavior as indulged in by often adorable-looking creatures, he stretches out his single joke too long at 97 minutes.

Information: (310) 478-6379.