Some movies are more worthy of a thorough dissection and group celebration than others. Which is to say, if your idea of culturally and historically significant is Porky's, you can move right along.
Who hasn’t watched the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and found themselves wishing there was a place for folks to meet up and discuss the allegorical nods to the Vietnam War and Lone Star State human-barbecue tips? And how great would it be to have a forum not only for dissecting Star Wars as a predictor of Donald Trump’s fabled Space Force plans, but also for an expert to offer up recipes based on the Mos Eisley Cantina menu?
That dream is about to come true. Vancouver Cinésocials is now augmenting web screenings of classic movies with online discussions and digital workshops.
Up first, next Wednesday (June 24), will be The Big Lebowski. Cinésocials organzier Daniel Crow calls the new series a way to fill the void created by the closure of movie theatres duing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Serving as Inspiration were New York's immersive theatrical experience Sleep No More and London's Secret Cinema series.
"Both allow the audience to literally step into the world of the film/play and interact with the characters around them—shaping the way the story unfolds," Crow told the Straight. "Film and TV play a huge part in our day-to-day lives—more so than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic forced people into their living rooms and gave people an excuse to guiltlessly turn on their TV screens as a means of escaping the realities of the world around them."
He continued: "Witnessing some of the incredibly creative ways people have continued their lives in an online environment, and in an attempt to fill the void left by all the movie theatres that have closed around us, I thought it would be fun to start hosting online movie nights with the added immersive element of a digital workshop or class that is somehow linked to the film that's screened."
Following the movie, those tuned in will get a Q&A with Jeff Rafner, who served as the first assistant director on the Coen Brothers’ classic.
"I work in Vancouver's film/TV industry and just finished a show this year called Away that Jeff was producing," Crow said. "Jeff, being the lovely human being that he is, agreed to help right away."
The fun doesn’t stop there. As sure as Jeffrey Lebowski is known as the Dudeness, Duder, or El Duderino by those who aren’t into the whole brevity thing, White Russians (the cocktails—not Maria Sharapova and Alexander Ovechkin) are inextricably linked with the 1998 cult fave.
(Side note: Normally, cult fave refers to glorious and beloved trash like John Waters’s Pink Flamingos. The Big Lebowski is in the U.S. Library of Congress's National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. Porky's, in case you're curious, is not.)
In recognition of the role White Russians play in The Big Lebowski, this installment of Cinésocials will include a White Russian-inspired cocktail class with main Keefer Bar duderette Amber Bruce. In addition to managing the fabulous Keefer, Bruce’s list of accomplishments includes a 2019 bartender-of-the-year nod from Vancouver Magazine.
"The Big Lebowski has long been a favourite film of mine," Crow noted, "and it just made sense to partner it with a White Russian-inspired cocktail classes. Especially given the overwhelming number of incredible bartenders in Vancouver's hospitality industry. I decided to aim high and speculatively got in touch with Amber—undoubtedly one of Vancouver's, and Canada's, top bartenders. And to my delight and surprise she immediately agreed to come onboard."
Proceeds from Cinésocials’ Big Lebowski event will go towards #CanadasBiggestTipJar (benefiting Canadian hospitality workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic) and the Hogan’s Alley Society (HAS), which is a nonprofit devoted to further educating the world about black history in Vancouver and B.C.
As for films that future Cinésocials might spotlight, Crow has some ideas.
"I'm in the process of figuring out what a Ghostbusters screening might look like," he revealed, "partnered with an online psychic reading or something along those lines. I think that could be a really fun pairing and give people a chance to experience something they might not usually go for. Beyond that, I'm keeping my cards close to my chest. Ultimately, I want this to be something that draws attention to the wealth of creative talent Vancouver has to offer."
For more information on Cinésocials, which is billing itself as "A Film Club With a Difference", go here.