Metro Cinema returns with a week of camp

If the offerings  in a film series are, for the most part, of material available on  most decent cable packages, is it really a worthy film series?

Or is it another excuse for like-minded folk to get together in this thing we call “community”?

“Camp” would seem to be a theme in Metro Cinema’s grand opening week,  starting Sept. 16 at its new home at the Garneau. A student theme is a deliberate subtext throughout the week, which includes Batman: The Movie, a Saturday Morning Cartoons party (with all you can eat cereal) and a screening of Bill And Ted’s Excellent adventure.

There’s a thin line, sometimes, between “hipster” and “hipster doofus,” and  Metro’s series seems quite content to veer across it.

For example, there’s the aforementioned “Batman: The Movie,” which screens  twice (TWICE! no less), on Sept. 16 at 11 p.m. and Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. (Three times if you count last night at 10 p.m. on AMC.)

No, they didn’t pick either of the modern takes on the Caped Crusader for  “Graphic Content: A Comic Book Film Series;” they chose the feature-length  movie based on the camp ’60s TV series, which bears little resemblance to most of the comic’s art- and story-rich mythos. There wasn’t much comic book in the TV show, just comic. At least give them the 1970’s TV Spider-Man, who also starred in several related movies, including a truly dreadful pilot. Neat trivia: Nicholas Hammond, who played Peter Parker, was one of the Von Trapp kids in the Sound of Music.

Then there’s Bill and Ted. Really? Have we really gotten to the point where there’s artistic merit in B-movies from bygone high school days that, in truth, we’ve seen many times on TBS — each time wondering why we didn’t use the time better? Bill and Ted has always been a “so bad it’s fun” experience, too: camp, in other words. But headlining a night of a film series?

The all-you-can eat cereal and cartoons party on Saturday, Sept. 17 is a neat idea, particularly for those of us who grew up on the originals. We were all wired to the gills on sugar by noon, asking our parents to buy us Thundercats or He-Man action figures. So a little reminder of what the cartoons were actually like can’t hurt.

And there are two heavyweight films sandwiched in the week, a newly restored print of the brilliant Humphrey Bogard/Katherine Hepburn epic The African Queen, as well as Theodor Dryer’s “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc”, with a new music score added by local multi-platform artist Smokey, which could be brilliant or terrifying, depending on one’s own perspective.

The week closes with a camp film so camp, it’s just bad: Battlefield Earth, the Scientology-beloved L.Ron Hubbard Sci-Fi lit turkey brought to life as a …. modern b-movie turkey. At least at this one, hosts Dave Clark and Jeff Page will be along to make fun of the film a little, which is good, ‘cos  mit’s shit.

So, back to the question of whether the series is art, or just camp fun for like-minded hipsters … the verdict suggests the latter.

Doubtless, the long line of local arts clique notables will keep the series busy, but that’s about community, not film. For it to remain a film series, here’s hoping that ebullient first week of nuttiness fucks off somewhere and is replaced by films that a little more interesting and challenging …. once the giddiness dies down and people get used to the new digs.