On Friday I had an interview with director Michael Reich and star Michael Pinkney, of She’s Allergic to Cats, the bizarre ode to the struggles of Los Angeles’ outsider creative class, scheduled for 2:00 PM. When I walked out of my late lunch I saw the gentlemen sitting in the hotel lobby with their publicist so I quickly introduced myself, and since they had nobody else scheduled at that time I was able to grab them early and ultimately spend an extra fifteen minutes with them. I’ll put the entire interview up next week, but here are the highlights.
Before I begin I should point out that, although Reich is listed as the writer and director, the pair have been used to working as a co-directing team on music videos before Cats. From their conversation it seems that Pinkney had, if not an equal, at least a very significant contribution to the movie’s overall conception. I start out by ingratiating myself, although I mean my opening sincerely: “I want to ask you guys a favor: please get this movie distribution, because I think people should see it.” They are both thankful, and Reich seems positive about their prospects.
I ask about the influences on the film, starting off with Doggiewogiez! Poochiewoochiez!, L.A. video collective “Everything is Terrible!“‘s remake of The Holy Mountain using heavily manipulated found footage of dogs. “We’re a fan of weird outsider tape culture and ‘Everything is Terrible!’ and stuff like that,” Reich admits. In fact, he came across the film because he unknowingly parked his van (marked “video van”) outside the Everything is Terrible! offices and someone left a courtesy copy on his windshield. Asked what their favorite weird movies were, Reich cites Kill the Moonlight, a 1994 underground film shot in “some Southern California oil town” that “captures the struggle and love of independent film.” Pinkney mentions Andrezj Zulawski (particularly Possession) and Ken Russell (particularly Altered States) as favorites. They also bring up the excised “Jupiter Ascending” climax to Phase IV, which the studio shelved for being too surreal, as an influence. An unexpected choice is American Werewolf in London, because of the love story angle. But mainly, the feature is an expansion of their work in the music video world.
In introducing the film at the world premiere the previous night, presenter Mitch Davis had said that “‘weird’ is hot right now, but most of the ‘weird’ movies are coming from vanilla personalities… These guys are the real deal.” I ask them if they think weird is hot. Reich talks about their experiences pitching music videos for local L.A. bands and how their ideas were always being rejected for being “too weird.” He says things started to change around the time Tim and Eric became popular, but they still had issues. Pitching a webseries, potential producers told them to make it more mainstream; then, they complained it wasn’t weird enough. “We were so outraged, we’d never been accused of not being weird before,” Pinkney laughs. They do demur when they make films and videos they’re not trying to be weird, they’re just trying to do stuff they like.
I mention that it’s hard to spoil the film because the title itself is a spoiler. “I think that creates some tension because you see these separate elements and you kind of know how their coming Continue reading FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL DIARY, 7/22/2016 (MICHAEL REICH & MIKE PINKNEY, PEDRO RIVERO, THE GREASY STRANGLER)