Film Reviews


By • Sep 4th, 2012 •

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This thing was shot on 23rd Street in Manhattan, right down the block from The School of Visual Arts where I teach, and right near The Visual Arts theater, which is owned by the school. So how come I never saw any lesbian aliens walking around? You could spot them immediately, not because they’re lesbians, but because of Linda Gui’s simple but totally effective and endlessly amusing costume design.

Madeleine Olnek wrote, directed and co-produced. What she’s done is to create a kind of Ed Wood film with an intelligent script, sensitive direction, and real emotional content. In other words, it has nothing to do with Ed Wood. I was particularly taken with its philosophical overtones, constructed from skewed impressions of what Earth has to offer by the visiting aliens. The ocean, and cheesecake, took on new meaning for me.

The planet these alien ladies come from (Zotz – the title of a William Castle film of yore) is suffering from ozone depletion, and the crisis is blamed on the heat generated by feelings of love. The culprits are more or less banished until they can get their act together, a difficult task since they are bald and speak weirdly. Singles ads just don’t do the trick. But the most striking of them – Zoinx, played by Susan Ziegler – gets lucky with the lonely salesgirl/cashier at a stationary store, played by Lisa Haas, who is just vulnerable and needy enough to take a long-long-shot on love.

Ms. Ziegler (who gives the most endearing alien female performance since Missi Pyle’s in 1999’s GALAXY QUEST) has an utterly compelling face. Her dark marble eyes and caricatured lips are mesmerizing. She nails her role, delivering lines with a loud staccato that should only produce laughs – and does produce them – but also evokes feelings of intense angst and yearning. This is (as my good friend Tony Lover, director of the Academy Award nominated short THE DOVE, likes to say about films of any worth) an e-motion picture. You care about the characters, and given their often over-the-top delivery, that’s quite a directorial accomplishment.

CLSASS is in no way an exploitation film. I kinda wished it were… There are two shower scenes shot from the top of the chest up, and I found myself wondering about Zoinx. It could have been phenomenal to see what was attached to that face.

While the humor is good and the ratio of successful lines and reaction shots is high, I wasn’t taken with some of the pauses during dialogue scenes. I also was not as involved in a sub-plot featuring two federal agents monitoring the aliens from inside their car. The experienced agent, played by Dennis Davis, a Timothy Spall/Alfred Hitchcock looking guy, has a lot of fun with dumbfounded double and triple takes to the questions and attitudes of his rookie partner, played by Alex Karpovsky. He’s kind of a low-key James Finlayson of Laurel & Hardy fame. But these two guys just weren’t as much fun as the three clueless alien women set loose in the Big Apple.

The Black & White cinematography by Nat Bouman is both lovely and off-kilter, deftly capturing the bewildered world-view of the newcomers. And the music is well chosen, ranging from a Dean Martin classic to original, ethereal passages. The editing shifts from perhaps a little too languorous to brilliantly tight – as when a popcorn box bounces off Zoinx’s head and we cut away from the scene with it still in mid-air.

CODEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME is a good low-budget film and deserves to be seen and to find its loyal fans..

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