The crowded theater sweetly smelled of perfume, leather and excitement. It was a diverse crowd, packed with pretty girls, sharp-dressed men and punk rockers. Theremin music (you know, the kind from '50s B-horror movies) crept into the background and the Naptown Roller Girls rolled up and down the aisles. The Toby Theater was humming with anticipation Saturday night for actor/filmmaker Crispin Glover to take the stage.
The lights went down and Glover suddenly appeared, as if by magic, under a red spotlight. He greeted the audience with a boisterous 'hello' and proceeded to read from his eight illustrated novels. With titles such as Rat Catching for the Use of Public Schools, the books evoked retro instruction manuals from the '50s as well as a strong sense of nostalgia for that time period. The audience giddily reacted to his strangeness. Remember, we're talking about the man who showed up on the David Letterman show in platform shoes and a wig claiming to be a karate master named Rubin.
Things got weirder when Glover showed his film, It is Fine! Everything is Fine. In a nutshell, the film follows a man with severe cerebral palsy as he has graphic sex with women and strangles them to death. You couldn't help but giggle nervously as this strange film unfolded on the screen. Fortunately, that was Glover's intension. He wants the audience to be uncomfortable and wonder if what they are watching is right. For him, the appeal of film is its ability to provoke people and raise questions. And laughter, he says, is "psychological elimination" of the strange and unusual.
Glover's thoughts on the movie were more interesting than the film itself. Also refreshing was his upfront honesty about his acting career. He openly admitted that he acted in big-budget Hollywood films (Charlie's Angels, Alice in Wonderland) in order to finance independent film projects he found more interesting. He did not trash these films, but express gratitude for how they've helped his career. He explained that he then depends on places like the IMA to fund and promote his independent directorial projects.
Interest in independent film is alive and kicking here thanks, in large part, to the IMA. Also alive and kicking are interesting nights with fascinating people like Crispin Glover. I've said it once, but I'll say it again - the IMA's Toby Theater is a magical place, be sure to check it out.