Masque Films’ Inevitable Unveiling on Saturday night did a great job of setting the aesthetic tone of Masque Films. Taking place in the ASTO Museum in a begotten part of Lincoln Heights, the unveiling immediately enveloped the audience into the Masque world – a dark, delicate, and hauntingly beautiful place filled with furtive, sidelong glances, unintelligible whispers, and unspoken emotion.
The event began with the ladies of the Masked Meow burlesque troupe shadow dancing behind a red silk drape. It was easy to become entranced by this, and as I fell under the spell, I forgot how beautiful shadow dancing really is (too much Space Island/Area 33 can have this effect). Soon after the drape falls and the corseted and tu-tued dancers are revealed, the show begins. The series of short films and music videos opens with “Exoskeleton” by Sandra Powers, which, in all its dark monochromatic glory, was no less enrapturing than it was the first time I saw it at An Evening of Sinister Amusement at the Unknown Theater.
The Tuvalu-esque “Autumn” was next, followed by a blooper reel of teenage skaters. I happen to have a soft spot for these kinds of things, as the film brought me back to my old BMX days, where hundreds upon hundreds of cuts, bruises, and shin-bone dents represented just one glorious, perfectly-executed trick. The film showed all the faceplants, the blood clots, the tortured and exhilarated facial expressions after the failed tricks, and the walk-it-off pain I can still feel in my knees from watching that. The end brought a smile to my face, as a young skater brutally jumps on his beloved skateboard in a blind attempt to break it, then picks it up and slams it against the concrete and a park bench. Oh, the days of throwing bikes across vacant lots in sheer frustration, how I remember you fondly.
The next film was a masterfully shot beautiful piece which juxtaposed super-saturated beach imagery of a man in a long black overcoat against darker shots of a lovelorn or forlorn ballerina lamenting amid her blue-lit world of empty picture frames. The costuming in this film was brilliant and even though I didn’t really get what was going on, it was one of the best films of the night because it was so gosh-darn beautiful (anyone seen The Cell? The experience was similar to that, but with a lot more emotion and a lot less J-Lo.)
After the films, The Masked Meow returned for another audience interactive performance. The Masked Meow is an old-school modern burlesque troupe, who at once combined the dark Victorian ages with elements of modern dance, all set to a Nick Cave Tender Prey-era soundalike. Put it all together, and you have one pretty damn sexy burlesque troupe.
The evening’s libations were provided by Mayfield Brewing Company, a microbrewery out of the Bay Area. They were serving their three beers, a dark stout, a mid-range English-style IPA, and a light Dusseldorf-style brew. This tried and true beer-drinker will say that hands down, Mayfield beer is the most exquisite beer drinking experience I’ve ever experienced. Mayfield beer is aged like wine in cast-off wine barrels, so that the beer itself picks up notes from the wine. The floral and fruity notes become much more pronounced in the IPA, and the chocolate overtones in the stout can actually trick you into thinking you’re imbibing some kind of Mayan gold. All their beer is brewed in small batches, and you can taste the love and care in each sip. Nothing short of delish!
The Inevitable Unveiling of Masque Films, who are available for commercials and music videos, was a veritable explosion of the artistry of the macabre, and set a definite tone of the work to come from this young and incredibly talented film company. Keep these guys on the radar!