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REEL LIFE / FILM & VIDEO FILE : Silent Films Shot in Santa Paula to Make Return : Before screening, Bob Binsley will portray French producer-director Gaston Melies, who made 13 movies in the area in early part of the century.


A bit of Santa Paula history comes to life Monday as the Santa Paula Historical Society presents "The Gypsy's Warning," one of several silent films made there in the early part of the century.

French producer-director Gaston Melies made 13 films on location in Santa Paula Canyon, said Bob Binsley, a member of the historical society who will play Melies in a brief presentation before the film.

"Melies and his wife came to Santa Paula in 1911," Binsley said. "They stayed for a couple of years, until they had used up all the scenery."

The screening starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Santa Paula Theater Center, 125 S. 7th St. The event is open to the public, but reservations are requested. Call 525-6114.


Americans used to picture East Bloc citizens as totalitarian automatons locked in a prison of the human spirit, an image that many still apply to Cuba.

This week's feature at the Ojai Playhouse might ease that stigma. "Strawberry and Chocolate" tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a young, idealistic Marxist and a gay, middle-aged artist the young man is supposed to entrap and denounce. The witty and intellectual artist must win over the young heterosexual man (politically, if not sexually) and, in the process, the two come to respect each other's values and integrity.

Director Tomas Gutierrez Alea, often called Cuba's most celebrated filmmaker, created a film that's unique not only for its sensitivity and humor, but because it features a sympathetic gay character in a country that human rights groups have often criticized for its repression of gays.

Reviewers compare the tone of the 1994 film to "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" or even " La Cage aux Folles ." It screens 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Here's the plot: Women who are fed up with men go on a road trip across the desert, whipping, stomping and kicking the stuffing out of the gender that did them wrong.

The 1991 hit "Thelma and Louise?" Hardly.

The name of picture is "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" A film from low-budget schlockmeister Russ Meyer, "Pussycat" flopped when it was released in 1966.

Maybe audiences failed to get the feminist message that was so compelling 25 years later. At any rate, they get it now. The picture is a cult classic. No less a figure than John Waters called it "not only the best movie ever made, but the best movie that will ever be made."

Now that's a blurb.

Check it out at Santa Barbara's Lobero Theatre tonight. Shows are 5:30, 7:15 and 9 p.m. The Lobero is at 33 E. Canyon Perdido St. For information, call 963-0761.

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