Roll it! Library event shows films usually left on the shelves
Michael Holsclaw is a movie buff, but his favorite part of the monthly movie showing he hosts at the Caldwell County Public Library is the discussion with the audience after the film.
“I encourage dissent,” Holsclaw said. “I like for everyone to feel that they are as justified in their point of view as I am in mine. Some of the best discussions fly off in directions I never could have anticipated.”
One of those followed “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death,” a 1971 horror film about a recently institutionalized woman who moves into a supposedly haunted farmhouse, according to the movie website IMDb.com.
“I thought it’s most interesting aspect was its unreliable narration, provided by the lead character, Jessica,” Holsclaw said. “When the movie ends, we don’t know whether Jessica has lost her mind or has fallen prey to an insidious supernatural force. The female members of our audience, however, were more taken with the ways in which Jessica’s experiences served as metaphors for oppression and even psychological abuse that women sometimes suffered in America before the advent of feminism. I didn’t disagree with that interpretation, I just didn’t expect it.”
“Movies with Mike” began five years ago when Sarah Greene, director of the Caldwell County Public Library system, asked Holsclaw, a librarian, if he would provide a night of free movie entertainment once a month in the Lenoir branch.
Holsclaw hass diverse tastes in film, which shows up in some of the movies he chooses to show.
“I don’t always necessarily show the most famous film that an actor or a director made because I think they’ve probably seen them before, and I’d like to showcase something that they may not have had as much of an opportunity to look at. I like showing a movie that not many people know by Sellers instead of one of the ‘Pink Panther’ (films), for instance,” Holsclaw said.
In June, he will show “The Bobo,” 1967 comedy with Peter Sellers as Juan, a singing bullfighter trying to make it big. When he arrives in Barcelona, a manager tells him he can have his chance if he successfully woos the elusive Olimpia, played by Britt Ekland. Juan agrees and spends the film trying to win Olimpia’s heart, even to the point of dying himself blue.
Holsclaw said he prepares each month a few weeks in advance by first checking the library’s license website to see which films they are allowed to show and selecting a film he knows enough about to start a good conversation flowing for the group discussion.
“I didn’t really try to create some didactic, thematic program, but just kind of based it on what I think are really great movies and movies that I have something to say about, movies I could have an opinion about,” Holsclaw said.
After selecting a film, he will work on his opening dialogue before the showing.
“I like writing the notes down into some kind of coherent form than presenting them, sometimes, because just the fact of shaping my thoughts is really exciting sometimes,” Holsclaw said. “I’m constantly revising down to the wire, so I always go through, even after I’ve typed it up, and I mark out words and substitute new words and things like that.”
For a showing of “American Graffiti,” the 1973 movie that brought director George Lucas -- the creator of “Star Wars” -- to public prominence, Holsclaw asked the audience to consider “How is it that a man we now primarily think of as the creator of a ubiquitous space fantasy empire was able, in only his second film, to create such a touching, intimate portrait of his (and America’s) teenage years, and why did he never attempt anything else as warm and personal?”