Sep. 26, 2012 - Issue #884: Strangelove
'Beautiful, deadly and a final first line of defense in the war on tyranny that threatens our freedom," goes the radio man's description of the Burlesque Assassins, and boy, he ain't kiddin'. We find the titular squad in existence in the 1950s, where they're on the hunt for Mussolini Jr and a clone of Hitler, trying to stave off the pair's diabolical plot to activate a Nazi atomic death ray that survived the Second World War.
Actually, just the term "Nazi atomic death ray" is probably more than enough to tell you the levels of camp Assassins is gleefully embracing here: if you've been looking for a film that pits titillation against the holdout forces of Hitler, well, your wait is over.
Burlesque Assassins is also the first feature film of Calgary-based Jonathtan Joffe, a fellow with a wealth of acclaimed shorts and festival screenings for those shorts behind him. Shot in Calgary over the course of a month—he notes they averaged 14-hour days on set—with a cast including some of burlesque's most well-known current stars, he notes the film's initial idea was actually much simpler concept.
"The first inception of the idea was really just I thought burlesque was an up-and-coming art form that had a very interesting visual aspect that would be a lot of fun to try out," he says over a phone call before the film's Edmonton EIFF premiere (which will also feature a performance from Capital City Burlesque). "The real meat of creativity came from actually meeting with the burlesque community and seeing what they were up to, talking with them about what their audience is like and talking to them about what they wanted to do. And, in doing so, it went from being a typical, festival film about a group of burlesque performers to becoming a much more fun, campy, stylish, entertaining thing that became the Burlesque Assassins."
Joffe notes that the current-day resurgence of burlesque seems as much about new interest in the form as it is about all the disparate pockets of burlesque scenes scattered across the world connecting over the Internet. Which also works well for a filmmaker making use of a very specific, though not particularly localized scene.
"As a filmmaker, what's interesting to me is that social media has meant that there's an ability to connect to a community that might only be small in each individual city, but worldwide is substantial. Before, there might have been 1000 people interested in burlesque in each individual city, and that might've been 100 000 people worldwide, but you couldn't market to all 100 000 of them. You had to market with them one city at a time. So now, this means that all of a sudden, the doors are thrown open in terms of subject matter and in terms of audience.
"There's an ability to market to that community, to have that community get behind a project, and suddenly there's a door that's opened for guys like me, who don't have access to Hollywood budgets, to say, 'Hey, this is my community and it deserves a movie too.'"
Wed, Oct 3 (9 pm)
Directed by Jonathan Joffe
City Centre Cinemas, $20
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy