The Trader Joe's Silent Movie Mondays at the Paramount are quite a scene. This week, at the screening of Rex Ingram's The Magician (1926), the lobby was packed with silent-movie fans—a group difficult to sum up without the phrase "guys who look like 'Weird Al' Yankovic"—and Trader Joe's employees aggressively distributing raffle tickets and small pouches of free nuts. The mood was fun and rather geeky. We took our seats.
Following the World's Awkwardest Grocery Raffle, a nice lady approached the microphone and made some sort of announcement about records for sale (to benefit the Wurlitzer organ restoration). "Has anyone seen one of these before?" she joked, wielding a strange prehistoric black disc.
Attention, people who are older than me: First of all, humans still own and listen to vinyl. Second of all, I am not five. Third of all, even if the first and second of alls were not the case, it is possible for one to be aware of things that happened before one was born. You are not bewildering me with your Welcome Back, Kotter references, and your bicycle with one giant wheel and one tiny wheel, and your "civil rights movement." There is this thing called Nick at Nite. Do you want to quiz me on Green Acres? Because I will win that quiz. DO I HAVE TO DO MY ETHEL MERMAN IMPRESSION?
Anyways. The Magician, with Paramount super-organist Dennis James's thoughtfully reconstructed score, is instantly engrossing. Aerial shots of Paris close in on a pretty lady sculptor who requires back surgery from a handsome American doctor. Upstairs, a gigantic hypnotist watches, his evil magic breath fogging the glass of the operating theater.
The pretty lady, once repaired, rolls limply along through life: noodling around on the piano, wearing a series of adorable hats, getting hypnotized and kidnapped and very nearly faun-raped, and eventually ending up bound and gagged in the titular magician's sorcery tower. The magician, you see, wants the pretty lady's virgin "heart blood" so he can perform the ultimate magic trick: the creation of life! (BTW: Hate to blow your minds up, dark magicians past, present, and future, but humans already have the power to create life. It's called sexy intercourse.)
The Magician is really about two things and two things only: (1) EYE and (2) BALLZ. The notable eyeballz live inside magician Paul Wegener's insane fucking face. Paul Wegener looks a little bit like Ron Perlman as Beast. He looks a lot like an enormous goblin with a dash of Boris Yeltsin, if Boris Yeltsin's face were somehow even more insane and hilarious than Boris Yeltsin's face actually was (and also part lion). Point is, dude is amazing. You can see him—and his crazy 'ballz—at the January 26 Silent Movie Monday screening of The Golem. That is, if you can tear yourselves away from your game stations and your ladies' trousers (the idea!) long enough to watch something that is SO GODDAMN OLD. Am I right, kids?