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The Watching Hour Preview: The Legend of Billie Jean

The Watching Hour is a weekly film series at the Starz Film Center, highlighting new and old cult, genre, or otherwise bizarro movies. Quite simply, The Watching Hour is usually the best thing to do in Denver on a Friday or Saturday night. From Giallo to schlock, Blaxploitation to Aussiesploitation, zombies to martial arts to who-knows-what, and everywhere in between. This is good ol’ rock and roll cinema spectacle. Not to be missed. (See the schedule, buy tickets, get directions, etc. here.)

After all my big talk last week about how everyone should go see Near Dark at The Watching Hour, I shamefully didn't even make it out myself. A brief but nasty bout with insomnia and some other obligations kept me from seeing one of my favorite movies on the big screen. Looks like Kathryn Bigelow didn't need my good vibes to win herself a well deserved Oscar, though. Kudos, lady. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I feel like I owe it to myself to work double hard to get out to The Watching Hour this weekend for The Legend of Billie Jean.

Though this doesn't seem like one of the more stupendous 'gets' of Watching Hour programming, The Legend of Billie Jean has a lot going for it. The coming of age story of a girl who sets out to get payback on the boys who busted her brother's scooter and ends up a counterculture roots hero is sort of a Joan of Arc set in Texas kind of thing. And y'all know how much I love movies about Texas teens (Dazed and Confused, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Whip It, Near Dark). Hopefully there is room in my heart for Billie Jean, too. It doesn't hurt that the once awesome but now fallen Christian Slater plays Billie Jean's younger brother, and after finally seeing True Romance last month (I know, I know, what's wrong with me?) I'm ready for more awesome Christian Slater action. There's not much chance he'll diatribe about Sonny Chiba and Elvis in this movie, but I can dream.

I have to level. I was born in 1984, making me about 5-10 years too young for the 'nostalgia demographic' this selection is aiming at. I have fun with movies like this or previous Watching Hour movie Streets of Fire, but they just don't get me as excited as I think they do people who grew up on a steady diet of this very specialized brand of 80s kitsch. There are an awful lot of people who seem to love this one though, so Billie Jean, it's up to you to prove me wrong!

-Ben

p.s. Is it just me, or does the Legend of Billie Jean poster make it look like an Aussiesploitation movie? Like a cross between the Road Games poster and Dead End Drive-In...

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