"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> CAMP CASSEROLE
By: Anthony Pedone and Steve Balderson Movie
Review By: De Fen
Camp Casserole is a documentary directed by Anthony Pedone that studies the unique directing styles and subject matter of independent film maker Steve Balderson's film, The Casserole Club. Balderson's film was inspired by a group of 1960s housewives and their competitive pot luck tea parties in the social context of the Manson murders, the death of Judy Garland and the NASA moonwalk. Though, of these events the death of Judy Garland is the one that makes an impression upon the happy go lucky pot luckers. The Casserole Club is in many ways a set of character studies on the vapidity and self absorption of these housewives who are so insulated in suburbia that major world events have little impact upon them. One might say that The Casserole Club is everything that Real Housewives might be if RH took a more critical look at it's characters.
So there's the back-story. Pedone's documentary is a fascinating walk through the directorial process and includes interviews with the cast. Oh yes, the cast: Jane Weidlin, formerly of The GoGos; Susan Traylor, actress and daughter in law of Bob Dylan; Former Backstreet Boy, Kevin Richardson; Musician and performance artist Daniela Sea; Actress, Starina Johnson who also starred in Balderson's 2009 film Stuck; Garrett Swann, most recognizable for playing Harold on Fashion House; Pleasant Gehman, also known as Princess Farhana, international belly dance and retro burlesque performer to name a few. Pedone's Camp Casserole is true to it's name for two reasons: First, it's pure camp-camp and secondly it's pure camp as in the sleepover variety.
In directing The Casserole Club, Balderson had it that the entire cast share a communal living space for the duration of the filming. This environment forged a familiarity between the cast members that resulted in them filming absurdist commercials during off hours. Pedone allows us to view a few of these commercials which include Jane Weidlin's portrayal of Joan Crawford and a faux pyrex ad that references Silence Of The Lambs. Not surprisingly, some of the more interesting interviews/conversations were with Weidlin and Sea who are a fully fleshed out characters in their own right. Weidlin being more slap stick and delightfully unpredictable and Sea more intellectual and introspective. Actually, the cast as a whole are such individualized people that they all seem to be characters.
Camp Casserole is a must watch for connoisseurs of camp, absurd-ism, the ridiculous, docu-drama and character studies in general. Pedone did a most excellent job of weaving the directorial process with the thoughts and reflections of the people who made such a production possible. He also created the perfect compendium for The Casserole Club. Cheers for Pedone, all thumbs up!