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Bruce LaBruce memories 

Here's my favourite Bruce LaBruce story. On the day of 9-11, before anyone knew what had really happened, my boyfriend (now husband) and I decided to ignore the chaos and go to an art gallery instead. We went to Bruce Bailey's little gallery on Spadina in Toronto to see Bruce LaBruce's first photo exhibition. (Bailey, a former banker turned art patron turned movie producer, has known LaBruce since 1999, when the filmmaker showed up one rainy day with a bunch of slides.) Bailey, Sean and I quietly contemplated some extremely explicit photos, filled with cocks and asses, and talked about how there was nothing shocking about these photos, especially when compared to two planes driving into two towers.

That day, people walked around the streets of Toronto, which was mostly shut down, like zombies. So it seems appropriate that my next meeting with LaBruce's work is Otto; or Up with Dead People, produced by Bailey, about a young (very cute), lovelorn zombie, played by Jey Crisfar, who lurches around the streets of Berlin and ends up being cast in an anti-capitalism zombie film. LaBruce discovered Crisfar on MySpace, and he's a gem: there's something sweetly melancholy about his face--you can see why people want to take him in. And why he gets laid, even though Otto apparently smells like death.

Otto is not for everyone. Purists who can't deal with thinking, rationalizing zombies should avoid this film. Yes, there are a few zombie sex scenes, if you have a problem with that. If you have problems treating films as extended art pieces, don't see Otto. But there are so many things to love: Otto loping through a field of yellow flowers and his Mentos-commercial memories of his ex-boyfriend; Hella Bent (Susanne Sachße), a silent film star who only ever appears in the movie in black and white; and a fantastic use of music and sound.

Meet LaBruce and see Otto; or Up with Dead People, tonight at the Oxford, 11:59pm, $15. And as a bonus, the opener is The Hidden Cameras' (one of my all-time favourite bands) new video, In the Na, produced by Halifax's Brad Horvath.

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