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The Birdcage

Volunteer of the Month Haley Harmicar on The Birdcage

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February is birthday month at The Frida Cinema, and we’ve got an impressive slate of screenings to celebrate our 10th year as Orange County’s only non-profit arthouse theater. From perennial arthouse favorites like Harold and Maude a retrospective on the inimitable auteur Wim Wenders, including his newest film, the Oscar-nominated Perfect Days. If Valentine’s Day is your favorite part of the month The Frida has plenty of love to offer. Seeking something tragic, swooning, and evocative? David Lean’s Brief Encounter or Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love might be just what the doctor ordered. Want some iconic rom-com indulgence? 10 Things I Hate About You is hitting our screen to celebrate its 25th anniversaries for our Party Like It’s 1999 series.

If Valentine’s isn’t your scene, DePalm-A-Thon, a secret Brian DePalma triple feature or Josie and The Wall, a truly legendary double feature of two cult classic music films, might be more to your liking. Just looking to laugh? Allow me to recommend one of the greatest, and the gayest, mainstream comedies to be released in the past few decades, Mike Nichols’ The Birdcage. A remake of the classic French farce La Cage aux Folles, the film follows a gay cabaret owner and his drag queen partner as they attempt to put on a straight front so their son can marry the daughter of a conservative senator. It is also this month’s second Volunteer of the Month pick, courtesy of Haley Harmicar.

I first met Haley on the day this interview took place, as she burst from the doors of the theater in which our Aliens, Clowns & Geeks + Forbidden Zone double feature event took place. With its Bloody Burlesque intermission, set against a projected background of classic Fleischer cartoons, concluded, she was finally free of the vital task she’d volunteered for near the end of her shift: picking up the many layers shed by the talented performers through the course of each number to ensure that the stage remained a slip-free zone. Haley is a Volunteer of the Month who contains multitudes. She loves the work of Elaine May, MGM’s Technicolor musicals, and is an aspiring comedy writer for sitcoms and film. She’s also the intern behind The Frida Cinema’s brand new Letterboxd account. Give us a follow if you haven’t already! Enjoy the following interview and join us at The Frida for the movies I mentioned here and much, much more.

How did you find out about The Frida Cinema?

I went with my friends one day to see Home Alone, and I was taken by the murals everywhere and the love for art. So, I came back, and I would just see a movie here and there, alone. But then I found out that you could volunteer here, and I was like “Yes, this is the place to be.”

What made you want to volunteer here?

I mean everyone says this, but I love movies. I’m a film major at school, and I love older movies particularly, and you don’t see a lot of older movies playing in chain movie theaters, so I thought it was a good place to get free tickets to see even better movies than what’s playing in normal theaters, and you make friends. It’s a great time for everyone. And also, obviously, connecting with the community. I feel like I can’t find a big art community in Orange County, but I would say Santa Ana is like a pocket of artists.

The Birdcage 2

Tell us a little bit about The Birdcage.

A gay cabaret owner played by Robin Williams and a drag queen, Nathan Lane, who is very neurotic, pretend to be straight for their kid, who’s bringing home a girl with very important parents. That’s the summary. What the movie means to me: I remember the first time I watched it feeling, I don’t know, reborn. Because it’s about not judging, not leading with judgment, which at the time I felt like there were no stories that center around that. The parents would have been so hateful if they had known that Nathan Lane’s character was a drag queen, but they weren’t, because they weren’t seeing through labels and stuff, so it means a lot to me in that way.

What were your other choices for Volunteer Pick of the Month?

One of my other choices was Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. It’s a mockumentary starring John C. Reilly. I think it would’ve been so funny if they would’ve played it, but it would not have sold anything. It’s basically like Elvis, but a parody by John C. Reilly. My other movie was Y tu mamá también, but I was told that they play it too often here.

What is your favorite Frida memory?

I have so many. Okay, one, meeting James Duval, and at the time that I met him, I hadn’t seen a single movie of his, but I was still so nervous to meet him, and he was so nice. Then I watched Go – we screened it here for a few volunteers – and I was like “I’m obsessed with James Duval.” He’s coming back for Donnie Darko, and I’m gonna meet him again. So that’s one of my favorite memories, and then another is terrorizing Garrett, the manager. He will know what I mean by that. You can ask him a very crazy question and he will respond with sincerity. He will just take a second to think about the question and then respond with the most thought-out answer, and I respect it. I mean, I have so many memories here, I wanna include one last one. Learning how to assemble the big marquee for the first time, and it took about two hours, I would say. People were passing me on the street, watching me struggle, and being like “Are you good?” and I was like “Yep, just doing the marquee!” Since then, I think I’ve gotten a little better.

If you could program any movie here, what would you pick?

What I would do is I would play Windy City Heat, starring Perry Caravello, and that is a movie about a man being pranked by his friends, being told that he is a famous actor. They bring in celebrities to audition with him and they tell the celebrities “No, Perry’s the man for us,” and you just watch his ego get so big, and they just mess with him for the whole movie. Ideally, we would get Perry himself to do a Q&A. I’ve been told that he still doesn’t know it was a joke, he still doesn’t know that he was being pranked for Windy City Heat. So, I would invite him for a Q&A, I would host the Q&A, and I would ask him myself, “Do you know that this is a bit?” and just see what happens.

I have a second option. Me and Corey Feldman, we were chatting in the DMs. Basically, you know those videos where people on TikTok ask a random stranger what they’re listening to on their phone? So I made a video in that style with my friend, and she was listening to “Comeback King” by Corey Feldman, and basically we ended the video with, like, “Corey, we would love to have you at The Frida Cinema for a Q&A with The Lost Boys,” and he responds to me, and he’s like, “Maybe we’ll see what can happen next year,” and this was in December of 2023. All I’m saying is, it’s February. Maybe we can have him over for a Lost Boys Q&A.

The Birdcage screens starting Monday, February 12th.
Monday, Feb 12 – 7:45pm
Tuesday, Feb 13 – 5:45pm
Friday, Feb 16 – 5pm



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