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By Pete Vonder Haar | October 23, 2003

We are a culture of conspiracy enthusiasts. From the JFK assassination to (if you’re Barbra Streisand) Paul Wellstone’s plane crash, increasing numbers of Americans feel certain that nefarious forces are at work to maintain the balance of power through covert and illegal actions.
Will Nitch (Will Keenan) knows this all too well. “They” hound him nonstop, forcing him to adopt a series of disguises while pursuing his ultimate goal: Operation Midnight Climax. OMC (not the “How Bizarre” band) is Will’s all-female response to the global conspiracy, a conspiracy that has threatened women more than anyone else. He spreads the word throughout New York City, handing out flyers and keeping one step ahead of his girlfriend Kali (Caron Bernstein), whose growing discontent with her beau causes her to take drastic measures. Not the least of which is baking a cake containing her menstrual blood in order to render Will impotent.
“Operation Midnight Climax” is a highly entertaining perspective of one man’s mission to organize a secret society of women (and one man, naturally) devoted to astro-sexual mysticism. Will Keenan (who, with Gadi Harel, also co-directed, co-wrote, and co-produced) presents us with a very Buster Keaton-esque character. He scampers up walls, gets dragged by cars, and thrown down stairs, all with understated verve.
Keenan brings an effortless charm to his performance. The character of Will may be somewhat misguided, but he’s no oily hipster, and we find ourselves sympathizing with his plight. The film is also visually striking. Keenan and Harel skillfully insert surveillance camera footage, interviews, and stock government mind control film into the story, with largely successful results.
You know the subversive cachet of the conspiracy theory has been co-opted when they make a movie about it starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. Luckily Keenan and Harel have given us new twists, such as a pair of Oliver Stone panties and Will reversing the tread on his shoes so he can’t be followed. He also synopsizes the history of the Freemasons with what may be my favorite line of the year, “Presidents, astronauts, entertainers…Borgnine,” and as the climactic midnight moment draws nearer Will can feel the noose tightening, leading him (and us) to question whether or not OMC can succeed.
Cleverly written and skillfully directed, “Operation Midnight Climax” is one of the better entries making the film festival circuit right now. Make an effort to check it out.

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