The latest film installment of Miss Pussycat's (aka Panacea Theriac) Trixie and the Treetrunks puppet show and movie series gets its local premiere at The Prytania. In The Mystery in Old Bathbath, Trixie and Marsha realize their friend the magical Happy Tree, which delivers secret messages from the center of the Earth, is ill. There's also strife within the Trixie and the Treetrunks band as jazz drummer J.J. Suede harbors a deranged animosity toward the tree. Believing they can find a cure for the tree's illness in the town of Bathbath, for which they have attained a mysterious map, they set off on a road trip — without J.J. — and discover the town has a strange water shortage and creepy hotel accommodations. The movie is phantasmagoric and there are surreal events and leaps as Trixie unearths the mysteries of Bathbath.
The group goes to Bathbath's museum of art, which becomes a self-referential spree for creators Miss Pussycat and Quintron. There's a video interlude of "Ring the Alarm," from Sucre du Sauvage, the album the duo recorded while in residence at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The museum's walls are full of works by local artists, many of whom exhibit their work at St. Claude Avenue galleries. There's even a painting of Miss Pussycat by D. Lefty Parker, among a suite of portraits of local musicians. The overheard art criticism from other museum visitors is priceless. And the workings of the museum are not entirely as they seem.
Miss Panacea's puppets have simple felt-patch eyes and there's a low-fi aesthetic to the film as well — all of it intentional and clever. The story is trippy and at times it's a rough trip. Sometimes the story is pushed forward by local references (a brief scene featuring Zapp's potato chips) and music, much of it provided by Quintron and Miss Pussycat. There also are a couple of disturbing scenes not appropriate for children.
The 45-minute film is preceded by Quintron performing on electric organ. —WILL COVIELLO