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Visual artist Ed Ruscha has spent his career hungrily exploring different media, and his two short films, which are rarely screened, show a gift for deadpan comedy. Premium (1971, 24 min.) dates from the period when Ruscha had grown tired of paint and was working with such materials as chocolate sauce, salad dressing, raw eggs, and motor oil. An offbeat exercise in self-parody, the film follows a young lothario (artist Larry Bell) as he rents a cheap room, arranges a giant salad on the sheets of its bed, and invites over an unsuspecting woman (Leon Bing) to be his crouton of love. Bing's incredulous reaction to the proposal is hilarious, and Tommy Smothers has a great bit as a limousine driver who delivers a wacky lecture on the perils of smoking. Similar in concept but not nearly as entertaining, Miracle (1975, 28 min.) involves a car mechanic whose monkish obsession with the carburetor of a ’65 Mustang delays his date with a hot mama (Michelle Phillips).

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