Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Brown Bunny

The Brown Bunny is an absolutely horrible movie. The only reason I can imagine talking some poor soul into watching it is if they'd, in fact, never been in a car and wanted to experience what being on a long drive is like. Or perhaps if someone couldn't grasp what the word "tedium" means.

Along the way we do learn a couple of things, the most important being that it's the kind of movie that has a lead named Bud and names the other characters Daisy, Violet, Lilly and Rose. Get it?

Yeah. That's the level of subtlety on which this movie exists.

This is a movie in which most resembles a movie made up of shots cut from other movies, "We don't need this cut of him driving from here to there, the audience figures it out on their own." and "No, this shot takes away from the emotional impact of the scene, let's use that other one." At the end of the extended stretch of tedium, it has one final climactic scene that is so painfully obvious that it feels like it's copped from the script for a Lifetime movie, albeit an X-rated Lifetime movie.

It aspires to something greater. It's obviously inspired by a number of more thoughtful and intriguing movies, notably Monte Hellman's brilliant Two Lane Blacktop, but director Vincent Gallo has nothing close to the talent required to make something at that level. So, the audience is left to watch a mediocre actor as he watches the traffic in front of him.

I must confess now that this is only the third time I've seen Gallo's work as actor, the others being The Funeral and Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trickbaby, and I couldn't help wondering if Quentin Tarantino's performance in From Dusk Till Dawn wasn't an uncanny and unkind impression of Mr. Gallo.

Considering my recent thoughts regarding Movies and the imagination, I hesitate to criticize Mr. Gallo's failure at his great cinematic pretension. However, his inordinate ego seems to negate any concerns I might have in that direction.

I only have a few lingering questions. Why did a director so clearly in love with the '70s aesthetic choose such a cloyingly '90s font for the credits? What does it do to your shooting ratio when one of the scenes is Chloë Sevigny performing oral sex on the director of the film? Would any director who wasn't the egomaniacal star have chosen an actor with such a distractingly large penis to play that character in that story? Did the 44% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes who said good things about this really get something out of this or were they simply afraid they'd seem prudish or mundane in acknowledging its dearth of artistry?

Defying conventions is not, in itself, visionary or even valid.

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