11/22/11

The Deadly Doll/ LBL Thanksgiving Swap Has Been a Baaaaad Boy (Bubby)

It’s been a couple of months since last Emily of the Deadly Doll’s House of Horror Nonsense and I got a chance to do a film swap, but after our recent meet up at Horrorhound Weekend, I really wanted to get back to our film exchange. After swapping around a few ideas, we settled on a Thanksgiving-ish theme, "Movies We Are Thankful For". For my part, I gave her Alice’s Restaurant, Arthur Penn’s 1969 adaptation of Arlo Guthrie’s eighteen and a half minute song featuring hippy Thanksgiving, courtroom hijinx, and a rousing lesson in draft dodging. Click on over to Deadly Doll’s to see why Alice’s makes me thankful, and what Emily thought about it, but first Emily's pick, Bad Boy Bubby, an Australian movie that's perfect for the whole family at the holidays. It has to be family friendly. Well, that is if your family is really into incest or torturing the family cat. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me give Emily a chance to set up her thankful selection...

"I can't officially argue that Bad Boy Bubby is an appropriate Thanksgiving movie--for starters, it takes place in Australia, where turkey is probably replaced with emu for all I know--but it's certainly a film that I'm THANKFUL for. It's cheating of course, but still: this 1993 independent black comedy is one of those movies that just make me happy to WATCH MOVIES, and thankful that there will always be artists who can take chances onscreen.

So sure, there's incest, animal violence, sexual harassment, and surprisingly grisly murder, but somehow all of these acts work in harmony to create a weirdly sweet coming of age tale not just about a boy growing up, but about a man discovering the world and all of its gifts. Pizza! Cats! Love! Duct Tape! Aren’t we all thankful these things exist? Set it to a bizarro spoken-word-rock score and bam! We’ve got something that celebrates the essence of this fine and tasty holiday far more appropriately than giant balloon animals."

To say that Bad Bob Bubby doesn’t start off as your typical Turkey Day affair is possibly the greatest understatement since the settlers told the Indians that those blankets looked fine to them. The first thirty minutes of the film are some of the most excruciating cinema I’ve ever managed to watch. I would have had an easier time watching Salo, Cannibal Holocaust, and Martyrs on three screens simultaneously.  Thirty five year old Bubby (Nicolas Hope) has never set foot outside the walls of the dingy apartment he calls home. His domineering mother (Claire Benito) beats him, molests him, and threatens him with poison air and a vengeful God. When Bubby’s not having sex with Mom, he delights in torturing cats, squishing roaches, and other assorted grossness. His world is turned upside down when his father returns home, and it’s not too long before Bubby goes on a parental killing spree.

It’s a half hour of some of the most abject darkness I have ever sat through, but somehow director Rolf de Heer almost manages to overcome the film’s setup in the next hour and half. After offing the folks, Bubby goes out into the world. There he discovers music, pizza, cunnilingus, rock and roll, atheism, pain, love, and finally happiness. Over the course of Bubby’s transformation, de Heer used 35 separate cinematographers to capture each of the new experiences, and each one adds a pair of fresh eyes to the proceedings. Through Bubby, who later takes on the persona ‘Pop’, is a difficult character to relate to or fully like, his childlike wonder of the world is an amazing thing to behold. Perhaps the easiest shorthand to describe the film would be to say it is Being There by way of Eraserhead with a healthy dose of black Aussie humor thrown in to boot.

The jillion dollar question though is do I share the same feelings as Emily about this movie? Well, in some ways it does make me thankful. Anyone who watches the first half-hour will be glad for two reasons. First, it didn’t happen to them (presumably), and secondly, they never have to watch it again. While I found Bad Boy interesting and through provoking, I feel like de Heer might have veered too much into the shock factor during the first act. It left a long hole to dig out of, and with Bubby’s actions later in the film still remaining despicable, the redemptive part of the film feels a bit hollow. I do share the sentiment that de Heer made a brave film, and certainly it is not intended for every audience. Had Emily not picked this film for me to watch, I’m not so certain that I would have hung in there past the kitty violence (of which there was more than I ever want to see again), but ultimately I’m glad I did.

That being said, I, for one, am glad I get to get up in the morning on Thanksgiving Day, turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and enjoy the crap out of the giant balloons, Broadway dance numbers, and a special appearance by the Rockettes. I can’t imagine part of me would rather be watching a challenging, but exploitative, art film. So on that point, Emily and I diverge. What I am most thankful for today is the Deadly Doll. From our monthly (or semi-monthly) swaps to our face to face meetings, it’s always a pleasure to butt heads (and occasionally agree) with her. I’m always glad to have a friend that will make me try and wrap my brain around cinema like Bad Boy Bubby, and one who will watch Alice’s Restaurant in good humor (though I thought she would check out the song as well). That’s all for this Pilgrim’s progress for today. Check back later in the week as I gobble up a Turkey Day semi-classic.

Bugg Rating

5 comments:

  1. I'VE FINALLY FIGURED IT ALL OUT!!!

    The reason Emily is always spilling, tripping, colliding, face-planting, and otherwise serially engaged in acts of gravity-accelerated mayhem is clear to me now.

    Dearest Em, you're so far out on the horizon of human experience that your Negative Karma has morphed into a physical presence, curling about you like a malignant odor. It's likely trying to snuff out the life force of anything it encounters. Why are your cats insane? Because they live in a Cthuloid Madhouse of tenticular darkness, ever dodging wisps of pure, realized hatred. I'd jam my head in a box too, if I thought it would buy me surcease of sorrow, if only for a minute.

    Now that I've sussed this out, you can fix it, I suppose.

    *Hugs*

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  2. Yep. That definitely sounds like a movie Emily would love. :)

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  3. If you listen to the movie's commentary, de Heer and Nicholas Hope actually explain the cat violence, and talk about how it wasn't actually cruel, which is good to know.

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  4. I didn't figure the cat violence to be real, and I can guess at what they were shooting for, but it still doesn't make it easier to watch.

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  5. Sigh. I love and hate you all (in a loving way).

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