Saturday, September 18, 2004

Vincent Gallo gives good head

I've somewhat avoided the reviews on this one, but from what I've sensed, they're somewhat erratic: some find a vacuous exercise in self-indulgence, others, like myself, find a work of understated genius. I can see why people might be in the former camp; it's a very raw and slow-paced piece of cinema. Shots always manage to go on 10-20 seconds longer then you'd expect them to, and the camerawork is raw and coarse, but it is precisely this sense of unexpected mundanity that open's up Brown Bunny to a deeply contemplative meditation on this character's isolation and laconic manner.

To characterize Brown Bunny with a plot or a greater purpose than the experience that it offers is a waste of time. BB is a heady road movie in the truest sense of the word; it most definitely echoes the quietude and aimlessness of the adventures on the road of James Taylor and Dennis Wilson in Monte Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop from the early '70s. The only subject Gallo seems to enjoy framing in his picture more than himself is the empty and dark landscape of urban and rural America, and he certainly takes his time to do so. Gallo's world here is one of remote and isolated observation, and for those of you that have travelled cross-country alone, it may be a familiar landscape.

Brown Bunny is a dirty movie... not just for its infamous blowjob, but as far as the graininess of the picture, the nearly constant soft focus on the subjects, and the grime and bug splatter caking the view of Gallo's windshield during the cross country trek. Nevertheless, Gallo's overwelming commitment to this unconventional style forces the viewer into finding beauty in this stark vision, or maybe it forces the viewer to want to kill themselves. I'm sure it goes either way, but for me, it absolutely clicked.

Yes, Chloe Sevigny gives Gallo full-on fellatio toward the film's end. Knowing this going in, the scene still managed to shock me in its frank and explicit content, but, oddly enough, it didn't feel exploitational nor entirely inappropriate... it pushes the film, and its bleak and weary tone, completely into the stratosphere. One of the things that really makes the scene work is the fact that you NEVER see this in the movies, kids: two well-known actors having unsimulated sex onscreen (by sex, I mean sexual relations). Being subjected to this act of what many deem pornographic, is more proof of Gallo's commitment to confront the audience's expectations of what can or can't happen in cinema. My hat's off to Gallo (and Chloe's, too, for that matter - let's be fair) for the boldness of this decision, and the many other bold decisions throughout the film.

Don't get me wrong, the movie is definitely pushing it's luck with the audience's patience, and I think if it were another 30 minutes longer I might have had to scream myself, but when was the last time we'd been subjected to such an unabashedly personal and daring vision? Gallo may be an egomaniac and a loudmouth when it suits him, but he is, without any doubt in my mind, an artist whose voice is worth hearing, and I eagerly welcome his next foray into film. It is sure to be wholly unique, and that's something we can always use more of...

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