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The Philodoxer
Thoughts on writing and publishing, and the various sources of entertainment...
A weekly column by Abel G. Peña, best known for his Star Wars work.

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THE PHILODOXER for 07/16/2006
Open Mouth, Insert Avant-Garde: Vincent Gallo's Brown Bunny

I knock the soft ending whenever I get the chance, but Vincent Gallo's Buffalo '66 remains one of the most memorable and affecting movies I've ever seen. As such, I was shocked when I heard slams of his next directed film, Brown Bunny, calling it narcissistic and boring. That was, of course, before I saw it.

Brown Bunny

Let's get it out there. If you've heard of Brown Bunny at all, what you've probably heard is that Gallo whips out his manhood on camera and that Chloë Sevigny (of KIDS fame) swallows it, perhaps a natural extension of Gallo's unadorned-reality M.O. This is nothing special if you've watched your fill of XXX-rated features, but it's still subject matter that hasn't been regularly explored in cinema outside of the Pussycat Theatre.

Here's my take. The sequence between Bud Clay (Gallo's character) and Daisy (Sevigny's) works beautifully. After watching the bulk of a movie that seemed merely lazily edited, I was beginning to believe the climax could only come off as a disappointing, cheaply veiled, self-serving porn scene. But, lo and behold, Gallo turns his ultra-reality technique on its head to pull a Shyamalanesque rabbit out of his hat and add a nice twist that succeeds in squeezing out that extra pinch of significance that almost, almost, makes the plodding pace leading up to it justifiable.

But the film falls just short. Beginning with an interminably long and shakily shot sequence of Bud racing his bike in competition, through to his uneventful visit to Daisy's parents', with very long silences along the way as we accompany Bud on his destined rendezvous with fellatio, it was hard to keep from yawning repeatedly. To Gallo's credit, he drops subtle hints all along the journey that will explain the lackadaisical temperament of the main character.

For some, this is reward enough. To me it seemed an incautious use of techniques that worked for Gallo previously in moderation. I would've hacked off about 10 to 15 minutes of this movie for it to have the desired pop.

Gallo's attempt at doing something new is still good if you're looking for something unusual. In a way, it's the inverse of Buffalo '66: a terrific ending compromised by an ineffective lead-in. That said, a second viewing devoid of imagined expectations and informed by real ones may produce a very different experience--I didn't quite know what to make of Pulp Fiction when I first saw it either.

I'll be at the San Diego Comic Con this week, folks. If you're gonna be in town, keep an out for Justin of World Famous Comics and you'll probably catch me close by.

Till next week!

-- Abel

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