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Saturday, October 16, 2004
The Brown Bunny
This now notorious film directed/producer/edited/written by Vincent Gallo finished a one week run in Portland back on Thursday. Why did I go? For the same reason I imagine everyone else did: morbid curiosity and Buffalo 66.
By now everyone reading this knows about "the scene," Gallo's fight with Roger Ebert and the subsequent re-edit. Despite shaving a good portion of film from the one that debuted at Cannes, Brown Bunny is still almost unwatchable.
That's not to say there's a good short film in there amidst all the endless tracking shots of America's freeways and neighborhood streets. Gallo essentially plays the same character he did in Buffalo 66, a downtrodden, lovesick loner. After losing a motorcycle race, the film follows him as he travels cross-country back to California to make amends with his ex-girlfriend. Along the way, he visits her parents and a series of mysterious women all named after flowers.
The hour of film leading up to the finale is tedious and, with a several cuts, could have easily been reduced to 15 minutes. The Brown Bunny's saving grace is not the moment that will ultimately be remembered for. When "the scene" arrives it's brutal and probably deserves to be categorized amongst the most earnestly bleak images ever captured on film. In its own way, it's harder to watch than anything in The Passion of the Christ. What follows though is a heartrending twist ending that throws a new light on everything that came before.
Can I recommend something like The Brown Bunny? No way. Can I say I liked it? Not at all. Can I say it deserves respect and maybe even better reviews? Sure.
Afterwards, I headed out with the crowd onto 23rd. Three PSU undergrads, around 19, were examining the poster. Knowing nothing about The Brown Bunny, they asked someone next to me if they should buy tickets for the next screening. The response? About 10 headshakes from 10 different people.