Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cinebomb #5: Brewster McCloud

There are probably better ways to spend your off hours at work than watching Robert Altman's bizarro Brewster McCloud but I can't think of any. You're in luck too, 'cause the entire film (indeed) is posted on YouTube. Thank BrandPiano for that because it's really the only way you can see this film at the moment.

Brewster McCloud (originally titled Brewster McCloud's (Sexy) Flying Machine) is the late Altman's 1970 follow-up to his beloved M*A*S*H (also 1970). The film stars Bud Cort as Brewster, a kid who lives in a fallout shelter beneath the Houston Astrodome and dreams of becoming a bird. Brewster's only real companion is Louise (played by Sally Kellerman) who may be a gaurdian angel or given the long scars on her back and the fact that she sometimes warbles and coos may be a bird. A series of strange murders - all involving bird droppings left on the victims - brings detective Frank Shaft into Brewster's odd orbit. Is he really just a quirky kid building himself a pair of wings or is there something more sinister going on? (Watch for Stacy Keach's hilarious turn as the wheelchair bound Abraham Wright.)

Calling Brewster McCloud odd is stating the obvious, the film is a true cinematic freakout in the grand Bunuel tradition. Perhaps most of the credit for this odd melange of dark comedy and magic realism goes to writer Doran William Cannon who scripted the equally weirdo flop Skidoo (1968) and the seldom seen Hex (1973). (Hex is another Cinebomb classic, the re-imagined folk story of WWI biker vets mixing it up with Native American witches.) Today, Cannon teaches creative writing.

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