Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Weeks Too Late: A Boy And His Dog

A Boy and His Dog. Directed & Written by L.Q. Jones (& possibly Alvy Moore, Wayne Cruseturner & Harlan Ellison).

Preconceptions: While I seriously considered subjecting you to another week of Catherine Breillat love-fest, I decided to give it a rest and watch something that had been on my list for a while. I have an abiding fondness for the post-apocalypse sci-fi movies of the 70's. They bring me right back to fond memories of my early teen years, endlessly watching this type of flick to the accompaniment of cheap pizza and Fireball. Yeah, yeah, they're a heavy handed bunch full of eye rolling social criticism and casual dismissal of women. But, with the feminist in me fully sated on French sex drama, I decided to take a few hours vacation from my sensibilities and enjoy a bit of the old Ultra-Violence.

General Review: My, my this did not disappoint in the dislike humans in general and women in specific, category. Before you pick this up, be aware that our main (human) character is a casual rapist and our leading lady is a self-serving, sexually manipulative skeeze. Sure, it's all done with a wink and a nudge and isn't meant to be taken entirely seriously, but yowza, even for the genre it's overt. It raised my eyebrow more than once, so don't say you weren't warned. Now, on to the plot (in case this particular cult film has slipped you by). Vic and his talking dog Blood (able to communicate with Vic due to some kind of future science and probably nuclear radiation) roam the wasteland looking for food and sex. Blood is particularly good at sniffing out women for our futuristic rapist. Vic, ahem, meets up with Quilla June who tricks him into following her "Downunder" to a bunker town deep below the surface. The Downunder-ers try to harvest Vic's sperm and Quilla attempts to use him to overthrow their government.

Despite my above warning, there were a lot of things to like about a Boy and His Dog (besides the rather tastelessly hilarious ending). While the time in the wastela
nd is the usual (Doctor Who-style) scrambling around in a quarry and warehouse, the Downunder is actually fairly creepy. The bleached out quality given to everything by the artificial lights, the strange mime make-up and clothes pulled from the set of Oklahoma! gave everything an effective surreal feeling. The scene where Vic is being marched through a parade was particularly good. He is pulled past these strangely done up people, with the camera jouncing along and everything is overexposed. It was jarring and claustrophobic.

It's also genuinely funny in parts. Blood's disgust in human sexuality and motivations had me giggling more than once. And while it didn't always successfully encompass that gallows humour so characteristic of bleak science fiction, it did manage it more than once.

My main complaint about this movie isn't its unapologetic misanthropy (though Jones and Ellison do seem to have it i
n for the species) it's the pacing. While I perked up in the Downunder sequences, the first forty minutes of this movie wander aimlessly. We watch Vic and Blood take in a porn flick, and see them search for food and shout at each other. We spend some time running from some ill defined post atomic creatures (or horrors, if you will). But until Vic follows Quilla into the bunker, there is no sense of story. Just because the characters are meandering around, doesn't mean that the movie should. A Boy and His Dog is a short movie based on a shorter story, but it felt way too long. In a movie that clocks in at only an hour and twenty minutes, I shouldn't have felt like twenty minutes could have been easily cut. It could have easily gotten in, made its point and left, but instead felt padded.

While a Boy and His Dog gave me the very bones of what I was looking for, it was an occasionally sty
lized 70's sci-fi, but nothing more. For all my earlier criticisms of these types of movies reaching beyond their grasp as far as social commentary goes, a Boy and His Dog didn't try. It didn't explore much beyond the idea that humans are jerks given half a chance. If you're a fan of the genre, it's worth the notch on your bedpost, but it isn't a film you'd want to bring out to meet your friends. Mostly, you'll just be waiting for it to be over so you can put in Logan's Run or Omega Man.

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