Friday, April 27, 2012

Lady's choice: Bunny and the Bull

When my wife springs a choice on me for movie night, I like to have her just press play so I can try to guess the movie before the title comes up. With her previous two choices, I did pretty well -- I got both right off the bat. Granted, only guessing The Visitors was actually impressive, because I got it from about the first ten seconds of the movie. Bright Star was not so impressive, because she told me to open my eyes while it was still on the DVD menu screen. The menu screen didn't actually contain the title, but it did contain the still image of two lovers embracing from the poster, which was familiar enough for me to identify it instantly.

When we watched Bunny and the Bull last night, I would have been guessing all night. Except of course that the title was the very first thing that appeared on the screen.

This is a long way of saying that we watched a movie I'd never even heard of last night, and I loved it.

Bunny and the Bull, a 2009 British independent romantic comedy from writer-director Paul King, can best be described as a magical realist road trip. But that's really only capturing part of what is so great and unique about it.

Basically, we open on a reclusive man named Stephen (Edward Hogg, unrecognizable from Anonymous) bound to very strict daily routines, who hasn't left his house in a full year. Over the course of the narrative, we learn why he's reluctant to go out into the world, through a series of flashbacks to events that occurred immediately before his self-imposed house arrest. These events involve a road trip through Europe featuring his best friend Bunny (Simon Farnaby), a lothario who always calls him "dude," and the foul-mouthed Spanish woman (Veronica Echegui) they pick up along the way.

It's the style of the flashbacks that makes the movie so visually arresting. If Stephen dreams himself away into the takeout box from the fast food chain Captain Crab, he remembers a scene that occurred inside an actual Captain Crab restaurant, only its facades and other environmental elements are all made from the materials of the takeout box. This aesthetic choice informs all the flashbacks and works terrifically, a seamless blending of the the funny and charming actors with these fake (but not preciously so) sets, with even a little animation thrown in for good measure. If you are trying to think of something that would be similar, think The Science of Sleep. But it's different enough that I wouldn't want to carry the comparison all the way through.

Anyway, I don't have anything really profound to say about this movie, I just wanted to post something today to recommend it to my readers. It's currently available on Netflix streaming, and it's about 100 minutes long.

I also wanted to just say that it's nice to be reminded that cinema can continue to surprise you with hidden gems like Bunny and the Bull, which I feel like I should have encountered or had recommended to me before now. The deeper you get into any area of culture, the less likely you think you are to be surprised by something. For example, a real music enthusiast can be prone to depression from time to time, I bet. They think they know the music world so well that they've already considered every band that might theoretically appeal to their tastes, so now they'll have to wait for new bands to be formed to find something new.

I would never claim that level of familiarity with cinema, but I'm quite pleased to make discoveries like Bunny and the Bull nonetheless. Reminds me how much is still out there, waiting to be discovered.

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