Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#1,864. Bad Boy Bubby (1993) - Spotlight on Australia

Directed By: Rolf de Heer

Starring: Nicholas Hope, Claire Benito, Ralph Cotterill

Tag line: "All he needs is love"

Trivia: Most of the sound was recorded by two binaural microphones hidden in actor Nicholas Hope's ears

Bad Boy Bubby is kind of a bizarre masterpiece.

Directed by Rolf de Heer, this 1993 film tells the story of Bubby (Nicholas Hope), a guy in his mid-‘30s who has never once in his life left the small apartment he shares with his mother (Claire Benito). To keep Bubby at bay, she tells him the air has been poisoned, and puts on a gas mask whenever she goes out. So Bubby spends his days playing with his pet cat, and his nights satisfying his mother’s lustful desires, He seems content.

That changes when his estranged father (Ralph Cotterill) re-enters the picture. All at once, Bubby is pushed to the side by his mom, and when a seemingly innocent act ends in tragedy, he leaves the apartment for the first time ever.

Bubby has difficulty adjusting to the ways of the world, but chance encounters with both a neighborhood garage band and a social worker he lovingly calls Angel (Carmel Johnson) allow him to finally experience the freedom he had been denied for so many years.

Bad Boy Bubby is, in many ways, an experimental film. All sound was recorded via two small mics hidden behind lead actor Nicholas Hope’s ears, allowing the audience to hear the world exactly as he does. In addition, director de Heer utilized the talents of over 30 cinematographers, the majority of whom shot only a single sequence. So the style of the picture changes from scene to scene (each cinematographer had full creative control, and was not permitted to view anyone else's footage). As you can imagine, this gives the film a somewhat frenzied look.

Its unique technical approaches aside, Bad Boy Bubby also has Nicholas Hope, whose portrayal of an innocent thrust into a world he cannot possibly understand gives the movie its center. With no idea how to communicate with those around him, he simply repeats whatever he hears, and while most of the comedy stems from Bubby’s interactions with others (a scene where he walks into a donut shop and orders exactly what the woman before him ordered, copying her voice and inflection as he does so, made me laugh out loud), it also results in some uncomfortable moments (because he doesn’t know what he’s saying, Bubby is often crude and profane).

Despite the occasional social faux pas, Bubby continues to view the world as a child would, gazing in wonder at anything and everything. It's this simplicity that catches the eye of “Angel”, the caretaker who will eventually fall in love with him.

Bad Boy Bubby can, at times, also be alarming. Aside from his incestuous relationship with his mother, Bubby inadvertently kills his pet cat when he wraps it in plastic (not wanting to leave it behind, he packs the dead carcass in his suitcase and carries it with him). But even during its most shocking scenes, the film exudes a charm that cannot be ignored.

Filled with humor and pathos, Bad Boy Bubby is a unique motion picture experience.

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