American Astronaut, The

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 02/16/01 06:56:28

"Great music, great visuals, very funny, extremely original."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

American Astronaut is a real love it or hate it film. Back in the day, when indie film was pure and ideas driven, film such as this sprang forth - unreleasable, avant garde, but the kind of stuff that keeps an audience guessing and brings forth new ideas to the world of film. American Astronaut is an unapologetic kickback to that era, with abundant style and originality and a decidedly non-commercial end-result.

Sam Curtis (McAbee) is a space trader, a lonely and dirty profession. Curtis has a cargo to deliver, but he's being pursued by the evil Professor Hess - a psycho who kills without reason - meaning that if he has reason to kill you, he can't. If that sounds odd, well get used to it because American Astronaut is a non-stop weird-out.

Cory McAbee wrote, directed, starred in and did most of the music in the film (with his band The Billy Nayer Show) and he scores on every count. The film has a real gritty look, similar to Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, the dialogue is never too knowing and the music just terrific. McAbee is a complete weirdo, but he knows how to make a movie. Give the guy a bigger budget and you're looking at the next David Lynch.

Having said that, as a feature American Astroanut has problems. Some scenes go far too long and the ending seems a little too easy. It will always be a problem when a movie has set musical pieces that some will grow tiresome, and there are certainly sequences in American Astronaut that suffer that fate. Despite some great songs ("The Girl With The Glass Vagina" not being one), there are times when art gets in the way of narrative.

As an artistic venture with no pretense at a commercial market, American Astronaut may well have succeeded. But even though it's a potential cult video release, a film must be judged alongside all others. In that respect, Cory McAbee's opus doesn't quite score the strike it would like, despite those people (myself included) who would call McAbee a potential next big thing.

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