Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

Circular Breathing

I knew this filmmaker from “10 Canoes,” which was pretty delicate. I had also heard a variety of things about this film, but still I was not prepared for how deep the adventure would go. Most folks seem to comment on the character and his journey; it has some engaging moments and supposedly ends happily. But that by itself is merely an acting exercise that goes on too long, develops only a small way, and then jumps to a cobbled resolution.

But all that is just the scaffold for an extraordinarily success cinematic experiment. It is about place and how we emotionally experience it. The story starts in a small, seemingly post-apocalyptic concrete cell occupied by Bubby and his mother. Some significant skill has gone into merging his sense of self with our sense of his environment.

One device has the sound being captured from microphones hidden behind his ears, so we hear what he does in the way he does. This is an amazing experience by itself. The walls of this initial set are bare concrete and the acoustics amplify the effect. We are told that when one leaves the room, the face must be covered or the adventurer will die.

When an outsider appears in the room, a whole new set is used: identical in all its parts but larger.

It takes a while for us to fully merge selves and environment, during which time the filmmaker provides some scant story, enough to divert us: death.

Once he leaves the initial confinement, the film is a series of episodes, each one blocked and filmed in a different style, each with a unique filmmaker. This open variety of senses of space would be a contrast in any film, but coming from the initial coffin, it makes this purely about space.

There is some sex, music, temporary jailing… In each new space, our man enters it by trying to emulate what he sees. Also what he hears, but that has already been conflated into space. These sequences were filmed in order, so we can see the digestion of space in a pretty believable and readable way.

Posted in 2011

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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