Monday, July 26, 2010

On-Demand: Paul King's one of-a-kind delight BUNNY AND THE BULL

Who'd have imagined that the sad tale of an agorophobic young man and his memories of "outside" could be brought to the screen with enough charm, humor, style and originality to fill a dozen more movies yet without ever once going over the top? Paul King, below left, that's who. And if you haven't heard the name before, you certainly will, once word of his little diamond-in-the-not-so-rough, BUNNY AND THE BULL, reaches the movie-going public. Right now, the only way to view it is via IFC Midnight series, where it began screening this month and will be available On-Demand until October 7. So grab your remote and click away for one of the most inventive movie experiences to be had in a long time.

July is proving to be IFC's best on-demand month -- for TrustMovie's money, at least. What with the thrilling sci-fi/mystery Exam heating up audiences and now King's little delight, it's a can't-miss month for viewers of IFC, the company that is currently presenting about many good foreign and independent films as can be found under one roof anywhere in these United States.

What makes Bunny and the Bull (hereafter to be referred to as B&TB) so special, is its drop-dead different look.

While it appears that nearly everything here was acted against a green screen, instead of getting some of that deadly "stylish" and inert appearance we remember from Kerry Conran's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, we're treated to a full-out barrage of inventive effects: backdrops that are drawn, modeled (of clay, metal, glass. fabric and who knows what else) and otherwise created from what I'd call "real imagination." Scene after scene is delightfully different.

BATB offers up its own little world, and it's like little else you've experienced.  Its story, not bad at all, concerns our hero Stephen (played with a lot of fear and loathing, by Edward Hogg, shown near right) and his best friend Bunny (Simon Farnaby, far right and below, who's done mostly Brit TV).  The latter, a blond doofus -- think a sexier Will Ferrell -- complete with endless tips on horse racing, tries everything to get his friend out of the house.  Once there, the adventures begin in earnest.

The pair connect early on with a cute and spunky Spaniard (Verónica Echegui, below, who was so wonderful in My Prison Yard, part of the 2008 FSLC Spanish Cinema Now series), and various combinations of love, lust and friendship bloom. All this is edited with panache (by Mark Everson) and kept on a lickety-split time-frame by Mr King's storytelling skills. You'll know that something bad happened to poor Stephen, but you'll also have so much fun on this oddball journey that you won't spend much time worrying about it.  The puzzle pieces begin to come together eventually, with the final ones appearing only at the end -- just in time to goose the film into the stratosphere with some genuine emotion and maybe even a tear of two.

Along the way we get some nice surprises -- Sylvia Syms! Dog milk! Full-frontal! The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade! -- plus some fancy stories-within-stories and a scene set in an amusement park that is so creative and lovely that I shall remember it for all time. The film's humor is often sexual, sometimes crass but always funny. Which is all quite appropriate, given the characters here and what is really going on in the film.  If I haven't convinced you by now to fork over the five (or is it six?) bucks for On-Demand (does it depend on what part of the country you live?), then you can wait months and then maybe rent the DVD from Blockbuster, of which I am not fond but with which IFC seems to have formed an exclusive devil-pact. Sigh. Or you might wait until the day that Netflix gets access to the film.  But who knows when that'll be. We're still waiting for NF to get the rights to send us Pontypool.

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