Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: The Astronaut Farmer

Like this, only less reluctant.

Film: The Astronaut Farmer (2006)

Director: Michael Polish

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen

Written by: Mark & Michael Polish

 

On its own merits, The Astronaut Farmer doesn’t qualify as Bizarro cinema.  It’s an overly earnest and sappy film which chronicles the obsessive quest of farmer Charles Farmer (get it?) to build a rocket and blast off into space.  Aside from a scene involving a brick thrown through a bank window, a clever quip dismissing the rocket’s potential as a Weapon of Mass Destruction (because the government wouldn’t have found it if it was one), and a cameo by Bruce Willis playing a guardedly supportive ex-astronaut, this story of a family of dreamers overcoming adversity is downright formulaic.

Yet I do have a solid reason for inducting The Astronaut Farmer into Bizarro canon, and that is because its packaging has the strangest talk-up of a film that I’ve ever seen.  Kind of a strange criterion, I know, but this is much more than a simple matter of bad, punny taglines.  The film’s description of itself is so mind-boggling that the only reasonable explanation for its existence is heavy use of hard drugs, or at least the work of a publicist who hadn’t slept for a week.  Don’t believe me?  Behold The Astronaut Farmer’s epic self-analysis, in all its glory.

 

“All systems are ‘Go’ for Charles Farmer.  He’s faced bank foreclosure, neighborhood naysayers and a government alarmed by his huge purchase of high-grade fuel, but now he’s ready to blast into space inside the homemade rocket he built in his barn.  Just be home in time for dinner, Charlie.

“Billy Bob Thornton portrays Charlie in this charmer about chasing dreams… and about what it means to be a family.  10,000 pounds of rocket fuel alone can’t lift Charlie into the heavens.  He needs a launch/recovery crew, and he has one of the best: his wife (Virginia Madsen) and children, dreamers all.  They have liftoff.  Our spirits have uplift.  Gravity cannot hold down our dreams.  The Astronaut Farmer is that kind of movie.”

 

Um… what?

 

The Designer’s Drugs: Deadmau5 – 4×4=12

 

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Deadmau5 – 4×4=12

Anno: 2010

 

Whether one enjoys Deadmau5 ultimately depends upon whether one enjoys Daft Punk – and specifically, the minimalist side of the Daft Punk sound.  On 4×4=12, Deadmau5 puts together some good beats, but there’s next to nothing here that doesn’t feel like a mirror of someone else’s song.

Compounding this forgivable sin are the few vocal tracks which dot an otherwise instrumental album.  One of these three tracks, a moody pianodance titled “Raise Your Weapon,” is the album’s best track, reminiscent of the Hybrid school of orchestral electronica.  The other two sing songs, “Sofi Needs a Ladder” and “One Trick Pony”, have solid music, but they feature a shit vocalist who spouts out dirty slut slogans in an attempt to be hip and cool.  Boring.

Beyond those two disasters, 4×4=12 is a good album, but not a mind-blowing one – which, if you’re into the style, shouldn’t matter.