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Friday, April 2, 2010

THE ASTRONAUT FARMER (2006)

This Texas-sized fable about a stubborn NASA dropout who builds a rocket ship in his barn must have held special resonance for those filmmaking twins, Michael & Mark Polish. It’s pretty much how they got started in film; lots of homemade ‘indie’ gumption. This may explain why they seem unable to gauge just how reckless, irresponsible & downright contemptible Billy Bob Thornton comes off as the DIY astronaut. It’s less an uplifting follow-your-dream saga than THE MOSQUITO COAST with pixie dust. The film plays out like an unintentional parody of itself, overloaded with epic prairie vistas, golden lighting effects, heroic silhouette figures that stride across our field of vision and plain-spoken men with an utter disregard for facts or the feelings of others. It’s the heartwarming family drama Ayn Rand never got around to writing. The eccentric, if talented Polish brothers really took it on the chin when this tanked, and their last two films (MANURE/’09 & STAY COOL/’09) were barely released.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For a classic American Dreamer story, try Francis Coppola’s TUCKER/’88.

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