(Film/Performance) The American Astronaut

Scattered across the desolate solar system exist the bleary-eyed mining men of Jupiter who know nothing of women, and the sexually frustrated, all-female (Southern Belle no less) population of Venus. The surrealist noir B-movie landscape of a 1950s-style, campy black-and-white sci-fi odyssey "The American Astronaut" will be presented by director Cory McAbee—who also stars in, scored and wrote the film that began seven years ago at a Sundance Writer's Lab workshop.

The Homeric adventures of interplanetary trader Samuel Curtis (McAbee) journeys the vastness of space much like an explorer of the Old West, peddling found wares to the uninitiated. Curtis' journey begins with the whimsical delivery of a cat to an isolated asteroid saloon where he meets his former dance partner, and renowned interplanetary fruit thief, the Blueberry Pirate. As payment for the cat, Curtis is given a homemade cloning device already in the process of creating a creature of legend on outpost Jupiter: a Real Live Girl.

The film's perversely silly and twisted Dali-esque dreamscapes provide a lethal aesthetic of David Lynch's "Eraserhead" meets Webb Wilder's "Corn Flicks." McAbee's band, The Billy Nayer Show, adds an offbeat, post-punk rock-opera weirdness to the B-movie's "so bad, it's good" low-budget effects and sensibility. "Astronaut" is a visceral drug of silly minimalist, intentionally camp and over-the-top chaotic ranting, like the best of dark comedy underground cult films, inspired by the music of The Stranglers, early Roxy Music, The Damned, They Might Be Giants and Devo.

The whiskey-drinking and lighthearted surfers will find "The American Astronaut" to be a wildly weird hootenanny of gritty light and dark, while the serious "normal" analyst may find it ridiculously silly and contrived. Don't be normal…Get crazy. Suspend your disbelief, and go for a ride, into the absurd. The true film obscurest is about the journey and not the arrival. He laughs like a sinister madman at the masses that leave moaning and scratching their heads in nonsense. This music driven, darkly comic, western space odyssey, like good scotch, just gets better with age. The more you revisit it, the better it is.

"The American Astronaut" will screen at Martin's Lounge, on Sunday night, Sept. 19, 8 p.m. $5. The star, writer, director, and soundtrack maker Cory McAbee (aka: The Billy Nayer Show) will perform immediately after the screening. The auto-harp clad front man, McAbee, is a diction-twisted, storytelling madman. It's a sick, New York City lounge act that Frank Zappa would approve of. 214 S. State St., 354-9712. www.americanastronaut.com


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