Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

Director: Rolf de Heer
Starring: Nicholas Hope, Claire Benito, Ralph Cotterill, Carmel Johnson

Tagline: You be a sexy woman Flo!

Saying this movie is strange is not nearly enough to do it justice.
Even though this movie contains animal cruelty, an Oedipus complex, violence, rape,
fondling Salvation Army members and cursing God it is still one of my
favourite Australian movies from that period as
it is so different to anything else I have seen at least from this country.

After buying the special edition version of this movie on DVD, I have also found out
that it is much weirder than I had ever imagined. I had always wondered why each
scene of the film looked different and found out it is because the movie had 32 different cinematographers for the 'outside' scenes (the movie was originally planned to only be shot on weekends over several years.) Also the sound design is brilliant as it was recorded from two microphones stuck near the ears of the main character so you hear what he does.

I wish I had asked the director of Oldboy (Park Chan Wook) if he had seen this movie before making that film when I had the chance, as the scenes at the start of it are quite similar to Oh Dae-Su's incarceration in that movie.

From what I have learned about this movie and his following experiences, Nicholas Hope has never really gotten over playing Bubby as it was such a strong role and people still see him today as that character so he has trouble getting work. This dilemma is also shared by actors such as Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia) and to a lesser extent by Mark Hamill as although they have done a lot of work since their premiere performances, this work is still not as well known as their first work. The short that comes with the special edition DVD 'Confessor Caressor' is also highly recommended if you want to see why Rolf de Heer hired Nicholas Hope for this role. Also I enjoyed hearing that Nicholas prepared for his role by spending three days playing with kittens.

I don't know why more people don't acknowledge Claire Benito's performance as Mam as she is also one of the stars of this movie. I remember coming across a guest book of a website devoted to this movie where Claire's daughter had left a message for the other fans saying her mother would have liked seeing other people talk about the movie and that she had a 'strange' sense of humour. This was one of only two movies she was in which makes her performance all the more special. I already knew that she died only a couple of years after this movie was released, but Nicholas Hope always has good things to say about her in his interviews so it must have been interesting working with her.

Ralph Cotterill as Pop also makes a strong impact on the movie, even though he is only in it for a couple of scenes. For some reason he reminded me of Father Jack Hackett from Father Ted and I was expecting him to say "Drink! Feck! Arse!" at any moment. What he brings to the film are the strong reactions to the things that Bubby does which change the direction of the movie.

For the rest of the movie there are so many characters that it is difficult to keep up. For some reason I kept noticing Grant Piro popping up in different scenes. Carmel Johnson as Angel puts in a very nice performance, but there is so much going on you don't really notice her. I also liked the Cherie the Salvo and the members of the band that Bubby ends up hanging around with.

It is probably best if I do not explain the plot so it is a surprise, but it does involve
Bubby being forced to leave his home and going out into the big bad world for the first time after spending 35 years trapped in a dirty hovel with his mother.

Even if you haven't seen this movie you will have heard about what happens to the cat. They didn't actually kill it though despite what you have heard. The two cats they used in the movie were feral cats and one wasn't even used as one of the crew adopted it as a pet. Nicholas Hope is still a bit bothered by what happened to the cat though and the director emphasised that they treated the cat well on set.

The dialogue in this movie is also what makes it great. Most of the lines are just repeated by Bubby, but it is the way he says them that makes them special:
"You're a sexy woman Flo!"
"Be still cat!"
"I'll beat you brainless by Christ!"
"Me Bubby, the Cling-Wrap killer!"
"Pop take pizza to cat! Pop sleep with cat!"
"You greedy little cunt! I don't have enough money to keep buying you milk!"
"Pizza be better than this!"
"God be a useless cunt!"

Also it has this wonderful monologue:
You see, no one's going to help you Bubby, because there isn't anybody out there to do it. No one. We're all just complicated arrangements of atoms and subatomic particles - we don't live. But our atoms do move about in such a way as to give us identity and consciousness. We don't die; our atoms just rearrange themselves. There is no God. There can be no God; it's ridiculous to think in terms of a superior being. An inferior being, maybe, because we, we who don't even exist, we arrange our lives with more order and harmony than God ever arranged the earth. We measure; we plot; we create wonderful new things. We are the architects of our own existence. What a lunatic concept to bow down before a God who slaughters millions of innocent children, slowly and agonizingly starves them to death, beats them, tortures them, rejects them. What folly to even think that we should not insult such a God, damn him, think him out of existence. It is our duty to think God out of existence. It is our duty to insult him. Fuck you, God! Strike me down if you dare, you tyrant, you non-existent fraud! It is the duty of all human beings to think God out of existence. Then we have a future. Because then - and only then - do we take full responsibility for who we are. And that's what you must do, Bubby: think God out of existence; take responsibility for who you are.

That being said, you are either going to like this movie or hate it as their doesn't seem to be a middle ground from what I have heard people say about it. I have trouble with some of the scenes myself, but still enjoy the rest of the movie for the performances and strange situations. I don't really know who you would recommend this two as there is no way of telling who would be able to get this movie.

Rating: 8/10

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