Certainly the weirdest movie I’ve seen in quite a while — it has an ersatz sci-fi-serial inspired plot peopled by characters like The Blueberry Pirate and The Boy Who Actually Saw a Woman’s Breast and takes place in a bar on the asteroid Ceres, inside a spaceship that looks like a cross between a mobile home and an abandoned train car and also the planet Venus where the ephebephilic women can reproduce without the need for men — Cory McAbee's The American Astronaut looks and feels a bit like a Guy Maddin film. Like Maddin, McAbee seems obsessed with anachronisms, absurdist exposition and backstories, eccentric characters and fantastic, surreal milieux. While Maddin is undoubtably a master at creating immersive environments, I find his features too precious and arch to make me do any more than admire them. They also end up boring me about 30 minutes in.
On the other hand, the off-kilter humor, the creatively deadpan set design and the oddball musical numbers (“The Girl With the Vagina Made of Glass” is one of the best but so is “Hey Boy!” which I stole and posted below.) make Astronaut’s hour and a half breeze by fast. The black and white cinematography is also welcome.
I don’t know if the Midnight Movie tradition still thrives in the States, but The American Astronaut certainly makes a strong case for keeping it alive.