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|Index||53 reviews in total|
For some reason people have a hard time accepting how great this movie really is. It contains one of the best car-chase sequences ever. It features a boy who lives in the Astrodome. It has a hipster San Fran cop out to break the rules. It has shoplifting. It has diarrhoea jokes. It has Sally Kellerman splashing naked in a fountain. It has Stacey Keach in an outstanding cameo as the meanest man in the world. It has gallons of peanut butter, hundreds of pull-ups, bird-poop, a BEAUTIFUL Shelley Duvall, Bud Cort, great film editing, lots of imagination, tons of style, smack-in-the-face symbolism, and the best closing credits sequence ever! What's not to like?!
BREWSTER McCLOUD (1970) ***½
It's a pity that some films don't have the recognition they deserve, and BREWSTER MCCLOUD is one of them. Released in 1970, the same year Robert Altman directed his most famous film, M*A*S*H, it probably didn't make a big success and didn't win any awards. So what can we say now, thirty years later, when even M*A*S*H is overlooked by audiences? Well, don't bother if you hadn't heard about this film before watching it, because I hadn't. I watched it because it was directed by Robert Altman, one of the most admirable American directors, especially because of his greatest masterpiece, NASHVILLE. But I wasn't expecting much, because at the same time Altman directs masterpieces as NASHVILLE and SHORT CUTS, he comes with stinkers as READY TO WEAR and BEYOND THERAPY. However, BREWSTER surprised and touched me with its bizarre, unique and bittersweet story, keeping my attention all the time. And what's better: it made me think.
The story relies on a boy who is about 18 years old named Brewster McCloud, who lives in a hidden room inside a big stadium. He has a VERY strange wish: he wants to fly, and for that he practices exercises during the whole day and designs his wings, while he keeps a very strange relationship with a very strange lady. But some peculiar crimes are happening, and the victims are found death with bird excrement in their faces. Does Brewster and his protective lady have any relation to the murders? Well, if you haven't got the point, just give up. Nothing, or almost anything is explained- you should take your own conclusions. As an example, the film is narrated by a mad professor who teaches about birds, and his explanations serve as subtitles for some scenes. Altman, as the non-conventional director he is, likes that, but this is different from his other films (NASHVILLE, SHORT CUTS). There is a main character- Brewster - but there are still many subplots and lots of supporting characters, from a girl fallen in love for Brewster who is always pretending to have sex with him to a detective who only cares for his image. With a marvelously written screenplay and a terrific cast(HAROLD AND MAUDE's Bud Cort, M*A*S*H's Sally Kellerman, NASHVILLE's Shelley Duvall, MAGNOLIA's Michael Murphy, among others), BREWSTER MCCLOUD becomes more and more surprising from scene to scene.
As I said, this film shouldn't be forgotten as it is. I recommend it especially to Altman's fans who haven't seen it, because more conventional audiences will find it meaningless- which it is not by any stretch of thought. This film is funny, surprising, twisted, complex, deep, beautiful, even impacting with its final scene- but many interesting things happen before that. This is an unique film. A simple delight. Now I want to see more than ever 3 WOMEN (with Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall) and COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN (with Cher), two other forgotten Altman gems.
I don't understand why such a beautiful film like Brewster remain so isolated in the net. That's the reason for these words. In this film I think you can see the truth flying. Altman is my favorite (north)american director. (Of course besides David Lynch). And Brewster is his best. Truly romantic and ironic. Nobody can ask for more. A real "art" point of view swimming in a large (a kafkian) world of T.V. images.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robert Altman directs "Brewster McCloud". The plot? Brewster is an
eccentric inventor who lives beneath the Houston Astrodome. He spends
his days working on a pair of man-powered wings which he hopes will
enable him to fly. But while he is busy collecting materials to build
his contraption, mysterious deaths occur throughout his city.
Altman's running joke is that "Brewster McCloud" is essentially a giant birdwatching film. Indeed, the film is narrated by Rene Auberjonois, who treats the picture as a grand safari, Altman planting bird references everywhere in the form of food, signs, clothes, license plates, characters, costumes, dialogue etc etc.
Why Brewster wishes to fly is given a neat twist. Rather than some kind of Icarus complex, Brewster seems to be acting upon suppressed memories. He was born to fly. His entire race was born to fly. He belongs in the skies. It's all in his DNA!
Brewster is aided in his quest by Louise, a sort of guardian angel. She has scars down her back, which suggests she once had wings herself. She's like a God or guardian angel, who descends to teach Brewster the mysteries of man's ancient wings. It's all pretty odd, particularly when Altman likens flying to sex, and Brewster's avian urges to psychosexual lusts.
Later in the film, Louise is dismayed to learn that Brewster slept with a girl he barely knew (Shelly Duvall). The once pure and naive Brewster thus becomes tainted by the "sins of the flesh". He's contaminated, his earthly sins affixing him to the ground. They seal his mortality and prevent him from entering the angel world up above.
To redeem himself, Brewster must therefore seek forgiveness from Louise, who now appears in the guise of Dorothy from "Wizard of Oz". From here on, Altman swathes the film in "Oz" references. Flying monkeys, red slippers, golden roads, they're all subtly woven into the crazy plot. This being Altman, chunks of the film then become covert commentaries on major aspects of American life (sexuality, class-struggle, race, ambition, bigotry, success, economics, crime, politics, religion). These themes are then bound to a plot which is really about the loss of virginity, or rather, idealism. During its climax, Brewster's broken wings and crumpled, twisted body, point toward the climax of Altman's "Nashville", in which characters sing "It Don't Worry Me" after an assassination. Both films take place in cities yearning for economic power, both use large structures as metaphors for America (The Astrodome, the Parthenon), and both posit the creative spirit and personal conscience as being overrun by corporate American, capitalism and commercialism in general.
8.5/10 - Worth two viewings.
Being a new Bud Cort fan, I just had to rent this film. As a student of film, this movie was funny, ironic, and just plain weird. There are many things that don't get explained, but in the end, it's ok, you take it for what it is and make up your own explanations. I mainly just watched it for Bud, to tell the truth, but I really did enjoy it. I couldn't say why, but it was one of those films that reminded me of early John Waters films.
Robert Altman, who'll certainly go down as the most eccentric of all directors in a profession that oozes with it, delivers a delicious black comedy. Although the story is basically about a young man (Bud Cort) who wants to fly like a bird, his goal of doing it is undercut by the wacky friends he has and meets, the goofy people he works for in order to pay for the project of wings for humans, and a very strange murder case going around in Houston in which the victims have bird guano in their eyes (Altman has an obsession for animal poo, remember its presence in Ready To Wear?) Everything is here: sex, pure camp, car chases, and utter lunacy. The acting is excellent, as everyone plays it to the hilt. Michael Murphy, playing a San Francisco detective investigating this bizarre murder spree, does a yeoman's job of playing it straight the whole time. And the ending, where the cast is shown in circus clothes, is a hell of a lot better than seeing a credits list. Very Good.
One of the strangest, quirkiest, downright oddest films you'll ever see. It's quite wonderful in its own demented way. Probably not a film you'll watch more than once a decade, but definitel not to be missed. Altman is a master.
As I liked Altman (for me one of the most iconoclastic american directors),I chose this movie because I knew nothing about it.And the surprise was great:this movie is full of fantasy,and the character of Brewster is really original because he's as intelligent as he's innocent.I also don't know any other movie that made me dream and escape like this,with its kind of magic.But on the other side,I think the car pursuit and all the bird shits weren't necessary.And Altman could have done less evocations about sex,they waste the movie:I'm ok that Brewster discovers girls but not sex.But I've liked that humans and birds are compared and above all the philosophical end about Icarus's dream to fly.Finally a very original movie which has as many qualities as defects ....
"Brewster McCloud" is a fascinating mixture of (a) filmmaking as it was
fashionable at the time and (b) of what Altman has been doing in the long
run. Altman's cynical touch works especially well in the context of the
American 'love' movement - once again.
As for (a) check out the unnecessary blatant zooms. They look like a parody of what a stupid director would have suggested at the time, and I think Altman ordered this on purpose. As for (b) check out the content, and start comparing it with - *sigh* - Alan Parker's "Birdy". The latter is about an individual, while "Brewster" is about a generation.
I'm not sure whether I would have liked "Brewster" had I seen it in 1970 (I was one year old at the time) - but in retrospective, it's a valuable and ironic commentary on the blurry thing that flower kids thought was the ultimate solution.
On the whole, it's a perfect blend of style and black humour, and even taken seriously, it's worth rediscovering.
I saw this film long ago, when it first came out in the theaters. One of the things you have to remember is that Altman's style (now copied so much it has become a cliché.. of the odd camera angles, the everyone-talking-at-once dialogue and such) was, at the time, quite new and much different than anything else out there. Thirty years later, this film is still amazing to watch. Brewter McCloud is more like a cartoon, something to be viewed for pure entertainment value, even the dark parts (and there are many of those). Bud Cort (Harold and Maude) is delightful, and the supporting cast (many of whom are Altman regulars) is great......I think that people with little or no sense of humor will not like this movie, but those raised in the post-South Park era will enjoy its wonderful portrayal of neurotic characters...as only Altman can deliver 'em.
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