American Astronaut [2001]

Genre: Musical, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Literally out-of-this-world, The American Astronaut is a post-Eraserhead, black-and-white comedy set on an asteroid that serves as an outpost for desperadoes, mad scientists, and paranoid travelers. Director Cory McAbee, frontman for the dynamic, experimental rock band the Billy Nayer Show, has constructed a seedy, surreal vision of conquered space that includes rocket ships operated by junkyard parts, barflies with a increasingly pathological sense of humor, and handguns that reduce people to a bucket's worth of sand. In this nightmarish, sometimes funny, sometimes tedious fantasy noir, a distressed astronaut (McAbee) agrees to swap a caged, embryonic female for a captive male on one planet and deliver the latter to the man-hungry (if peculiarly antebellum) women of Venus. The film doesn't necessarily hold up as a singular work, but there are several remarkable sequences, including a dance number in a scummy restroom and an unsettling comedy routine. Special features include an interesting interview with McAbee. --Tom Keogh

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Old Man:
So there's this man, and he lived his whole life on Earth, and his name was Mr. Stevenson. When Mr. Stevenson was eight years old, he asked another little boy if he would like a Hurts Donut. The other boy said yes. So he hit him on the arm and he said, "Hurts Donut." Five years later, Mr. Stevenson asked another boy about his same age at that time if he would like a Hurts Donut. when the boy said yes, Mr. Stevenson stabbed him over and over again in his eye and his cheek with a pencil, saying "Hurts Donut." Over the years, Mr. Stevenson did very well in school. On graduation day, he was sat next to another young man, who, like Mr. Stevenson, had earned high marks. When he asked the boy if he would like a Hurts Donut, the boy said, "Not if you're gonna stab me in the eye with a pencil." "I wouldn't even touch you," said Mr. Stevenson. So when the boy agreed, he presented him with a photograph of the young man's fiancée at a bachelor party, on some guy's table, fucking herself with a beer bottle. As tears filled the young man's eyes, Mr. Stevenson was heard to say, "Hurts Donut." A few years later, Mr. Stevenson got a job as a sales clerk in an electronics store. Within a year, he was caught stealing and immediately incarcerated. When he asked his cellmate if he would like a Hurts Donut, his cellmate said yeah. So... he gave him a Hurts Donut. Over the years, Mr. Stevenson grew too old to take care of himself, so they put him in a hospital. One day, he asked the new nurse if she would like a Hurts Donut. In anticipation of her response, Mr. Stevenson began humming and making smacking noises with his mouth. When the nurse smiled and said, "I know about you, Mr. Stevenson," Mr. Stevenson blurted out something totally incoherent and... and began to laugh.

Old Man:
I've never understood this joke. But then, I've never been to Earth.

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