This is the day that every Film Threat reviewer dreams of … a four and a half star film … bring out the f*****g dancing horses, man … it’s time to celebrate!
Who is Brett Ingram? I really wanted to know, so I visited his website and lo and behold! his “Monster Road” is the 2004 Slamdance Film Festival winner for Best Documentary … and I can assure you, faithful FT folks, he deserves it. Michael Moore, who? I say, bring me Brett Ingram, man, this guy is goin’ places and I want on his bus …From the title, I was concerned that this was another ‘we shot this when my parents were asleep’ type of film, and after reviewing for FT for a little while, you get kinda twitchy about things like that – but after three minutes, I was hooked – I even passed this film along to friends, that’s how good it was.
“You can make a story out of anything and anyone who says you can’t, well that’s their problem.” – Bruce Bickford, “Monster Road”
“I used to cut my toys up, burn them, and melt them to other toys.” –B. Dallas Jones, film-watching companion to Rhonda Baughman
Mercifully, Bruce Bickford did not “burn his toys and melt them to other toys,” but what he did instead was create a claymation empire – Bickford built his life around what I thought were just toys – but have now come to see as a way of life. Bickford also built his life around what he loved to do and that’s more than I can say for 95% of the people I’ve come in contact with. But, Ingram’s documentary is so much more than that – it’s also the story of Bickford’s childhood and his father, “Old George” Bickford, a retired engineer, who seems to be suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
I honestly can’t say who I thought was more interesting – the younger Bickford or the elder – the documentary warrants at least a third viewing to figure that one out. I can see why Ingram chose these two, though – not just because Bruce Bickford worked with Frank Zappa back in the ’70s, which is as cool as it gets to me, really, but because the father and son are so eccentric, so intelligent, and so quotable that anyone viewing the film can experience such a wide emotional range, that it’s almost overwhelming. I just kept praying I could continue to keep up with the film’s momentum. Personally, I went from being amazed, to sad, back to amazed, on to giddy with laughter, then returning to sad, and in the end, just plain excited to know that artists like Bruce Bickford still exist and documentary filmmakers like Ingram are still around, a filmmaker who knew that there would be plenty of us out here who needed and wanted to see a creation such as “Monster Road.”
I bet Ingram knew he had a winner with “Monster Road,” which is as rich in history as it is in the simple tale of father and son. It’s part “A Beautiful Mind,” part “Flowers for Algernon,” part “High Art,” and all Film Threat. Congratulations, Brett Ingram!