The cult surrounding Cory McAbee's surreal romp The American Astronaut just grows and grows -- enthralled, you can't help thinking, as much by the film's inaccessibility (released in 2001, it's still not out on video or DVD) as by the depth of its weirdness. So. Who wouldn't want to revisit a sci-fi Western musical, made in black and white for the price of an average lunch, about a time traveler on a bizarre mission to Venus? McAbee, an undefinable hipster/artist with roots in meta-folk rock (he's frontman for the widely admired Billy Nayer Show), experimental writing and filmmaking, got Astronaut made through the Sundance writers' lab. But it has more to do with hallucination than actual typing. The Village Voice's Michael Atkinson nailed Astronaut's prevalent tone when he called it "a lovely little wedge of garage-band silliness" that feels "as if it sprang unedited from McAbee's honky-tonk daydreams.... It's the kind of arch, serenely ridiculous thrift-store indie that postpunk downtowners used to make before the Park City splash of the late '80s, when whimsy became product."
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The American Astronaut screens Monday, February 9, as part of the University of Colorado's International Film Series. Showings are at 7 and 9 p.m. in Muenzinger Auditorium, just west of Folsom Stadium on the Boulder campus. For information, call 303-492-1531 or log on to www.internationalfilmseries.com. -- Bill Gallo