Bobcat & Bigfoot

Bobcat Goldthwait (yes, THAT Bobcat!) makes films about neo-idolatry. What??!! you might be saying? I thought he made films about dirty drug addled clowns? And sweet little films about beastiality? And likes to co-star in movies with talking horses or screeching beside actors in slapstick cop movies? Well, yes, he has done those things. But, Goldthwait's career as a feature film writer and director goes far beyond those dim genre bouncing comedies: he is writing and directing about our new myths and doing so in a biting, dark, stormy, hilarious, and as humanistic way as possible. Yes, that Bobcat!

Luckily I just got a preview of his latest feature film Willow Creek (which seems to not be out yet/be on a minimal fest circuit? WTF programmers? Actually, why the hell haven't any of his most recent features been more lauded in the film world? Hmf! Update June 2014! It's on its way!), a found footage Bigfoot movie that trails the fate of a couple as they strike out in search of the fabled American creature. The main characters bumble around touristy Bigfoot-ville territory, the lead male channeling a gel-ed Seacrest as he records himself narrating his self produced Bigfoot doc, his reluctant girlfriend (played by the gaunt & spectacular Alexie Gilmore- she is awesome, put her in more things Holly-world!) dispassionately supporting her dopey boyfriend's genuine Sasquatch wishes. As they amble around they encounter a mix of folks (some that seem like actors but others possibly bona fide enthusiasts) hovering around the Yeti town, recording interviews with them against a backdrop of totems & statues of the beast (the female lead defiantly jerking off the invisible penis of the large, carved statue in the Bigfoot Motel parking lot- I DID warn it was that Bobcat...). The couple trek to the scene of the classic Bigfoot film site tucked away in the wilds of the Northern Westcoast, where things don't exactly go as planned...the rest you should see for yourself and I really hope in the theater since, as in the tradition of the found footage-suspense-doc-thrillerish film, it's the things unseen and the things you can't un-hear that envelope you in a dark, creepy ambiance that is only amplified by the huge theater experience, every moment a tense build to the final shot "found" on the camera of the ill fated protagonist. So good!

Like in his two other most recent films, God Bless America and World's Greatest Dad, Goldthwait seems preoccupied with our American tradition of worship. Joel Murray, in God Bless, is pushed to the edge by the lack of empathy in the grotesque America we have become (with a particular disdain for reality tv) causing him to go on his own nasty killing rampage to set things "right." In World's Greatest, Robin Williams tackles a disgust for a culture that deifies an asshole (this is just a loose description since I don't want to give it away- it really is a must see!). Hell, even the one with the lady who performs an "unspeakable" sex act really is just another take on what society is willing to see as acceptable: who is worthy of who's judgement. Willow Creek follows suit too as it unassumingly unpacks our belief systems of what we put our trust and faith into, in this case regarding a legendary American folk tale. If these loaded topics weren't enough, the thing that takes these films even further into the realm of cultural critique, that makes them more of just plain fleeting social satire, is the fact that they are films.

Goldthwait uses the blackest of dark comedy to tell his stories but that is not his only mechanism, these gothic modern tales are often preoccupied with the very medium they are told in. A found footage film (Willow Creek), using tv as a platform for (idiotic?) messages (God Bless), a diary as a conduit for a persona (World's Greatest)- Goldthwait is fully aware that media is a transmittable form that can broadcast the new idols of today, however good or bad. Media is a powerful tool that we should be wary of, available to anyone for whatever their own particular message/need/want is. We shape our societal expectations, we worship the star, and we decide what is funny and what is too far all from our livingroom tvs or giant plush reclining movie chair with our mega-sodas in hand: does this make us an idol? Or does this make us a member of the congregation? Is the director (or other media maker) the one shaping our new national religion?

Goldthwait expertly uses funny (mixed with blood, terror, sex, fallacy- which sounds like a Red Hot Chili Peppers bootleg!) to remind us that no one really knows the demarcation of the fine line between right & wrong in the powerful church of media. Whether we are in the audience or behind the camera we all get to choose what we worship (/buy), how we behave, what media we are willing to believe, but, as Goldthwait seems to warn, we still need to question the sources, the broadcasted norms, and even our understanding of reality if we want to live in a world worth living in... If something must be believed in I might just join the Church of Goldthwait who is laughing through our bleak existence and asking us to laugh- and think- as well, but for now I will continue to watch his progressive, regressive cult films that remind me that there is no normal or truth in this crazy, media-driven world. And Bobcat? Keep it up you warbly-voiced demi-god! Willow Creek opening June 6th, 2014



Donna K. lives in the Midwest and on the internet. Mostly she writes about her interest in the offline world.