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Rental Unit: "The Brown Bunny"

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Gallo, a self-avowed conservative Republican, defended the title this way: "When I see bunnies on the golf course or in the backyard, I feel that's a safe place. I'm in love with those animals, even in a carnivorous way. They're my favorite meat."

Reportedly in a deep depression during a second press conference on the film at Cannes, he responded to the news that France's Le Monde and Libération liked it: "That almost adds salt on the wound."

It seems a mistake to reward such individuality with jeers, no matter how the views jibe with one's own. As for "The Brown Bunny," I thought it was a beautiful depiction of a trip across the country and a moving evocation of loss and grief. As a road movie it stubbornly refuses to conform to convention. Its slim plot rides on a torturous back-story that is eventually confronted. But until then, it is essentially footage through the expanses of America intermingled with an array of interesting characters.

Ebert sneered particularly at the long driving sequences through deserts and mountains, teasing Gallo for the footage of bugs hitting the windshield. But when you're driving cross-country, bugs do hit the windshield a lot. They muck up an otherwise picturesque view, just as Gallo seems to have done with some people's ideas of contemporary independent moviemaking. Nearing the end of a summer chock-full of predictable and mundane moneymaking ventures, I couldn't recommend "The Brown Bunny" more. — Wayne Melton



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