Oct 22, 2012

A Day with the Boys



Admittedly, Clu Gulager has never been one of my favorite actors, but he sure can play an agitating asshole quite convincingly as depicted in classic 1980s horror flicks like A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) directed by Jack Sholder and The Return of the Living Dead (1985) directed by Dan O'Bannon, but I never would have suspected that the American folk actor had directed a ‘horror’ film of his own, let alone one of the artistically singular and morally dubious persuasion. Nominated for the illustrious Palme d'Or for best short film at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival, Clu Gulager’s experimental avant-garde featurette A Day with the Boys (1969) is a curious first effort from a filmic-cowboy-turned-arthouse-auteur. Recently revived from absolute obscurity due to its inclusion as a special feature on the Criterion Collection DVD release of George Washington (2000) due to its thematic and aesthetic influence on director David Gordon Green's (Undertow, Pineapple Express) decidedly stark and unsentimental, realist coming-of-age flick, A Day with the Boys is a quasi-psychedelic celluloid daydream that seamlessly mutates into a nefarious nightmare about a modern day männerbünde of prepubescent boys who take things a little farther than playing a simple gamin game of cowboys and Indians while frolicking around town. Like a whimsical and kaleidoscopic marriage between the Hitler Youth-themed propaganda flick Der Marsch zum Führer (1940) aka The March to the Führer, Conrad Rooks’ Chappaqua (1966), Lord of the Flies (1963), Věra Chytilová’s Fruit of Paradise (1970) aka Ovoce stromů rajských jíme, and Stand by Me (1986), A Day with the Boys is surely a bittersweet treat for the eyes featuring a hectic hodgepodge of slow-motion sequences, acid-washed cinematography, celluloid solarization, Klimt-esque paintings, freeze-frame experimentation, but also an afflicting test for the soul that compels one to question to the duty of art. Like the curious borderline-kiddie-porn/coming-of-age flick Maladolescenza (1977) starring prepubescent-playboy model-turned filmmaker Eva Ionesco (My Little Princess), A Day with the Boys is a playful yet sometimes perturbing, psychotomimetic cinematic work that blurs the typically fine-line between original, cultivated art and highly-stylized, softcore child erotica.



Featuring immaculate and at-times otherworldly cinematography by Hungarian master cinematographer László Kovács (Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces), A Day with the Boys oftentimes feels like a painting by German völkisch Symbolist artist Fidus come to life – except set in late-1960s America – due to its quasi-pagan Wandervogel-esque imagery. In a mere 18-minutes, this semi-surreal short does what feature-length films like Julie Darling (1983) and The Good Son (1993) could have only hoped to accomplish; depicting the human child as a cunning and conspiring killer. Part tribute to the ‘innocence’ of youth, as well as the loss of such childhood purity, and part portrayal of manic mass-mindedness, A Day with the Boys examines the collective unconscious at its most rudimentary and consequently savage level. The film begins innocently enough with a nameless pack of whippersnappers cavorting around just as all young bucks should – playing with cap-guns, flying high on playground swings, and rummaging around in nature’s soil and forests in an inquisitive manner – but things take a turn for the worse when the micro-commandos encounter the eternal enemy: a middle-aged businessman attired in a spiffy suit - a sad symbol of perpetually lost youth. As a mature adult, the seemingly jolly gentleman sees the boys menacing demeanor as nothing more than harmless adolescent posturing and he even allows them to lead him to the woods as if he was an enemy combatant being dragged to execution. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting businessman, the renegade runts have reverted towards instinctive, atavistic homicidal tendencies, thereupon inevitably resulting in the bewildered adult’s earthly demise via being buried alive; undoubtedly a hefty price to pay for a utter taste of momentarily reclaimed youthfulness.



Unquestionably, the most unnerving and ethically dubious scene in A Day with the Boys is not the penultimate sequence when it is revealed the boys are merry mass murderers, but during the concluding visual epilogue where it depicts the keen killer kids splashing around bare-skinned in the water for an extended period of time in slow-motion. Indeed, A Day with the Boys sometimes feels like a softcore pedo-piece disguised as exceedingly elegant coming-of-age cinematic art, so as to occlude any suspicions from more thoughtful and perceptive viewers.  That being said, the exposed wild boys scene is just the pederastic icing on the cake of what is very arguably America's most artsy fartsy work of chickenhawk cinema.  I do not think I am being delusional nor harsh in my judgement of the film as my girlfriend and a couple friends arrived at a similar assessment of A Day with the Boys that was totally uninfluenced and independent from my estimation of it. That being said, one could argue that the victimized businessman could be perceived as a prospective pedophile because just like all pathological sexual perverts, he sincerely believes the boys want him and is quite exhilarated by their attention; so much so that he allows himself to be smothered to death by dirt, even when the young pups' actions become increasingly negligent and positively precarious as their brief rendezvous progresses. Of course, only Clu Gulager knows the true motivation behind the film, but there is certainly a reason behind why A Day with the Boys – a work distributed by Universal Studios – is virtually unknown, even among seasoned cinephiles.  Like American auteur Michael Cuesta's controversial coming-of-age films L.I.E. (2001) and 12 and Holding (2006), A Day with the Boys is a work foreordained to marginality due to its audacious artiness and beyond the pale subject matter that will only be appreciated by those fierce filmgoers mature enough to obstinately embrace it, as well as those more cultivated members of NAMBLA with cinephile proclivities.



-Ty E

12 comments:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I would`ve never guessed that Clu Gulager was a faggot, the bloody disgusting pansy queer bastard.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Wouldn`t it have been great if this film had been called "A Day With The Girls" and had featured literally hundreds of scantily clad and perhaps even naked Heather O`Rourke lookalikes, that would`ve been so perfect. Instead what do we have ? more pansy queer bastard bull-shit.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

NAMBLA is pansy queer scum-of-the-earth run by filth like Victor Salva.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

"Lord of the Flies" and "Stand by Me" are for pansy queer scum as well.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Clu Gulager is now 85 years old and i bet hes really ashamed of this pile of woofter poofter crap that he made when he was 42, i`ve never understood why a heterosexual actor would ever want to get involved with something that was going to bring his sexual orientation into question, its really fucking strange.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

In that group photo of the kids they all look as though they will indeed grow up to be fairys, rather apt i suppose. Bloody dirty queer bastards.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I wonder if John Gulager (the director of the FEAST movies which co-starred his father Clu) knows that his father is a closet pansy queer bastard who once made a film for faggots ?, is he does know he must be so ashamed.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

What the hell kind of name is "CLU" anyway ! ?, its even more absurd than "JERVAISE" ! ! !.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I just watched "Nights of Cabiria" and "La Strada" on YouTube and fell madly in love with Giulietta Masina. What a sweet, sweet, sweet little bird she was when she was younger, an absolute little dream-come-true.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Actually, maybe i shouldn`t have watched "Nights of Cabiria" because the ending is so sad and heart-rending, it really tore me up inside, i just wanted to reach into the computer screen and save her from the hell on earth she was living in, that look on her face at the end is one of the most tear inducing in the entire history of cinema.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

You`ve gotta` reveiw at least one classic cult horror movie for Halloween, i wonder which one it`ll be ?, maybe John Carpenters original from 1978, that would be superb.

Anonymous said...

great flick. this talk back is hilarious. it's a flick. don't be so bothered. it's gonna be alright. and a day with the boys is a great one.