Movie: Monster Road

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Our Rating: 3.50

The intricate clay-animation fantasies of Bruce Bickford are populated by humanoid weaklings and scary behemoths that refashion and recombine themselves in ceaselessly churning, often violent ways. This feature-length documentary about Bickford exists in a similar state of flux, alternating views of his painstaking artistic process – which could have been captured in a decent-length short – with a profile of his Alzheimer's-afflicted father, remembrances of siblings long since departed and tales of Bickford's tour of duty in Vietnam. At regular intervals, you'll wonder just which story the film is trying to tell: The allusions to a decades-spanning familial dysfunction mark it as a Crumb lite, though the ambiguity of both men's memories denies Monster Road that film's shock value. Yet if the concrete relationship between segments remains elusive, a theoretical connection may be found in the mentions of papa George's work for the Boeing corporation – a Bowling for Columbine-like subplot that suggests whatever demons this family has entertained were institutional in nature. Be prepared to emerge with a deep feeling of melancholia, even if you're not quite sure why.

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