Visionary writer and director, Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), explores a dystopian world in her latest film, The Bad Batch. Hitting theaters tomorrow, the film stars Suki Waterhouse (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones), Jayda Fink, and Keanu Reeves.
I enjoyed the film at a special screening on Father’s Day at Stunt Ranch in Austin, Texas. Arriving early, I ran into founder Steve Wolf. He kindly took us out to watch his 12-year-old son perform some pretty impressive stunt driving. This got me even more excited about the upcoming Edgar Wright film, Baby Driver.
The event, a collaboration of the Alamo Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow team and Stunt Ranch, provided barbecue and numerous fun experiences for attendees. They offered everything from swinging on a trapeze, throwing hatchets at targets, free-falling off a tower, zip-lining, and posing with a van that was set on fire periodically. Black Star Cooperative provided a limited-edition, smoky and delicious, Bad Batch Ale. If you can snag one somewhere before they run out, you should.
While the atmosphere and good times of the event certainly bolstered more excitement for the film, I felt unsure whether or not The Bad Batch would live up to my expectations. It did. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I suspect at least some of that could be attributed to a shirtless Jason Momoa. His tatted-up body distracted me during more than a few moments in the film. Aside from his eye-catching body, other visually intriguing images popped onscreen. A giant old-style beatbox, the arid Texas territory, Arlen’s yellow shorts, The Dream’s gangster palace. They all contrasted so strikingly, yet somehow fit together beautifully like a hallucinogenic puzzle.
After the film, star Suki Waterhouse joined an entertainingly inebriated Ana Lily Amirpour for a Q&A. In discussing the sound design Ana Lily Amirpour expressed her belief that “sound design is 80% of what makes you feel violence and brutality in movies.” The sound design certainly made a strong impact.
A particular cameo role proved highly entertaining, and all the performances felt right. I just wanted to spend more time in The Dream’s world and watch how people interacted. Instead it felt like I acquired most of my understanding of those relationships through exposition.
Suki Waterhouse shared her experience with her first lead role in a film. “You don’t really know what it’s going be like until you’re there. You get little tastes of Lily while you’re there. Not many people have such a strong vision and are so into certain things and details…just out-of-the-box nutter basically.”
My favorite story from the night involved the casting of Keanu Reeves as The Dream. Ana Lily Amirpour began by declaring she had a movie-sized poster of him above her bed when she was 12 years old. “He was quite literally the dream.” She recounted, slurring somewhat, how he came over to her house to discuss the role after having read the script. They drank a couple bottles of wine and Keanu told her, “Ana Lily, if you have changed your mind at all after this meeting, I totally understand. I want you to do what’s right for your film.” Her reply was classic:
“Do you know what I did? Let me tell you. I had hired an airbrush artist and had had his portrait airbrushed onto a t-shirt, and it said The Dream. I was gonna wear it when he came over to my house. But then I thought that might be a little bit psychotic. I chickened out like at the last second. I was like, no, no, just be cool. Dont’ wear this. When he said, “If you’re not sure and if you want to change your mind….” I was like, “I want to show you my level of commitment.” I went to the room and got the t-shirt.”
After the Q&A, I kind of loved Ana Lily Amirpour. She certainly had me laughing throughout much of the Q&A. Maybe her next film should be a comedy, a very dark and disturbing comedy.