Stingray Lifts Off

Mars ain’t what it once was, but the dusty outpost still offers live nightly entertainment and enough empty space for a guy to shed his past. Almost. Stingray Sam, the most recent cinematic offering from Cory McAbee, opens with an unforgettable lounge act (performed by McAbee) that ends with the film’s hero being shanghaied by his former cell-mate, the formidable Quasar Kid. Their shared mission, which can not be refused due to a privatized prison system that would have them picking up cosmic debris on the dark side of the solar system for the rest of their lives, is to rescue a little girl from a filthy rich, monomaniacal party boy. Like The American Astronaut, McAbee’s first feature film, Stingray Sam is a visually stunning space western with riotous music by the director’s band the Billy Nayer Show; unlike its predecessor, it’s as topical and incisive as it is outrageously funny and beautiful. Satiric interludes about globalization, genetic engineering, and economic collapse appear onscreen as Situationist collages created by John Borruso while narrated with unflinching aplomb by David Hyde Pierce. But even as Stingray Sam extrapolates from our worst fears in a most hilarious way, the movie has a steadfast heart: McAbee’s real-life daughter, Willa Vy, who reminds our protagonist about the little things that make humanity worthwhile.
Thu., Sept. 17, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m., 2009

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