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Wednesday, Nov 19 1997
Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
OK, so the guy nails his penis to a 2-by-4, and he's pale and scarred and has a cough that sounds like an effect from an Italian horror movie. But, if you skip Sick thinking it'll be an ordeal, an unpleasant look at a "pushy bottom" and his life of torture and illness -- a movie to see only on a dare with your legs tightly crossed -- then you'll be missing the funniest, sweetest movie of the year. Sick's subject is clearly enjoying the hell out of being the star of his own film; telling his jokes and singing his songs; taking his (literal) licks from his dominatrix partner, Sheree Rose; and (at least for a while) defying Death. It's a rollicking performance, hilarious, tender, and fierce, a messy life (and death) in all its glory. It's a tremendously moving portrait of a guy spitting his copious phlegm in the face of Fate and taking control of his body and his life; director Kirby Dick avoids and even mocks the "heroic survivor" cliches that can sink movies about the disabled. Destined to find itself on future double-bills with Terry Zwigoff's Crumb as a bio of a geeky outsider who made good as an artist, Sick turns the intimacy and inspirational intent of most suffering-with-dignity documentaries inside out with a humor so dark you'll flinch, yet it still manages to be both intimate and, yes, inspirational.

-- Tod Booth

Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist is playing at the Lumiere, and then moves to the Opera Plaza in San Francisco.

About The Author

Tod Booth


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