4 Stars
Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 90 minutes
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When sat down in front of the new “experimental documentary,” from Vakvagany, filmmaker Ben Meade, “Das Bus,” focusing on people who ride the bus and the dedicated folks who drive them around, I realized that I didn’t know one damn thing about riding the bus, except for the fact that (and don’t take any offense those of you that ride the bus on a regular basis) most of the people waiting at the bus stops look damn scary. True, I rode the school bus for three years during my junior high school days, and the bus (shuttle) at Sundance can be a little interesting at times, but that’s nothing compared to the experience of taking the local public transportation…at least in my imagination. To me, it seems like it would be “Twin Peaks” on wheels. Seeing public transportation culture as an urban myth, Ben Meade couldn’t help but ride the bus routes of Kansas City, armed with a camera, and welcoming us to the club.
So what does “experimental documentary” mean in this case? Well, the film starts off very much like a straight-forward documentary with Meade turning his cameras on select bus drivers and riders, letting them introduce themselves and tell their stories – often very funny. But as their stories unwind, we see that Meade has more in store for us as re-enactments of these tales take the place of talking head interviews. One of my favorite stories centers on a driver named “Wild Bill” who likes to fuck with his riders by climbing aboard the bus, posing as a blind man. Another favorite of mine, an urban myth much like the one about the high school kid who lost a finger because he got his ring caught in the fence while he was hopping over it, is about a driver using her belt as a tourniquet on the mangled arm of a guy who was stupid enough to have it hanging out of the window. Bullshit or not, these are the stories being told here and they’re all re-enacted by the actual drivers and bus riders. Then the experiment continues as musical interludes occur, a little bit of rotoscoped animation takes place and several pairs of twins climb aboard a bus. Hey, riding the bus IS like “Twin Peaks.”
“Das Bus” takes you to places you may never have been and faces you with people you may want to feel like crossing the street in order to avoid and it’s an absolute blast. I just wish the ride could continue. Maybe I’ll get a bus pass today. I’m addicted damnit!

Posted on December 10, 2004 in Reviews by

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