If most movies are boxes, “I Am a Knife with Legs” is a ball of yarn rolling down several flights of stairs. At the bottom of them is international pop-star Bene, Euro-tard and master of free association, who is mourning the loss of his girlfriend Baguette, the backup singer in a suicide bombing in a Paris cafe after he became the target of a fatwa registered on Fatwalist.com by someone named iluvtennis127. This may have happened because of Bene’s global pop hit “All Religions Are Stupid Especially Yours.” But there are other theories.
World-premiering last week at Fantasia Fest in Montreal, “I Am a Knife With Legs” is not exactly one long non sequitur, but its core of zaniness is the absurdist Bene – played with Keatonian dead-pan by writer-director Bennett Jones – and his utter, Czech Brother-style cluelessness about almost everything. Holed up in a Silver Lake apartment with his perpetually unamused manager/head of security Beefy (Will Crest), Bene awaits death while eating an éclair. “When Death comes, you can’t say, ‘oh wait a minute, Death, I have some soup on the stove,” he reflects. “Death knows you microwave your soup.”
Since Baguette never did anything out of the ordinary, every ordinary thing reminds Bene of Baguette, so he doesn’t mind death, which may arrive via one of the military trained SSNs who are dropping bombs around LA. “Social Security number?” Beefy asks. No, Bene says, the guy who’s going to kill me, the ess-ess-en.” Not all the humor in “I Am a Knife With Leg” is quite so high-brow, but it’s pretty relentless, and Jones’ delivery really makes the viewer feel that Bene is making it all up as he goes along.
Shot for a reported $12,000 on a 254p mini DV, and over quite a few years, the film is a mash-up of collage art, animated pencil sketches, Bene’s fatuous songs (“Change/Makes things different”) and a lot of music-video stuff that makes brutal fun of music video stuff. Mostly, though, “I Am a Knife With Legs” is driven by Jones’ rock-idol parody, whose mother’s name was And God Created Woman (“they made a movie about her…I forget who was in it”) and whose father was a shoelace repair man and aspiring writer whose stories were all about shoelaces so he had to sell Bene into human trafficking — through which he became a child camel jockey in Saudi Arabia and later an international pop star. Enter Baguette, tragedy, Bene’s invention of the Abhole T-Shirt (which has a window to show his abs), a world tour and a stopover in Los Angeles.
Given the paucity of actual plot, “I Am a Knife With Legs” begins to run out of gas by the time the assassins actually arrive on the scene, but Jones knows how much Bene to dole out (he apparently developed the character through years of stand-up) and the film climaxes with a chase scene. What else, in a movie that makes fun of movies? It’s an elaborate, parkour-style foot race that seems to cover most of Los Angeles.
After all the huffing and puffing, Jones and Co. have created an original work of comedy, and an outsider movie with real sense of itself.