State of Mind

Take a look at my Daily Photo

Saturday night the missus and I watched Garden State, the first DVD in my quest to watch 52 interesting films this year. Garden State was directed and written by Zach Braff, who also stars in it. Pretty impressive for the young star of Scrubs, a show that I would watch if I remembered to watch something other than sports and the Food Network.

Braff plays Andrew “Large” Largeman, a b-list Hollywood actor who has spent most of his life medically sedated by his psychiatrist father. The death of his mother brings him back home, sans-meds, to the Garden State (my home state, though the movie takes place in North - not my South - Jersey). While home he quickly meets up with some of the unmotivated friends he left behind in Jersey, least ambitious of them being the gravedigger Mark, played by Peter Sarsgaard. While looking for non-paternal psychiatric help Large meets up with Natalie Portman, another patient who quickly becomes a romantic interest to a guy who’s been too sedated to be interested in anything. Braff rides around with Portman and Sarsgaard in his sidecar motorcycle, trying to figure out what it’s all about.

I’m a big fan of Mike NicholsThe Graduate, and the first half of Garden State has a very Graduate-like feel to it. Early on Braff’s Large is seen from above, lying in his bed, seemingly oblivious to his father’s voice on the answering machine. This made me think on the scene in the Graduate with Dustin Hoffman floating in his parent’s pool while his father tries to talk sense into young Benjamin.

The second half of Garden State gives up its Graduate-like oddball-ness for (somewhat) touchy-feely conversations and a romantic happy (somewhat) resolution. That’s not to say that it doesn’t give up all of its peculiar ways. The writing was still a breath of fresh air and included some great acting from Braff, Portman and Sarsgaard. The film moved quickly and had plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, many dealing with a childhood friend who’s set for life because of his one invention: Silent Velcro. It’s definitely a great debut of both writing and directing from Braff. Everybody knows that young actors in Hollywood “really want to direct” but this guy has shown he has what it takes on his first try.

Two other things: the Garden State soundtrack is really, really good, and Zack Braff has a pretty interesting Garden State blog.

Next up for me is Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, a movie I should have seen a long time ago but somehow never did.


At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark. I stole your idea about watching 52 movies this year.Actually I have been wanting to watch more movies since Blockbuster is a few feet from where I work.Last week I watch Under the Tuscan Sun. Ironically, I saw Garden State on Monday. Both movies were ok. I thought both got too much press coverage. Garden State reminded me of Nancy's and Mike's movie-How to Kill your Neighbor's Dog. I realized this week that 9:15pm on a Sunday night is not the best time to rent a movie. Next week I want to see Millions. Have you seen that one yet? Ann


Post a Comment

<< Home