Monday, December 15, 2003

The Movie I Watched Last Night LXXXIV

Jesus' Son
What an amazing sleeper of a film! When this came out in 1999, it didn't hit my radar at all, and with its cast, I'm surprised. Billy Crudup, Samantha Morton, Denis Leary, Jack Black, Dennis Hopper, and Holly Hunter all star to varying degrees in this adaptation of a cycle of interconnected short stories by Denis Johnson. Johnson himself cameos, and despite all the star wattage, no one actor steals the show. Jumping back and forth in time, largely because of the narrator and antihero's narrative forgetfulness, Jesus' Son is a story of love, loss, abuse, confusion, and yearning. Morton's character reminds me of a young Jodie Foster a la Taxi Driver, and her pairing with Crudup's antihero makes for a frustrating love story. As many personal problems as I may develop, I can't imagine coping with everything in the midst of drug addiction. Visually, the movie has several bright moments, including a scene in which Crudup's rounder follows a man who seems "lucky" to a laundromat and another in which he initially mistakes an abandoned drive-in theater for a cemetery. An extremely impressive movie directed by Alison Maclean. Almost all of the characters are wandering directionless, and even when they find an anchor -- Morton's Michelle or the Mennonite songstress -- they cast adrift again. Well worth renting!

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