By Other Voices voices@moviecitynews.com

LETTERS FROM LARRY

DEAR DAVID:

Jack Goes Boating isPhillip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debut adapted to the screen by Bob Glaudini from his play. It’s a foray into the ordinary- every-day-people- find- true-love genre personified by the Oscar classic, Marty. Hoffman and his superb cast do a wonderful job with it by conveying the obsessive craziness that even “little” people are capable of when they’re in love.

Hesher is another impressive surprising piece of work in a well-worn indie vein. A mysterious anarchic stranger appears to upset all decorum and to teach the timid the gospel of carpe diem. The prototype is Ruth Gordon’s Maude in Harold and Maude. James Spader’s interloper in Sex, Lies, and Videotape is the darker Ibsenesque variant. Here it is the wonderful Joseph Gordon Leavitt in the title role, channelling both his inner Brando and his inner Keanu Reeves, with his shirt off, a lot his tattoos on display, and a haircut shouting, “Jesus!”

The secret trick of Hesher is that the movie is not at all about this entertaining character Levitt plays. It’s about the ten-year-old boy, furious with grief, whose life he invades. It is told from this boy’s pov. Writer directorSpencer Susser takes many cool left turns and gets a career best supporting performance by Natalie Portman.

The best most powerful American indie I’ve seen so far is Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, a tale of murderous family loyalties among meth-manufactuerers.

In the most economically deprived region of the Ozarks in Missouri, Ms. Granik channels her inner John Ford and Sam Peckinpah and suggests that more women are ready to enter narrative preserves where men used to have sole occupancy.

I have no idea who Chris Morris is and I’m not sure if in so-called real life I want to. His Four Lions, a political satire about an Islamic terrorist cell in London, is brilliant, scary and sick fuck funny. Here he radicalized the method of Sacha Baron Cohen and The Coens with the merciless logic of Kubrick in the days of Strangelove.

Whatever else is true, Morris has a vision and he takes no prisoners.

Larry
Sent from my iPhone

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Larry Gross is a 25 year screenwriting veteran and Winner of Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for his most recent release, We Don’t Live Here Anymore.

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The Atlantic: You saw that the Academy Awards recently held up your 2001 acceptance speech as the Platonic ideal of an Oscar speech. Did you have a reaction?

Soderbergh: Shock and dismay. When that popped up and people started texting me about it, I said, “Oh, it’s too bad I’m not there to tell the story of how that took place.” Well. I was not sober at the time. And I had nothing prepared because I knew I wasn’t going to win [Best Director for Traffic]. I figured Ridley, Ang or Daldry would win. So I was hitting the bar pretty hard, having a great night, feeling super-relaxed because I don’t have to get up there. So the combination of a 0.4 blood alcohol level and lack of preparation resulted in me, in my state of drunkenness crossed with adrenaline surge. I was coherent enough to know that [if I tried to thank everyone], that way lies destruction. So I went the other way. There were some people who appreciated that, and there were some people who really wanted to hear their names said, and I had to apologize to them.
~ Steven Soderbergh

 

“I have made few films in a way. I never made action films. I never made science fiction films. I never made, really, very complicated settings, because I had modest ambitions. I knew they would never trust me to have the budget to do something different, so my mind is more focused on things I know. So they were always mental adventures I wanted to approach and share. Working for cinema with no – not only no money, but also no ambition for money. I was happy and proud [to receive the honorary Oscar] because of that, that [the Academy] could understand what kind of work I have done over 60 years. I stayed faithful to the ideal of sharing emotion, impressions, and mostly because I have so much empathy for other people that I approach people who are not really spoken about. I have 65 years of work in my bag, and when I put the bag down, what comes out? It’s really the desire of finding links and relationships with different kinds of people. I never made a film about the bourgeoisie, about rich people. about nobility. My choices have been to show people that are, in a way, more common and see that each of them has something special and interesting, rare and beautiful. It’s my natural way of looking at people. I didn’t fight my instincts. And maybe that has been appreciated in the famous circle of Hollywood.“

Agnes Varda