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LETTERS FROM LARRY
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.
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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.