I've always read and appreciated film reviews. Whether from fellow bloggers, the New York Times, Rotten Tomatoes or magazines like Film Comment (a very good and a tad high brow cinematic criticism magazine). I just think there is a lot to be gained by getting as much information as one can about a film from as many sources as possible, be it the Internet, the written press or Entertainment Tonight (unless it is a M. Night Shyamalan film) That being said, I've always done so with a simultaneous and very generous sprinkle of salt.
In the end, as the ultimate film fanatic, I'll see any movie I want to see, regardless of what the critics have to say about it. The rationale behind this is not only the inherently relative, opinionated and personal nature of the film criticism process but because of what I call a movie's ultimate redeemable quality. The certain something that most films possess, even those bashed and at times even overlooked or quickly dismissed by the critics and press, that makes them worth my while (most of the time).
Garden State, happily, has proved to be (to me at least) what most critics have said until now: A refreshing and soothing film. A delightful first cinematic effort from a young actor, writer and director. This is a film about life and living. About death too, but mainly about trying to be in the moment. About being human, with all its challenges and sadness (the loss of a pet or a parent) and also its joys (finding love, doing good, forgiveness). At times a bit clichéed and melodramatic (I could have used one Puff) but never tiresome.
The film was funny and moving, with a big heart. Eccentric and goofy yet engaging, with characters that you liked (the kids) or disliked (the father) immediately. There were a couple scenes the director could have done without. Gratuitous sex and drug use that sort of messed around with the pacing but, as a first time director, one can ignore those two sequences and look at the, no pun intended, big picture.
By closing credits and Frou Frou 's "Let Go" (the soundtrack featuring Coldplay, Nick Drake, Thievery Corporation, Simon & Garfunkel among many others, is divine) I was sad to see these characters leave the screen. I wanted to stay with them a little longer. I cared about their messed up lives and family dysfunctions, their overmedication, their sadness and inability to cry or to love and above all their potential to do and be better. I wished them well on their self-discovery, on their journey, hoping that they all figure it out somehow. I think they'll make it.
Could Garden State be this year's Lost In Translation? I strongly feel Zach Braff's film has a very good chance of winning the IFC Spirit Award next February, not to mention other awards in a few categories (Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard were amazing). Zach, better get those shirts ready for Santa Monica.
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