Saturday, July 31, 2004

I totally cannot wait to see Garden State. But before you can understand my rave-review-before-I've-even-seen-the-film, you need to know two things:

1. I love films that are different while still having an understandable plot. Films that make you say "Whoa! That was so unlike the usual shoot-em-up or romantic-comedy ho-hum that they usually play in my local theater. That was different. That was cool. That was unusual. Wow!" So far, the only film that has made me say that was "Being John Malkovich." Well, maybe "Amelie," too. Amelie was great, but still pretty much in the romantic-comedy category. After I saw "Being John Malkovich," I was stunned. It was so quirky and different but not in that what-the-hell-was-that film noire kind of way. (Click here for a satire of the latter.) It was more like "I got that! And it was refreshing because it was weird in a new way. A way that no one else has ever been weird before."

I really wanted to see Adaptation because I had the feeling that it would earn the same reaction, but I missed it. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind also, I bet, fits into this category. Luckily, it's still playing in these parts. Gotta go see that.

Notice that all three of those films were written by the same people. So maybe they are all weird in the same way with each other, which would be a little disappointing. Maybe I'll let you know after I see Eternal Sunshine (Which in Hebrew is called "Eternal Sun of the Immaculate Brain" or something like that.)

2. I have a movie-star crush on Natalie Portman. It's a combination of her playing Queen Amidala, her having been incredible as Anne Frank on Broadway (yes, I saw it! She was fabulous), and her being, frankly, gorgeous. (I once interviewed a gay man for an article I was writing about a homesexuality-related issue, and I asked him whether he's ever been attracted to a woman, and he said "I appreciate women's bodies the way you appreciate a great work of art. If you look at a beautiful painting, you can appreciate how beautiful it is, but you don't want to sleep with it. That's how I feel about women." That's how I feel about Natalie Portman.) There is something about Natalie Portman that is so darn compelling. When she's on the screen, I can't take my eyes off her. There could be, like, 6 dozen pigs in tutus reciting Shakespeare, and you'd still be looking at Natalie Portman in her jeans and old sweatshirt drinking a diet Coke.

Unfortunately, other than the Anne Frank gig, I've never seen her in anything where I thought she was actually acting well. I admit that this might be because I haven't seen much of her work. Her performance as Queen Amidala is pretty flat, though that may have to do more with George Lucas' directing (all the other actors are flat, too). And I saw her in "Where the Heart Is," and instead of being engrossed by her character, all I kept thinking was "hey! Look! It's Natalie Portman faking a Southern accent and faking that she's poor and faking that she's pregnant!" You just can't believe that Natalie Portman would ever be anything other than a gorgeous Harvard girl who looks just like the central figure from this pre-Raphaelite painting. Maybe if I'd seen her other work I'd feel differently.

Anyhow, on to Garden State. I first encountered it in an ad on some other website and went "Hey! A new movie with Natalie Portman! I'll pay 32 NIS to see it no matter what, even if she never changes facial expression!" and went over to the movie's website. And, oh my God! This movie looks different! And even in the teaser trailer there I can almost believe that Natalie is someone else! She has different facial expressions! She moves her body in all sorts of crazy ways! That is so un-Harvard! (I lived in Cambridge a few years ago; I know what I'm talking about.) And the soundtrack . . . I must get this soundtrack! I was jazzed.

But this article and this trailer really convinced me. First, because the article says that all the major movie studios turned down the script because it was too unusual (very good sign), and it was done as an indie project and picked up at Sundance. What kind of indie project gets Natalie Portman? It must be interesting. And, Zach Braff must have a really good presence, since I'm just as likely to watch him as Natalie in the trailer. Wow. I am so jazzed for this film.

Can someone please buy me the soundtrack?
(It is my birthday in 18 days . . . )

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