Saturday, August 11, 2007

BROKEN FLOWERS (Jim Jarmusch, 2005, USA) Another great subtle performance from Bill Murray who has aged into one of the best Hollywood actors of our generation. Murray plays Don Johnston (with a "T"), a successful Don Juan-type businessman, who receives a mysterious letter from an unidentified ex-lover that says she gave birth to his son 18 years ago and he (the son) may be in search of his father. This letter piques his curiosity so he shares it with his neighbor Winston. Though Johnston believes the letter a fraud or cruel joke from a spurned ex, Winston takes it upon himself to develop a detailed plan so his friend can track down this woman and find his son. At first, Johnston refuses but eventually caves in to his friend's desires and makes a list of four women he dated in that time period. As he visits each one, the women become stranger and more absurd as he searches for clues and signs in order to find the truth behind the letter. This is a great minimilistic film with long, slow takes; Jarmusch knows when to keep the camera on Murray so we can see the emotions behind the hangdog expression. Though the film doesn't give us the ending we expect it is one that feels honest. (B)
GHOST WORLD (Terry Zwigoff, 2001, USA) Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch are two young women just graduated from high school and stuck in the ghost world between mundane reality and their childish fantasies. The two drift apart as friends do, each on their own unique journey of self-discovery, and their destination is "growing-up". The plot of the film involves a cruel prank that leads to a childish infatuation which only ends in heartbreak. The characters barely recognize their own motivations and they meander lazily through the story like you and I do in "real life". The film ends on a strikingly lonely note. I loved it. (B)

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