"IF THERE'S SOME SORT OF, LIKE, RETARDED OSCARS, YOU WOULD WIN." Finally got around to seeing Zach Braff's Garden State this evening. No, it's not perfect. It's Braff's first film, and that shows, throughout, with "first film" and "indie film" cliches littering the landscape--most notably an emotional climax that features characters screaming off a cliff for no apparent reason. That said, it's a gem, featuring strong performances all around, especially from Natalie Portman, who, for once, has a part where her acting, rather than her hairstyles, can take center stage, and from Peter Sarsgaard, who does a veritable 180 from his great work in "Shattered Glass" to play a pot-addled grave-digger. Add in completely unncessary appearance by rapper Method Man, and you have something fascinating and touching.
Braff's directoral and writing style has a naturalness to it that reminds me, in a lot of ways, of Cameron Crowe. In particular, both Braff and Crowe demonstrate an astounding touch with selection of the right music, both contemporary and classic. Admittedly, Crowe has his missteps, but hard to think of a better role model for Braff to follow. Maybe if we're truly lucky, they'll work together in the future.
On a closing bizarre note note, on my way to the theatre, I saw an unusual panhandler. The sign really says it all--"6 Foot 7 Inch Jewish Guy Will Freestyle Rap."