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Declare independence! Don't let them do that to you!!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Garden State (2004) 

Garden State works so well because writer/director Zach Braff so effectively evinces reactions from the tiniest distressingly isolating details that fill Andrew Largeman's life. The row of sinks that activate briefly as he passes by, his sterile room filled entirely of white sheets, walls bed-frame and all, his zen calm as he twists on the personal AC during a plane crash, he is sinking into an oblivion of sterility... in fact this sinking effect is cleverly visualized in one of many shots that shows a sure hand in both composition and humor.
Garden State is chockfull of the small touches that fill out the sparse details we receive about each strikingly offbeat charachter. "OKAY... OKAY!! WHO here just saw some titties?! (Hands raise) OK, Now everybody just calm the fuck down!" It doesn't hurt that Zach is surrounded by a stellar cast from stars like the always refreshing Ian Holme and Natalie Portman (in her most original role since Leon), to slightly-unknown gems like Peter Sarsgaard. Actors like Sarsgaard often go unnoticed for these supportive roles because they so naturally evince trust in both their Star counterparts and in the audience. If youve seen him in Salton Sea, you'll know what I mean. Garden State uses it's quirky nature as an unmistakable asset but is not without its kinks. A good example of this is its stellar soundtrack, which is expertly chosen, but at times takes attention away from the on screen tension and emotion. Braff chose the films music before hand and actually sent it attached with the screenplay when he was shopping it around, this mix can now be purchased as the official soundtrack sans two songs: "Orange Sky" by Alexi Murdoch and "Love Will Come Through" by Travis.
What I think this film has going for it most, is its reluctance to become pigeon holed in any one place at a time. At the end when these unconventional characters are faced with the classic love story end-movie dilemma, we get a real sense that Braff treated it with great delicate care, taking into account how each character had grown through the film, and brought them to what i felt was the movie's natural yet slightly predictable conclusion.
photo_10_hires A self-conscious yet self assured nature like his is rarely seen in first-time directors as it tends to stem more from experience than instinct. I can't wait to see what comes next.
4/5 Stars

Upward over the Mountain from the album "The Creek Drank the Cradle" by Iron & Wine
You should have a column. Seriously.
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