Title: Hesher (USA, 2010) ★★★½ (out of 5)
Director: Spencer Susser
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Devin Brochu, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Piper Laurie
Date Viewed: May 13, 2011
Summary: Loud music. Pornography. Burning shit to the ground. These are a few of Hesher’s favorite things. And they are what Hesher brings into the lives of TJ and his father, Paul when he takes up residence in their garage uninvited. Grief-stricken by the loss of TJ’s mother in a car accident, Paul can’t muster the strength to evict the strange squatter, and soon the long-haired, tattooed Hesher becomes a fixture in the household. Like a force of nature, Hesher’s anarchy shakes the family out of their grief and helps them embrace life once more. (Summary found here)
“Hesher” is a strange movie. It’s not light-hearted enough to be a comedy, but there are too many laughs for it be seen purely as a drama. I admit that I do get overly emotionally invested in movies all the time, and I’m already a huge sucker for antiheroes, but “Hesher” was a different experience than any other movie I’ve ever seen. It was a package of humor, disgust, heartbreak, and frustration all rolled into one. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, I squirmed. The script stumbled a bit, and a bit of tweaking with the color-correction and sound editing was clearly needed, but overall, the directing and cinematography was just as chaotic as the eponymous character - and I mean that in the best possible way. Ass-kicking performances throughout, and mad props to Devin Brochu, who was only 12 years old when the movie was filmed. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s typical smugness that made me want to punch his character in the face in “500 Days of Summer” actually worked miracles in “Hesher”, and Rainn Wilson gave a surprisingly strong performance as a grieving father.
I met the director, Spencer Susser, a few weeks ago, and I still can’t believe that such a loud, offensive movie came out of the mind of such a soft-spoken guy, but I’m so, so happy it did. Obviously, Hesher isn’t for everyone - if you can’t stomach graphic metaphors from the mouth of a bong-ripping, farting, child-endangering anarchist guru about exploded testicles and overwhelming five-somes, or if you’re a self-proclaimed cinephile who has ‘sophisticated’ (or extremely pretentious) tastes in films with otherworldly, ‘deep’ meaning, it’s likely that you won’t be able to sit through most of this movie. But for those who enjoy the uncouth and can repress their nausea long enough for Hesher to redeem himself, this movie is well-worth a trip to the theater.
Title: Submarine (UK, 2010) ★★★½
Director: Richard Ayoade
Starring: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Page, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine
Date Viewed: January 30, 2011
Summary: A comedy which follows a 15-year-old boy with two objectives: To lose his virginity before his next birthday, and to stop his mother from leaving his father for her dance teacher.
Saw ”Submarine” at the Sundance Film Festival last month. A cute, quirky, and very funny coming-of-age movie that takes place in 1970’s Wales. Witty, kinda kitschy, and sometimes incredibly sad, but overall a fun movie with plenty of Wes Anderson-ish charm to go around.
Title: Blue Valentine (USA, 2010) ★★★½
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
Date Viewed: February 21, 2011
Summary: The film centers on a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.
The thing that’s most depressing about “Blue Valentine” is the fact that you already know the marriage between the two main characters is doomed, despite the hopeful tone set by their earlier days. The movie was just short of expectations, but ending credits were gorgeous. Would’ve been 3 stars, were it not for the pleasantly surprising bits of humor sprinkled here and there.
Title: 127 Hours (USA, 2010) ★★★½
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: James Franco
Date Viewed: December 23, 2010
Summary: A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.
I’ve never been a huge Danny Boyle fan, but 127 Hours was surprisingly organic, despite the contrived exaggeration in Aron Ralston’s character (played by James Franco). I loved the saturation of the Utah wilderness, but felt that the script was a little shallow and could’ve been able to bring about a lot more emotion than it did.