Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Of Garden State

Finally the long wait is over! My review of Garden State! Yup finally I’m going to review one of my favourite movies ever. I’m going to start off by saying that this movie is definitely going to receive 5 stars, no questions. I could watch this movie any day at any time; it’s just a movie that I enjoy immensely. This movie has seen me through some real rough patches and this year I must have watched at least 10 times, various times just showing it to people and others just because I love this movie too freaking much. I’m not sure what it is about it that makes me love it so much, there’s just something about the message it delivers, as well as some genuinely funny moments.

However I haven’t always loved Garden State. I first watched just because of Zach Braff, due to my love of Scrubs. So I saw that it was on Film Four and sat down to watch, and I’m not sure what it was but some of it seemed to go straight over my head, although this may have been because I was doing other stuff, I was being called out of the room every few minutes. However I came out of it very nonplussed about it. And yet I wanted so much to love it.

I wanted to love it so much in fact I watched it again. This time it was a lot better. This time there were no distractions and I could just sit and watch it. However there was still something I was missing. But this latest viewing convinced me to get the DVD. So on Christmas I got two DVDs; The Fountain and Garden State (two 5 star movies,) and sat down to watch Garden State. This time I had an epiphany and I think it was mostly because of my mental state at the time. I found out exactly what he was saying. I’m always going to refer to this point of time, Christmas Eve 2007 as a changing point in my life, for reasons that are for me and me alone to know.

So on with the review. The movie is bloody brilliant. It has all of the indie sensibilities that I love. It isn’t marred by a big budget or ‘A’ list stars although the cast is impressive: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman and Sir Ian Holm. I’d also like to point that all the performances are top notch, although it would have been nice to see Ian Holm a bit more, but looking at the deleted scenes you can tell why his scenes were cut. The movie just has something about it that really appeals to me. It’s not gut wrenchingly funny, but every so often there’ll be something funny that will bring a smirk to your face, such as the shirt scene in the bathroom which isn’t hilarious but is just a quick visual sight gag. It doesn’t have Zach Braff yelling in your face “Look I’m being funny, hawhehaw.” It’s just a quick gag that isn’t referenced afterwards at all.

Now that I’ve mentioned him more than once I will have to bring immense props to Zach Braff who not only acted but wrote AND directed this movie. This movie just shows how talented this man truly is. He’s funny in Scrubs yes but not the funniest. That could easily go John C. McGinley’s Dr. Cox or Neil Flynn’s Janitor. However Garden State put him a completely different light (and not just because this is the first time I’ve ever heard him swear). I will say now though, if you are looking for Scrubs humour you won’t find it here. There are no extended sequences to show what’s happening in Large’s brain, it’s just exactly what there is on screen, no more, no less. The fact that Braff wrote in his early 20s really shines through in all the sensibilities and his reactions to the things that happen in this movie. The movie definitely has more than enough drama but is also heart-warming, and whilst the original ending may have been more intone with what the movie promises from it’s style and substance, the ending that is there is great (if a little too Hollywood).

Now for the soundtrack. You can’t talk about Garden State without talking about the music. Braff collected a load of songs that reflected how he felt and put them as placeholders in his film, before sending them off to the artists to show them how they would be used, and they all said yes! What happens is you get a soundtrack that is entirely the right choice for the scene, not like many movies where they rely on popular music and number ones. This movie instead uses bands like Remy Zero, Cary Brothers, Colin Hay and Zero 7. The movie also introduced me to some of my favourite songs and bands such as The Shins (who received a so called ‘Zach Braff’ effect after the movie, or was it just how cute Natalie Portman looked listening to them?), Such Great Heights – Iron and Wine (and the original by the Postal Service) and Let Go – Frou Frou. The music is used in all the right spots and just enhances the mood of film. A song used in the perfect scene will make the song 10 times better than if you just listen to it on its own.

Right so overall as stated above Garden State gets unequivocal 10 out 10. No questions asked. If you’re looking for a good movie to watch choose Garden State, it’s not as difficult as some of my other favourite films, which make it that perfect rainy day film, particularly if you have similar sensibilities to me. Now if you excuse me I feel like watching it again.

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