6 October 2014

Life's A Garden

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Does anybody even have half of an idea as to what they want to do with their lives? Beyond the fact that I'm sure that mine will end with a rusty tin-can being used to open my veins, I haven't a fucking clue. I used to think about the future and see it as a giant black hole that I was aimlessly floating towards like a giant, lost turd. These days however I feel well and truly absorbed by the grim, vortex of solitude as I spend my life trapped and alienated from whatever bullshit I should be doing.  Anyway, seems as I've fuck all planned between now and death I figured I'd catch up with something that I've been meaning to see for over a decade. There's a film called Garden State which is written, directed and starring Zach Braff that even after ten years has refused to piss off into obscurity. I remember when it came out that it seemed to get some good reviews but I had no idea that it'd still be remembered after all of this time. I've known people for longer than that whose names I've never bothered to learn so I figured there must be something about this film that must be worth a watch. Oh, and is it just me or does the title not sound like a euphemism for asking somebody how they keep their pubes? It probably is just me isn't it... Oh well.
So Garden State tells the story of a guy in his twenties who is a little lost in his life. He's a semi-successful actor who, like all non-famous actors, has to spend most of his time waiting tables in a tacky, minimum wage restaurant. Anyway, he's forced to return home for a funeral one day when his depressed and paraplegic mother does herself a mischief and has a little drown in the bath. Initially he just kind of walks around in a daze and bumping into old friends until a random trip to the doctor’s causes him to cross paths with Natalie Portman... because life’s just that fucking kind to some people. When I last went to the doctors I saw an old person cough up some snot into their hand before wiping it on the inside of their pocket. Try making a rom-com out of that. So Braff and Portman start hanging out where he discovers that as cute and amazing and perfect as she is, she's also a little bit of a bullshitter. I don't know about you but after seeing an old person decorate their trousers with stringy mucus, I don't think it'd bother me if Portman ended up having a big old set of cock and bollocks. Anyway so yeah.. he's a little depressed about being alive and she's fit but full of crap. I wonder if they'll end up falling in love and being the solution to each other’s issues?! Probably!

Anyway, I should say that even after all this time I know relatively little about Braff's career. I've never watched Scrubs because it looks like it's aimed at the same idiots who enjoy shit such as Friends and all of that other bland, American, bollocks. Maybe I'm wrong and it is actually good but I don't think I am, I don't think it is and so fuck it, who can be arsed? I know that Braff funded his new film by crowd-sourcing it which pissed a bunch of poorer people off and I know that he once beat the living shit out of a child. In case you haven't heard that story, he was basically on Punk'd where some kid spray painted his new car without him realising he was being pranked. In a fit of rage, Braff caught the 12 year old kid and just smacked the crap out of him until discovering it had all been staged and he'd just been filmed abusing a little boy by MTV. So although I might not be a fan of any of his television work, I am a fan of him as a person and particularly the brutal acts of vigilantism that he dishes out to naughty children.

With that in mind, I suppose I went into Garden State with an open mind that probably leaned towards some degree of optimism. Like a psychic who’s particularly good at bullshitting, I luckily happened to be right and so ten years after I'm sure you've all seen it, I'm happy to report that I loved this film. For a start, it's a lot darker than I thought it was going to be, with Braff's character pill’d up to the tits on antidepressants in order to stop him doing something stupid... like experiencing the grimness of life in a state of full consciousness. Portman's character too seems a little bi-polar in the way that one second she's bouncing around the room like a particularly fuckable Tigger before having a little cry and also getting quite existentially grim... Still fuckable though! In many ways, their dynamic is a little bit like Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey's in Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind except minus all the hate and resentment that they eventually have for each other. Also, this film isn't mostly set in a brain...

I think Portman's performance is probably the heart of the film though, and it really reminded me of how great she is. I mean, I know that being male means that I'm full-on in love with her but I think these days people kind of associate her more with the blockbusters in which she doesn't really do that much. Do you remember that bland performance that she gave in Thor? Of course you do! Do you remember that great performance that she gave in Hesher? I suppose you're reading a film blog so there's a chance that you might. But ask those same questions to the average cinema goer and I bet that when you say Hesher they just look at you as though you've just tried to give them the gypsy curse. In Star Wars they said that her character simply lost the will to live which is ironically how many of the franchises fans felt. Some say that Padme's death was as the result of a broken heart but I'm pretty sure that it was actually pure shame as the character became aware that she'd done fuck all over the last three films beyond fall in love with a twattish block of wood. However when she's in smaller films like this and Black Swan, she really gets chance to show off her skills as one of the best actresses working today... In fact I'd go as far as to say that she's even better in this film than she was in Black Swan which is a huge compliment considering that this one doesn't even have any fingering scenes in it!

If there's any problem with how great Portman is in this film it's that those scenes not to feature her don't seem quite as enjoyable. Braff is pretty good in what is essentially the first thing I've ever seen him act in however it's probably more in the writing and direction that he impressed. The film deals with the anxiety of being in your twenties and feeling disconnected from life... Considering I started this blog by saying that the only thing I'm certain of, is that I'll probably end up bleeding out onto a bit of tin, I suppose I could relate. In discussing the films theme, Braff has been quoted as saying that he believes that we have two kinds of puberty... In our teens our bodies become more adult by getting bigger and sprouting out hair in random places but it's in our twenties that our mind is forced to become more mature. Well, I'm twenty-five now and I still can't grow a fucking beard, so fuck knows when my brain will decide to grow up... but I guess I would broadly agree with him. That's not to say that this film is all doom and gloom either by the way as there are plenty of moments that are as funny as hell. Not in a slapstick, shit American sitcom kind of way, but in a gentler Wes Anderson, Alexander Payne type of way. I don't know what the Scrubs fans would have made of this film, but I suspect it'd be enjoyed by those snobby, twats who like to sit around drinking red and saying “Yah” as though it doesn't make me want to glass them in their pretentious fucking faces.

So yeah, it's taken me ten years to get around to watching Garden State and now that I have I can thankfully say that it didn't disappoint. In honesty, I'm not sure why it's remembered quite so fondly as although I thought it was really good, it wasn't quite the shining beacon of brilliance that some might have you believe. It is obviously very good but then lots of films are and most of those end up getting forgotten about... It has its charm; I look forward to seeing it again and I suppose I like any film that deals with the quarter-life crises that some of us end up going through. I think the ultimate message of the film is that instead of waiting for something to happen, you should just grab life by the balls and make of it whatever you can… although, that's more easily said by the lucky cunt who meats Natalie Portman in a waiting room. Oh, and the film has a good soundtrack, did I mention that? I don't think I did. Okay, well it has a good soundtrack. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time!

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