Movie Review: Garden State

I’m long overdue in posting my review of Garden State (2004) which Susan and I watched on DVD a couple of weeks ago.

A movie set in a New Jersey with a soundtrack full of hip music and Natalie Portman, what’s not to like?  Well there are a few things I didn’t like.  Too much flashy, MTV-style editing, close-ups of Zach Braff staring morosely at the screen, and like Running With Scissors the soundtrack can be blaringly obtrusive.  The end of the film is far too clean cut and formulaic, I think the movie would’ve been better ending about 15 minutes earlier.  Who in real life falls completely and truly in love in four days anyway?

Despite these flaws, I enjoyed Garden State immensely.  The movie is the story of Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff, who also wrote and directed) an actor who returns home to New Jersey after a long absence after his parapalegic mother drowns in the bathtub (how she gets in the bath in the first place is not explained for when they actually show the bath in the movie it has no railings or anything else to assist a disabled person).  The four days following the funeral are an intense period for Andrew becoming reaquianted with old friends, avoiding and finally reconciling with his father (Ian Holm who has grown and gained a Jersey accent since being Bilbo Baggins), and meeting and falling in love with a young woman named Samantha (Natalie Portman).

When you get past the philosophical exposition and the message points, what I really like about this movie is that it is a series of bizzare events.  I think everyone has days like this where just a lot of weird things occur one after another, and I think the movie captures this believably.  I especially like the series of events that leads Andrew, Samantha, and Mark (Peter Sarsgaard) to the bottom of a mysterious quarry where the least dysfunctional family in the entire film live in a houseboat.

Gearing Up for Baseball Season

My Lenten fast from online Mets forums means I’m paying even less attention to Spring Training than I usually d0. I am however very aware that Opening Day (or Opening Night as is the case) is approaching. The Mets will be playing at the Cardinals Sunday night, April 1st, in real, honest-to-God regular season baseball. No foolin’. Joyce at Mike’s Mets has Spring Fever and claims to be optimistic although I can detect uncertainty in her voice. I’m feeling a bit uneasy about the Mets repeating much less improving upon last season, but then again it wasn’t until September when I was finally convinced that the Braves were not going to surge and steal the division title.

Getting ready for a new season means renewing hatred for those teams that happen to better than the Mets (and who says jealousy is the only deadly sin that gives no pleasure?). The Pinetar Rag posts an image of what the Yankees payroll looks like in actual dollars (brilliantly including some yen as well for the Yankees Japanese players). These are the ill-gotten gains the Yankees use to buy their way into the playoffs each season. Of course, one can find pleasure in that despite all that money the Yankees have failed to win a World Series for six straight seasons, but on the other hand they are still taking playoff spots from more deserving teams. I’ll be pleased when they fail to make the postseason at all. Maybe this year?

Speaking of the Cardinals, they are a team that I hated with a teenage boy’s passion back in the days of the White Rat and pond scum. In more recent years I’ve grown indifferent to the Cardinals and even a little admiring of the Best Fans in Baseball (especially when they were so classy to stay and applaud the Red Sox after the 2004 World Series). But my hate-o-meter may be swinging back now and not just because of Yadier Bleeping Molina. Greg at Faith and Fear in Flushing reports on the many ways the Cardinals will be celebrating their World Series Championship in that opening series versus the Mets, including:

  • commemorative patches and gold trim on the Cardinals’ uniforms
  • handing out World Series rings to everyone who comes into the stadium (except the Mets)
  • giving fans replica World Series banners measuring 3′ x 5′
  • celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1982 World Series with our Keith Hernandez

That’s laying it on a bit thick isn’t it? I guess it’s good they’re not going to start opening day by having the fans wave palms and lay them down before Tony LaRussa. I guess it’s pretty cool for the Cardinals’ fans but watching those first games could leave me seeing red.