August 3, 2004

Beauty In The Breakdown

Cinecultist kinda loves it when certain movies turn us into an obsessive fan girl. It's all about the tingling love of cinema buzzing through our veins. The newest installment to the list of films that have this power over us Zach Braff's Garden State which we saw over the weekend. More The Graduate than The Pallbearer, Garden State details four days wherein the morose Andrew Largeman (Braff) returns from his beige life in L.A. to his hometown in New Jersey to bury his mother. He meets a girl (Nathalie Portman), he goes off the meds, he finds himself AND he's introduced to the music of the Shins. It's a bildungsroman for the emo set, and though we found it sorta twee in the end, Cinecultist has to admit we sorta love twee. We do live in the Eee Vee afterall, ground zero for twee.*

Perhaps what Cinecultist found ourselves responding most strongly to in this movie, is the feeling Braff captures of walking through life with your earphones on. There are moments where the emotionally stunted Large fades away from an experience, disengages himself frozen in his spot as the other players rush around him and the soundtrack swells over the ambient noise. Partially a by product of a MTV-raised moviemaker where the song takes higher precedence over dialogue, but also partially a (seemingly conscious) expression of Large's modern malaise; this is a very effective technique Braff uses throughout the movie. And what a soundtrack this movie has as the dialogue fades away! Not just two tracks by the Albuquerque band the Shins, who Portman's character Sam introduces by telling Large "they'll change your life," but some Simon & Garfunkel, Coldplay, Nick Drake, Remy 7, Thievery Corporation and a cover of the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" by Iron and Wine.

But getting back to the whole twee thing, the Postal Service cover is prime example of this movie's tendency to take romanticism just that little bit too far. Ben Gibbard, the emo king and our not-so-secret secret boyfriend, tempers his twee lyrics written for side project the Postal Service with the harder edge techno beats provided by Dntel. However Iron and Wine do the song purely as a folk tune, acoustic style. It's all too much sweetness, once we got beyond the thrill of hearing Gibbard lyrics coming from the big screen, as we watch Large and Sam spoon post-coital. The same can be said for the film's ending, which we'll refrain from detailing, except to say that it's much too tidy for our taste. As a self-avowed devote of Harold and Maude, Braff should have known better in this case. Let's hope for a more ambiguous sophomore effort with all of the wit and heart displayed in this picture.

For your listening pleasure we bring you the eponymous track from Garden State's trailer, Frou Frou's "Let Go." Listen to it loud and do some sort of dance movement that's entirely original, never before done in the history of humanity, just like the too quirky but adorable Portman. The soundtrack comes out August 10 and the film opens wide this coming weekend.

*Courtesy of a Convo yesterday with Jen we bring you a definition of "twee" from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
twee
Pronunciation: 'twE
Function: adjective
Etymology: baby-talk alteration of sweet
chiefly British : affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint

And there you have it. Definitions of obscure British words and movie reviews, Cinecultist is a full service weblog. P.S. to Jen, we'd so go and see this movie again with you. Let's go, right now.

Posted by karen at August 3, 2004 7:59 AM | TrackBack