"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, January 12, 2007

Earnhardt Tails - "Old Joy" Movie Review

Friday night and this old man stayed at home while my young sophisticated roommate went out to the movies with her friend Ms. Leslie. I need to have a talk one of these days with Ms. Leslie. She is a children's book author but for some reason she writes about chickens. I know they are tasty and all, but in my opinion a book about a dark handsome, debonair man-cat would make for much more interesting tails. Ms. Pam has read to me Big Chickens, which I do have to admit made me lick my chops. Plus I hear Ms. Leslie was selected for the Michigan Reads program for the 2007/08 school year. A big meow for this accomplishment, Ms. Leslie.

Ms. Pam and Ms. Leslie went to see Old Joy, an independent film playing at Western Michigan University's Little Theater. The film was sponsored through the Kalamazoo Film Society.

Old Joy is a story of two old friends, Kurt (Will Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London), who reunite for a weekend camping trip in the Cascade mountain range east of Portland, Oregon. For Mark, the weekend outing offers a respite from the pressure of his imminent fatherhood; for Kurt, it is part of a long series of carefree adventures. As the hours progress and the landscape evolves, the twin seekers move through a range of subtle emotions, enacting a pilgrimage of mutual confusion, sudden insight, and spiritual battle. When they arrive at their final destination, a hot spring in an old growth forest, they must either confront the divergent paths they have taken, or somehow transcend their growing tensions.

Both Ms. Pam and Ms. Leslie thought the film was good, but a little slow due to the quiteness and silent periods that was filtered through the movie. And they were a little confused at the end, but this made for great conversation while dining at the University Roadhouse afterwards.

Afterwards when I snuggled up with Ms. Pam she gave me her thoughts: A simple film about two college friends who discover that their lives have seperated. I know that some of my friendships from my youth have stayed alive and others have died so it was easy to relate to. Recovering a lost friendship is essentially what the film was about. But at times it felt like it was about nothing since there wasn't a lot of dialogue besides the natural, every day sounds we take for granted.

The director made sure the camera was on everything that was important. The cinematography is what makes this movie spectacular. Every scene is shot with such clarity, that no camera movement is necessary. The movie was filmed in the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. I have never been there, but the scenery was beautiful.

Will Oldham, who plays the part of Kurt, does a great role as a lost character. The film is open ended, which made it frustrating. But it makes you wonder if joy wears out naturally for some people, while others haven't given up it. Fittingly, at one point Kurt shares with Mark a Chinese proverb: "Sorrow is nothing but worn out joy."

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