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Garden State


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#1 Paul Bruening

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 10:11 AM

There is a tendency in movie making to provide for viewer expectations. The assumption is that viewers prefer that movies validate their existing notions about how things unfold in social and personal situations.

I have noticed in Garden State that scenes unfold in quirky ways. Maybe, quirky isn't the right term. Certainly, unexpected. As the performers acted out their parts, the directions they took were not as I expected. My expectation comes, in part, from watching a life-time's worth of movies. I really like that about this movie. It really charms me. Here are these completely ordinary situations and they challenge me merely in the unpredictability of the moments.

My favorite scene demonstrating this is when Natalie and Zach are in her back yard in the pet cemetery burying Jelly.

This movie is really so ordinary in it's plot elements. It is the unusual writing/directing/performance that makes it so incredibly charming.
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#2 georg lamshöft

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 05:52 PM

Surprising even movie-experienced people while making the story still logical and "work" (forgetting for hours that you're staring on a white wall in a dark room) is part of the "magic" to me.

Maybe it gets harder year by year to create such experiences because we are used to so many variations of basically the same story (basic topics: love, revenge...)?

Juno was a - even more extreme - example of really good story(telling) to me: making a really simple and small (and to most of us uninteristing) story "work", the story is driven by the characters and surprises/touches us in the most unexpected moments!

I really liked "Garden State", I was surprised how creative and well-done a movie by a newcomer (who has basically done all by himself!) can be, someone who was only known as an actor of a TV-comedy-show! You can see his thesis-movie on his site done years ago and some nice b/w-photography work with his Leica M. I wonder how many other talents never get a chance...

It also never looked "cheap", everything was done with care, everyone seemed to do his/her best!?

I'm really looking forward to future work of Mr. Braff!
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#3 Alessandro Malfatti

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 08:25 PM

Crikey, I don't like to be a negative Nancy, but god how I hated both of those movies. I shut off the DVD of Garden state about halfway through, and only sat through Juno as not to disturb the other moviegoers. Both of those films seemed utterly predictable, about fifteen minutes into Juno I knew I had on my hands one of those...uh... quirky/hipster/alternative kind of movies, like the ones coming out of Wes Anderson (I know people are going to tear me apart after that one). I knew precisely how the story would turn out in Juno, weird kid gets pregnant, takes unusual solutions, basically the poster, the expression she has on it, says everything. There was even a hollywood - happy ending!! What is so revolutionary about that? So the characters are not your typical assembly-line-movie characters, but they are absolutely unbelievable and ridiculous, in a movie trying to make people take it seriously when Juno has her silly-ass reactions in front of that family that's going to adopt the baby. poop, I almost metaphorically threw up when I saw that scene. Just because a movie uses reactions and plot lines that are uncommon, that doesn't make it something good. I found Juno and what I saw of Garden State absolutely ridiculous, and the fact, that many people hold in such high regard only makes me sick. Sorry, I had to get that out of my system!
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#4 Josh Bass

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 02:45 AM

It's become a thing, in recent years. . .the quirky indie comedy/light drama. There's a almost a formula for it: quirky characters, non-mainstream music, odd situations happening to people, monologues about deep stuff, probably some casual drug use. A whole slew of films like this exist

-Rocket Science
-Thumbsucker
-The Go-Getter
-Kabluey (though I rather liked this one)
-Chumscrubber
-Little Miss Sunshine
-Year of the Dog
-The Promotion
-Napoleon Dynamite

etc. etc.
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#5 Steve McBride

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 05:25 PM

@Alessandro
Go watch the movie Brick, let me know what you think about it.
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#6 Ira Ratner

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 05:56 PM

Someone here didn't like Juno? This film was revolutionary in a thousand ways.

It has to be a cultural thing, but as a U.S. movie, it nailed it on a million levels for us. Great story, characters, dialogue--and modestly told.

Of course, if you DON'T want to make a film that costs peanuts to produce and makes countless millions and millions of dollars, by all means ignore it.

But I'm a 51-year-old fart who watched it in total awe and enjoyment.
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#7 Paul Bruening

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 11:21 AM

Hey Ira,

I do understand many people's negative reactions to Garden State and Juno. They are both sappy movies. Not everyone likes sappy movies. I recall mentioning in my fav bar that I had seen Juno and had actually teared-up at one point during the movie. The guy asked me, "Are you some kinda' homo?" I answered something like, "I'm man-enough to cry," or some, similar, weak, smart-ass reply.

I wasn't trying to sell the movie to anyone. I was just interested in how it navigated the viewer's, preprogrammed expectations on how scenes unfold. All too many times, scenes will play-through in exactly the way you expect. It feels like eating old leftovers. Garden State didn't do that and I respect that.
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#8 Justin Hayward

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 01:37 PM

Trouble I have with movies like Garden State are how the two love birds meet. A corky, funny, smoke'n hot chick just starts talking to some strange dude out of the clear blue sky cause she thinks he's interesting. I mean, has that actually ever happened to anyone?

I liked it in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, because the girl who was corky, funny, cute, and willing to approach a shy stranger, actually turned out to be an alcoholic, psycho, that eventually made him miserable.
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#9 Josh Bass

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 01:44 PM

Brick was cool, though I needed the subtitles to understand it.

I don't think people are necessarily put off by the sap in these films as they are the whole hipster/indie/quirky/alterna thing. Sometimes movies try so hard to be cool/non-mainstream that it's off-putting.
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#10 Josh Bass

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 05:38 PM

Oh, and while we're on it, MadTV is a pretty dumb show most of the time, but every once in a while they do something decent. I think this is an example of one of those times:


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#11 Paul Bruening

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 11:25 PM

Preprogrammed expectations.
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#12 Steve McBride

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:22 PM

Trouble I have with movies like Garden State are how the two love birds meet. A corky, funny, smoke'n hot chick just starts talking to some strange dude out of the clear blue sky cause she thinks he's interesting. I mean, has that actually ever happened to anyone?

I liked it in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, because the girl who was corky, funny, cute, and willing to approach a shy stranger, actually turned out to be an alcoholic, psycho, that eventually made him miserable.

You're not looking at it the right way. A corky, funny, CUTE chick starts making small talk with a famous person who has randomly appeared in her town. Her own personality clicks with the now alive part of Zach Braff's character (the part that was put asleep by the meds) and through her he is able to start to really live his life.

It would be odd if Zach Braff's character was completely normal to continue to hang out with Natalie Portman's character, but he isn't normal. He needs her in order to figure out who he truly is, the person inside of him that couldn't be brought out when he was away because of the meds that his father had kept him on since he was very young but had decided not to bring with him on his trip back to his hometown.

If you still don't get it, put yourself in it. You are a complete zombie, you don't do what you want to do and you don't enjoy anything that you do. All of a sudden, this person appears to you and you feel different, you feel good. Wouldn't you want to stay around that person?

Edited by Steve McBride, 12 November 2008 - 04:23 PM.

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#13 Ira Ratner

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 08:01 PM

[quote name='Paul Bruening' date='Nov 11 2008, 11:21 AM' post='258801']
The guy asked me, "Are you some kinda' homo?" I answered something like, "I'm man-enough to cry," or some, similar, weak, smart-ass reply.

[quote]

That's the thing, Paul:

A majority of regular Joe's like us actually LIKED it--homo label not withstanding. Which is why it was such an incredible success.

Yeah, great box office numbers don't always indicate a good film.

But for THIS kind of movie to resonate like it did and cross so many demographics and psychographics, it indicates a GREAT film.

Simple example:

Pregnant teenage daughter whose parents still actually love and support her?

WOW! WHAT A CONCEPT!

I wish life would more often mirror art, you know?
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#14 Paul Bruening

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 10:19 PM

Yep.
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#15 Alessandro Malfatti

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 06:17 PM

Maybe the concept is good, it's original to have a pregnant teen that gets support from its parents, but apart from that I don't see original things in that movie (and generally in those kinds of movies), instead I see ideas that make little sense to me, and just like Justin said, the way the two lovebirds meet (in Garden State), or maybe how they treat each other (Juno) I just can't see that happening outside that wanna-be-believable world of that picture. That video from MadTV is actually quite smart, it really caricatures precisely what I believe is unbelievable or even silly about that movie.
I guess we'll have to settle on different opinions on that matter, many of my friends also loved the movie, and I guess IMDB and the box office success say something about it.
Btw. I haven't watched Brick yet, but I'll do so if the chance arises. But uh... to be honest the trailer doesn't make me want to watch it at all, really...

Edited by Alessandro Malfatti, 27 November 2008 - 06:20 PM.

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#16 Chazz Romeo

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 02:41 AM

i understand where people are coming from.. who dont like garden state.. (this movie being one of my top 10 favorites)..the movie is a simple story about a guy who loses his mother, his lifes all **(obscenity removed)**ed up and he has no idea what hes doing anymore...he finally comes home, meets this girl, gets some old friends back and takes a life journey that changes his life forever... its simply a melancholy movie that has a solid witty story to it.. people who dont like the movie just dont like these type of movies, its a style u have to have a taste for.. im sure ur favorite movies, if not typicals like the godfather, are movies id never care to watch.. plus the movie dominated in the box office and its unusual to see a bad review about it.. real film makers can see the beauty in this movie..
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#17 Jason Anderson

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 03:56 AM

any of you driven off with the gas nozzle still in the tank?
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