It may come as no surprise to you, but there is a certain quirk factor that permeates through the very recesses of my existence from the items I create to the daily media medly I partake in. Fortunately last weekend my media medly consisted of these two delightfully quirky examples of cinema...
Written and directed by a master of contemporary quirk, Jim Jarmusch, and starring Bill Murray, this is a lovely little comedic tale of loves lost, expectations thwarted and realizations made, all from behind the wheel of a rented Ford Taurus.
Here's the synopsis I found on imdb:
"The resolutely single Don Johnson has just been dumped by his latest lover, Sherry. Don resigns himself to being alone yet again and left to his own devices. Instead, he is compelled to reflect on his past when he receives by mail a mysterious pink letter. It is from an anonymous former lover and informs him that he has a 19-year-old son who may now be looking for his father. Don is urged to investigate this "mystery" by his closest friend and neighbor, Winston,
an amateur sleuth and family man. Hesitant to travel at all, Don nonetheless embarks on a cross-country trek in search of clues from four former flames. Unannounced visits to each of these unique women hold new surprises for Don as he haphazardly confronts both his past and, consequently, his present."
Bill Murray is delightfully droll as the movie's main character, Don Johnston. Jeffrey Wright plays Murray's neighbor, Winston, who is equally amusing in his sheer oddity. Both characters are endearing portraits of American men from very different backgrounds who come together in a search for meaning amidst life's small moments. Moreover, the on-screen rapport between Murray and Wright is not only fascinating to watch, but their relationship truly drives the flick. Upon the film's conclusion, I was left with the overwhelming feeling that these guys have been a screen team for years and that, my friends, is a testament to the amazing depth and breadth of talent these two seasoned actors exhibit.
And let's not forget about the film's creator, Jim Jarmusch. First of all, you gotta love a guy who's been sportin' this do for a bazillion years...
In addition to his upswept locks, Jarmusch can always, always be counted upon to provide a film with an exquisitely twisted premise, intriguing characters and cinematic vistas that cut a cross-section through the human landscape.
More of my Murray faves:
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou;
Lost in Translation;
The Royal Tenenbaums;
What About Bob?; and
of course all those SNL classics...
More of my Wright faves:
More of my Jarmusch faves:
Night on Earth;
Mystery Train; and
one of the best guest appearances ever on a show that was SO wrongly cancelled, Fishing with John.
The quirkfest continued this weekend last with a screening of Little Miss Sunshine...
"Olive is a little girl with a dream: winning the Little Miss Sunshine contest. Her family wants her dream to come true, but they are so burdened with their own quirks, neuroses, and problems that they can barely make it through a day without some disaster befalling them. Olive's father Richard is a flop as a motivational speaker, and is barely on speaking terms with her mother. Her uncle Frank, a renowned Proust scholar, has attempted suicide following an
unsuccessful romance with a male graduate student. Her brother Dwayne, a fanatical follower of Nietzsche, has taken a vow of silence, which allows him to escape somewhat from the family whose very presence torments him. And Olive's grandfather is a ne'er-do-well with a drug habit, but at least he enthusiastically coaches Olive in her contest talent routine. Circumstances conspire to put the entire family on the road together with the goal of getting Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine contest in far off California."
Come on...any film that references Nietzsche, Proust and Rick James before its conclusion is alright in my book. Really though, if you haven't seen this film yet, you must. The cast is well chosen, the scenes are brilliant exhibitions of great writing combined with equally great acting and this film is fun-ny...yes, this flick is sure to provoke more than a few laughs from its audience.
Toni Collette was just brilliant as the flawed family matriarch. Greg Kinnear was imminently endearing in his consistent striving to ascend the mediocrity in which he finds himself using his self-devised 9 step methodology. Steve Carrell? Can you say gay, suicidal, Proust scholar? 'Nuff said. Alan Arkin had me in side-splitting fits of glee, while Paul Dano and Abigail Breslin gave performances assuring them many a future cinematic gig.
Jeez, have you seen this film yet?
More of my faves by this star-studded cast:
Definitely check out Collette in Muriel's Wedding, The Sixth Sense and About a Boy;
Kinnear in Nurse Betty, As Good as It Gets and Mystery Men (it doesn't get much quirkier than this film);
who doesn't love Carrell in The Office; and
Arkin parts too numerous to detail, check this list.
Any quirk factor movies you'd think I would like? Let me know in my comments!
Happy Monday everyone!