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A gentle and usually mellow young man, who sometimes knows things before they happen and gets vibes of premonition, tell us his story: how he met Michelle in Iowa in 1971, how he got the name Fuckhead, how she introduced him to heroin and their falling in love, his thieving, his hospital work and their time in Chicago when she gets pregnant, detox, going to Phoenix to live, AA meetings and a dance, working at a care center where he learns to touch the residents, and modifying his daily schedule so that he passes a neighboring Mennonite household at the right time to hear the wife sing Gospel songs in the shower. Slowly, very slowly, FH lets his gifts emerge. Written by
This film was buried here- apart from the acclaim in 'Uncut' magazine; I didn't manage to see this 'til this year. My initial viewing was a little underwhelmed- being a fan of Johnson's book I had worked this up to impossible heights in my mind. However, on a second viewing I enjoyed the film more- the nouvelle-vague via Scorsese editing & structure seemed much better 2nd time around.
The film is closest to 'Drugstore Cowboy'- though parts such as the split-screen or the digital editing as F***head takes pills in the Emergency Room could have come from 'Requiem for a Dream'. The source stories have been extended and made more cohesive- as with the adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr's 'Last Exit to Brooklyn' by Uli Edel.
The film is wonderfully shot- a great scene is the drive-in/cemetery that plays 'Carnival of Souls' (though I thought I saw Samantha Morton caught in an almost Anton 'Depeche Mode' Corbijin style!); imagine 'Zabriskie Point' without the metaphysical masturbation...
The acting is uniformly great- Crudup & Morton are fantastic leads, while Denis Leary, Greg Germann, Holly Hunter are among the excellent supports. The short Dennis Hopper shaving scene is one of the greatest pieces of cinema I have seen in recent years; while Jack Black almost steals the film with his amusing "listen to my shoes". And Denis Johnson is great as hunting knife in eye guy. Oh and Will Patton pops up as 'John Smith'- still he was in 'The Postman', so not quite yet forgiven.
The soundtrack (chosen by Johnson) is great- Neil Young's 'Cowgirl in the Sand', Wilco's 'Airline to Heaven' & 'She's a Jar', 'Hang on Sloopy' and the great score. The highlight is Morton's gyrating dance to 'Oh Sweet Pea'- almost as great as that dance scene ripped off for 'Pulp Fiction' from Godard's 'Bande a Part'.Only quibble is- where was 'Heroin' by The Velvet Underground?
'Jesus' Son' is a touching, funny, and tender film that deserves to find an audience. There are too many great moments here- Hunter's arm waving in the air, Beverly Home, the Amish, the laundry scene, the ER scene, the rabbits roadtrip etc. Terribly depressing that mediocrity like 'Human Traffic' & 'Trainspotting' finds an audience here- but a film like this isn't allowed to (except at a few arthouse cinemas). Pity- and Alison MacLean's debut 'Crush' is also excellent; here's to possible adaptations of Denis Johnson's 'Already Dead' & 'The Name of the World'- by David Lynch and Paul Schrader respectively (hopefully)...Check out Johnson's books- as this film's use of voiceover stems right from them.
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