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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie had been on my 'radar' for several years, intrigued both by
the title and the actors. Finally it came up on my Netflix streaming
list. I had high hopes after reading the review by the critic Ebert,
who I find usually helpful, and also the relatively high IMDb rating.
But sadly when it was all over I found it to be not much of a
satisfying movie at all.
I like Billy Crudup, he is a good actor. Here he plays FH (short for F***-Head), and the moniker fits because as good as his intentions mostly are, he just has a knack for messing things up. He seems sincere, but almost a simpleton, and especially when we see him do some of the things he does. Like the time he hears a woman singing while in the shower, he goes into the home and lies down on the bed to listen to her. Until the husband comes in. Like, who would actually do something like that?
The other key character is Samantha Morton as Michelle and when FH meets her she is already an addict. Her addiction pulls him in too and, while they genuinely seem to care for each other, you can't really care for another person when you are addicted to drugs and wonder how you will support your habit.
The film has quite a number of other well-known actors, like Dennis Leary, Dennis Hopper, Jack Black, Holly Hunter, but mostly in brief parts. It is puzzling why the title is what it is. There are many funny, or just interesting, moments in the film but for me it did not add up to a worthwhile movie.
JESUS'S SON, the new hallucination from the director of CRUSH
tries to follow in the footsteps of DRUGSTORE COWBOY and TRAINSPOTTING but
doesn't quite hit the mark. I really wasn't all that impressed. It had
some funny scenes but it didn't seem to have an ending. I mean, it didn't
seem like the director knew how to tie everything up at the end. Billy
Crudup and Samantha Morton were well used and did a fine job but the rest
the cast could have been used better. The scene with Dennis Hopper was
there, it didn't seem to have any meaning or purpose at all. I would have
liked to know more about the Holly Hunter character too. Jack Black was
great but he just disappears with no explanation. Dennis
part was small but very effective though. The director, Alison Maclean
potential but I think she needs to learn how to use her actors
Jesus' Son, directed by New Zealander Alison Maclean, is based on the
stories of Denis Johnson. The short story origins go a long way to
explaining the movie's patchy feel. Billy Crudup is christened FH (F***
Head) by his mates because he fouls up everything and everyone he comes
across. The common link in most of FH's otherwise random misadventures is
Michelle (Samantha Morton), a junkie he meets at a party and falls in love
with. It's a bare thread to hang the film on, but Morton manages to centre
things for a while. She gives the film's liveliest performance, making
Michelle a lot more interesting than FH and the other eccentrics he meets
(played by the likes of Denis Leary, Dennis Hopper and Holly Hunter in
Drug taking is not a spectator sport, and watching the semi-dazed FH wander wintry America in the early 1970s quickly becomes tiresome. We've seen this sort of material too often in independent American features for it to be fresh, and Maclean's fluid direction and ability with actors cannot disguise the episodic nature of the material. FH veers from boring to downright unlikeable, and I didn't care much about him or his potential redemption. Not helping was my failure to connect with the grotesque humour. There's only so many laughs you can wring from squashed animal foetuses and a man with a hunting knife stuck in his eye.
This dreamy little film is well acted (especially by Crudup), and nicely filmed, but it really goes nowhere, and does so for a very long time. It follows "FH", played by Crudup. A drug induced loser, and his failed relationship with his girlfriend, played by the talented Samantha Morton. Simply put, it's pretty to look at, but it's dull and nothing new.
Billy Crudup, as an aimless young screw-up and pill-popper in 1970s Chicago, has the mannerisms of a user down right, yet he doesn't convince as an addict. While riding on the dirty subway cars in the darkened city, interacting with the street life and the strays he seems to attract, Crudup certainly has the appropriate glassy-eyed expression and sheepish grin, but he's too lean and muscular and healthy-looking to be taken for a troubled junkie. The film, an adaptation of Denis Johnson's book of short stories, has been fairly well realized by director Alison Maclean (who has a vivid eye for detail); unfortunately, the protagonist isn't really a character at all, and this isn't entirely Crudup's fault. He hasn't been conceived as anything but a walking foul up, one with fabricated answers and--in his narration--'deep thoughts' soaked in the smugness of an elevated consciousness. Many stars help out in support, yet the film is less a dramatic achievement than an arty, somewhat indifferent passel of scenes. ** from ****
Being a huge fan of Denis Johnson and Lou Reed, I was curious how they could make a movie from such unusually random events. The movie does such a great job stitching together Johnson's stories. They are extraordinary, humorous, and often touching. Together they make, in my opinion, one of the best 'drug' related movies ever. It is Borroughsesque in its candid, accurate portrayal of heroin addiction. The flashbacks and fuzzy pieced together vignettes resemble the actual effect heroin has on time. Time seems to slow down with days starting to blur into nights. The movie really touched me as I saw some of FH in myself. I too am a recovering addict. I have been clean for over a year now. Thank god for suboxone!!! For anyone grappling with heroin addiction please consider suboxone therapy. It has truly saved my life, marriage, and sanity.
I like an offbeat film as much as the next guy. Heck, the weirder the
better, I say. But this film crosses the line even for me. At least I could
actually sit through this entire thing, unlike its older (even weirder)
cousin, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". I compare the two films because
they're both drug-trippin', hallucinatory affairs. Both of them, for some
reason, drew big names out of the woodwork to get involved. The star of
"Jesus' Son" is Billy Crudup, along with the relatively unknown Samantha
Morton. But also on board is Holly Hunter, Will Patton, Dennis Hopper, and
Denis Leary in small roles.
These films' defining stamp is that they are told in an intentionally haphazard manner. Put simply, this makes a film that's difficult to watch. Both films are based on novels (I've read neither) and I can safely say this storytelling style befits the page more than it does the screen. It's supposed to make the experience more challenging for the audience, leaving them to try and piece this collection of strange occurrences into something that means anything. Let's just say I don't prefer this type of movie-going experience.
I didn't find anything particularly great about this film, nor did I find anything to be at all endearing. The result is an unsatisfying hour and a half of movie watching. Don't use drugs. Don't bother with "Jesus' Son".
Being a fan of Jack Black, and trying to see all of his work, I decided to give this a try. He was actually only in it for maybe 20 minutes or so, but it was a good performance. Even when his parts were done, I was still very drawn in by the main story. Without going into the story itself, all I can tell you is that I was enjoying myself. I was being entertained and was curious to see the conclusion. After I was about two thirds of the way through. Everything really (and here come the spoilers) got stupid. The third act started with the main guy finding his girlfriend overdosing, she dies, eats her note, follows a guy into a laundry place, wonders if he is having a "I might be gay minute", goes to rehab where he shaves Dennis Hopper, watches some Amish woman sing in her shower, hangs out inside and outside her house, meets another woman whose boyfriends keep dying, and then works at a mental hospital where he learns to touch people. Its like they just put in all this "stuff" for him to do. Made no sense and made the move suck.
Following in the footsteps of The Panic in Needle Park and Drugstore Cowboy comes another 70's drug themed film Jesus' Son, the title coined from a song by the Velvet Underground's 1969 self titled album. Bill Crudup plays "FH" ( short for F***head because he is a walking accident waiting to happen)as we see him wander through various escapdes as well as getting involved with a junkie ( played by Samantha Morton of Woody Allens recent film Sweet and Lowdown) who gets him hooked on heroin. The film is episodic with each scene unfolding like a new chapter in a book with a voice over by Crudup. There are many amusing vignettes along the way as Crudup gets mixed up with an assortment of different characters. The guest stars include Denis Leary, Dennis Hopper, Jack Black from High Fidelity and Holly Hunter who appears at the end and has a romantic fling with the lead character. The film has a meandering feel to it as we view "FH's" random musings and stream of consciousness digressions. As his existentalist journey unfolds, we the audience are unsure of his fate but by the end we are left satisfied.
I loved this movie. Having grown up in the 70's, the music and fashion were right on. It gives a good glimpse into the life of a drug oriented drifter from that period. The character grows throughout the movie....along with some dark comedy. One of my favorite parts was the "party scene" when he meets Michelle (her dancing was awesome). The music at the party was so typical of the era. Another was when he was an "orderly" at the hospital. That is a scene not to be missed. All in all, I really enjoyed this movie. I would watch it or rent it again. Put on your suede fringed jacket before watching this one. It will bring up some memories of how it was. Peace, Man!
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