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|Index||86 reviews in total|
This year I've seen many Hollywood films that I instantly forget upon leaving the theatre and lately I can't even seem to find solace with independent films anymore. They're playing to what's hip at the moment rather than speaking about the things which remain timeless and universal. What a pleasure it was to see Jesus' Son. Every moment in this film reminded me of why I love films in the first place. Interesting characters dealing with interesting situations that we haven't seen quite that way before. Bravo to everyone involved with this film, in making it you've let sunshine back into my heart and I hope to others.
It's been a while since I've left a movie completely hopeful and rejuvenated. This is, by far, the best film I've seen in this (horrible) movie-going year-- it actually improves upon its source material in imaginative and truthful ways and uses perfect casting (especially Crudup in the lead role) to enhance the story. This film is full of memorable scenes, profound moments, and most of all, guts and truth. 10/10.
There's something very sweet about Billy Crudup's face and it was one of the best things about this film. Don't get me wrong, the other characters were interesting enough to keep the story going, but Mr.Crudup did an amazing job, which I'll admit surprised me, because I've never considered him to be a great actor. The only thing I wished is that the other characters would have had more screen time. It was strange to see Dennis Hopper in a cameo role, and I wished he could have come back later on. Holly Hunter is always great and Jack Black is hilarious. I was very happily surprised by this film, but don't see it if you're looking for a quick-paced film. It's a slow, meandering trip, but worth it if you give it a chance.
Director Alison Maclean's follow up to Crush follows the tortuous journey
towards redemption of a drug ravaged loser called " Fuckhead ", played by
Billy Crudup, stumbling through a series of unpleasant or off-beat
in 1970s America. His name refers to the way everything he touches goes
horrendously wrong, but what saved this movie for me from being too
depressing was the humour and pathos in Crudup's performance which almost
made me like the messed up character he plays. His journey is shown in a
series of separate segments, staying reasonably close to the style of the
acclaimed short stories by Denis Johnson on which the movie is based. " FH
has an on-off liaison with Michelle, powerfully played by Samantha Morton
who was so impressive in the badly under-rated " This is the Sea " and in
Jesus' Son is once again utterly convincing.
A strong cast includes cameo appearances from Will Paton, Dennis Hopper and most notably Holly Hunter who is mesmerising in a brief appearance towards the end of the film as a woman who has suffered from dreadful things which keep happening to her husbands.By this stage I had become a litle bored with the succession of losers and gory incidents - a guy with a knife in his eye being treated in the emergency room for instance - but Hunter's role together with the overall strength of Crudup's acting re-ignited the final section of this interesting movie.
At the end " FH " does find some kind of redemption and his surprise at this situation is almost a happy ending. I was surprised too how much of an impression the movie made on me afterwards with little incidents and lines of dialogue making me want to see it again. So Jesus'Son, although not for the faint-hearted, is definitely worth checking out - especially for Billy Crudup's perfomance - and I am certain that Alison Maclean is set to be a major directorial talent in the years ahead.
(Jesus' Son shown at the London Film Festival, November 06, 1999)
"Jesus' Son" is a decently made independent film whose heart is in the
right place. However, good intentions aren't nearly enough to make a
good film, which brings me to the main problem of "Jesus' Son". I feel
like I've seen this film dozens of times before. The quirky independent
film style, the offbeat but likable characters, and most of all, the
"junkie with a heart of gold" road movie. Throughout the film, I
couldn't help but be reminded of "Drugstore Cowboy", which managed to
pull off all these factors with twice the power of this entry. Its nice
to see a movie which doesn't beat you over the head with a simplistic
"drugs are bad" moral (such as the incredibly overrated "Requiem For a
Dream" did), but the material in "Jesus' Son" is far too slight to have
any lasting effect. This seems like a quirky indie road movie and
really nothing more.
Fortunately, the acting and direction are good enough that this might be worth watching if it turns up on IFC. Billy Crudup takes a bland character and does his best with him. Hes likable enough in the main role. Even better is the supporting cast. Samantha Morton, Dennis Hopper, Denis Leary, and Jack Black all give surprisingly poignant performances. The direction by Alison Maclean takes the rather uninteresting material and keeps it moving at a quick pace, quick enough to make you not realize the weightlessness of the film until its over. If only the screenplay (credited to three different writers!) had some more effort put into it, "Jesus' Son" could've been something special. Instead, it merely feels like a well-made but forgettable trotting of indie film clichés. (6/10)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Contains Spoiler--- Highly recommended, dark, realistic depiction of
what we call the "drug culture" After you've seen it, read my review:
I Just saw the movie on the IFC. Incredibly powerful and affecting. I am a middle class retiree who never lived the life described, yet came close enough to have empathy for the characters. If the film had flaws, they only made it more realistic. We all have flaws. We do not think or live our lives linearly. We all mostly stumble through, only learning vital things too late. Just as poor FH only learned that Michelle has written a note asking to be saved if he loved her--- too late.
I would not want, nor do I have the expertise, to analyze this film based on cinematic criteria. The film started with an idea, someone had something to say, each participant-- director, actor, editor, passed that idea along, cleanly and precisely. Every cinematic technique served this advancement of the expression The metaphysical surreal elements didn't seem like an affectation, but worked to express the idea.
Emblematic of the tone was after the abortion when FH asked, "what did they stick up you." Michelle's reaction. Her scream. She could have handled the intrusion into her body, the loss of a living being that could have been her child, but the coldness, the rejection of her beloved, was a cause for anguish, expressed perfectly in a primordial cry.
And certain lines, as throwaways easy missed, were profound. FH's statement that he didn't even feel the holy water that the abortion opponents threw at him until many years later. The very disorganization and fragmented emotions presaged the awesome decision to end a life. Shallow loser slacker--I think not.
In sharing my responses to this film I feel limited by the set of values imposed on artistic endeavor such as this. We search for criteria of excellence of a genre, that others can strive for. We want to see how this work matches up against such criteria. I would rather believe that this was a personal message from someone. And to that person, I just want to say, "Thank you."
"Jesus' Son" was sometimes unique,sometimes funny,and sometimes engrossing.This all fine and dandy,but it was all at the wrong times.I found this film to be just annoying.The moment that you think you"ll get something heartfelt or something of substance that the viewer can relate with,the film seems to just go off somewhere else and try too hard not take itself seriously-a fight,a drug fix,a shooting victim.All these wacky vignettes back and forth and wacky unbelievable characters could have been great accept for one GLARING problem: did anyone care at all about any of these people?If no one cares,the viewer doesn't relate and loses interest to what happens next to our poor drifter.By the way, was the billy crudup character (FH) happy,depressed,content,etc. through the first 75% of the film and the characters he met?I have no idea.The film simply seemed to try too hard to be original in its depiction of this side of human existance and in the process I lost touch and interest. P.S. The scene with the stabbing victim in the hospital was pretty darn good.
Alison Maclean's 'Jesus' Son' was technically released at the end of 1999,
but most people (including myself) didn't see it until the following year.
So which decade you decide to include it in is moot. Either it's the last
great 90s movie, or the first great 00s one. Yes, it's that
The subject matter and era will inevitably give rise to 'Drugstore Cowboy' comparisons, but the approach and atmosphere are completely different. Both are strong movies, and both reject the simplistic "drugs are bad, mmmmkay?" theme of 'Traffic' and 'Requiem For A Dream' (two wildly overrated films!). 'Jesus' Son' offers no easy answers, no moralizing, no sledghammer "message", and is all the better for it.
The movie is very episodic, which is understandable looking at the source material, and grows on you. On first viewing, while I enjoyed it, I didn't totally appreciate its worth and beauty. Like Lynch's 'Lost Highway' and Gallo's 'Buffalo 66' it is a movie that improves with each viewing. Billy Crudup is impressive as FH, a "loser" with a good heart. Samantha Morton is also strong as Michelle, his troubled lover. Both are supported by a flawless cast of both familiar faces and unknowns. Jack Black stands out as a manic pill-popping orderly, and his two major scenes with Crudup are highlights of the movie, as is a superb and depressing star turn by Denis Leary, who has never been better as the alcoholic barfly Wayne.
I can hardly fault 'Jesus' Son', it is close to perfect. A thoughtful, complex movie that juggles sadness, humour, despair and hope. Cherish it.
PS 'Carnival Of Souls' clip is an ultra-cool touch!
I always wonder why so much celluloid is spent on people who voluntarily
waste their lives away on drugs. The quiet desperation of the Mennonites in
this film I'd like to have known more about. Or even the fat nurse who
teaches FH to touch the nursing home patients.
What kind of insight can come from a drugged stupor? And how does FH know as much as he does about philosophy? Show him with a book in his hand once in awhile. I can just see my high school students admiring him. Only THEY are naive enough to believe a druggie can be worth watching for two hours. But they also think they can relate to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. You know, the one with Johnny Depp.
This film bears so little relation to the book by Denis Johnson that I think it should be renamed "Forrest Gump Does Smack" or "Jesus' Son's Girlfriend." The impulse to celebrate the work of a great American writer is a worthy one, but surely Mr. Johnson deserves better than this dumbed-down and feminized dreck.
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