Friday, January 22, 2010

SUNDANCE begins! Plus...HESHER review!

Hola Geek Wads!  JeffroGee here!

Sundance is happening! 

The Sundance Film Festival has officially kicked off here in Park City, Utah with film lovers prancing around happily despite constant snowfall and messy patches of ice daring foot travelers to cross.  Thursday night issued in a new year of Sundance with the premiere of HOWL starring James Franco at the Eccles Theatre.  In normal years, one film would be chosen to launch the fest, but this year some dynamite was added to the gasoline by showcasing several other films on the traditional kick off premiere event.  There was the aforementioned Howl, a doc on the Afghanistan war titled RESTREPO, and four film shorts programs that included works form Spike Jonze and Rory Kennedy.  Nice to see the shorts given some much needed attention as often times the allure of Sundance becomes tainted by star power.  Much of the shorts are experimental pieces that deserve the highlight. 

With that, I made my attempt to check out HESHER starring Joseph Gordon Levitt and Natalie Portman at it’s Eccles Theatre premiere.  The film described as “the story of a family struggling to deal with loss and the anarchist who helps them do it-in a very unexpected way.”  I was able to attain a ticket and was glad to see a packed house as excited as I was to enjoy the film. 

Hesher maintains a solemn mood throughout and within frame one we understand how lost our main character of TJ (Devin Brochu) is as he chases down a towed car on his beat up BMX bike.  TJ is a kid. A normal kid who just wants to live his life like any kid should.  But his mother has just passed away and he is having an obvious hard time dealing with the loss.  His father (a very different Rainn Wilson) is also not dealing well with the pain as he frequently pops pills and lounges on the couch feeling sorry for himself.  The grandmother (Piper Laurie) who clearly cares but cannot express it due to her low energy anchors the instability. 

Seeking more, TJ finds Hesher (Levitt) who holds a rebellious attitude and incredible desire to destroy things.  TJ is fascinated and before we know it…Hesher has moved into his home and is shaking up the dysfunction with his own messed up ideals.  But the interesting thing is…Hesher seems to make more sense than anyone else.

Once again, Joseph Gordon Levitt brings another wholly unique performance to the screen as Hesher.  His character moves like a confident lion through rooms while drinking beers and showing off his self made tattoos, one of which is a massive middle finger across his back. Carrying intensity and a sometimes frightening attitude, Hesher makes selfless decisions despite his anarchist ways which propel TJ to look up to him. 

A true up and comer, young actor Devin Brochu shines in a subdued and emotional performance as TJ. 

Natalie Portman weighs in quietly as well adding a nice support to what is already a fantastic cast. 

Director Spencer Susso has given us something unique with Hesher. 

I always hate movies that overload us with sap and moral messages.  Hesher could have many times angled to push cry buttons and rely on easy tricks to gain feeling for its characters.  He avoids this and ends up with a film like no other.

 I think it’s a good thing when you watch a story unfold and “don’t see it coming.”  I certainly didn’t see it coming when towards the end of Hesher I began to fight back tears.  Near my seat, several audience members were sniffling as the film about the drunk stoner who likes to set things on fire had us all getting out our Kleenex.  Weird.  But true.  I definitely recommend Hesher.  It’s journey into something different.  And that can sometimes be a great thing. 

There is a lot going on tonight so I am going to make sure and document the strange and happy times on Main Street as I battle the cold.  Check back soon as I am sure a video of the Day One debauchery will land by tomorrow.  What else can I say?  I saw a cool flick and I think it’s time to hang up my film watching hat for the night.  Main street always offers up social mayhem at it’s best.  And who am I to miss that?  I am going to party like HESHER tonight!



  1. Here's why Natalie Portman turned vegan! Check out this informative and inspiring video.

  2. Really? "Here's why Natalie Portman turned vegan."? Do you really think fanboys are going to put down their burgers because you posted a link here? It's admirable, but you may as well try posting an ad for puppy mills over on PETA's site.