Hey there, I’m Jared. I have 572 movies and shows in my Instant Queue and that’s just way too many. I’m going to slowly work my way through my queue until there’s nothing left, one movie at a time. But, I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that too. Let’s get to it!
What’s the movie? As I Lay Dying (2013)
What’s it rated? Rated R for completely inaudible dialogue, horse death and for being three steps shy of misery porn.
Did people make it? Written by James Franco and Matt Rager. Directed by James Franco. Based on the Novel by William Faulkner. Acted by James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Logan Marshal-Green, Jim Parrack, Ahna O’Reilly, Danny McBride and Beth Grant.
What’s it like in one sentence? It’s like if David Gordon Green and Terrence Malick had a less talented baby who wanted to make Southern tone poems.
Why did you watch it? Because life is long and there are so many movies…
What’s it about in one paragraph? One rainy day, Addie Bundren dies and her husband and children have made her a promise to bury her in a cemetery many miles away. They set out with their mule, horse and cart and have the absolute worst luck of anyone ever.
Play or remove from my queue? I don’t really know how to answer this one. I don’t really know if I like it, but I was fascinated by it and by the closing credits I respected the hell out of it. I’ll say this for Franco, he’s got ambition…if not the eye to fully realize his vision.
The shaky-cam aesthetic doesn’t really work here, nor does the constant use of split-screen, but it does sort of become hypnotizing by the end. Almost everything in this movie feels pretentious and film school-y at first until it sort of becomes brilliant and transcendent. I really don’t understand this. By halfway through the film I was ready to write this off as one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time, but by the time I got to the absolutely gut punching final scene, I was transfixed.
The acting in this is what really sells everything. Especially Tim Blake Nelson who gives a haunting and painfully humanist performance. You can’t take your eyes off of him as the luckless patriarch of the Bundren family, who is basically a despicably selfish redneck Charlie Brown Vs. a world “justifiably” pulling the football out of his way whenever it can. It’s the finest work of his career and different than any of the many hard luck rednecks he’s played in the past. He is astonishing here.
If you do decide to go down the rabbit hole and watch this movie, be sure and put on the subtitles. I made it about 15 minutes in before I realized I had no idea what was happening because 90% of the dialogue is unintelligible. Which, I suppose, is the point. Just like early Green or later Malick, As I Lay Dying is much more concerned with creating a tone and a mood than with basic a storytelling convention like audible dialogue. It’s much more about world building.
But that fucking ending. This film is worth it just for that final 5 minutes. One of the most heartbreaking, devastating final few minutes of a movie since Dancer in the Dark. While the rest of the movie probably wont, that ending will stay with me forever.
How’s the music? Excellent. Tim O’Keefe’s score reminded me of all the best cues from George Washington.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? The Letter (never heard of this), Welcome to Pine Hill (pretty wonderful little film), The Lesser Blessed (never heard of this), Angels Crest (been meaning to watch this) and The Broken Tower (never heard of this one, either. I’m bad at this).
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? This movie only made 15 grand. Shit.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.9
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 2.9
Can you link to the movie? I sure can!
Any last thoughts? Man, you tell me. Is this fucker any good? I know Franco’s character didn’t work, the split-screen was overwhelming, it was mostly inaudible and other really amateurish mistakes, but I still feel some weird positive connection to it.
Did you watch anything else this week? Just a shitload of That 70’s Show. So very much of it.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Drug War? That fucking ending, amirite?
Next Week? Sexy Evil Genius, Toad Road, Dark Touch, Rubberneck or Titanic 2? Or throw me a better idea! All of those could be bad.