Austin Film Festival 2007 – Reservation Road/Numb
“I don’t know. It’s calming and people whisper.”
I really don’t mean to harp on AFF, but I have one more thing to harp on them about. Their fucking long-ass sponsor trailer is comprised of fucking cranes showing us who the sponsers are. Each sponsor gets its own crane.
As if we need a freakin’ reminder that the city is changing for the worse with every fucking crane that goes up.
Anyway, on to the movies!
RESERVATION ROAD (2007)
Directed by: Terry George
Written by: John Burnham Schwartz/Terry George
Based on book by: John Burnham Schwartz
What happens when someone runs away from an accident that leaves a child dead in the streets? And what if the cops basically stop helping?
Ethan and Grace (Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelley) are the parents of the child in question. Dwight (Mark Ruffalo) is the man who runs away with his own son in the truck. Things get a lot more complicated when Ethan hires Dwight as his lawyer to get the cops to find the guy who killed his little boy.
Co-writer/director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) turned John Burnham Schwartz’ novel into a visceral, gut-wrenching (a word that was tossed around a LOT during the Q&A) experience that almost hurt to watch. (Schwartz co-wrote the screenplay, too. So that probably helped.) He had three great actors at the top of their game. I felt every moment of their anguish pouring off of the screen.
And, of course, it’s all a political allegory. Someone does something horrible to you. You go out for horrible revenge. Then you find out that the monster isn’t the monster that you think he is.
This is an amazing film that’s going to be a pretty hard sell. But it deserves to be seen. It may help parents who have gone through this sort of horrendous tragedy to heal just a little bit. And to know that revenge is not the answer.
The only problem I had with the film was the obligatory shot of a black man at a school recital. It was as if George wanted us to know that there were, indeed, black people in Connecticut.
Directed by: Harris Goldberg
Written by: Harris Goldberg
Forget everything you know about Matthew Perry and screenwriter Harris Goldberg (Deuce Bigalow, Without A Paddle, The Master Of Disguise). Because this movie is NOTHING like anything either of them have ever done.
Now imagine that everything you do is surrounded by panic. Just a constant, aching panic…but you feel like it isn’t actually happening to you. You hold up your hand and it feels like someone else’s.
That’s how Hudson (Perry) feels after taking 12 puffs from a joint in 12 minutes. He’s never really done any kind of drug before, but he felt a need to tonight. And now he’s fucked. Was it the pot? Or was it something inside of him that just snapped?
His screenwriting partner (Kevin Pollack) is really no help. Neither is his family (William B. Davis and Helen Shaver). And, really, the doctors he sees are worthless, too. (Well, Mary Steenbergen isn’t totally useless…but things go a little, erm, funny there.)
The only person who really helps is Sara (Lynn Collins from The Number 23 and Bug…she kind of looks like a less accessible Jewel Staite). Hudson meets Sara at a pitch session. The first word out of her mouth is “FUCK!!” She curses when she’s excited.
Sara is perfect for Hudson. But can he keep it together long enough to figure that out for himself?
This is a VERY autobiographical film. Everything that happened to Hudson happened to Harris. Even the prick brother. (He is actually Daniel Goldberg, writer of Stripes and Meatballs. They’re working on their relationship now.) And Depersonalization Syndrome is very real, as strange as it seems. It’s something that really no one knows about, and it doesn’t really affect all that many people. But it’s out there.
I loved this movie. It’s hilarious and touching, often at the exact same time. And it shows that Matthew Perry can do more than Chandler. Honestly, as much as I like the guy, I’ve never seen him do any character BUT Chandler. Even in the other moves I’ve seen him in, he’s doing Chandler. Not this time. He’s a real person with very real problems. And he’s great.
I don’t think the movie has distribution yet, but hopefully it will soon. I can’t wait to see what peoples’ reactions to it will be.
I kind of wanted to ask if it was pure coincidence that William B. Davis’ name in the opening credits was onscreen while a joint was being lit. But I thought it would be a bit too silly for a Q&A session.