What a time to be alive! Have yourselves a little morsel so fresh from Sundance that we’re practically still dusting the snow off of it, produced by the same company where we get our e-books, wooden hangers, and prescription dog food.
The media landscape sure has changed since Portland, Oregon’s favourite filmmaking son Gus Van Sant came on the scene, which is actually right around the same time that the Sundance Film Festival was first founded! Now Van Sant, who achieved massive mainstream success for directing 1997s Good Will Hunting, but is celebrated for edgier indie fare like Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, and Elephant, is making for Portland cartoonist John Callahan what biopic American Splendor did for Cleveland cartoonist Harvey Pekar. Word on the street is, Robin Williams (who starred opposite Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting) was the one who, decades ago, originally approached Van Sant about making Callahan’s incredible story of redemption and playing the lead role himself. And here is where we get to the heart of things: Like Paul Giamatti as Pekar, Williams would have played the part of the un-PC, quadriplegic cartoonist-in-recovery as curmudgeonly and complicated, but also fundamentally likeable, in a way that Joaquin Phoenix…just plain isn’t. Perhaps it’s because he used to be pretty, or perhaps it’s because he just straight-up doesn’t have it in him, but from what we’ve seen, the guy’s pathos just isn’t on par with what a role like this requires. And that’s too bad, really, because it’s clear from this teaser that he’s really putting in the work (and probably expecting some awards-season love for it).
But hey, maybe it doesn’t matter! Phoenix’s character in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master was a mixer of strange elixirs, potent moonshines with poisonous and life-destroying tendencies — in other words, we know he’s someone who knows how to dance with the dastardly and dangerous spectre of addiction onscreen. Anyways, Jonah Hill, who has apparently gone “full Ojai” for the role of Callahan’s AA sponsor, and Jack Black, who we barely see in this trailer, are here to peel back their clown paint and show the dark recesses from which all comedy springs eternal, and at least we know they’ll make it happen. And if nothing else, we’re really looking forward to taking one last bittersweet ride through Van Sant’s gritty and overcast “Old Portland”, before the rise of the terrifyingly gentrified “New Portland,” bringing with it the reclaimed wood unicycles, artisanal baguette holders, and small-batch moustache waxes that Portlandia both mocks and reifies.
Do you love previews? We sure do! The Trailer Park is where to find hot takes on the coolest Coming Attractions (popcorn not included).