Old Joy - The Big Chill Out

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Old Joy - The Big Chill Out

Postby howardschumann(d) » Mon Jan 15, 2007 4:46 pm

OLD JOY

Directed by Kelly Reichart (2006), 76 minutes

Two friends in their early thirties meet to renew their previous friendship on a camping trip in the gorgeous Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Kurt (Will Oldham) is a balding free spirit, while Mark (Daniel London) is a working man who is about to take on the responsibility of being a father. Both men seek to recreate the magic that once brought them together but their connection is now so tenuous and their worlds so divided that it seems as if there is no longer anything to hold onto, even memory.

Kelly Reicharts superb Old Joy is a film of rare beauty unburdened by typical male-bonding clichs, more the big chill out than The Big Chill. While it is the story of male friendship, it is not about plot or even character but a film of mood and atmosphere that tells its story with gestures, expressions, and silences punctuated by the ambient sounds of nature. On their drive through pristine countryside to the music of Yo La Tengo, Mark listens to Air America talk radio bemoaning the state of the Democratic Party and talks about how his father decided to leave his mother when he turned seventy but nothing is said about what the two shared together in the past.

When Kurt fails to find the turnoff to the Bagby Hot Springs near Oregons Mount Hood, the two (three if you include the dog) spend the night at an abandoned campsite, prompting Kurt to remark that there are trees in the city, and garbage in the forest, so what is the difference? At the campsite, Kurt relates his experiences of recent trips to Big Sur and Ashland which he calls transcendent and life-changing and about how he took a course in physics but knew more than the professor and volunteers his theory that the universe is enclosed in a tear that is falling and has been for millennia, but Mark seems to hardly notice.

He only perks up when he receives phone calls on his cell from his pregnant wife (Tanya Smith) who had only given grudging consent to the trip, sensing that the pot smoking Kurt was not a good influence. The next day they reach the springs and enjoy a moment of peace in the hot tub but it is interrupted by Kurts telling Mark how much he misses him and how something is wrong with their relationship which Mark denies but the sense is that something has been lost forever.

Nothing really happens in Old Joy. There are almost no peak dramatic moments but almost every scene has subtle undertones of meaning. A sense of loss permeates the film, the loss perhaps of a time when people were connected and fighting for a cause meant human involvement rather than the distancing of todays radio talk shows or anonymous Internet message boards. When the aging hippie shares a Chinese proverb that Sorrow is nothing but worn out joy, it feels as if the film becomes a metaphor for the joy that seems to be wearing out in an age approaching its zero point.

GRADE: A
howardschumann(d)
 


Re: Old Joy - The Big Chill Out

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Jan 19, 2007 1:01 am

Great review, Howard. Films like Old Joy don't come around very often.
arsaib4
 

Re: Old Joy - The Big Chill Out

Postby howardschumann(d) » Fri Jan 19, 2007 2:00 am

Thanks very much.
howardschumann(d)
 

Re: Old Joy - The Big Chill Out

Postby trevor826 » Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:56 am

Fine review from Howard, I must make mention of the amazing forest scenes, so primeval and chaotically beautiful. What a treasure, just as outstanding in its own way as any of better known natural landmarks in the U.S.

As far as the relationship between the two friends is concerned, it serves as a healthy reminder as to why I don't attend events like school reunions.

No matter how well you once got on, life sends each of us on our own little journeys, our past shapes the person we are now and will reflect on our future choices. You can never recapture that once shared connection and will spend ages afterwards wondering what you ever saw in many of the people who were once your best friends.

Actually, I get the same problem with my older brother who seems to be stuck in the 1970's.

Cheers Trev.

R2 dvd released by Soda Pictures.

Along with the usual trailers etc the dvd also includes the short film Slitch directed by Dianne Bellino, the only connection appears to be that Will Oldham appears in both.

Needless to add but Old Joy impressed me a lot and has become part of my dvd collection.
trevor826
 

Re: Old Joy - The Big Chill Out

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Apr 28, 2007 2:23 am

The U.S. DVD release by Kino International is scheduled for May 1st. The full-length audio commentary provided on the disc features director Kelly Reichardt, DP Peter Sillen and filmmaker Michael Almereyda.
arsaib4
 

Re: Old Joy - The Big Chill Out

Postby trevor826 » Sat Apr 28, 2007 5:23 am

An audio commentary is the one extra I would have loved to seen on the U.K. release, I'm surprised they haven't done one with the cast though.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 


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