' Cinema Romantico: The Good Life

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Good Life

In the wake of the nice if inconsistent indie "Gigantic" I found myself browsing the past works of Zooey Deschanel on netflix and found another indie film entitled "The Good Life" and put it in the queue and watched it.

Written and directed by Stephen Berra, this Sundance featured film presents the life of Jason (Mark Webber), a young, sad outsider who endures existence in a small Nebraska town where just about all the residents are (gasp!!!) obsessed with the state's collegiate football team. He pulls down shifts at a gas station but also tends to a rundown movie theater owned by Gus (Harry Dean Stanton) that only shows old films.

Oh, Jason's existence is a dreary one. He and his mother have so little money that sometimes the electricity at their house gets turned off. He is relentlessly tortured by a football jock (Chris Klein) whose glory days are in the distance. His brother in law (Donal Logue) is obnoxious beyond belief, mainly because he's so obsessed with (gasp!!!) the state's collegiate football team. And then, of course, there is the damned football team and its coach (Bruce McGill) who people deify in a way that eternally irritates him. Luckily he meets Frances (Zooey Deschanel), lonely, quiet, much like him, and they connect, though (gasp!!!) she may just be harboring a secret. He also encounters a good natured fellow (Bill Paxton) who might just be the world's biggest Judy Garland fan and uses this affection for Ms. Garland to offer Jason some wise words. In short, Jason faces trials and tribulations, learns good and bad lessons, and comes of age in the face of a place where he does not necessarily fit.

I don't know who Berra is or how he managed to land this cast but, hey, kudos to him. Bill Paxton was an executive producer so that certainly might have had something to do with it. In addition to everyone I've named Drea de Matteo also turns up as Jason's sister and Patrick Fugit is his gas station mate.

Apparently Berra really was raised in a small Nebraska town in the 70's and 80's and, thus, much of this material is based on his own experiences. What did I take from it?

Well, basically it's this: those morons who love Nebraska Football could not possibly appreciate the artistry of Judy Garland movies.

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