A film with themes that many can relate to.
Do all indy films have to have random moments and long silences passing for humor?
After going through the many problems that writers go through, Jim (Casey Affleck) leaves New York for his home in Goshen, IN. Jim's parents own a ladder factory and they want Jim to take over the business. The problem (as it usually in these films) is that that's not what Jim wants. His brother Tim (Kevin Corrigan) has moved back home too (his marriage failed), and it isn't long before Jim makes a failed attempt to take his own life. This brings Jim into the company of Anika (Liv Tyler), and although they sort of have a past together, she seems to actually favor both brothers. Tim eventually gets laid up which forces Jim to do some work in the ladder business. It is here that Jim gets into even more trouble by way of his Uncle Stacy. Throughout this all, Jim seems to have an epiphany that maybe he has been making too much out of everything, and that life is what you make it.
Although I think this film falls into every possible indy film cliché, there was a certain charm to the somber Lonesome Jim. While I wouldn't say this movie belongs in your collection, it is one that you might want to catch on Netflix.
Steve Buscemi, Liv Tyler, Kevin Corrigan and other cast members are seen in talking heads as they discuss this movie. The actors all seem to know why they wanted to do this movie, they just sadly can't put it into words that well. This footage of them pontificating on the plot and characters is mixed with images from the movie itself. While I wouldn't say that some grand ideas are revealed here, if you are a fan of the film (or the actors), this is certainly worth a look.
Steve Buscemi and James Strouse (the film's screenwriter) appear here as they discuss Lonesome Jim. They explain how the opening shot of the film was originally the ending, the benefits of shooting in "real" locations and how this story is based on Jim Strouse. I sadly had never heard of him before and doing a quick search in Google wasn't much help. This is the kind of commentary that film school types should certainly listen to.
Widescreen - Presented in a "Matted" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. This movie looked like it had been shot on some form of video. The thing is, I found the picture very muddy so I wasn't sure what kind of video they utilized. Or, perhaps it might have been film and the film's low budget just added to the look? Whatever the case, the tones seemed a bit uneven on this DVD so perhaps it was compressed too darkly?
Dolby Digital. As this movie is best described as "low key," the audio would need to make every effort the fill in the dead spots. I don't mean dead spots in plot, but dead spots in which the characters discourse, and then seem to do that thing where filmmakers think reality is generated by actually showing them in the process of thinking. Nothing is really done with this film's soundtrack other than to set the mood at the beginning and end of the film.
This front cover features a photoshopped image of Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler as they sit at a bar. Behind them is what looks like wallpaper of clouds flying in the sky, with a dark one hanging over Casey Affleck's head. Right away, that should give you the quick impression of what this film is about. The back cover features two images from the film, both of which tell us nothing about the movie. It also has a description of the film, a Bonus Features listing, a cast list and some technical specs. Underneath all that is a shot of a road which plays into the ideas of this film.
I am and I'm not surprised that Steve Buscemi directed this movie. I think he is a solid filmmaker, and the disparate tone that this film has plays into his sensibility it seems. I just can't understand how indy films have become so formulaic. Why does every movie have to be quirky? The truth of the matter is that independent movies used to stand out because they told stories that we didn't see on screen. Over time, the movies evolved and while we haven't seen every story, we have seen Lonesome Jim before. It is an amalgamation of Broken Flowers, Bottle Rocket and Welcome to the Dollhouse, etc..
I guess I am just saddened that, like punk rock, indy films are now the kind of things you can buy in a mall.
Lonesome Jim was released November 16, 2005.