We watched Garden State last night. I was a little nervous that the topic of parental death might be too hard for me to watch, but since it was billed as a comedy, I decided to take the risk. I’m so glad I did. What a delightful, refreshing, and engaging film that was!
I’ve seen several reviews comparing Zach Braff to Woody Allen. I don’t see the similarity, other than the fact that he’s Jewish — is that all it takes? To me, Braff appears more as a disciple of the Mike Nichols school of filmmaking, and that school can never have too many disciples. Every scene was beautifully lit, every shot was thoughtfully composed, every nuance in the story accented and supported by the surrounding detail. Very Mike Nichols indeed, but also very Sam Mendes following in Nichols’ footsteps, and Braff is young enough to have been influenced by even someone as young as Mendes.
Before I wrap this up, while surfing for links, I found a great Mike Nichols quote on expressive filmmaking (emphasis mine):
I’ll tell you a very quick principle that I have come to believe is almost the most important principle of all of this: I worked with Dan Dailey long ago, directing him in a version of The Odd Couple, the play, and he told me that when he was at MGM, when he was a big musical star at MGM, they got lessons in everything. They had movement and they had voice and they had speech and they had telephone. And I said, “What did they teach you in telephone?” And he said, “In telephone you learned that if you were about to do a scene in which you get bad news, answer happy; and if you are going to do a scene in which you get good news, answer sad.” And I think of that as the MGM telephone principle. It’s amazing how often it comes up. It comes up in almost every scene-namely that you don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens. And the harder you are running in the opposite direction when it happens, the more expressive and interesting and colorful it is when it happens.