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 Reichardt's superb Old Joy is a film of rare beauty unburdened by typical male-bonding <more>
clichés, 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 Oregon's 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 Kurt's 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 today's 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.
Rich stuff; the woods has surprises where you least expect (by pspeakes)
Well, this movie was all over the place. David Lynch meets Shakespeare. Pros: I love the part where Martin Short changes the bearded guy into the tree goddess. Usually Halle Berry is kind of silly, but as a tree goddess she was great. Then when the skinny guy's wife pulls the knife out of the rock and gives birth to identical twins at the republican convention was kind of cool, and you can see that the kids aren't really the thin guy's but actually'from her affair with Greenspan - I mean who thinks of this stuff - that part I could do without, but still, what are movies for, <more>
if not to try something new and interesting. But the Talk show voice over at the beginning really gave it resonance and rescued it from aimless Hollywood liberalism. As for Mount St Helens operating in reverse and sucking it all back underground at the end - I think they just did that so they could make a sequel.Cons: Just too many girls. In the hot tub, in the trees, pumping gas at the service station, and at the beginning where they are all looking out of the dark windows, like it's a mile long Amsterdam Brothel - I mean what's that saying about Oregon - that rain forests make us into whores? On the other hand, the all female wandering Shakespearian troupe doing the story within the story thing during that night in the woods, was excellent and I liked how they had girls playing men instead of Vice Versa - Shakespearean Gender Bender in a Blender! I knew the dog was really Mao Tse Dung reincarnated by all those wandering Tibet guys, but it really worked, how the biting dog keeps them moving and never lets the story drag.This is a movie that will change your life - what happened to me was of course I liked it, but it was so rich I couldn't watch it all in one sitting, so I decided to copy it to watch at a later date and then destroy the copy . So when I play the copy I just made, it turns out not to be this movie at all -- get this I'm watching Klute. So I figure it's a problem with my Sony V99K3; I pull out the Klute, and I make another copy - this time, I'm not kidding I look at the copy and I'm watching Rooster Cogburn with John Wayne - - then I hear this voice saying "feed me, feed me" and it's not coming from the speakers, it's coming from inside the VCR. which now pops out the Rooster Cogburn and leaves the CD tray open like a dog's tongue waiting for a milk bone dog biscuit. I figure it wants me to put another blank DVD in, so I do, and it makes me a copy of It Started in Naples, with Gina Lollabrigida. Again it does the feed me business, so in no time, I've fed it a whole stack of blank DVD's and it's made me every movie you can think of. This movie is really the golden goose.
Guidelines for a review require a minimum of 10 lines of text. As if anything less than 10 lines can't sum things up. In case of "Old Joy, I'd have to bend over backwards to meet these requirements, which is exactly what I'm doing with this extended intro. Anyway, my girlfriend, who has a great nose for tiny treasures, was ten minutes into "Old Joy" when I joined her on the couch to watch it. It proceeded to suck me in. When it was over, I realized it was the greatest movie I'd ever seen. It still is. Don't ask me why. If you're someone who needs to be <more>
able to explain a movie in order to like it, don't watch it. That's not the way joy works, old or new.
Intimate, elegiac film about the end of a friendship (by roland-104)
A deceptively simple, in fact richly nuanced, subtle film about two old college chums, now in their 30s, who go on a weekend camping trip and discover that their lives have diverged to the point where the bonds that remain between them have become too thin, too attenuated, to sustain their friendship further.Kurt Will Oldham is still the same unsettled, shambling fellow that he always was, forever searching for a formula to bring him peace of mind, unemployed, living in his van, passing through town before going on to the next place. Early on, Kurt tells his old buddy Mark Daniel London <more>
that recently he's found the right path to happiness, but Mark knows and we know that it's not true. Kurt bums money from Mark to score some pot on their way out of town Kurt proceeds to smoke it all himself .Mark has put down roots. He's married, about to become a father, and has a steady job. But he's no yuppie: he lives modestly, still meditates, does volunteer youth work, and drives an old Volvo station wagon, his ear glued to Air America talk shows when he's driving alone. Kurt points to their differences when he tells Mark, "I never get myself into something I can't easily get out of." Awareness that this trip will seal an end to the men's friendship comes to them - and to us - gradually, obliquely, almost tacitly. It begins when Kurt can't recall the signposts to reach their intended destination in the lower Cascades the entire film was shot in Portland and its rural surrounds , reflecting the disorder in his life. So after driving here and there, they end up pitching their tent at a bleak, litter strewn spot just off the highway.A bit later, around a campfire, there is little spontaneity in the friends' conversation. Kurt speaks of a wonderful gathering he recently attended, full of music, dancing and fun. He talks vaguely about his personal theory of the universe as a falling teardrop. "I don't have the numbers but I just know I'm right about this," Kurt says. Mark's only response to these overtures is a glazed eyed glance. Kurt tries to be more direct, saying that he feels an uncomfortable gulf between them, but Mark brushes this aside. Rather than becoming a beer fueled, cozy, guy reunion, lasting into the wee hours, the evening ends early, abruptly and in silence.Next day, during an interlude at Bagby Hot Springs, when Kurt again attempts to bridge the gulf by massaging Mark's shoulders, this gesture seems only to make Mark tense. In fact he is preoccupied throughout the trip, guilty for leaving his pregnant wife at home alone, talking with her frequently on his cell. On the drive back into the city, the old friends speak hardly a word, and, at the end, they exchange only the most cursory of goodbyes.We all know that friendships from our youth sometimes stay alive and sometimes die. That people's values, aims and lifestyles can change. Or not. Nearly a generation ago, films like "Return of the Secaucus 7" and "The Big Chill" took long looks at these themes. There are, however, so many characters in each of those large ensemble films that only superficial snapshots of most are possible. After college, the majority in both films had gone on to exceptional careers. In contrast, Mark and Kurt are - in their differing ways - plain, ordinary, Everymen. And with its singular focus on just two people, "Old Joy" is able to offer us a deeply intimate - one might even say delicate, yet entirely natural and unforced - account about old friends whose paths have separated.One can readily see that Mark has matured while Kurt remains stuck in late adolescence. Viewed through another prism, we could as easily surmise that Kurt has endeavored to stick to his youthful ideals, a would be free spirit still seeking out the good times and refusing to be yoked to greater responsibilities in a world grown harsher than it used to be. Yet we sense Kurt's underlying unhappiness. His vagabond quest has led to no discoveries of lasting significance.Mark has crossed over a line that separates him inexorably from Kurt, a line that demarcates acceptance, compromise, the "adult" adjustments one makes to become self supporting, to love and to be generative. Both men have lost something precious they once had shared, a common vision of life and the world perhaps. And they have lost one another. Fittingly, at one point Kurt shares with Mark a Chinese proverb: "Sorrow is nothing but worn out joy." Even more fittingly, it is the quietude, the silences, that give this wonderfully realized film its lyrical, elegiac quality. My grades: 8.5/10 A- Seen on 09/16/06
minotaurs and minions mincing maple (by shastasisyphus)
I really loved it. Will Oldham did a great job, but even without him I would have loved it. The only thing I disliked were a few of the scenery shots from their car, which got a little long. At the same time, they set a nice mood for the trip the protaggies were taking, and Yo La Tengo hovered sweetly right along with them. The dialog was marvelous. The acting was excellent on both counts and subtle. It was funny. It was thoughtful without being pretentious. It was not dogmatic, but it put forth some sweet poetic images and ideas in a raw, natural, unassuming way. It was drenched in <more>
duende. I really identified with it. I hope I can get my hands on a copy one day. It had a few tiny faults, but It was endearing and honest. There were no earth-shattering answers, just very subtle resolutions for both characters. It felt familiar.
A deeply heartfelt and melancholic tale about the male psyche by a woman !!! (by avik-basu1889)
Yes there are some spoken lines in Kelly Reichardt's 'Old Joy', but in reality, the film is about the silences that ornament so much of the film's running time. It is about what's not said by the characters instead of what's actually said. This is a very poignant depiction of two old friends with very different present lives and who have gradually strayed away from each other over time, coming together one last time to silently celebrate and bid farewell to past memories. The film very sensitively portrays the transition that a man has to go through at a specific stage <more>
in life. Being a man in my 20s, this film hit me hard as there is a very noticeable sense of suppressed melancholy that permeates almost every shot which I can completely relate with. The fact that this was made by a woman further underlines why the gender of the artist doesn't matter as long as he/she has a deep understanding of the human condition. Big Recommendation.
an excellent, quiet film....a nice change of pace (by holtgrewe32)
which is exactly what this film is supposed to be. Boring? Not a chance, unless of course you're a fan of what film has unfortunately become; chaotic cross cuts of meaningless images.The soundtrack, the acting, the direction and scenery all add to this beautiful, intimate story about two friends trying to find solace in this chaos we call life.Too many films today think high powered story lines, which generally equal meaningless dialogue make for an interesting film, which couldn't be farther from the truth.It's about time we let film be film by allowing the images to tell the <more>
What a brilliantly rare little movie. (by come2whereimfrom)
Everyone has been there, had a really close friend when growing up and somehow lost contact only to meet up years later to find that you have taken different paths and it's become a little awkward. You still have your past but as time has moved on you've grown apart. It's an age old story but in this instance told so beautifully against the backdrop of the Oregon woods. Mark Daniel London and Kurt Will Oldham are the old friends reunited in their weekend camping trip of walking, talking, smoking pot and drinking beer. Along with Mark's dog they venture into the lush forest <more>
to look for a set of natural springs that Kurt remembers from a few summers ago. The dynamism between the two characters is great and the casting of Oldham as the kind of drop-out figure against Mark's soon to be dad with his newly found family responsibility is perfect. The soundtrack is hauntingly complimentary to the camera work and overall style and its no surprise that it's done by Yo La Tengo a band known for their sweeping instrumental pieces and at times because the dialogue is so sparse it often feels like your watching one of their videos punctuated by spoken inserts, which is no bad thing. Essentially Old Joy is one of those films where not a lot really happens, there is amazing scenery, comical conversational sections, a moving if very light story about human nature and life and a kind of lament on lost friendships and strange unspoken love. At just over an hour this little American tale unfolds with an exquisite subtlety and not only is it a joy to watch, it also makes you feel kind of warm inside. What a brilliantly rare little movie.
How stale can a friendship become? What is its history? What are the reasons to continue the friendship for each individual?These are some open end questions the director explores in this portrait of two 30+ men. One conceited and afraid; the other needy and therefore more? daring.For me Old Joy meant a recognition of some of the sick mechanisms that work below the surface of a relationship. As anything from below moral standards it appears dark, naked, and shocking. But it is as it is, truth overrules beauty in this respect. For me, the director has left enough room for making the movie <more>