I'm very glad I got to see a print of JOSHUA on the big screen tonight. I dig the shit out of this movie. I highly recommend going to see it this Saturday night in Times Square in order to experience it with a crowd who has no idea what they're getting into. My hunch is that it's going to be a pretty raucous experience. That said, with JOSHUA, George Ratliff pulls off the rare feat of having his cake and eating it too. Or, to quote Michael Lerman from one of his LAFF posts for indieWIRE, "'Joshua' is a work of deep thought, worthy of note in the most prestigious festivals and sneaking into a commercial realm through the narrow margin of classic genre that it blends into its intelligence." A tad verbose, perhaps, but he certainly understands what makes the film such a striking accomplishment.
And then there is the 'official' indieWIRE review from Reverse Shot's Michael Koresky, who puts that site's ordinarily cringe-worthy writing to shame with his scattershot take on the film. Take this description of one scene, for example:
"(incidentally, right at the moment that Brad arrives there after a risible cross-cutting mad dash via subway, all the way from the Upper East Side)"
It's hard to take a film review seriously when the writer is so incorrect in his recounting of events that one wonders if he actually watched the film. Rockwell takes a cab to the BMA. Not saying this makes the scene any less 'risible,' but, dude, if you're gonna try to stand on a podium of pretension, at least report the actual-factuals as they really happened. Freestyle all you want about filmmaker intentions and symbolism and other undergraduate theoretical spermatazoa, but don't expect us to bow down to your wisdom if you can't properly report basic plot details.
Which leads me to another statement:
"I’ve read in interviews with Ratliff that he’s embracing his audiences’ “nervous laughter”…well, he better, because there are bound to be a lot of titters; indeed, it’s hard to keep a straight face during Joshua, so poorly does Ratliff establish space or tone."
Am I missing something here? How could any somewhat intelligent person watch this movie and think that they're supposed to keep a straight face? Seriously, I don't get it. This movie was intended to be f-u-n-n-y, albeit in a strange, creepy way, but for anyone to think that there isn't a level of mischief working underneath (actually, I think it's unquestionably overneath, but that's another story) makes me doubt them on a base human level, film criticism aside. If the ending doesn't seal the deal for you, I don't know what to tell ya. And don't bring up the trailer to support your argument, because that's a marketing decision, one that I'm uncomfortable with, especially since they aren't opening wide from the very beginning.
But for what my opinion's worth, listen to Lerman and yours truly and check out JOSHUA when it opens near you...