8:00 PM, 11th March, 2005
TV actor Andrew Largeman (Braff) plays a retarded football player on a popular soap opera. Heavily medicated for depression, he returns to his native New Jersey for the first time in nine years for the funeral of his estranged mother. Having accidentally left his medication in LA, he is no longer able to coast through life. As he emerges from the pharmaceutical fog, Largeman confronts his past, reunites with a range of old friends and unexpectedly finds love with the exuberant and joyful Sam (Portman).
A sweet-natured romantic comedy about making the most of things, Garden State also covers some serious ground: success, failure, wasted time, dependence on experts and the nature of friendship. Sir Ian Holm provides a very solid supporting performance as Largeman's father. Peter Sarsgaard excels in his role as a slacker.
Australian audiences will recognize Braff as the droll "J.D." from "Scrubs". As well as starring, Braff wrote and directed Garden State, which is his first feature film. Much like Tracey Ullmann, Braff exploits the comic potential of his characters to the full, while maintaining an obvious affection and respect for them. All in all, Garden State is an impressive debut, a minor comic gem.
10:00 PM, 11th March, 2005
When The Graduate... er... graduated in 1967, it seemed to many to be speaking for the young generation. Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) wanted out of the rat race of cocktails and conspicuous consumption and - God forfend - plastics that was his parents' life. He needed a chance to stop and think about his future. He had to find himself.
The Graduate isn't really speaking for the rebel '60s flowerpusher. With no drugs except those of his parents' generation, no rock music, and no flower power, Benjamin represents potential escapee rather than brewing rebel. But somehow his passive cooperation in being seduced by his parents' friend Mrs. Robinson (Bancroft), their bedding along to the feel of Paul Simon's music, and Benjamin's rediscovery of Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine (Ross)'s virginal attractions make it seem so. With that in mind, it's worth seeing the film and listening to "The Sounds of Silence", "Scarborough Fair", and "Mrs. Robinson" (in its original, instrumental version) as the rebel children saw and heard them: accompanying a lost young man's attempt to evade a future that mimicked the soullessness of his parents' generation.