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Jesus' Son
Jesus' Son
Actors: Billy Crudup, Denis Leary
Genres: Comedy, Drama
R     2009     1hr 47min

The film's hero, "FH" (Billy Crudup, ALMOST FAMOUS, WATCHMEN), is a rumpled, hapless young man in his twenties who bounces through his days with his dreams and hallucinations blurring and merging into reality. The shaky ce...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Billy Crudup, Denis Leary
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama
Studio: Lions Gate
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/23/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/1999
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1999
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Highly Recommended
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Jesus' Son" barely got a theatrical release, so here's your chance to discover one of the quirkiest and most heartfelt movies to come along since the `70s output of the late, great director Hal Ashby ("Harold & Maude," "Coming Home").From Denis Johnson's low-key, disjointed short stories about addicts and outcasts, director Alison Maclean and her writers/adapters have distilled a narrative that's both goofy and lucid. The story drifts and meanders, as it should - our protagonist is a survivor who's still trying to comprehend his salvation. Anyone who took drugs in the `70s will be stunned by how familiar and true is the recreation of that era; bigger-budgeted period pieces often settle for easy nostalgia via bad wigs and hit parades, but here, offbeat locations and music selections spark forgotten memories of two-laned interstates, abandoned drive-ins and AM radio.Unlike flashier but similar-themed junkie laments, "Jesus' Son" is a triumph of substance over style: empathy becomes more crucial than an extended light show. Not to suggest Maclean hasn't made strong stylistic choices - indeed her tone approaches a breaking fever dream. Devices like split screen, chapter cards and black humor are so effective specifically because they're used economically.Most inspired, however, is the casting. There are no weak performances. Even cameos by well-knowns like Dennis Hopper and Holly Hunter are beautifully modulated. For instance, just when you suspect Hunter might be `phoning in' a loony AA caricature, she floors you with a devastating - and painfully real - emotional outpouring. Likewise, Jack Black and Denis Leary embody larger-than-life characters without going over-the-top. As for the leads, Samantha Morton starts with a skin-deep role (her character is barely in the book) and delicately creates a multi-dimensional junkie unlike what we're used to seeing: sweet, spiteful, sexy, smart, screwed up, and ultimately willing to give all for love. It is more difficult to praise Billy Crudup ... because words inadequately describe his particular genius. Sure, he has obvious talent and charisma; if he didn't, the movie would collapse. But he goes further, demonstrating masterful subtlety and restraint. Listen to the timbre of his voice-overs; for once narration doesn't sound like it's being read, but recalled. Then watch him listen to the other characters, something most film actors aren't very good at. So real and surprising are his expressions that the director lets the camera linger on his dazed reactions. It's been said elsewhere that his supporting cast manages to steal all their scenes. Without disagreeing, it might be more accurate to say that Crudup generously gives them their scenes.Due to theme and structure, "Jesus' Son" won't appeal to impatient audiences who've developed bad movie-watching habits by OD'ing on popcorners. They could say there's not enough action, or the ending is too long (it's not - the third act carefully sets up the redemption, then hope, so crucial to this story). But for fans of independent movies, truthful acting, and particularly fans of Hal Ashby and the great American cinema of the 1970s, "Jesus' Son" should not be overlooked."
The real deal - profound and entertaining
T.S. Morris | Austin, Texas United States | 07/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie changed the way I look at life. We all take so much for granted and it could all end at any moment. This is one of the main ideas of Jesus' Son. The main character, FH, stumbles through life while many of his friends die, yet he remains unharmed and only gradually begins to change his ways. This movie may be about death and pain, but it is optimistic and hopeful; as long as life continues, something good can happen. There is a surprising amount of humor in the film, all of it compassionate, it doesn't result to mocking the characters or the situations as so many movies these days do.Some people have complained that Jesus' Son imitates Pulp Fiction in its narrative. This is untrue - the story unfolds as FH tells it, sometimes he doubles back to give more detail or fill in gaps, but for the most part it is linear. FH's narration gives the movie much of its personality.The acting is astoundingly realistic throughout. Of all the movies I've seen this year, Billy Crudup's performance is the best. Hopefully he will soon achieve the widespread recognition he deserves. The entire cast performs admirably, every actor gets at least one scene to shine, with Crudup providing the link from one to the next. My favorite scene was Dennis Hopper's - his final line speaks volumes about life and death and the human condition. The direction is self assured and impressive. There is not much self conscious camera trickery, and when it is used, it is to good effect. The soundtrack is another stong point, all of the songs enhance the mood of the scene perfectly.Jesus' Son reminds me of last year's Bringing Out the Dead in the way it subtly reveals so much about the nature of redemption and the beauty that can be found in life if you just allow yourself to see it. Also, this is one of the few movies that gets better the more you think about it."
"I Feel Just Like Jesus' Son"
Gregor von Kallahann | 01/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you came of age (or nearly did) in the 60's, you may recall a moment--very likely sometime in the early 70's, unless you were extremely prescient and saw it coming earlier--when all the hippie idealism pretty much just dissolved before your eyes and was replaced by...well, whatever it was replaced by. I recall being actually kind of angry at all these small town stoners whose only countercultural value was, quite frankly, drug taking. Society was not about to undergo a profound spiritual transformation at their hands. Of course, it was scarcely about to at anyone else's either...but who knew back then?Lost souls like JESUS SON'S "FH" were really not uncommon back in the day. They may not have been uncommon back in any day. But the 60s and early 70s brand was perhaps a little more noticeable and, in some senses, sympathetic because of their vaguely anti-establishment stance. For a brief moment in history, outcasts were almost taken seriously. These people really did exist. As surreal as JESUS' SON sometimes gets, it remains grounded in its very vivid, very authentic characters.Yes, there were certain junkie truths that ultimately became cinematic cliches. The numrerous OD's, the failed love relationships and the sporadic attempts at redemption are all elements of JESUS' SON. And yet, they come across as less cliched in this particular druggie film than in some others. Perhaps it's because the acting is almost uniformly excellent--with leads, Billy Crudup and Samantha Morton, deserving of particular praise. Perhaps too it's, at least in part, because FH's ultimate redemption is a plausible one. Out of rehab, he gets a job in a different kind of rehabilitation center, a home for sufferers of rare neurological diseases. It is finally there that he realizes that there may indeed be a place in the world for people like him.Many viewers will find the final, sobered up segment of the film a little weaker dramatically than the drug addled scenes that precede it. That's true, but the end is also something of a relief. FH would surely have joined the ranks of his fallen comrades in arms had it not been for rehab and the chance at a new life in a new city. It's the kind of ending you could call "bittersweet"--if you use terminology like that. It's also one of only two possible endings for someone like "FH"--and, like him, you're grateful for that much.When I first heard of this movie, I immediately recognized the source of the title as being a line from Lou Reed's "Heroin." I was disappointed, at first, to see that that song was not incluced on the soundtrack. But on further reflection, that actually seemed the better choice. Lou Reed is the quintessetial urban poet. FH never even comes close to New York City or any other real metropolis. The Neil Young, Doug Sahm and Louvin Brothers tracks actually used in the film are actually more fitting."
Dark laughter: tears: redemption
T.S. Morris | 06/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My first take on first viewing was: right, I want to watch a movie about some disgusting, sleazy, young idiots. The sex. The violence. The drugs. And then, you start to pay attention to the narrator's voice, and you begin to understand the intelligence, the attempt at a philosopy of life that lies behind the voice. And you laugh as a dead guy gets beat up in a corn field.
I own two movies--the other is John Huston's "The Dead". I only buy movies that have enough complexity in script, acting, and production, that you can watch over and over and still see new things.
This is a movie that changes gears on you constantly. One viewing will not suffice.
I still scream with laughter when I see it, and I still weep."