I think Zach Braff got a raw deal.
I said it during Sundance. I've said it a few times since. And each time I see someone unload on Braff anew, I shake my head because I think it is, for the most part, unearned.
No one makes art that is universally loved, and sometimes, the art you make is art that either grows in esteem over time or that is popular for a short time before facing a backlash. If anyone understands backlash, it's got to be Brafff.
I remember when "Garden State" came out. I remember how many people had the soundtrack with them constantly for a year afterwards. I remember hearing people talk about seeing the film. It was easy to like. It's a slick movie. I think Braff knew exactly what he was doing, and the film worked like a shiv. He just slid it right in, no matter what your defenses, and I think that makes some people angry. They don't like it when a film pokes at them like that, especially a few years down the road.
"Wish I Was Here" got me way more more than "Garden State" ever did, and I think the difference is obvious. "Garden State" is about a period in someone's life where there is an allowance for pure, unfiltered narcissism because you need to figure out who you are and what you're doing. You should be preoccupied with yourself until you figure out how to make that thing that you are into something self-sustaining. That's the endgame, I would think.
With "Wish I Was Here," he's telling a story about living for someone else. It's about waking up from that inner focus to the realization that there are people who depend on you for everything. It's about making the transition from child to parent and realizing just how much that can sneak up on you. When we finally sat down to talk about the film, it had been months since Sundance and since people had their last big online meltdown about Kickstarter and whether or not he was going to pay people back after the film sold to Focus, and we ended up running longer than we normally would in one of these interviews.
We talked about casting the kids in the film, we talked about some of the reasons he couldn't make this film within the studio system without compromising the things that made him want to make the film in the first place, and we talked about some of the blowback he's felt over his decision to crowdfund part of the film's financing.
"It all comes down to what your foreign box-office has been. It's all based on this algorithm. If you have no overseas box-office, you can't get a movie made."
That is a depressing truth, and Braff gets into it in detail in our conversation. I think he's a smart, open guy who makes very earnest films. That may not be everyone's cup of tea, and I know that sincerity is the easiest thing to make fun of, but overall, I'm glad he's making the movies he's making his way.
"Wish I Was Here" opens on Friday in NY and LA.
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Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
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Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
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Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
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