Old Joy (2006)

Old Joy (2006)

Daniel LondonWill OldhamTanya SmithRobin Rosenberg
Kelly Reichardt


Old Joy (2006) is a English movie. Kelly Reichardt has directed this movie. Daniel London,Will Oldham,Tanya Smith,Robin Rosenberg are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2006. Old Joy (2006) is considered one of the best Drama movie in India and around the world.

Two old pals reunite for a camping trip in Oregon's Cascade Mountains.

Old Joy (2006) Reviews

  • Intimate, elegiac film about the end of a friendship


    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) 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)

  • The Big Chill Out


    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 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.

  • Meticulous but slight American indie garners excessive praise

    Chris Knipp2006-09-21

    In Kelly Reichart's Old Joy, two thirty-something males who live in the Pacific Northwest reunite for a day-and-a-half trip by car and on foot to a hot spring in Oregon's Cascade Mountains and discover some hours of peace and mutual solitude. It seems that the years have separated them. Once great friends, they haven't been in touch for a while. They aren't the same guys they were and perhaps haven't much in common any more. The stocky, balding, bearded, single Kurt (Will Oldham) is a semi-hippie living marginally who smokes a lot of grass. Mark (Daniel London) is thin and married and both he and his pregnant wife work hard at their jobs. But Reichart is too unemphatic, and her understated dialogue is too naturalistic, for this implied discovery of lost friendship to have any drama, or for the differences between the two men to have any clear point. This is good film-making, but it seems almost at cross purposes with itself. The colors are rich, the camera is precise, the sounds are finely recorded. The trip is meticulously observed. Reichart sees her little piece of ivory through a magnifying glass. The way Mark and Kurt talk seems authentic and true. They don't present back-stories, because it wouldn't be natural for them to do so -- though Kurt acknowledges Mark's daring in having a child; he says he's never done anything so "real." Mark's wife, glimpsed before the trip and overheard in cell phone conversations, seems neurotic, insecure about this dip back into Mark's pre-marital world. She may understandably feel jealous of the way, when Kurt calls and suggests the trip, Mark comes hopping. They take Mark's better car, an old Volvo station wagon, and Kurt's directions lead them astray so at night they have to camp by what looks a bit like a dump, not really knowing exactly where they are. There's nothing to give away here. The two guys make the trip. They make it with Lucy, Mark's dog, up to the hot spring the next afternoon. And the rustic shelter set up there for bathing is as Kurt had promised, simple and lovely. Kurt has said there's not much difference between city and country now but this peaceful place belies that notion, except that when they return, their parting is quick, and Kurt is soon out and about by himself in a sleazy part of town and Mark is heading home with an Air America political talk show tuned in again just as it was when he headed out to get Kurt. The irony is that all this meticulous observation reveals very little. When it's over, we don't know much about who these two men are. We don't know how they knew each other when younger or for how long; We don't know what Mark's job is. And it is not clear that they find each other boring, because they haven't said a lot to each other. Mark has talked a little about his father, and Kurt has told a long story at the hot spring about shopping for a notebook and a dream he just had that provides the title. In his dream a woman told Kurt that "sorrow is nothing but worn-out joy." Is the joy of Mark and Kurt's old friendship worn out and turned to sorrow? NYTimes critic Manohla Dargis, who wrote this week that this is "one of the finest American films of the year," says that at their parting, "from the way Kurt looks at Mark, it seems clear he knows there won't be another reunion." Seems, perhaps; but it isn't really clear. And this is the weakness of Reichart's understated method: it's so subtle, and in its construction so minimal, it risks not really saying anything. Nature and the urban world speak clearly in Reichart's film, but there's a substratum of feeling and experience that finds no voice. Shown at various film festivals, including San Francisco, and released in Portland, Oregon in August and New York City (Film Forum) in September 2006.

  • Relax, It's Only a Movie


    When was the last time you relaxed at a movie? That's not the same as saying you relaxed WITH a movie, but that the movie itself relaxed you. A simple and subtle difference in tune with this simple and subtle film where the small touches and gentle silences speak more than any plotting or dialog. OLD JOY is a true anomaly in today's market. During the heyday of the Studio era, it wasn't unusual to see films that were as short as OLD JOY's 76 minutes, in fact, they were often shorter. Today, only a few animated films and truncated/butchered films are ever this short. In a way, all of the effusive praise the film has gotten can be counter-productive in that expectations are elevated, and audiences may expect something more heavily plotted or profound. Based on a short story, this is a sort of short feature. In literature, the short form has its own limitations and virtues that they don't necessarily share with novels. Film is more tangible, and OLD JOY can be experienced as a slice of life - a moment in time (here for a couple of friends). We are simply asked to observe and (hopefully) reflect on the road trip we witness. The length of the film is only the most obvious and measurable way in which OLD JOY separates it from the stream of American film, but, it is the natural grace and will to not strain for effect that truly marks it as different. Just sit back and relax. I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if you could somehow "force" an audience who think they are about to see JACKASS or the latest Slasher film to watch OLD JOY instead (hopefully, not having to resort to CLOCKWORK ORANGE type tactics!).

  • What a brilliantly rare little movie.


    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 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.


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