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Touching Home

2009-05-14 14:13:52.579927+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

I realized that I haven't touched on Touching Home since we've seen it. I really enjoyed Noah and Logan Miller's Either You're In Or You're In The Way, it's a great "pulling one's-self up" story, funny, inspiring, and both fulfilled nicely, captured the tear-jerker moments of a hugely stressful and hugely emotional (especially since the movie is autobiographical) undertaking and left me wanting more.

I had extremely high expectations for the movie. And it was a good movie. It opens with a helicopter shot down to the tree above the little church in Nicasio, and even though I knew that line producer Jeromiah Zajonc's father is famed helicopter cinematographer Bobby Z (Robert Zajonc) I had a moment of "holy crap this is an amazing look for a cheap indie film".

I had that sense a lot. There were a few places where the editing suggested that they're still learning their craft, but the fact that they storyboarded the whole thing shows, there are a number of shots that are stunning and striking.

The story follows two guys who've been trying really hard to make it in baseball minor leagues, but have flunked out and gone back to Northern California to fall back on what they grew up with. Their dad is a violent drunk, compulsive alcoholic, and the story is about their relationship with him as they try to figure out how to pick themselves up and get back in the game.

I expected a total tear-jerker and didn't get it. Charlene thinks its because we don't see why they love their father so much, even as they know that a relationship with him will get in the way of their dreams, but that may be tempered through the eyes of a jaded adult who's resolved a lot of her bad parenting issues. Perhaps there's a bit of editing or a scene or two that could be inserted, but I also think that if the film has a flaw it's that it plays as very real, and sometimes powerful doesn't have to mean instant impact.

As I think about ways to describe it, the best comparison I can come up with is Tender Mercies[Wiki]. Ed Harris[Wiki] captures the subtleties of a man whose compulsions have overtaken him very compellingly. Brad Dourif[Wiki] plays the developmental disabilities of his character very believably, not overly broad. The Miller brothers get caged frustration dead on. It's not redemption film, it's not an against all odds, the film doesn't end with the brothers getting their dreams fulfilled; just, maybe, another chance.

The other thing that impressed me is that they managed to show that they know baseball, solidly and from the inside, without making this a baseball film. The whole film was like that, these are guys who write (and film) what they know and get the details nailed, without leaving in anything that's extraneous to the story. The acting is all real (and they used a lot of non-actors for the side roles), not a broad Patrick Stewart[Wiki] moment in the film (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not this style), without being wooden.

So I don't think it's an Oscar winner, but it was certainly two hours well spent, and we're going to see it again at Bookstock on June 6th (We've still got 3 tickets if anyone else wants to go). I hope they manage to pick up a good distribution deal, it's hard to categorize this one as it's a little to adult and raw to make a good TV movie, and it ain't the summer blockbuster. But it's one I could see a time or two more, if only because they've shown already gorgeous West Marin from some spectacular new angles, and I can't wait to see what they come up with after this.

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#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-14 22:28:48.03669+00 by: jeff

"Build it and they will come," to West Marin? I'd enjoy seeing this film on several fronts, including baseball and the Marin landscapes.