Let there be no doubt that John Lennon‘s “Isolation,” recorded 48 years ago, is one of the gentlest and most scalding pieces of confessional, self-lacerating poetry of the immediate post-Beatles era, bar none and hands down. Just as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is one of the greatest rock albums ever — so lean and stripped down and revealing on a raw, exposed-nerve level.
Now “Isolation” is back and part of the bustling, pulsing realm of 2018. The teaser-trailer for Gus Van Sant‘s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (debuting in Park City this weekend) has made it relevant and fresh again. Plus the subject matter of the film and the story (i.e., about crippled alcoholic cartoonist John Callahan) and the hippy-dippy period blend so well that you can’t help but think “wow, this looks really good!” Probably. You can’t read too much into a trailer. But this one is brilliantly assembled.
All hail Joaquin Phoenix‘s temporary abandonment of his beardo gloomhead persona, and all hail Jonah Hill, as always.
Sidenote #1: Speaking as a guy who had a vodka problem in the mid ’90s, I’m half-relating to this story. Except I was never really addicted to vodka, at least to the extent that I had no problem stopping. I was just into the very merry habit of enjoying my nightly vodka-and-lemonade blast-off….woo-hoo!
Sidenote #2: What a relief to see mopey, solemn-faced Phoenix playing a doofus who occasionally smiles and shrugs and chuckles at himself, etc. He hasn’t really played a semi-engaging guy since Spike Jonze‘s Her. Ever since he’s been playing melancholy, self-regarding weirdos with beards and pot bellies or both — Inherent Vice (mutton chops, sandals, slacker attitude, slurred speech), Irrational Man (huge pot belly), You Were Never Really Here (graying bushy beard, dad bod), Mary Magdalene (ditto but within the guise of Jesus of Nazareth).