Leaves of Grass

14 Apr

Title: Leaves of Grass
Year: 2009
Director: Tim Blake Nelson
Writer: Tim Blake Nelson
Starring: Edward Norton, Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Melanie Lynskey, Keri Russell, Tim Blake Nelson
MPAA Rating: R, violence, pervasive language, and drug content
Runtime: 105 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%

Oh Tim Blake Nelson, what a seriously wacky film you just made, yes, I got you to thank for that, you wrote and directed the film after all, but I guess that where the real thanks have to go is to Edward Norton, the guy you wrote the film for, saying if he didn’t take it you wouldn’t do it, the guy who actually took a huge cut from his usual paycheck to star in this film. This is a great film you two just made.

Norton tackles a dual role in this one, of twin brothers, one an intellectual, the other one a pot farmer. If you take a look back at Norton’s career he’s done not a single crappy film, not one, he’s a guy that not only has an amazing talent, he is one of my five favorite living actors after all, but that also knows how to pick them like few others do. And Tim Blake Nelson, who’s first and foremost an actor, has only done three films before this one, not a large number, granted, but the three of them have been quite good, reason enough to believe this one was going to be awesome.

Norton’s first character is a philosophy professor at Brown University, Bill Kincaid, who’s talking about Socrates as the film opens. He’s great at his job, published author, a rockstar amongst the intellectuals, but then he gets a call saying his twin brother, Brady, is dead. That’s when the marijuana part of it all kicks in, that is, after all, the substance around which this film in a way revolves, and it’s a seriously messed up but incredible ride to be in.

He goes back home, not because he’s a huge family man, he has severed all ties with them really, but because that’s the kind of good guy he is, but there he finds out his mom, played by Susan Sarandon, is still a pothead, and finds out that his brother is actually very much alive, as his brother’s best friend, played by Nelson himself, informs him, they just needed Bill there to be an alibi for Brady when he goes to Tulsa to meet with the main marijuana dealer over there.

It says a lot about Norton that he can be so masterful at these two very different characters in the same film, he’s two completely different men, one the intellectual who’s a great guy, the other a huge stoner that’s growing the best material in town. Norton is simply a master of his craft, he’s too good at this, and part of the credit has to go Nelson who creates these two beautiful characters so well, they are both different in ways of living, and Norton plays them accordingly, but they are both incredibly smart, Bill in the more conventional sense, but Brady has crated a pot farm that’s revolutionary, he’s a smart guy too, just in a different way, and the dialogue Nelson creates for them both is outstanding.

Tim Blake Nelson is a Tulsa native, and it shows, his portrayal of the Jewish community within Tulsa is incredible for once, and during the film his knowing of the territory is truly on display. The dialogue is unbelievably well-written, the acting is superb and not just by Norton, just look at the cast, it even has Keri Russell! So yeah, go see this one, it’s a great story, has tremendous characters, outstanding acting and a great philosophical viewpoint presented with utmost care and insight by Nelson.

Grade: B+

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