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Thursday, June 28, 2007

LA FILM FESTIVAL DAY SIX

JOSHUA
Centerpiece Premiere
National Theater
June 26, 2007

I suspect that if the current administration had seen an advance screening of Joshua then they would have seriously reconsidered the whole ‘No Child Left Behind’-thing.

Joshua was the LA Film Fest’s Centerpiece Premiere screening held at the soon-to-be-defunct National Theater in Westwood. The screening was sponsored by family-friendly Target. I thought, appropriate enough, because Joshua (played eerily by Jacob Kogan) has that kind of Sunday Flier clean cut kid look that makes everyone always say “Oh, you must be so proud.”

But what if they weren’t? And what if that clean-cut kid was secretly planning his family’s demise?

Okay, I know what you are saying. We’ve seen it all before: The Bad Seed, The Good Son (which the little tyke claims was inspiration), The Omen. And I will agree with you. But in a way, Joshua, as directed by George Ratliffe, acknowledges these inevitable comparisons while keeping the tension palpable and the script ripe with black humor. It’s as if he is giving us a throw-back to those incredible thrillers of the 70’s while keeping his story current (Postpartum depression, the abused-child hysteria, organized religion discussions). Ratliffe helps direct his actors to fine, performances. Sam Rockwell excels, as always, in the role of Brad. Also, Celia Weston just adds so much more by her mere presence in her scenes, that I had to mention her.

Okay, I am not a spoiler boy. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? I live for spoilers. But I won’t spoil anything for you. As a fan of movie music, I want to give a little praise to the composer, Nico Muhly, who I am certain had something to do with the incredibly eerie arrangement in the film’s highlight for me: Joshua’s piano recital. It happens early in the film but it helps set the tone, as does all of his music.

I am certain that this movie is not for everyone. However, at least give it a shot. It’s one that will have you talking long after it is over.

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