Who's in It:
Paul Giamatti, Michelle Williams, Michael Pitt, Rusty Schwimmer
The Basics: A deeply unhappy auto upholsterer and amateur falconer (Giamatti) makes a habit out of catching wild hawks, trying to train them and then standing by dejectedly as they succeed in winning the battle of wills by starving themselves to death. Giamatti's social-skills-deficient sister, her autistic adult son and the neighborhood stoner-slut sit by and watch it all go down.
What's the Deal? Indie movie-watching veterans will recognize all the cues here: palpable gloom shot through with sometimes-obscure symbolism, domestic tragedy so weird it's disturbingly comic, a Southern Gothic kookiness fetish (it's based on a Harry Crews novel) and banal suburban grief. But just when you think you've got a handle on it, it throws you off the trail a bit with intentionally weird details and, even though it might be a total mess, it's still crazily fascinating to watch. Give me that over predictable and boring any day. But, yeah, total bummer.
How You Know You're In for It: In the first few moments, this guy says to Giamatti, "Say, how's that hawk doin'?" and Giamatti says, "It died." In spite of that seeming like it might be the beginning and the end of the shortest movie ever, there's still a couple more hours to go after that.
Who's Great: Giamatti, as usual, proving he can be in just about any crazy movie (like, Lady in the Water) and still not get any of it on him. I like the symbolic hawk, too.
Also Check Out: Trans, director Julian Goldberger's first (and just as strange) film.