Touching Home–an impressive first work by local filmmakers Logan and Noah Miller has rocked my world.
Our community college screenwriting class was invited to see a special viewing–with the Millers themselves. Half the class didn’t show.
The story opens on two sets of hands planting a flat of pansies (“pensees“), then opening a beautifully crafted wooden box with tiny brass screws, pulling out a bag of ashes, and scattering some on the newly-planted flowers.
I recognized the location: “my” scraggly recumbent oak, the one (pictured coming out of Logan’s left ear) on a rock-strewn knoll above Saint What’s-Her-Name, a picturesque, tiny church next to the baseball diamond in Nicasio town square.
EXT. Farmhouse – NIGHT. Rainstorm. A police car stops at a rural house, two blonde tykes jump out, thank “Coach”, run in with a baseball trophy.
INT. Farmhouse living room. NIGHT. A bearded fellow staggers in, collapses on the easy chair and notices the trophy and a spies note with it: FOR YUO DAD.
Dad hurls the trophy against the wall in a rage, or in despair.
Tries to glue the bat back onto the statue with shaky hands…no luck.
Some time later, the bros tiptoe in, drape his sleeping form with an afghan, and steal away with the broken trophy.
My eyes begin to swim.
Three minutes, and I’m irrevocably hooked.
You are going to be hooked, too, if you see the movie.
You will discover that even the irredeemable deserve compassion, and that winning and losing aren’t opposites. If the bros had broken into the big leagues, a few million people wouldn’t be hit in the gut with a 90 mph line-drive of a movie.
With the aching loss of all those years in the catchnet of yesterday, Noah and Logan had to start anew. Poverty, it is said, is the muse’s patrimony…..
hence an unforgettable love letter to a damaged dad, set amid dreams of baseball fame and family disarray. We get to experience the margins, the frayed edge of Marin’s physically beautiful back side , millimeters from the cliched Beemers and bling. Falling a tad short of the pro ball life they’d so determinedly chased gave us a pair of artist/athletes. WHOM WE NEED MORE OF. I am so fucking sick of politician jocks (always Republican, curiously enough), and those rich poseur millionaire jerks with their three hundred cars and hideous mansion/’crib’….whoops, where did THAT come from? (Please don’t be envy please don’t be envy..it’s so unbecoming).
I am going to pay the scalper’s price for a ticket for the April 29 Rafael Theater opening–it’s already sold out…(half of Marin is celebrating early for a couple of Oscars! No pressure…just “prescience”).
“Clint” and “Lane” are matching boys of different temperament and tolerance and surpassing brotherhood. Their facial muscles should get a special Oscar. The complicated, ruined and still loving-in-his-own-way father who runs out of time is re-created through Ed Harris‘ riveting performance.
The viewers assume these wounds, their truths: empathy, frustration, rage, resignation. And, of course, re-enactment…in a darkened, respectful theater.
Do they imagine a heaven in which their dad, Daniel, gazes gleefully down, with a greasy M&G cheese burger, fries, and a bottle of Lagunitas IPA?
How many times did I ride past the guy’s pick-up when I did the big miles in West Marin? Or spy him on a roof as I held my breath through a cloud of tar- steam? Did I notice the star team playing ball on Gomez field?
Now about the book. Hey, these are two self-possessed, or perhaps just plain possessed, young men doing the impossible…why not throw a memoir on top of the job order?
Yah, a nice account of their hellride through the L.A. popularity contest and dream factory.
You’re Either In Or You’re In The Way…Good news: an unpredictable, difficult life proves to be a decent prep school for the sick roller-coaster ride called Hollywood. They wrote the script, found funding, produced it. Occasionally they hit walls…but bounced and overcame the hurdles. They were fit and they had each other. One could be down, but the other would be up. Nauseating defeat derails miraculous luck, resulting in nightmarish, eyes-open-in-the-dark nights.
They commit Ed Harris with a handshake–without telling ‘his people’ (or him) there’s no money…. and then almost by accident find a million dollar investor just in time to hear that a certain ball club is unhappy with being “used”…like those Jackie Chan flicks where the cops AND the crooks are the enemy… the film production snowballs, then melts, then re-freezes…like a party everyone wants to be part of, IF the money turns up….a lifetime of strong bonds with other baseballers saves the day more than once.
“We’re adept at dealing with irrational people” grin the bros (who co-wrote the book, one typing, one scribbling).
They also have a mystic resource that science is at a loss to explain…that co-valent twin bond……like their friend said: You’re two halves of the same thing!
I slammed the book in a couple of days–…then I re-read it so I could savor again all the ups and downs and the brilliant wording (“nut-tickler” really grabbed me, as did an unsavory couple of characters called “Little Angry” and “Big Angry”), the throwaway lines, all of it. Then I bought another for a friend, a teacher in our Fairfax family whose daughter’s their age. Everyone should be alerted to the Marin kids who made good on a promise.
Oh, and of course they’ve got a blog.