Monday, August 25, 2014
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'Joe,' Nicolas Cage as tormented Texan

Nicolas Cage as a tormented Texan and Tye Sheridan in David Gordon Green´s "Joe." (Roadside Attractions)
Nicolas Cage as a tormented Texan and Tye Sheridan in David Gordon Green's "Joe." (Roadside Attractions)
About the movie
MPAA rating:
for violence, disturbing material, language and some strong sexual content
Running time:
Release date:
Adriene Mishler; Sue Rock; Tye Sheridan; Nicolas Cage; Anna Niemtschk; Brenda Isaacs Booth; Robert Johnson; Ronnie Gene Blevins; Erin Elizabeth Reed; Heather Kafka
Directed by:
David Gordon Green


*** (out of four stars)

Directed by David Gordon Green. With Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Adriene Mishler. 1 hour, 57 mins. Rated R (violence, profanity, sex, adult themes). Playing at: Ritz Bourse and Bryn Mawr Film Institute.

With shades of last year's Mississippi Delta drama, Mud - and with its teen star, Tye Sheridan, again in a key role - Joe offers a bourbon-soaked character study of a tormented Texas tree cutter and the "little drifter kid" he befriends.

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  • Nicolas Cage, sporting tattoos and working his way through cartons of smokes, has the title role of an ex-con (two-plus years for assaulting a police officer) with a backwoods existential view: "What's the point in any of it? It's all just gonna boil up and wash us away."

    Joe runs a crew of day laborers who take hatchets filled with poison to trees not worth keeping. Along comes Gary (Sheridan), son of an abusive itinerant drunk. Joe gives him a job, and some life lessons, the dog-eat-dog kind.

    Adapted from Larry Brown's 1991 novel by the able David Gordon Green (the stoner hit Pineapple Express, the blacktop Beckett-like Prince Avalanche), this Lone Star tale of losers and the lost evokes weedy, back-porch blues.

    Nothing goes right, a lot goes wrong, there are guns and a pit bull, hookers and a sympathetic sheriff, a bar with a Confederate flag, and a grocery with jerky and liquor. It's good to see Cage flex his muscles (and flare his nostrils) in something rooted in a notion of the real world.

    But this world feels studied in its "authenticity": the rusted GMC pickup, the tumbledown shack, the boozy brothel, and angry Joe Ransom guttin' deer and tending to his own gunshot wounds with a grimace and a bottle of alcohol.        - Steven Rea





    Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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