Jon Watt is the man Marvel has chosen to lead their new incarnation of Spider-Man. And though this may be because he’s a young, impressionable artist and they know they can crush out his poet’s soul with their vibranium Dr. Octopus claws, I’m hoping it’s because Cop Car f’n rules.
Indie Film doesn’t stand for independent film anymore, it’s the filmic equivalent of a literary novel. They’re probably talkie, perhaps beautifully shot, and definitely experimental enough to capture the imagination of some star-eyed producer. The indie films I remember, the ones that still get my little blood-pumper firing, are the indie films that don’t stretch outside of their budget in an effort to make a Hollywood film (most of Sundance, I’m talking about you) but those that happily embrace their limitations, using techniques – story or otherwise – to create tension, characters and action above and beyond their means. Cop Car is this film. I don’t know what the Marvel Machine is going to do to Jon Watt (hopefully leave him to his own devices) but Cop Car is a fucking announcement of a director to watch. The film – about two runaways that find a cop car, steal a cop car, and are then chased down by the crooked cop (Kevin Bacon) who’s cop car it was – uses only a handful of locales (either the cop car, the plains of bumfuck nowhere, or a smattering of houses), untested (though amazing) child actors, and a situation that demands brevity without hours of build-up (two kids … in danger!). And you know what, it’s fucking brilliant. Watt has crafted a film, like last year’s Blue Ruin, that trods happily in the sandbox of early Coen Brother’s films. It’s stark and gritty but laced with a dark humor and a throbbing sense of melancholy that only a truly talented director can bring to the screen. The kids (Hayford Wells and James Freedson-Jackson) in the film are wonderful, natural and lacking in pretension, and with the film’s emotional core resting on their shoulders, it needs to be. As much as this is a film about a deranged cop, desperately trying to find his car (for good reason), it’s also about two kids on the outskirts of life, just wanting to grow up. Mr. Watt, I have extremely high expectations for your upcoming dalliance on the dance floor of Spider-Man-land.
I worry that Jon Watts will only make this one beautiful film before the Hollywood Monster devours him. Be nice Marvel.
Cop Car will open at the Drafthouse South Lamar this Friday.