Hey, remember Gus Van Sant? Pioneering indie film director? Icon of Old Portland? It's OK if he skipped your mind. It's been a decade since his last movie that really grabbed the zeitgeist, the 2008 Harvey Milk biopic Milk, which won Sean Penn an Oscar.
That might change this year: Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot, Van Sant's upcoming film about Portland cartoonist John Callahan, is already getting buzz as a potential return-to-form. It hasn't screened yet—it'll debut at the Sundance Film Festival later this month—but the first trailer, which dropped today, certainly makes it feel like a picture that'll vault Van Sant back into critics' good graces.
Of course, we're probably a little biased here—Callahan's crude, aggressively un-PC comics appeared in Willamette Week for almost three decades. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Don't Worry chronicles the late illustrator's life after a car accident left him a quadriplegic, when he took up drawing—with a pen clutched in both hands—as a form of therapy. The cast also includes Jonah Hill, Jack Black and Rooney Mara. (No word on who's portraying WW Editor Mark Zusman.)
The film, which takes its title from Callahan's memoir, is the first Van Sant has both written and directed since 2007's Paranoid Park. It could certainly be called a passion project for him—he's reportedly wanted to make a Callahan biopic since the early '90s, and once considered Robin Williams for the role.
Don't Worry is slated for national release on May 11.