We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Weeds" tells a story as old as the movies -- the rags-to-riches saga of a troupe of theatrical amateurs who bring their show to Broadway -- but it tells it with such a distinctive style, such a curious mixture of pathos and offhand wit, that it works for one more time. There's never a moment when there's much doubt about the outcome, but the movie gets there by a series of small delights and surprises.
The movie opens with the hero trying to kill himself in prison. He throws himself over a railing, but only breaks his arms. Then he tries to hang himself. No luck. He's in for life, with no possibility of parole, and so in desperation he does something that's even harder for him than suicide: He checks a book out of the prison library.
The prisoner's name is Lee Umstetter, played by Nick Nolte with a certain weathered weariness and a way of hanging his head to one side and walking crooked. He's a lifer with a broken spirit - until the books put ideas in his head and he writes a play in prison.
He decides to produce it, and the auditions provide a scene that's a small masterpiece as one convict sings "The Impossible Dream" and another one recites "Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mo," which is the only poem he knows, and not a good one for prison recitals.