Skinny, with a distinctively weathered face, actor John Hawkes is one of the most consistently interesting screen presences of the last decade. In our next film, EARTHWORK, he takes a rare starring role as the artist Stan Herd. In the summer of 1994, Herd managed to talk his way into being allowed to create a piece of temporary art on an acre-sized Manhattan property owned by Donald Trump.
/clip 3 / “It Depends on Your Budget”
The catch is that Herd has to make it himself, at his own expense. And the lot isn’t empty – it’s home to a small community of homeless men.
/clip 2 / “You’re standing on the canvas”
Some of them end up helping Herd with the work, like the self-styled poet El Track, who is played by the actual poet and novelist Sam Greenlee.
Here’s a film about an artist that isn’t about rapture or torment or great big lightning flashes of inspiration. This is a movie about work, and about the satisfaction that a person can find in accomplishing something, however frustrating or short-lived it might be, and the way this movie tackles the subject – gently, without any flashiness – really gets it across.
You know this is a lovely small film and I hope people really go and look for it and a lot of why I loved it was because John Hawkes is so low-key and dialed down and your right there's no tormented artistry going on where he's suffering, he's just a guy from a farm, who finds beauty right in front of you, where you least expect to find it and he wants to share it with other people and I love that the whole thing with the homeless guys with the lot, it could have been mockish, and it's really not, they're all fleshed out really nicely, there not like metaphors for life in anyway, it's a lovely little film.
I'm really surprised by your reaction, I was actually, I , I have been preparing to defend this film.
Oh my goodness, why wouldn't I like it?
I, I thought you'd, I don't know, find maybe parts of it corny, um...
Cause there's corn in it?
There is in fact some corn in it.
Um, but your completely right, I agree with you.
Say that again please.
You are completely right, it's very small, it's obviously a very low-budget production. There's a lot of, for example, helicopters involved in the plot, you only see one once, it's always played by a sound effect. Um, but it kind of uses it's limitations to it's advantage and I like the fact that it's about process, it's about having to plan something and spend several days working on it, or several weeks.
Right, having to shlep to the lumber yard, um, also John Hawkes is so great in this and it's so different form Winters Bone which I think we all know him for, that was a very dark and very difficult role a very challenging role and here he's sort of a sweet folksy guy.
And he looks like Kurt Vonnegut, he should play Kurt Vonnegut.
That's coming up next for him.