Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Concede the embarrassing scene, immortalized in ads for 2000’s Finding Forrester, of Sean Connery barking, “You’re the man now, dog!” in his brambly Scottish brogue. It’s a wincing moment, but hardly worth the condemnation lobbed at Forrester as a low-point sellout for director Gus van Sant. (Besides, van Sant’s rudderless 1998 remake of Psycho stands out as a point so low it’s subterranean.)
Lost in Forrester’s dismissal was an appreciation for its relatively piss-and-vinegar approach to the act of creating fiction. Jazzy, classicist and a bit meta, the film’s unexpectedly urbane quirks resembled Jonathan Demme films at their mainstream best.
Jamal (Rob Brown, free of affectation in his debut) is an eloquent, black high-school basketball player recruited by a private school. After a dare, he learns the shut-in upstairs is William Forrester (Connery), a lauded writer in J.D. Salinger-style seclusion who nevertheless fosters Jamal’s writing.
A hard turn into Scent of a Woman territory feels safe but isn’t without its own entertainment value, and there are worse go-to guys for smug, latently racist teachers than F. Murray Abraham.
Mike Rich’s amiable script more confidently teases out the rhythms and relaxations in its central friendship. Connery’s guarded-gusto performance is at its best when pondering how one never knows in what way their writing might empower an evolution — a responsibility with which he struggles in a climax that weighs courage against comfort.
Forrester felt like a less prickly version of 2000’s also-great Wonder Boys, but also joyously encouraged literary inspiration from mentor to protégé.