The career of Jared Hess has been one of the stranger and fruitful tales to come through Hollywood in quite some time, if only for the fact that Hess makes some of the oddest and unexpectedly insightful comedies in the current American cinema. For those who don’t know the name, Hess is the man behind Napoleon Dynamite, the breakout indie darling that spawned dozens of familiar quotes, peculiar merchandising, and, most importantly, a sturdy early career for Hess. Truth be told, Napoleon Dynamite has never been my cup of tea, though it’s not entirely difficult to see why people have taken to the film so passionately. His latest film, Don Verdean, takes a look at the titular archaeologist’s (Sam Rockwell) search for biblical totems, most prominently The Holy Grail and Goliath’s skull, and Lionsgate has just released the first full trailer for the film. Jemaine Clement, Amy Ryan, Danny McBride, and Leslie Bibb co-star in the film.
Check out the trailer for Don Verdean below:
The last film Hess directed, Masterminds, is still held in limbo due to the Relativity Media collapse earlier this year, and will likely be auctioned off later this year, or in early 2016. As great as Masterminds looks, Don Verdean more clearly touches on Hess’s thematic obsessions, specifically the reflection of religious texts – The Bible, in this case – as both works of inventive fiction and sources of unparalleled devotion. Indeed, faith and religion’s part in modern society’s moral dictates has been a key fascination for Hess, and he explored them more directly in Nacho Libre and the hugely under-valued Gentlemen Broncos than he did in Napoleon Dynamite. Broncos specifically speaks to a brilliant comedic mind and a contemplative student of fiction, as the director touches as much on religion as concepts of authorship, maturity, and fame, with Rockwell and Clement in major supporting roles alongside The Knick‘s Michael Angarano in the lead. Don Verdean would count as a re-teaming for Hess, Rockwell, and Clement and if it’s anything like Broncos, it will likely prove to be one of the best comedies of 2015.