Τρίτη, 1 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

GEORGE WASHINGTON (2000, DAVID GORDON GREEN)


Synopsis tells us GW is a 'delicately told and deceptively simple story of a group of children' but what I saw was a coming-of-age slice of minimalist Americana too deliberate to resonate with true emotional gravitas and too restrained and artificial to examine the children as anything else than vessels for whatever fancy monologues DGG put in their mouths, every pause and glance of the movie calculated to emulate a specific type of film, I won't say arthouse because I don't consider Terrence Malick whom DGG seems to be channeling an arthouse filmmaker and I won't even say southern gothic because DGG lacks the affinity for the gothic that made TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD such a good movie (the parts of it that don't have Gregory Peck giving courtroom speeches that is) or Flannery O'Connor's children characters so alive and vivid. Filling the gaps with quirks (argh!!) and lacking the truthfulness and honesty the material deserves, for all it has going for it (a sense of pace and framing, which to me, like I said above, seems a bit too coldly calculated which is not surprising given DGG's age when he made it), Green's debut can be in turns good, amusing, annoying, and embarassingly bad. But then I remind myself it's the debut of a 25 year old director. While directors who worked in the studio system 50 years ago (in the US, Italy, and Japan) got their chance behind the camera only after painstaking tutelage as assistants and technicians in various posts and got to make plenty of bad-average programme films before they hit their stride, young directors these days are called to succeed on their first film, get a good festival run and maybe a DVD deal if they're lucky, wash dishes to repay credit card debts for the next 10 years if they're not. I don't know what to think about DGG though. UNDERTOW showed significant progress as long as it remained geared towards a taut Night Of the Hunteresque southern-fried thriller and before it regressed back to Green's feeble GW shenanigans for the final act. PINEAPPLE EXPRESS has none of whatever mark these two films taken together would suggest. Although a less ambitious debut, I think his friend Jeff Nichols eclipsed him with (the DGG produced) SHOTGUN STORIES.

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