A Week Of Gordon Green

Midway through my first attempt at writing this introduction to the latest A Week Of feature I realized how hollow and impersonal my write up was for a filmmaker who has had such an important impact on my life.

While the two previous filmmakers I featured in A Week Of have been undeniably cinematic legends, the latest filmmaker is still in the middle of a very active career. David Gordon Green has had a career thus far that is both unique and utterly under-appreciated. He is also a filmmaker I discovered just as my love for film turned into my main passion in life.

Having already made five films, with two being finished at the time of this writing, Gordon Green is a prolific filmmaker. With his first four films being consistently dark but beautiful looks at rural life, Green took many by surprise by directing the Apatow produced, Rogen scripted Pineapple Express. Charges of selling-out were certainly slung his way, yet his integrity remained intact as he produced one of the funniest, well-made comedies in recent memory. While some may not agree with my last statement, Express is certainly the most competently directed stoner flick of all time.

Green took the indie world by surprise with his first feature, George Washington. What made his debut so unique was his confidence behind the camera. The film was shot in 35mm and looks outstandingly beautiful, something truly unique with indie debuts. It is not only the look of the film that differentiates it, but the performances from mostly non-actors that are consistently natural and believable. Continuing with many of the themes featured in George Washington, Green’s follow up was All The Real Girls; a subtle, realistic look at love and growing up in a small town.

While Green’s next two films Undertow and Snow Angels, looked at similar themes, they were again quite unique approaches to similar material. Neither film received the attention it deserved, and barely received theatrical releases.

It was when it was announced that David Gordon Green would direct Seth Rogen’s latest comedy, Pineapple Express that I took notice. Not only did his first film George Washington introduce me to the Criterion Collection but more importantly the film’s heavy influence by director Terrence Malick introduced me to my now favourite filmmaker.

While Green’s earlier films share many of the same sensibilities as Malick’s, it is not simple imitation that makes his films so great. Many filmmakers have attempted to imitate Malick’s style, and more often than not they fail. Green is different as he takes the influence and turned it into his own style, one which he has developed and perfected over his career. His eye for seeing the beautiful in the run-down, or the ability to find natural performances in any actor is what make his films so interesting.

With Green’s second and third comedy outing, Your Highness and The Sitter, being released months apart, his career is at a cross-roads. As his next project is currently unknown, the question is will this once indie filmmaker of great sensitivity remain in the genre of broad comedy. Over the next week I will be taking a look at all of Green’s released films, as well as discussing his career as a whole and what is possibly ahead for this fascinating filmmaker.

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3 Responses to A Week Of Gordon Green

  1. dckl13 says:

    Have you ever seen “Leaves of Grass”? I would technically call that a stoner flick, more recent than Pineapple Express, and overall a much funnier film in MHO. I can’t remember much of ‘Express’ but I do remember various shots in “Leaves of Grass” that have stuck with me by both their randomness and craft. Ed Norton is great in both his roles, and Tim Blake Nelson is a great character actor who also shows off his directing chops.

    Now to add some Gorden Green to my Netflix queue. 😉

  2. I have seen the film and overall it didn’t work as well as Pineapple Express did for me. You know, maybe I am biased as Green is my second favourite filmmaker. I look forward to hearing what you think of his films, especially Undertow.

    • David says:

      Wanted you to know that I watched the one Gorden Green film you didn’t mention, “Snow Angels.” I quite enjoyed it (despite the disk skipping, damn Netflix!). With more refinement it could have had an even stronger emotional payoff than it did, but that was by no way Sam Rockwell’s fault, or really any of the actors. Rockwell is near frightening in is devotion to his character in this film (as he is in most actually). I think he plays on the viewer’s emotions the most, as you’re always wanting to root for him even if you know you shouldn’t. Great music in the film too.

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