Following the death of his wife Audrey, John Munn moves with his two sons, mid-teen Chris Munn and adolescent Tim Munn, to a pig farm in rural Drees County, Georgia, where they lead a ... See full summary »
Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind.
Glasgow, summer, 1973. Dustmen are striking; bags of garbage add to the blight of council flats and a fetid canal. Ryan, who's about 12, drowns during a play fight with his neighbor, the ... See full summary »
Set in a small town in North Carolina, George Washington is the story of a tight-knit multi-racial group of working-class kids caught in a tragic lie. After a twelve-year-old girl breaks up with her boyfriend for a sensitive, deeply introspective thirteen-year-old boy named George, a bizarre series of events and an innocent cover-up launches their insular group on individual quests for redemption. Written by
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They used to get around, walkin' around, lookin' at stuff. They used to try to find clues to all the mysteries and mistakes God had made. My friend George said that he was gonna live to be 100 years old. He said - He said that he was going to be the president of the United States. I wanted to see him lead a parade and wave a flag on the Fourth of July. He just wanted greatness. The grown-ups in my town, they were never kids like me and my friends. They had worked in wars and build ...
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Even though GEORGE WASHINGTON lacks the star power of the Reel 13 Indies of late (IMAGINARY HEROES, SUNSHINE STATE), it's still a high profile independent film. It's legendary in the industry as the first film from indie auteur David Gordon Green. It also already has its own Criterion Collection Edition on DVD, so Channel 13 can hardly claim to have made a discovery here.
As disappointing as it is that Reel 13 has gone away from bringing us films that are new to us (though not that many of them were very good), you have to acknowledge that at the very least, we get an independent film that is wonderfully cinematic and well-crafted. David Gordon Green has a pretty simple formula not a great deal of extraneous camera movement, realistic characters and scenes that are lyrically cut together with beautifully photographed landscapes. There is a certain poetry to his work that is all his own a style that he worked to even greater impact with his follow-up film ALL THE REAL GIRLS.
As similar as the feel of GEORGE WASHINGTON is to that film, it's narrative is quite different and deals with a handful of young kids in a small, poor town somewhere in the South (Arkansas? NC?) as they deal with tragedy and the unstoppable nature of growing up. The kids, whom I suspect are all untrained actors, are all quite good, albeit playing characters that are perhaps more mature than their respective ages suggest. That aspect, along with the verisimilitude and honesty of the scenes, reminds me a lot of Peter Sollett's work. Not as much RAISING VICTOR VARGAS (which airs on Reel 13 in May) than the short it was based on FIVE FEET HIGH AND RISING only Green accomplishes a similar effect without a hand-held camera.
There a couple of nitpicky things that keeps GEORGE WASHINGTON from being as effective as the previously mentioned ALL THE REAL GIRLS. For starters, it's a little slow and hard to hear at times. Paul Schneider, who is outstanding in a much more significant role in REAL GIRLS, is more of a distraction here than an asset. His character, ostensibly intended for comic relief, is like a sixth toe on one foot it doesn't stop you from walking normally, but it's really unnecessary. I also felt the voice-over was also extraneous as if Green didn't trust us to comprehend his themes. The biggest issue I had with the film, though, is the surreal turn it takes in its last twenty minutes or so. Without giving too much away, it relates to changes in the main kid character, which are personified by a radical shift in wardrobe. While I see the overarching purpose of the choice to explicate how the character deals with some of his misfortunes it is a major shift in tone for the piece and stands out like a sore thumb against the quiet beauty of the rest of the film.
Still and all, beggars can't be choosers and having sat through some very questionable indie films over the last few months, GEORGE WASHINGTON is a very welcome change.
(For more information on this or any other Reel 13 film, check out their website at www.reel13.org)
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