I apologize I didn't publish sooner, but I was dealing with horrible stomach pains last night (no more Aleve for me, thank you). I'll do better next time I swear, just please don't ground me. Any way--
One of my favorite directors of the 2000s has to be David Gordon Green, but I'm not sure why. His characters and stories aren't exactly my cup of tea, but some how Green's work arrests me, and then his work becomes my cup of tea. And my cup runneth over. Green debuted in 2000 with George Washington, and since, he's concentrated on capturing the American south, by depicting small characters who shine brightly through their bleak lives.
Prince Avalanche (2013), one of Green's more recent releases, is, in many ways, a departure from his traditional form. Green works traditionally with character studies highlighting the resurgence of the Southern Gothic tradition, with films like Joe (2013) and Undertow (2004), so it's a bit surprising to see him tackle a subtle comedy (I know, he did direct Pineapple Express and The Sitter and stuff, but those don't count because those were paycheck jobs. Also, I said subtle.).
Prince Avalanche follows two road workers, Paul Rudd's Alvin and Emile Hirsch's Lance, in an 80s Texas, as they help rebuild the charred remains of the road ways which were ravaged by forest fires. It opens with some beautiful images of wild fires burning trees and endless landscape. The images are destructive and stunning, highlighting Green's fascination with the ugly South--it's hideous, but you can't look away. Green asks us to find the beauty in the destruction.
Alvin and Lance work together painting lines on the roads, inserting those blue pole thingings that are always on the side of the road (I clearly wrote the script), and get to know each other over the process. It's a bare-bones buddy comedy. Green shows us these guys doing their thing with little editing or camerawork. It made me think of the original films, the short ones that just showed somebody doing something, like watering a plant or lifting weights.
And that's the nature of the film. So plain and so minimalist that there's hardly anything there (also reminded me of Nebraska in that sense). But that's the key to the movie. You are forced to focus on things you wouldn't give a shit about normally. Here's Green asking you to focus on the tags loggers put on trees:
What's the big deal? Oh wait--
Oh, I see. Paul Rudd's girlfriend, Emile Hirsch's sister, just broke up with Paul Rudd over a letter because he's never there for her. Yeah, he's too busy painting lines on the road! Jeez. Women, am I right?
The story is basically Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch bickering and getting along, then bickering and getting along. They meet other characters, like a salty old man who works for the rebuilding company as well. But he drinks, what I can only guess is, vodka poured into beer and shares it with his new buddies in this lonely stretch of the American south.
This is a decent movie, but not Green's best work. Perhaps it didn't translate well from Either Way, the 2011 Icelandic film this one is based on. And maybe I just prefer Green's work with brooding, dark characters, who are completely lost and eventually find their way out. Treat yourself and watch his other work. Except Snow Angels. Please, just. Don't...
It's enjoyable and fun, especially if you like Rudd and Hirsch. They have terrific chemistry, but this movie probably isn't for the regular Joe-Schmoe movie type. They might find it "boring" or "dumb", but maybe this movie isn't for them.
Kick back, relax, grab your best bud, and your other best bud, and watch this one. Just don't expect Citizen Kane.