Thursday, August 8, 2013

David Gordon Green's PRINCE AVALANCHE takes us to Texas during the summer of '88

How nice to have David Gordon Green back, movie-wise, closer to where he perhaps belongs -- after three forays into the mainstream market: Pineapple Express (which TrustMovies thoroughly enjoyed), Your Highness (unadulterated crap; a mistake of epic proportions for all concerned), and The Sitter (surprisingly acceptable, overall). Now, Mr Green, shown below, who got his start making genuinely independent cinema (from George Washington to Snow Angels) is back in his native Texas, where he is -- surprise! -- remaking a 2011 Icelandic movie called Either Way.

That remake, now titled PRINCE AVALANCHE, features two more-or-less mainstream actors -- Paul Rudd (below) and Emile Hirsch (further below) -- who've had their greatest success doing interesting independent movies. It's a quirky, often funny, sometimes sad film about a couple of oddballs forced to spend their summer working together who slowly, barely begin to form a bond. Rudd plays Alvin, Hirsch does Lance. The film's title, I believe, comes from mashing the two names together (kinda jumbled and all), from which you get "Avalanche." Taken separately, each guy is pretty much a loser dork. Together, however, these two combine to make, yes, something like a "prince." That's TrustMovies' take on the title, anyway; you'll have your own.

The relationship between the men (Lance is the brother of Alvin's current girlfriend) develops from something "forced" into something both worse and better. Getting there, thank goodness, provides most of the fun. Given Green's penchant for putting characterization over plot and rarely giving in to any feel-good impulses, be assured that you're in for little sentimentality but a lot of quirk and reality.

The job of these two is to paint that yellow dividing line onto many miles of country road. That this takes place not long after a major fire has devastated the area ensures us a marvelously strange landscape of burnt-out views and an occasional animal and bird. Other people? Well, there are two of these, one stranger than the last, but both providing oddly buoyant fun.

On one level little happens during the course of the movie; on another -- the one that counts -- everything changes, including our view of the maturity of the respective guys, which one is on top or in charge, and much else.  Yet none of this feels forced or fake. There is a wonderfully organic sensation to the proceedings. This is something at which Green usually excels, and in this regard Prince Avalanche is little different from much of his past work.

In his earlier movies the filmmaker has sometimes sacrificed movement and thrust to his desire for truer characters. Now, with actors as good as Rudd and Hirsch, there's no need for sacrifice, as we're glued to the screen via the smart work at hand.

Visually, Green is growing with each film. From his wobbly hand-held camera-work and the cute idea that spans the opening credits to the film's final shots, among the most beautiful and meaningful in recent memory, Prince Avalanche is a "little" film to treasure.

From Magnolia Pictures and running just 94 minutes, the movie opens this Friday, August 9, in 13 cities -- in NYC it plays at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and the IFC Center;  in Los Angeles, look for it at the Landmark NuArt -- and will expand across the country in the weeks and months to come. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates, cities, and theaters.

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