Tuesday, June 3, 2008

David Gordon Green

I've been wanting to post about David Gordon Green for a while now, but I never had a blog, so I couldn't in that sense. A few days ago Danny McBride came out with Will Ferrell on the MTV Movie Awards. A few awards later it was Seth Rogan and James Franco. Everything's involved with David Gordon Green. Like six degrees.

This will be messy, but alas. First off, after meeting DGG April 2006 and talking to him about all kinds of shit, I was pretty thrilled to hear about some of the movies he was discussing, to be mentioned later.

Let's first talk about Paul Schneider. I think he's turned into a pretty good actor, having pretty huge parts lately in THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES... and LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. And he wrapped PRETTY BIRD recently, which he wrote and directed. His role in ALL THE REAL GIRLS (which I don't like as much anymore, but did see 8 times in two different theaters when I was in college) shot him up to that kind of mild stardom from the folks figuring he would obviously be good in other movies, and I think he's someone to watch. And his first role that anyone saw was as Rico Rice in GEORGE WASHINGTON, which, even though it owes debts to many amazing movies, is still one of my favorites and will continue to be.

Next is Tim Orr, his cinematographer. I make a point to see every Tim Orr movie. When my friends used to shoot around the rusted bridges and general physical malaise and nastiness in our hometown, a lot of was dedicated to the lens of Tim Orr. Along with DGG, we loved nature busting through the man made cracks and buildings, burned out houses, interminable train tracks. All of that. But Tim Orr continues to do some great projects, and because he's one of the best cinematographers working, I always watch a lensed film when it's released. One of the best has to be COME EARLY MORNING, which was on Lifetime recently, which kind of pisses me off. Like SLINGBLADE, the Arkansas landscape in all its rusted and heated glory comes through well, and the story's great. I've even seen LITTLE MANHATTAN. I'll see them all.

Those are the obvious heavy hitters, and I was hoping, at least for Tim Orr, that it would play out that way.

Now onto Danny McBride, or "Bust ass" in ALL THE REAL GIRLS. Friends with David Gordon Green, has some funny moments in ATRG (especially the hilarious shit in the deleted scenes), and has somehow blown up in the world of semi-not-so-decent comedies as of late. He has a role in THE HEARTBREAK KID, the new remake, which is a horrendous movie. Though he wears ridiculous shorts and says some funny shit. I couldn't get through HOT ROD because, again, it was horrendous, but he has a role in that. Jess and I saw DRILLBIT TAYLOR recently, which I thought was actually pretty hilarious. He has another smaller role in that, and though not a horrendous movie, he gets some good lines. At any rate, somehow he's becoming this comedic juggernaut in the vein of Will Ferrell and that comedic troupe, the Funny or Die kind of mode. That brings me to...

: Somehow Will Ferrell and Adam McKay got a hold of it, loved it, got to release it, and now it's in theaters via Paramount Vantage. I haven't seen it yet of course, and will have to wait for the DVD I imagine, but there were some NCSA students hanging out with us in April 2006, and at that point they had just screened the film, and I guess even 2 years ago there were rumors about Warner Brothers, or some other big studio buying it. Maybe that fell through, but now it's probably going to be some kind of cult hit. It looks pretty hilarious, so I hope it delivers. But now Danny McBride, who used to be a guy who worked on student films with DGG and then scored the "Bust ass" role because, I think, someone dropped out, is working his way to the top, and I applaud him. Coming out with Will Ferrell and getting grandfathered in that kind of role can't be a bad thing.

That brings me to Ben Best, who was one of the writers working with Jody Hill on THE FOOT FIST WAY. He worked with DGG during UNDERTOW, and on the documentary on the disc you can see a few scenes with him and Barlow Jacobs.

Barlow Jacobs to LOW AND BEHOLD: a movie I'm pretty thrilled to see (also starring Eddie Rouse, a DGG alum, and one of the stars of GEORGE WASHINGTON). Co-written by Barlow Jacobs, and he's also one of the stars. Read more about it on IMDB, and check out the trailer.

Then to SHOTGUN STORIES (which I hope is still going to be released on DVD in July). Jeff Nichols directed. He had a small acting part in COME EARLY MORNING. He also is taking over the directorial duties of GOAT from DGG. Barlow Jacobs, again, is one of the actors in SHOTGUN STORIES. The movie's done well with the critics. It's again filmed in Arkansas. And again, it looks like it's going to be great. David Gordon Green is also a producer.

Now let's move onto GREAT WORLD OF SOUND, a movie written and directed by Craig Zobel, who worked on UNDERTOW, ALL THE REAL GIRLS, and GEORGE WASHINGTON (and also has a small part as the groom in UNDERTOW during the weird marriage scene that Chris and Tim witness). I was hoping for more from the movie (of which DGG is also a producer), but it was solid and different, and I love Pat Healy [An interesting side note: DGG didn't believe me that Pat Healy was on the former gameshow Russian Roulette, hosted by Mark L. Walberg, current host of the egregious The Moment of Truth, so he called him and left a message and asked him. Pat won the $10,000 prize; he wasn't only a contestant. Of course Pat called about an hour later when we were at The Federal in Durham and confirmed, and I think DGG was wondering why I knew all that insane shit, but then during the course of the day I think he realized I was kind of insane]. It's worth checking out. Plus Robert Longstreet's in it, and if you haven't seen DING-A-LING-LESS, which will be saved probably for another post, you should. GWOS brings up a lot of interesting points about the record industry, with a lot of funny moments, and this shitty sentence doesn't do it justice, so just see.

I forgot to mention that David Wingo does the music for GREAT WORLD OF SOUND. He collaborated with Michael Linnen on the scores for ALL THE REAL GIRLS and GEORGE WASHINGTON, along with Jeff from Lusine for SNOW ANGELS. David Wingo will make an appearance later.

That brings me to THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE, another DGG-produced movie that I had been looking forward to for a while, especially since he said that and GWOS were some of the best movies he's seen in a while. I guess to produce them you'd have to think that, which is admirable. But the movie falls flat, unfortunately. I really really wanted to like it, but it seemed like a forced amalgam of GEORGE WASHINGTON and NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. It seemed like every other shot was an homage, a recognizable homage, from the "nerdy white dude wanting to date the black girl" (ala NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and GEORGE WASHINGTON) to the guy who disappears (or Buddy dying in GEORGE WASHINGTON), to the weird dialogue, to the rusted bridges and farmland and long stretches of road. Actually, one of the best things about it was the cinematography. But it was trying too hard to be like other films. Ending with fireworks and a derby. But David Wingo also did the music for this, and the music was good. Will Oldham also stars, though he doesn't have a lot of speaking parts since he disappears early and is later shown in flashbacks.

I suppose I should also mention SECURITY, COLORADO, a movie penned and directed by Andrew Gillis, who I also got to meet back in April of 2006. Some of the favorite tunes from the GEORGE WASHINGTON score are by Andrew Gillis. Lots of melodic piano and acoustic guitar. There's an early scene with George walking his dog down the street, and there's this beautiful shot of an armchair just sitting in an alley, and that's an Andy Gillis tune. And probably the most beautiful is the slow-motion cigarette smoke of George's father father when he visits him in prison, and Andy's music is playing. I wish he made more, because it's amazing stuff. SECURITY, COLORADO, however, which also stars Paul Schneider, had a lot to live up to for me, especially with all the talent behind it. It's also a Dogme 95 film, which I thought was bizarre. But the lead chick gets naked about halfway through, which is more than worth a viewing if you see it on Sundance.

I guess all of this is inspiring because I don't think David Gordon Green ever thought he would lead all these folks (and of course not all of them owe such a huge debt to him as this post potentially presupposes) to their careers, and some of them I hope will be long and ballsy and weird and fruitful and ultimately prosperous.

He's also been a huge inspiration to me. Usually when I write I'm always imagining being behind a camera. Though I may get out of the narrative mode eventually, and am trying to, I'll always be seeing everything clearly, even though the reader may never. And it started with his enthusiasm, of which I wish I had more. I wanted to go to film school before I got into literature, first wanting to write fiction, and then flipping out over "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking." It's not a singular opinion to say Whitman brought you to poetry, but he did.

THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, directed by David Gordon Green (no, people, the guy(s) who directed KNOCKED UP and SUPERBAD did not direct THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) opens in a few months in August, and I have no doubts, along with everyone else, that it will be a hit. I hope he'll turn into the new Soderbergh, in some respects, by doing huge movies and making enough cash to make all the passion projects. And yes, Danny McBride's in it, and Tim Orr did the cinematography.

What happened to NERD CAMP? Is the SUSPIRIA remake happening? The sci-fi movie starring Paul Rudd? The derby movie? The Jon Heder-affiliated "Amblin Entertainment 80s movies-esque" film about the robots? Tons of good things are hopefully on the horizon. I can't wait to see what happens.

I wish I could've done some family tree for this, but this is what I got people.