Posts Tagged ‘Gus Van Sant’

My Own Private Idaho – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Oktober 13th, 2010


Young male gay prostitutes River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves go on a road trip in this meandering early film by acclaimed director Gus van Sant spanning from Seattle to Portland, Idaho and Rome. Along the way, they learn a lot about themselves and about life, as well as that in the end, you can’t change who you are and that your path is preordained. Or something along those lines. But the plot is not really the focus here, as van Sant experiments with the art form film, often with little success, but with a few truly memorable ideas. Phoenix delivers the best performance in his short career, anchoring a film that otherwise would have been quickly forgotten.

Random Observations:

My Own Private Idaho at the IMDb

Part of the story was inspired by William Shakespeare’s plays Henry IV and Henry V. When the characters go so far as to quote the original dialogue, it becomes a tad annoying.

Also from the experimental department: having the characters appear as cover pictures for gay sex magazines and then let them talk about that for a while. Or telling stories directly to the camera. Or sex scenes consisting of poses for still photograph. Most of these disrupt the flow of the movie even more than the Shakespearean dialogue.

In a world of gay prostitutes and their clients, of course the only truly perverted person is German. Or maybe he isn’t all that perverted and just very, very odd. Also another German trademark.

Finding Forrester – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Juni 9th, 2010


Despite his interest in literature and considerable writing talent, African-American teenager Jamal living in the Bronx defines himself through basketball. But when his test scores reveal his talents and he is accepted in a prestigious Manhattan, while also meeting the titular writer William Forrester, a reclusive after the success of his first book modelled after J.D. Salinger, his life changes decidedly. Despite the cookie-cutter plot and expected twists, the film is nevertheless well made and well acted, a touching human drama about friendship, talent and envy. It’s not the most original film ever made, but it’s good enough to watch.

Random Observations:

Finding Forrester at the IMDb

The plot of the film is eerily similar to Gus van Sant’s earlier (and much better) film Good Will Hunting. Van Sant seems to acknowledge that fact himself by giving Matt Damon a cameo role.

Gus van Sant latest film was the biopic Milk, another one in a string of very strong, if not entirely original, films. In my opinion, however, he is strongest when making true indie films like Elephant.

The title role is a very unusual turn for Sean Connery, who straddles the fine line between brilliant acting and complete silliness.

It’s been over nine years since I last saw the film – and I remembered practically nothing from it, including that F. Murray Abraham was born to play villainous and envious roles.

Elephant – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, November 10th, 2009


Elephant explores the phenomenon of the high school shooting by telling the story of a regular high school with regular students for a few days. This glimpse into their lives makes the final scenes, when the senseless killing commences, all the more harrowing. The film is paced very slowly, with long takes and a quiet look at the life, yet still feels a little bit too hasty, especially when cutting from one storyline to another, to me. Add to that the fact that the non-chronological timeline is a bit confusing at first and you have the two reasons the film doesn’t succeed completely, but apart from that it is an interesting, unprejudiced and non-judgemental take on the subject that has become so common after Columbine.

Random Observations:

Elephant at the IMDb

All the actors in the film are amateurs, with much of the dialogue improvised. The film also uses their real names.

If you compare this to Gus Van Sant’s latest film, Milk, you can perfectly see the difference between “mainstream art films” and true “indie art films”. Which is not supposed to mean that one or the other is better, just that they are very different.

Minute Movie Review – Milk

Sonntag, Februar 22nd, 2009


Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to a public office in the United States – as a supervisor in San Francisco. He was assassinated while in office, along with the mayor of San Francisco, by another supervisor. The film tells the story of the last eight years of his life, from leaving New York to get a fresh start until his death (and the reaction it provoked). The film is very well made and the message is as simple as it is resonant (and repeated over and over again): There is nothing wrong with being gay. Harvey Milk did a lot to convince the public of that, this biopic will certainly do some more today.

Random Observations:

Milk at

Josh Brolin received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for this film – James Franco is the one, who actually deserved it.

The actors look eerily similar to the real people they portray – it’s amazing what a new hairdo and some prosthetics can do.

Many of the people close to Harvey Milk were involved in the making of the film. Some of them even took on small roles.

The second of three Best Picture nominees for the Oscars I have seen and my favourite to win so far.

Minute Movie Review – Paris, je t’aime

Dienstag, März 25th, 2008


Paris, je t’aime is essentially a collection of short films set in Paris and dealing, mostly, with love of all kinds. As that, it is interesting to see 18 different takes on the matter, from many accomplished as well as up-and-coming directors. Naturally, some of those short films are better than others and everyone will have different favourites. But when the director line-up includes Tykwer, Coens, Payne, Craven, Van Sant and Cuarón to name just a few, great film-making is guaranteed. The experiment works and the movie overall is very enjoyable, although some of the segments lower the overall accomplishment.

Random Observations:

Paris, je t’aime at

The Coen brothers decided to make a comedic segment, with their regular Steven Buscemi in the lead role.

The only really bad parts for me were the vampire segment of Vincenzo Natali and parts of Nobuhiro Suwa’s segment about a mother who just lost a son.

I was especially surprised by Wes Craven’s segment, who I have only ever seen as a creator of horror and splatter movies like Scream. But even though it is set in a cemetery, it is quite different.