What’s the Deal with David Gordon Green?

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In my opinion, it’s pretty hard to find a filmography as interesting as David Gordon Green’s. It’s starts off with the acclaimed independent drama George Washington, then moves onto films like All the Real Girls and Snow Angels, and takes a total 180 with Pineapple Express and Your Highness (with the Jonah Hill starrer The Sitter coming at the end of the year). What’s up with that?

Of course, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining.  Your Highness certainly left quite a bit to be desired, but I’m actually a big fan of Pineapple Express. Not to mention he’s directed several episodes of the hilarious Eastbound & Down. But I’d like to draw your attention to an article I found. It’s from 2001, when George Washington was making the rounds.

If you don’t feel like reading it, I’ll give you the gist: It’s a very passionate 25 year old talking heavily about what influences him as a filmmaker, and how he approaches doing what he does. It definitely paints a portrait, and it’s not the portrait of a man you’d expect to see in a working relationship with Danny McBride.

I will give him a bit of credit though; he does say that he watches pretty much every movie, and even talks briefly about Bad News Bears and other films by Michael Ritchie. But there are so many moments that make you question his choices.

For me, one of those moments comes when he talks about his dislike of Kevin Smith’s work. He makes it clear that he wouldn’t want to make a film like Smith does, and doesn’t seem to like that he helped create the commercially-viable indie film. And really, that’s all well and good.

Except for the part where he’s now making the kind of film Kevin Smith would. Sure, the projects aren’t as autobiographical as Smith’s, or as independent. But they’re still films packed with jokes about weed and bodily humor that attempts to have some heart thrown in for good measure. Actually, it’s downright hilarious when you think about it. While Smith has returned to his independent roots with the production and distribution of Red State, Green almost looks to be moving further and further away from his.

So what happened? Why did this man opt to go from making indie darlings to making a film about Seth Rogen doing drugs and firing guns? And why doesn’t this seem to be stopping? Maybe these are the kinds of films he’s truly wanted to make all along. Or maybe he sees a beauty in them that none of us have yet to notice. Or he could be taking a bit of vacation from his usual material, and plans to get back to depressing us soon. Whatever the case may be, it’s really starting to get odd.

I am all for filmmakers moving from genre-to-genre. If there was a rule that said they couldn’t, Sam Raimi wouldn’t have made A Simple Plan, we wouldn’t have the Steven Spielberg we know and love, and half the Coen Brothers’ filmography wouldn’t exist. But for my money, David Gordon Green has made some of the strangest choices of any director working today. In a way, I respect him for that, because for the most part I think it’s been a pretty successful experiment. But I’d also like him to take a step back and look things over, because I wouldn’t want to see him get stuck in this rut for the rest of his career.

I know he’s been attached to a remake of Suspiria for a while now, if he takes that on soon it could be a return to form. Of course, does anybody really want a remake of Suspriria? That, boys and girls, is a different matter entirely.

– William Bitterman

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