December 10, 2016

Under the Radar: David Gordon Green

63rd Annual Berlinale International Film Festival - Closing Ceremony - Arrivals

Today I have another series for you all, basically a spinoff of the Spotlight on the Stars series. As a quick refresher, each week I’ll look at an actor/actress/filmmaker that I’d like to celebrate in some kind of way. It could be due to something of theirs coming out that weekend (like in many of the cases so far) or just because I feel they deserve to have a moment in the sun all their own, but each time it’ll be a bit of positivity about someone who I’d like to pay tribute to. Here though, I’m going to look at more of an under the radar individual.

For this week’s piece, I wanted to take a look at our first filmmaker getting this kind of treatment…David Gordon Green. Honestly, most don’t seem to know what to do with this talented and still young writer/director. He changes genres and interests more so than most in the industry, leading to an inability to put him into a neat little package or hole. The quality of the work speaks for itself, but when he goes off in odd directions, some like to say that he’s on a cold streak or “lost it”, as opposed to recognizing him flexing his creative muscles in a whole new way.

Gordon Green began his career as almost an heir apparent to Terrence Malick. The films that he started with, like George Washington, All the Real Girls (such an underrated flick if you’ve never seen it), and Undertow suggested that he was going to be a filmmaker to be reckoned with and a future Oscar darling. Many would have kept right on trucking there, but Gordon Green decided to go in a whole new direction. He adapted the novel Snow Angels, another drama, but one far different than what he had done before. Then, he turned his attention to a whole new genre.

Taking a career 180 from there, the filmmaker began to focus on offbeat studio comedies. Many thought that he was “above” the movies he was now making in some way, but he brought a bit of art to comedies like Pineapple Express. Even his odder efforts like The Sitter and Your Highness still showed off ambition and a lot of love for what he was doing. Last year he even sort of merged his older interests and his newer ones when he made the indie comedy Prince Avalanche.

Currently, it seems that Gordon Green has returned to his indie drama roots, especially with last week’s release of Joe, one of his strongest films in some time. He continues to have a knack for directing actors, this time getting something special out of Nicolas Cage. Many in the industry are hailing a return to form for the filmmaker, but I contend that he’s never been out of form, just exploring a different side of himself.

Overall, I’ve always found Gordon Green to be an underrated filmmaker with talent to burn as both a writer and as a director as well. This new stage of his career is very exciting to me, and later this year we’ll see him make another small flick starring a big time actor, namely Manglehorn with Al Pacino. My fingers are crossed that he knocks it out of the park!

Photos by PRPhotos.com

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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