Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews

Videophiled: ‘Man of Steel’ gets solemn, ‘Prince Avalanche’ doesn’t

ManofSteelMan of Steel (Warner, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD) is not a remake of Richard Donner’s Superman films but the inspiration there. Zach Snyder directs this retelling of the origin story, scripted by comic book movie-veteran David S. Goyer, with sturdy, stalwart, and somewhat inexpressive British actor Henry Caville as the adult Superman. The Krypton origin (with Russell Crowe playing his father, Jor-El, sending his baby into space as his planet blows up) and Earth childhood (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play his loving and protective human parents) is here, as is a city-destroying fight with Krypton patriot Zod (Michael Shannon in this version), the villain of Superman 2. That destruction was singled out for being very un-Superman-like (wouldn’t the red and blue boy scout try to lure Zod someplace a little more remote?) and they have a point. This isn’t The Avengers protecting a city and its people from alien invasion. It’s personal, or at least Snyder tries to make it so, since the rest of the film is a somewhat portentous story of self-discovery by a (super)man who discovers he’s not of this earth but an orphan from space with power greater than any mortal man. With great power comes great responsibility, after all. Wait, that was the other guy, wasn’t it?

Another line from a superhero picture, this one a fellow DC Comics revival, springs to mind: “Why so serious?” There’s nothing wrong with taking a serious approach to the superhero genre – it worked for Batman and The X-Men – but Snyder’s solemnity tends to smother the experience. He give us big spectacle and epic damage in a dour world, draining the screen of bright colors and shooting with that ubiquitous shaky-cam, as if that makes everything seem like a news story in an alternate reality (enough with the exaggerated handheld camerawork already!).

Continue reading at Cinephiled

PrinceAvalancheDavid Gordon Green gets back to the basics with Prince Avalanche (Magnolia, Blu-ray, DVD), a modest, warm-hearted tale of two guys on a rural road crew, painting traffic lines and pounding in roadside posts on winding forest roads in 1988 Central Texas. Paul Rudd is the senior partner in this odd couple, embracing the solitude and peace of the job while professing his commitment to the girl he left behind, and Emile Hirsch is the little brother of his lady love, hired on as a favor even though the boy would rather be partying in the city. It’s a year after forest fires tore through the area and there’s a quality of ghost story to the film, a sense of loss and disconnection that extends to the relationships that get talked about instead of lived.

Continue reading at Cinephiled

Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

‘Prince Avalanche’: What’s With the Mustache, Paul Rudd?

Painting the road again: Emile Hirsch (left) and Paul Rudd

What makes Prince Avalanche a summer movie? Maybe it’s the aimlessness of its wandering story line, even more than the literal backdrop for the thing: two guys on a summer job sprucing up a lonely road in West Texas. A recent fire has burned the surrounding countryside, which gives the setting a pleasant, haven’t-quite-seen-this-before-in-a-movie quality.

The guys are Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch), and they really don’t get on. Alvin wears a mustache of self-satisfaction, as befits a man with a secure collection of platitudes and a condescending air to match. Lance is the brother of Alvin’s girlfriend (Seattle’s own Lynn Shelton, heard only on the phone), and Alvin tries manfully to impose his standards of behavior on his younger cohort. They putter along the blasted landscape, painting new yellow lines on the road and arguing about what constitutes mature behavior.

It’s to director David Gordon Green’s credit that the eventual revelation that Alvin’s life is not as together as he’d like to think is treated not as gotcha irony but as a natural piece of confused masculine existence.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Interviews

Interview: David Gordon Green on ‘Prince Avalanche’

David Gordon Green rose to prominence as a kind of folk poet of southern regional cinema, creating unconventional but compassionate portraits of young folk in rural cultures in the films George Washington, All the Real Girls and Undertow. With Pineapple Express, a stoner buddy comedy with James Franco and Seth Rogen, he began a three-year sojourn in Hollywood comedies that produced Your Highness and The Sitter and the HBO comedy series Eastbound and Down with Danny McBride.

Prince Avalanche, a modest, warm-hearted tale of two guys on a rural road crew on winding forest roads in 1988 Central Texas, gets Green back to the basics. The film has the quality of an American short story, easy-going, laconic, seeped in rural atmosphere, analog technology, and a slower way of life than the movies rushing through the multiplexes. So it’s somewhat surprising to discover that it’s actually a remake of an Icelandic film called Either Way, completely recast by the southwestern setting and the sensibilities of Green and his two stars, Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.

‘Prince Avalanche’

I talked with Green in May 2013 at the Seattle International Film Festival, the afternoon before he debuted the film for Seattle audiences. After a few years of Hollywood comedies with big advertising budgets, he was back in the indie world where word of mouth builds interest. It’s a world in which he’s right at home. “Man, I could do that all day,” he remarked as we shifted from chatting about some of the recent films he’s seen to talk about Prince Avalanche. “I’m better at talking about other people’s movies.” He was being modest. Prince Avalanche was clearly a labor of love and that love came out in our interview.

Keyframe: How did you first see the film Either Way and what about it made you think that you wanted to remake it as an American film?

David Gordon Green: I wanted to remake it before I saw it. Someone who hadn’t seen it was telling me about the idea of it and I said, ‘I want to remake that.’ So I watched it for the first time thinking about how I would remake it. So I’ve never seen it honestly. I’ve only seen it under the guise of what I would do to it so it’s not really fair to those guys. I love their movie, I think it’s amazing and it’s beautifully shot. Have you seen it?

Keyframe: I’ve seen your film but I have not seen Either Way.

Green: You should see Either Way, it’s masterfully done, very beautiful, almost all done in master shots, very little coverage in the movie. It’s really a warm-hearted, charming movie, very much the inspiration for where we went with Prince Avalanche. I think Avalanche is a little bit more absurdist an a little bit more emotional, but this movie really struck me for the simplicity and beauty of it and kind of a Waiting for Godot quality, the lost existence of man and men struggling with identity and masculinity. I really loved the architecture of that film and felt a lot of opportunity to bring my own relationships and my own ideas, my own internal dialogue, my own internal conflicts, relationships with women, relationships with myself, relationships with nature and incorporate that all into the framework of Either Way.

Continue reading at Keyframe