Gus Van Sant’s a tough director to get. He isn’t exactly consistent as far as the quality of his films is concerned (I don’t think there’s a person alive who enjoyed Even Cowgirls Get the Blues), and his subject matter and shooting style are often strange and outlandish. There are directors that few people will dare to dispute the greatness of, and then there are directors like Gus Van Sant who are more on the fence and more difficult to judge objectively. I’d like to hear some opinions about his work, because I think a good discussion could occur between the people who dislike him and the people who like him.
Also, is anybody else excited for Milk? As soon as it’s out and available nearby, I’ll be seeing it.
I liked Even Cowgirls, it’s like a slapstick version of My Own Private Idaho. It also has Crispin Glover in it.
Milk will probably be a nice movie, but I think this guy would be a better Harvey Milk; http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0664727/
I am very excited for Milk! Gus seems to be a hit or miss for me. Good Will Hunting is his most know film, but it was also shot very well and just a good movie all around. I watched My Own Private Idaho the other night, and feel a sleep. I will finish it and I never judge a film till I’ve finish it, it just didn’t draw me in like his others.
I’m truly excited about Milk, though I generally cannot stand GVS’s work.
There are a couple that failed to connect with me (Cowgirls…, Private Idaho), there are some good ones (Good Will Hunting, To Die For,) but the bulk of his material is truly brilliant (Mala Noche, Drugstore Cowby, Elephant, Gerry, Last Days, Paranoid Park, Milk).
I love “Drugstore Cowboy.” In fact, it’s one of my favorite films. But, aside from “My Own Private Idaho,” I don’t think he’s made anything else that I found even remotely interesting or enjoyable. This is just my opinion, and I’m not trying to offer any sort of analysis of the man as a filmmaker, but I think it’s remarkable that the same man who brought us those two gems also made “To Die For” and “Psyho.”
As a gay director, Van Sant’s homocentric sensibilities have been at times disciplined (“Mala Noche,” “My Own Private Idaho”) and undisciplined (“Elephant”).
I loved Paranoid Park, but, it seems, no one saw it, either in the UK or in the U.S- very underrated piece of work.
I think at the end of the day, Gus Van Sant doesn’t give a shit what you think about his films. He had the balls out to make Gerry. He had the balls out to make Good Will Hunting and he had the Balls out to make Elephant. Does this make him great? Well, that’s difficult to say. What is does make him is someone I respect and admire. He makes art, for better or worse, some works more relevant than others. But either way, he keeps on. He just keeps on.
Richard L. – not sure what point you are trying to make about Van Sant’s “homoerotic sensibilities.” Is this sensibility something he needs to discipline? Would we want Fellini to discipline his hyper-heterosexual tendencies? Or Woody Allen? Are you suggesting filmmakers suppress their sexuality? If this begins happening, then they will begin to suppress something that goes to the core of their very being, the very thing we love so much about them as filmmakers.
I’ve only seen about half of GVS’s body of work, but I agree with Richard Beecher about Elephant – I was troubled with his homoerotic interpretation of Columbine, it seemed almost trite. Strangely enough, he does better when he’s in Hollywood (his “prodigy films”: the wonderful Good Will Hunting, the underrated Finding Forrester), with the exception of the mediocre To Die For and the unmentionable Psycho. I haven’t seen his early work (Mala Noche, Idaho, Drugstore Cowboy), but if his recent films are supposed to be a “return to form”, I don’t think I will. I thought Paranoid Park, Last Days, Gerry and Elephant were self-indulgent, unfocused and pretentiously meditative and somber. Maybe some people enjoy this un-driven type of movie, but, then again, even Bresson had a certain drive in his slow films. As for Milk, many reviewers say it’s rather conventional – the conditions under which I think Van Sant works best – and has great performances (GVS’s recent work certainly hasn’t been very character-driven). I’m looking forward to it.
No, David, I don’t think his recent films are a “return to form” in the strictest sense. I think that’s basically meant as a backhanded complement because his earlier work tends to be more well regarded. As I mention above, I think “Drugstore Cowboy” is outstanding and “My Own Private Idaho” is worth seeing for River Phoenix alone. And, although I don’t care for any of his other films, I AM eager to see the new skateboard one and “Milk.”
So, yeah, I think it’d be a mistake to pass over Drugstore and Idaho.
Stoopid double post!
Saw MILK yesterday and loved it. It has that grainy look and improvisational style of other VanSant films but much more mainstream in content.
HE IS BRLLIANT…..FINDING FORRESTER IS MY ALL TIME FAV FILM I LOVE IT…..also GOOD WILL HUNTING,DRUGSTORE COWBOY,…..THOU I DID NOT LIKE LAST DAYS N THE ONE IN WHICH DAMMON N AFFLECK WALK SOME SALT PLAINS….THAT ONE WAS REALLY BAD.
He’s really hit and miss with me. I really did not care at all for “my own private idaho”. i like “elephant” and “good will hunting” . I HATED the short he did for “Paris, je T’aime”. But I have a really good feeling about “Milk” and I cannot wait to see it
Van Sant has the career most young filmmakers would dream of, myself included. The ability to pay the bills with decent if not slightly banal Hollywood fare, coupled with the ability to, at any time, buck the system and make the smaller (and better) films that he deeply cares about as an artist.
As a director, he’s been able to find great success in both worlds of cinema, and he can go back and forth as he pleases. That’s something to admire.
Agreed Brandon. But with Milk it seems he has found a middle ground, where he can helm a mainstream film but give it the personal touch we see in his smaller work. Also, his Hollywood movies tend to still be a cut above the rest (in some cases).
Gus leaves me with mixed opinions
I loved Drug Store Cowboy, Good Will Hunting, To Die For and (gasp) his shot for shot remake of Psycho.
Much of the rest of his work leaves me uninterested.
Oh god, I hated the fact that GVS would touch Hitch with crayons. I guess he didn’t realize that EVERYTHING affects the pacing of a film and to recreate that uneasiness and suspense, the pacing and mood are extremely vital to the film.
I had many reservations at first news of this S4S.
If you’re going to remake it, that’s probably the only real way to do it.
if you hear Van Sant’s own thought’s on his remake of Psycho, it’s hard to hold anything against him.
I haven’t seen many of Van Sant’s films aside from the Gerry/ Elephant/ Last Days trilogy. Sure I’ve seen Good Will Hunting etc, but Elephant is my favourite Van Sant film. I don’t agree that it’s a “trite”, homosexual interpretation of Columbine at all.
I think he just tried to take everything that was said about those people and make it real. He has given us everything he feels we need to make the decision for ourselves – even a look at some other possible characters at the school. It is a wonderful and heartbreaking day in the life, and the long, elegant shots he uses really accentuate this.
No, Gus van Sant isn’t consistent (referring to the first post). Gerry was too slow for me even though I liked the idea. I couldn’t stand Elephant or Drugstore Cowboy. I think that maybe he is not for me.
Adam – where can I find GVS talking about his Psycho remake?
While I have no interest in watching his Psycho remake again anytime soon, the fact that he made that movie only shows how enormous his balls truly are.
It’s an avant-garde experiment funded entirely by Hollywood and released in theaters across the world.
It would be as if Ry-Russo Young was handed a check for millions and told that Marion would be given a national release.
I have to say that Idaho holds up so damn well…just revisited it a few months back. The creepy, hopeless atmosphere he captured is impeccable for that story—so tragic. You have to also hand it to him for switching it up and crafting ‘Good Will Hunting" as that film really touched so many different kinds of people. Past that————-End of Days….Elephant. Sorry. I just have yet to see anything in recent years that I have liked 1% from Ol’ Gus.
But Idaho alone is enough for me.
It’s funny…I saw Drugstore Cowboy, Good WIll Hunting, and My Own Private Idaho at completely different points in my life, without the slightest idea of who Van Sant was, or, that they were made by the same person. I enjoyed each of those movies greatly, and frankly, any sort of stylistic similarities are lost on me (granted I can’t remember the last time I saw any of those films).
I saw elephant out of an interest in the Columbine shootings and I would say that this movie shaped my ideas about Van Sant as a filmmaker. I don’t know what to think about elephant. My initial reaction was that it was overly self-indulgent, and incredibly poorly paced. I’m fairly patient….but man….some of those tracking shots were outrageously long and altogether uninteresting. I liked the tone, the look, and the ominous atmosphere, but for me…I just couldn’t really connect. I’ve watched it since and my opinion hasn’t changed much.
Last Days put me to sleep.
I just watched Paranoid Park and I loved it. Ironically, many of the things that I disliked about elephant, seemed fitting and appropriate here. Sooo….I like Van Sant. Sort of. I don’t know. God damn it.
Gus Van Sant has said that the two kids in Elephant are not gay, they just had never kissed anyone before so they decided to try it out together. Simple as that.
Gus is the man.
I’m not a fan of Gus Van Sant. I have a copy of Drugstore Cowboy and Paranoid Park that I woul like to see and also need to pick up Good Will Hunting and my own Private Idaho. Finding Forrester was cool. I saw Elephant and Last Day’s and thought both were very very bad. I though his remake of Psycho was way uncalled for and paled compleatly to the original film. I don’t care at all about milk. He’s the type of director that I will watch his films if there around and I have nothing else to do just to see what the fuss is about but I will not seek him out.
I think (I haven’t seen Milk yet, though) My Own Private Idaho is Van Sant’s best. It’s also my favorite.
When Van Sant likes to get artsy (Last Days, Paranoid Park, godawful Gerry) I’ll just watch for his direction and the cinematography (Savides and Doyle rule!).