Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
2003: All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green)
I’m one of those in favor of the auteur theory. I do believe that, in most cases, the best films are made by the best directors and that, in most cases, the directors are the “authors” of their films. However, what I think is perhaps undervalued in this idea are the contributions of some of the great cameramen, composers, editors, art directors and producers. Film is a collaborative medium, and many of the great directors benefit substantially from their relationship with their great collaborators.
Here is a perfect example. There’s no doubt in my mind that David Gordon Green is unusually talented. But his cameraman, Tim Orr, is an exceptional talent as well. Just take a look at the work Orr’s done with other directors—for example, a film like Raising Victor Vargas—and it’s clear that he has a style all his own.
But when they work together, to these eyes at least, Green and Orr are the most poetic visual stylists of their generation. Their work is earthy, muted but natural and incredibly picturesque. As with Bujalski, there’s also a touch of grace and class to their approach that separates them from many of the other independents.
Green’s cinema is mannered, particularly when it comes to his unusual dialogue, offbeat casting, deliberate pacing and lack of conventional narratives. This is frustrating to some, but I’m a fan, and all of his work so far, this is my favorite.
What moviemakers can learn: Want to be a young auteur in Hollywood? Examine Green’s career. He’s made it, but his career has yet to find the same power of self-expression that it had when he was still working on the fringes.
Other contenders for 2003: From this year, I still have some things to see, including Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself. At some point, I’ll need to revisit Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation and Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, as I struggled a little with both the first time I saw them. From this year I really like Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, and my closest runner-up is Tsai Ming-liang’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.