Written on July 25, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

5375_tnHere is a seething piece of social-realist Southern gothic, featuring a powerful performance from a big and broodingly bearded Nicolas Cage. It’s a film that also appears to mark the end of the weirdest auteur-detour in modern movie history.

In 2000, the then 25-year-old director David Gordon Green released his first movie, George Washington, a luminous, unhurried, gorgeously photographed coming-of-age picture set in North Carolina which seemed to announce him as the heir to Terrence Malick.His followup features did little to change that impression. Here was a deeply serious film-maker with a genuine sense of the spiritual.

Then something freaky happened. Green took a sudden left turn into broad fratpacker comedy, giving us the stoner adventure Pineapple Express (2008), the cod-medieval spoof Your Highness (2011) and an episode or two of the Danny McBride HBO TV comedy Eastbound and Down. Really, hardly any of the authorial signature of his earlier phase was present in these commercial romps, and they so dismayed and affronted many critics that some dismissed this new direction as evidence of a brain tumour. I myself was as startled as everyone else, though not offended, and I thought Your Highness was funny and much underrated. And actually, there is a residually “serious” moment in Pineapple Express: when the two guys begin to get high, the mood and tempo shifts, briefly, to Gordon’s previous, quasi-visionary manner. Now, with this latest film, Green has fully rediscovered his first, Malickian, style – though there is, interestingly, a tiny hint of wackiness.

Joe is slow cinema, or at least slower than the quick-fire world of comedy Green has left behind. So perhaps this really is his true style;  or perhaps it is comedy that will turn out to have been his real vocation. Either way, it should be said that slow cinema is no more real than fast cinema, no more real than the frantically paced editing of superhero movies or action thrillers. It is another artificial convention, but one that makes Joe such an effective and absorbing movie.

Green has found exactly the right actor to bring him back to a more contemplative style: Nicolas Cage, that great, horse-faced player who possesses a sense of both the extravagant and the absurd that makes him castable in both serious pictures and comedies. (He could easily have been in Your Highness.)

Continue reading in The Guardian


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