Eric Deulen

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Elephant Review


Very Good
Gus Van Sant has made an eclectic career out of portraying vastly different avenues that adolescents use to focus the anxieties they grapple with. From the strangely compelling My Own Private Idaho to the more mainstream Good Will Hunting, he remains consciously aware of the often erratic motives of youth while creating an effective story.

With Elephant, he takes a more documentarian approach, shooting seemingly handheld style right up in the faces of the teens he is following, or right above the back of their shoulders. He follows a wide range of clichéd characters, from jock to nerd to slacker, up until the moment two of them go haywire on their fellow schoolmates with weapons purchased off of the Internet. And, yes, it is fairly obvious who the troublemakers will be as soon as they appear on camera.

Continue reading: Elephant Review

Elephant Review


Weak

This year's Cannes-winning, observational drama-commentary about the violence-deadened soul of America, Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" was clearly inspired by the 1999 student massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. -- although "inspired" may be a poor choice of words. The film has so little to say about such events and the culture which produces them that it becomes paradoxically tedious once the killing starts.

Structured like verses in a round, overlapping in time, Van Sant's verite camera follows, one-by-one, a handful of seemingly unremarkable kids (the director cast mostly non-actors) going through the paces of a seemingly unremarkable day in lengthy tracking shots that become strangely intimate and engrossing in their moment-by-moment normalcy.

A nerdy girl is hassled by her gym coach for wearing sweats instead of shorts. A jock throws wads of paper at a quiet boy in class for no discernable reason. A bulimia squad of catty Barbies gossips over lunch before, in a sarcastic touch of dark humor, giggling their way into the bathroom and taking side-by-side stalls in which to upchuck what they just ate.

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Eric Deulen Movies

Elephant Movie Review

Elephant Movie Review

Gus Van Sant has made an eclectic career out of portraying vastly different avenues that...

Elephant Movie Review

Elephant Movie Review

This year's Cannes-winning, observational drama-commentary about the violence-deadened soul of America, Gus Van Sant's "Elephant"...

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