I've been very lucky recently, because I've caught up with a couple of filmmakers who are so gifted with easy naturalism - something really missing from most films today - that they practically elevate it to a kind of poetry. When I first saw David Gordon Green's George Washington a couple of years ago, I really fell for it. It's a pretty difficult film. It shuffles wherever it pleases, and is often unwilling to be contained. It doesn't drive forward will all its fiery pistons-a-poppin' but there's something really beautiful in its refusal to resolve actions in any traditional way. Green does the kinds of great things that Terence Malick and Robert Altman did first. He zooms in for close-ups when actors don't expect it, instead of physically pushing the camera in, and forces them to be the main focus of the scene without making them self-conscious or even remotely aware. He also spends as much time observing as he does capturing his story. A three legged dog is as important to him as a murder. And the result is not for everyone, but it was for me.
His latest film, All the Real Girls is a small, but big achievement. He captures first love and all of its various complications so naturally that it raised all my blood to the surface of my skin. The characters aren't insightful the way scripted characters are. They're not too smart for their own good. They suffer from the same poor articulation of emotions many of us did when we were young. It's like the antithesis of Dawson's Creek, in a way.
When the characters mix of their words or prefer to sit a moment out in silence, petting a dog or drinking a beer or dancing alone, you're so close to them that you want to squint into the film's sunlight. The movie is so pretty and sad and touching that I wish it were out in every city. It's hard to imagine that a movie like All the Real Girls can even inhabit the same medium as shit like Summer Catch and Swimfan. How can they all claim to talk about the same emotions and experiences without laughing at each other? Summer Catch probably had a Smashmouth song on the soundtrack. All the Real Girls had Promise Ring. Do you hear me? PROMISE RING! Now that's some sensitive shit.
Oh, and Lynne Ramsey. Shit. If I had the energy I would talk about her for the rest of time. She's made two films - Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar - and they've each become favorites. I hate saying a movie that just came out is one of my favorite movies of all time, because it sort of suggests the same denial of history that teenage kids love to exhibit. But I love them. They are my favorites, right alongside Little Nicky and the new Matrix movie that hasn't come out yet. If you don't believe me, look at this still from Ratcather that I, in an act of total mental deficiency, captured by photographing my television screen and tell me you can still resist it:
Not bad for a girl, right?