Prince Avalanche

discs header i declare war

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. I Declare War A group of pre-teen boys (and one girl), some friends and some not, gather for a game of war in the back woods. Using sticks, a simple set of rules, and their endless imagination, the battle grows to include M-16s, grenades, bazookas, and more, but while all of those are allowed things soon take a dark turn. Jealousy and insecurity fuel one boy’s rage to the point where the war stops being a game. This Canadian import starts off like the perfect encapsulation of a day in the life of a twelve year old boy with its mix of physical activity and imagination-fueled violence. It becomes something more though as one of the boys begins to crack, and some of the kids enter a Lord of the Flies-like scenario built on fear and peer pressure. It’s a bit rough around the edges at times, particularly with some of the child actors, but it never lets go of its sense of fun. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, trailer]

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David Gordon Green‘s Prince Avalanche is a small, simple film with a pair of recognizable faces in Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. It wasn’t seen by many people in theaters, and that’s a real shame because it remains one of the year’s best films. Audiences will get a second chance starting next Tuesday though when it comes to Blu-ray and DVD. It’s the story of two men, Alvin and Lance, who discover a friendship and some unexpected self-realizations during an isolated summer spent working rural back roads after a devastating fire. They have nothing in common but loneliness, and while that sounds like a setup for drama the film finds joy in their conversations, disagreements, and personalities. After four acclaimed indie dramas and a mixed-bag of three studio comedies, this is easily Green’s best and purest film in years. Don’t let that scare you off though… it’s also incredibly funny. Keep reading to see what I heard during David Gordon Green’s commentary for Prince Avalanche.

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Prince Avalanche

One way to describe the tone of Prince Avalanche, the new film by director David Gordon Green, is that it feels like a mash-up of Terrence Malick and Judd Apatow. There is the meandering, minimalist plot and reverence to nature that are staples of Malick’s work, but there’s also a central bro-mance between characters played by Emile Hirsch and Apatow staple Paul Rudd. However, to invoke Malick and Apatow is really just another way of saying that Avalanche is a meeting between the old and new David Gordon Greens. It may be Green’s most autobiographical film yet, but not in the usual ways. Through its mix of styles and an ingenious central metaphor, it serves as a meditation on the young director’s career, particularly the odd choices he has made from 2009 to 2012. It’s been a wild, frustrating ride for those of us who fell in love with Green’s early work. George Washington and All the Real Girls were little-seen but beloved by critics and festival-goers. For a while, simply being a fan of Green was like a secret password among young filmmakers. Among established critics, he earned comparisons to Malick for his use of voice-over and preference for improvisation with both camera and dialogue. His third film, Undertow, was actually executive-produced by Malick, although it received less notice that his first two. His fourth, Snow Angels, a tense domestic drama featuring an outstanding performance by Sam Rockwell, was barely seen at all. Perhaps frustrated that his dramas were failing to resonate, Green’s career took an odd, sharp turn. Instead […]

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A funny thing happens when you Google David Gordon Green. Buried down under the first page of hits for “David Gordon Green director” is a related search for “what happened to David Gordon Green” which, once clicked, spits out a litany of links to articles with titles like “Whatever Happened To David Gordon Green?” and “What the Fuck Happened to David Gordon Green?” As a fan of Green’s earlier works, I understand the sentiment – it’s hard to conceive that the filmmaker who made dramatic, nuanced works like George Washington and Undertow also made The Sitter and Your Highness. What the fuck indeed. But even the existence of something like Your Highness (a film I keep hoping to like, or at least to forgive) and The Sitter (a misfire in every way) shouldn’t stop a cinephile’s admiration and appreciation of David Gordon Green, because you can still always watch his hands-down, no-contest, modern classic gem of a movie, All the Real Girls.

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Editor’s note: Rob’s review of Prince Avalanche originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release this weekend. There are two David Gordon Greens. But this is news to no one, so I won’t bother breaking down the differences between the Green who directed the bleak, dramatic and emotionally oppressive Snow Angels and the one who made The Sitter, but let’s all just acknowledge the massive rift in quality, character and narrative and move forward from there. His first move away from serious dramas, Pineapple Express, was surprisingly funny and exciting, and Your Highness was a highly inconsistent mix of chuckles and misfires, but by the time The Sitter hit theaters in 2011, even his most ardent and highest supporters were silently slinking away. Hopefully they booked a return trip, though, as Green’s latest film, Prince Avalanche, is one of his best and manages a fantastic blend of big laughs and affecting characters with an honest look at an unlikely friendship between two very different men.

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It’s been a rough few years for David Gordon Green. The once revered indie darling began to explore new territory as a filmmaker, making studio comedies with mixed results. Pineapple Express was met with a lot of love, but his two followups Your Highness and The Sitter were either dismissed or outright loathed. For those that shook their heads at his recent output, Prince Avalanche will be a welcome return to form for the director, and not only because it’s free of the studio system and a large budget. For Green, it’s a logical extension to the more under-the-radar work he’s been doing lately. The movie (which stars Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd as two sparring highway road workers) didn’t get a major press release when it began filming, it’s presented a low profile marketing-wise, and according to Green, there’s a reason for that.

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This August has made for a tricky must-see guide to compile. If this were any other year, the honorable mentions alone would’ve made the final cut. There’s a lot of quality competition. As such, I’m both pleased and disappointed I couldn’t include Brie Larson’s performance in Short Term 12; a blood-drenched fun home-invasion movie, You’re Next; a new film from the director of Boy A; and more. Then again, having too many good movies on the horizon is a bit strange to complain about. Last month I called July the most promising month of this summer season, and I was wrong. I must’ve forgotten this loaded August, the fantastic lineup of major and specialty releases this month make it. If you were underwhelmed by this summer’s offerings, there’s more than a few here to make you feel more satisfied about this (extended) season.

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If you’ve been dying for David Gordon Green to stop making broad studio comedies and go back to making more interesting and unique projects like he did earlier in his career, then the new trailer for his upcoming indie dramedy Prince Avalanche is likely going to be a real treat for you. Because man does it look weird. The movie is a remake of an Icelandic comedy called Either Way, and basically it just involves Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch playing a couple of eccentrics who are forced to spend way too much time together while spending the summer painting lines on a long stretch of isolated roads. In many people’s hands that sort of non-story could potentially bore, but when it’s being handled by actors as charismatic as Rudd and Hirsch and it’s being shot by a filmmaker with an eye for photography as strong as Green’s, there’s really no need to worry. As you’ll see if you click through and watch the ad.

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Filmmaker David Gordon Green (thankfully) shied away from his recent spat of studio comedies (like the wonderful Pineapple Express and the dismal The Sitter) for his latest feature, a lo-fi affair starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch that’s based on, of all things, an Icelandic comedy titled Either Way. It does not get more lo-fi than that. The film centers on a pair of highway repairmen who are stuck spending the summer, well, repairing highway and hanging out with each other – so it’s too bad that they don’t like each other so much. Straight-laced Alvin (Rudd) is more concerned with doing his work and relaxing in the woods, while oddball Lance (Hirsch) is interested in…well, slightly different pursuits. It’s a bit more complicated than that, as the two also have a personal link that guarantees that even surviving the summer together doesn’t spell the end of their relationship, but Prince Avalanche certainly looks an unexpectedly amusing slice of life. Let’s do some highway repair with Rudd and Hirsch after the break.

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SXSW

SXSW 2013 ended ten days ago, but the memories live on thanks to the great friends we met, delicious food we ate and fantastic movies we had the pleasure of seeing. (Our intrepid interviewer, Jack, also has a strange rash to remind him of the dangers of 6th Street after dark.) You can catch up on our coverage of the films and the talents, but as a final goodbye to this year’s fest we want to highlight some of the movies we enjoyed the most. Rather than simply list the best of the fest though we’ve chosen to look at our favorites as lessons learned, things we discovered and/or talking points that other filmmakers could probably learn from as well. It’s worth noting that my personal favorite of the fest was Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, but since it was already my #1 film at this year’s Sundance I decided to highlight two other excellent movies instead. Keep reading to see what Jack Giroux, Kevin Kelly, Neil Miller, Luke Mullen and I learned about the movies of SXSW 2013.

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Don Jon

The Sundance Film Festival may be over, but that doesn’t mean that the year’s first major film fest doesn’t live on in our hearts – or our theaters and VOD apparatus. Like any good film festival, Sundance is not just a fun movie-watching playtime, it’s also a market for new films looking for a distribution home, even films that come complete with big stars (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ashton Kutcher, Paul Rudd, the list goes on and on). But just because a film gets picked up at Sundance — and by a major company, to boot — doesn’t mean that it will get a big, fancy theatrical release in a timely fashion (see the Tobey Maguire- and Elizabeth Banks-starring The Details for proof of that), though it’s a damn good start. So, just which of the many films that bowed at the ‘dance will you be able to see at a theater (or couch) near you? If our tally of purchased films is to be believed, at least thirty-eight! After the break, check out our comprehensive list of every film picked up at Sundance (and even a few that hit the festival with their distribution already in place, those lucky, happy few), including who bought them and when we’re likely to see them.

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The East

With the year’s first large scale film fest, the Sundance Film Festival, kicking off later this week, it’s high time that we started making some predictions about some of the films that are most likely to explode off the screen up in snowy Park City. Every Sundance (and, really, every major film festival) churns out its darlings, its favorites, its gems, those films that take weary festival-loving audiences by storm and become not only the talk of the festival, but the talk of the cinematic world. Of course, anyone who has ever attended even a massive festival like Sundance knows that festival buzz doesn’t exactly spell out mainstream success, but it’s sure as hell a nice place to start. While our intrepid Sundance team – myself, Allison, and Rob – have already weighed in our individual “most anticipated” films of the festival, those personal picks don’t cover the full gamut of films poised to become the big ticket films at this year’s festival. Here’s our attempt to sniff those babies out. After the break, check out the fifteen films we’re banking on to light up this year’s Sundance.

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Prince Avalanche

Expectations? This is my first Sundance Film Festival, so the only things I know I’ll encounter are movies, cold snow, overpriced sandwiches, and familiar faces. It should be a great time provided the movies are good, the snow is outside my boots, the sandwiches are tasty and the faces are friendly. Prepare for some very disgruntled tweets otherwise. Looking through the list of titles playing Sundance this year, I tallied a whopping thirty-eight films that I want to see. Kate Erbland said that made her too nervous, presumably because it’s so close to her age (something she’s very conscious of, EDIT: not even close, Hunter!), so she asked me to drop it to a more youthful number. It wasn’t easy to do, but through a complicated series of algorithms and drinking games, I knocked off twenty-eight. What remains are my ten most anticipated films of Sundance 2013! Read them, and be as excited as I am at the prospect of maybe getting in to see them!

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C.O.G.

Film festival scheduling is a delicate art, a precarious balance of needs and desires, a rigorous exercise in making puzzle pieces fit. It’s hard, is what I’m saying, and it’s harder still when a fest’s programming is rounded out with so many films that sound so good – like this year’s Sundance Film Festival slate. As the fest rolled out their picks late last year, I’d spend whole mornings squealing over their listings, getting jazzed weeks in advance for films I hoped I’d be able to see. After all that, I’ve narrowed down my picks to ten films I cannot wait to see, a list that includes some Sundance favorites, some returning stars, Canada’s best film of the year, a possible break-out hit or two, and even a doc about mountain climbing, because those are just the sorts of films I wait all year to see at Sundance. Take a look at the ten films I’m most likely to shiv someone in order to see, after the break.

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We learned not too long ago that David Gordon Green has made a movie that’s so low budget and has so much indie cred, nobody even heard about it until it was already finished shooting. It’s called Prince Avalanche, it stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as a couple of road workers painting the lines on isolated and little used roads, and it’s a remake of a 2011 Icelandic film called Either Way. Since most everyone is in agreement that the David Gordon Green who makes small, experimental films is the best David Gordon Green there is, said news was generally accepted as being good news. But things get even better. Now there’s word that this new film will be bringing back memories of Green’s earlier, indie-r work even more so than we may have imagined. Consequence of Sound is reporting that Austin, Texas band Explosions in the Sky have agreed to make some time to score the film once their current tour wraps up in August. The guys from Explosions in the Sky and Green have all known each other for quite a while, as he’s already used a bunch of their music in his earlier works All the Real Girls and Snow Angels.

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While we were all busy lamenting the fact that David Gordon Green has given up making interesting indie films in favor of dumb comedies and arguing about whether or not his remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria is a good idea or sacrilegious, he went and made a new movie without even telling us about it. The nerve! And turns out, not only does it sound like his new film is going to be a return to smaller, more interesting storytelling, but it’s also going to be a preview of what it looks like when he takes a foreign film and adapts it. Green’s new project is called Prince Avalanche, but it’s a remake of an Icelandic film from 2011 called Either Way. In the original, two men played by Hilmar Guðjónsson and Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson spend their summer painting lines on the roads that stretch into remote parts of northern Iceland and end up meeting danger and experiencing personal growth. In Green’s remake the two men are played by Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, and apparently they’re going to be painting lines on roads that exist somewhere that looks a lot like Austin, Texas; because Twitch confirms that the film was shot there last month.

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