I tried out an intellectual experiment for this FilmCatcher article “Burdens of Conscience,” comparing David Gordon Green’s “Snow Angels,” Gus Van Sant’s “Paranoid Park” and Ira Sachs’s “Married Life.” You’d think these three very disparate films, by three very different filmmakers, would share little in common, but in fact, buried beneath the surface, I found some remarkable similitaries in their thematic concerns — namely, that we must come to terms with our complicity in other people’s pain, as well as our own. I could be stretching it, but have a look and let me know if you think I’ve jumped the interpretive shark.
The other notable commonality is that Green, Van Sant and Sachs are all laudably trying to push the boundaries of conventional filmmaking. They are American auteurs, bringing something new to the screen — whether in their idiosyncratic writing, characters and occasional renegade camera moves (Green), dreamy, impressionistic mood (Van Sant) or genre-bending mix of artifice and emotion (Sachs, who incidentally, I interviewed with co-screenwriter Oren Moverman in this week’s Voice).
The fact that the films are all opening Friday is both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because it shows alternative American cinema continues to get made and shown, and a curse, because whatever little art-house audience exists for these type of films will be split between them. True devotees of art cinema should catch all three.