Stave off film-fest withdrawal at this screening of David Gordon Green's 2000 debut feature. Info
Should local moviegoers still crave all things Wisconsin Film Festival after it concludes on April 11, two days later the Cinematheque will be presenting a 35mm print of David Gordon Green's micro-budget debut, George Washington, which originally premiered at the 2001 festival. Green, who's gone on to enjoy a lucrative career oscillating between American independent dramas and studio comedies, found his own creative voice and critical acclaim by channeling the lyrical storytelling of Terrence Malick here. Notably, its application of Nasia (Candace Evanofski)'s idiosyncratic and colloquial voiceover narration echoes Linda Manz in Days Of Heaven (1978) and even Giovanni Ribisi in The Virgin Suicides (1999).
Narratively, George Washington is indebted to the literature of William Faulkner and tinged with notes of humorous fabulism (elevated through Tim Orr's slow-motion handheld cinematography), as it follows a young nonprofessional cast through the outskirts of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Nasia, Buddy (Curtis Cotton III), Vernon (Damian Jewan Lee), Sonya (Rachael Handy), and the rest of the ragtag crew pass the time by exploring the area's abandoned spaces, hoping to uncover something miraculous or mysterious, perhaps even within themselves. At the same time they struggle with adolescent jealousies, particularly amid Nasia's breakup with Buddy, who she deems to be too immature. She instead turns her attention to the quiet and vulnerable outcast, George Richardson (Donald Holden), who becomes something of an unlikely hero to other residents of the town, albeit in the midst of other tragedy.
The film also features an early role for Paul Schneider (Parks And Recreation) as a railway worker who befriends and confides in the adolescents. Further, the soundtrack sort of secretly stands as one of the best of the 2000s, and its adventurous ambient sounds peak in the epic, climactic "Basilica," written by Michael Linnen and David Wingo (Ola Podrida). —Grant Phipps