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Over the course of one hot summer, a group of children in the decaying rural South must confront a tangle of difficult choices. An ambitiously constructed, elegantly photographed meditation on adolescence, the first full-length film by director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) features remarkable performances from an award-winning ensemble cast. George Washington is a startling and distinct work of contemporary American independent cinema.
David Gordon Green (Eastbound and Down, Pineapple Express) made "George Washington" back in 2000, fresh out of film school and partially based on one of his own short student films. It's an interesting story of childhood and adolescence, told mostly from the perspective of three young teenagers: George, Buddy and Nasia. Without spoiling anything, a terrible tragedy happens and part of the film deals with how it affects the community as a whole. But this isn't the driving plot behind the film; actually, there isn't that much of a plot at all.
The good: these kids turn in pretty impressive performances for first-time or relatively new actors. Tim Orr's cinematography pretty much apes Terence Malick's style (which is actually good OR bad, depending how you look at it), and the film's "rust belt" backdrop is memorable. Also, you get to see Paul Schneider (Parks and Recreation) in his acting debut.
The bad: Most of this film was improvised and it shows. As mentioned before, there's barely a plot and the second half just kind of rambles on without much of a direction. For a 90 minute film, this pretty much proves there wasn't enough material to begin with. Maybe Green hoped he'd get lucky along the way---and there are some good moments, believe me---but as a whole the film just kind of falls flat.
Criterion's Blu-ray offers a modest improvement over their own 2002 DVD, from the 1080p transfer (presumably taken from the same master, but it still looks good) to the new DTS-HD 2.0 Surround track. Extras are identical, including a solid audio commentary, a few short featurettes and two student films by Green; one provided the inspiration for "George Washington", mentioned earlier.Read more ›