On the Edge_Gus Van Sant Film Festival Catalog

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al v i t s e F m l i F Catalog

Loss and self-discovery in the films of Gus Van Sant





“If you don’t have the story and the unfolding of the trajectory of the saga, it’s like getting in a car and not having any gas.” — Gus Van Sant


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“Free time keeps me going. It’s just something that’s always been a part of my life. I was originally a painter, and I made films sort of as an extension of that, and then I started to try to make dramatic films because the early films were experimental films.” — Gus Van Sant


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Biography

Gus Green Van Sant, Jr. (born July 24, 1952) is an American film director, screenwriter, painter, photographer, musician, and author who has earned acclaim as both an independent and more mainstream filmmaker. His films typically deal with themes of marginalized subcultures. In this film, he always focuses on homosexuals, problem teenagers, addicts and isolated people. Gus Van Sant’s famous film is Good Will Hunting(1997), starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Van Sant’s first critical acclaim came with the film Mala Noche and continued with Drugstore Cowboy, starring Matt Dillon. His work on the biopic Milk won considerable praise for the portrayal of openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk.

GUS VAN SANT BIOGRAPHY

Indie Films After several years in California, Van Sant took a job in New York City directing commercials for an advertising agency. He continued to explore his interest in film on the side by writing screenplays in his spare time. Using the money he saved from his advertising job, Van Sant funded his first feature film, Mala Noche (1985). The movie, adapted from a novel by Walt Curtis, tells the story of a gay convenience store clerk’s infatuation with a Mexican immigrant. In 1987, Mala Noche won the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Award for best independent film. For his next effort, Van Sant delved into the gritty reality of drug addiction. Drugstore Cowboy (1989) starred Matt Dillon as the leader of a group of junkies who steal to support their habit. Set in Oregon during the 1970s, the film received praise for its hon-

Early Career

est portrayal of drug use and addiction. Dillon, a former teen idol,

As a child, Gus Van Sant was interested in art and made films

and Kelly Lynch, who played his girlfriend, also earned accolades

using a home movie camera. He spent his senior year of high

for their compelling performances.

school in Portland, Oregon, after his father started a new job in the city. With friend Eric Edwards, Van Sant made his first serious film effort there—a 20-minute black-and-white family drama entitled The Happy Organ. Van Sant studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design after high school, but he soon switched to filwmmaking. He graduated from college in 1975 and moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as an assistant to director Ken Shapiro. Van Sant also found time to make his own films, including one based on a story by William S. Burroughs.

Mainstream Success Making his most mainstream film to date, Van Sant directed Good Will Hunting (1997). The film starred Matt Damon as a young, tough university janitor with a hidden talent for mathematics. The popular actor was thrilled to work with Van Sant, telling The Advocate in 1998 that “I was beside myself ... I was excited about his helping me bring an edge to the character.” After anonymously solving a challenging puzzle left on a classroom chalkboard, Damon’s character is eventually tutored by a professor. He also receives counseling from a therapist played by Robin Williams. Rounding out the cast was Ben Affleck, who played one of Damon’s local buddies, and Minnie Driver, who co-starred as his girlfriend. The film was a commercial and critical success, earning more than $138 million at the box office and taking home numerous awards. In total, Good Will Hunting received nine Academy Award nominations, including one for best director for Van Sant.

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ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

Van Sant’s next move puzzled many in the film industry. He

GUS VAN SANT BIOGRAPHY

to his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Van Sant directed the small

decided to do a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho

independent film Paranoid Park (2008) about a teenager boy whose

(1960)—not a modern retelling, but literally a shot-by-shot retelling

actions lead to an accidental death. This larger drama is set against

of the original, only this time filming it in color. This time around,

the character’s personal struggles at school and at home.

Vincent Vaughn played the creepy proprietor of the Bates Motel— a role made famous by Anthony Perkins—and Anne Heche relived the horrific shower scene that originally featured Janet Leigh. Van Sant told Newsweek that his biggest reason for doing the remake was “that nobody’s ever done it. If you put things together that have never been put together nobody knows what will happen—to me that’s a great reason to try it. You might discover something.” Return to Independent Films Again exploring the role of the outsider, Van Sant directed Finding

‘Milk’ Openly gay, Van Sant found Milk (2008) to be a special challenge for him. “I think the responsibility of making this movie—of representing an entire generation, an entire new class of gay men that existed in the ‘70s—was scary,” he told Interview magazine. The story of Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay people to be elected to public office, languished for years in Hollywood before Van Sant made his film. Committed to accurately telling the story, he sought to follow a more realistic style than some of his previous works.

Forrester (2000), which told the story of a young black student at a

Released in November 2008, Milk opened to rave reviews.

predominantly white private school. The student finds support from

Sean Penn gave a compelling performance as the title character,

a reclusive writer played by Sean Connery. After this major studio

and Josh Brolin also received a warm reception for his depiction

release, Van Sant returned to his independent film roots, making

of Milk’s assassin, Dan White. The film could not have been more

a much smaller, more focused film, Gerry (2003). The film featured

timely; it hit theaters just weeks after Californian voters passed

two characters, played by Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, hiking

Proposition 8, which, in effect, put an end to legalized gay marriage.

together in the desert.

In January 2009, Milk received eight Academy Award nomina-

That same year, Van Sant explored the deadly high school

tions, including Van Sant’s second nomination for best director,

shootings that took place at Columbine High School in 1999 with

and won two: For best original screenplay and best actor (Sean

Elephant. A thought-provoking re-imagining of the tragedy, the

Penn). With Milk serving as yet another testament to his talent,

film follows a group of teenagers through a seemingly ordinary day

Van Sant has proved time and time again that he is one of the top

until that normalcy is shattered by violence. Van Sant “has created

directors working today.

a haunting elegy on the unpredictability of life,” wrote Ruthe Stein for the San Francisco Chronicle. More recently, Van Sant directed a segment for the film Paris Je T’aime (2007), which also featured the work of such directors as Alexander Payne, Wes Craven, and the Coen brothers. Returning


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Award

Cannes Film Festival

Berlin International Film Festival

2003

1987

Won

Won

Cinema Prize of the French

Teddy Best Short Film

National Education System

Five Ways to Kill Yourself

Elephant

My New Friend

Best Director Elephant

1990

Palme d’Or Elephant

Won 2005 Nominated Palme d’Or

C.I.C.A.E. Award Forum of New Cinema Drugstore Cowboy

Last Days

1998 Nominated Golden Berlin Bear

2007

2007

Won

Nominated

60th Anniversary Prize

Palme d’Or

Paranoid Park

Paranoid Park 2011

2001 Won Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas

Good Will Hunting 2001 Nominated Golden Berlin Bear

Finding Forrester

Finding Forrester

2013

2013

Won

Nominated

Special Mention

Golden Berlin Bear

2015

International Jury

The Sea of Trees

Nominated

Promised Land

Nominated Un Certain Regard Award Restless

Palme d’Or The Sea of Trees


1987

1990

1990

Won

Won

Nominated

Teddy Best Short Film

Independent Spirit Award,

Independent Spirit Award,

Five Ways to Kill Yourself

Best Screenplay

Best Director

My New Friend

Drugstore Cowboy

Drugstore Cowboy

1990

1992

1992

Won

Won

Nominated

C.I.C.A.E. Award

Independent Spirit Award,

Independent Spirit Award,

Forum of New Cinema

Best Screenplay

Best Director

Drugstore Cowboy

My Own Private Idaho

My Own Private Idaho

1998 Nominated Golden Berlin Bear Good Will Hunting

1992 Nominated Independent Spirit Award, Best Director

Academy Awards, USA 1998 Nominated Oscar, Best Director Good Will Hunting 2009 Nominated Oscar, Best Achievement in Directing Milk

My Own Private Idaho

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Film Independent Spirit Awards

Circuit Community Awards


ou ing y ne th the o inst you, that a film ng ag not.” spiri a ke a s to m dy is con nd what’ rted a o l a e t sta r eryb v s ’ e t t a e jus nt a n Sa o hav eeling th to tell wh s Va f le wh — Gu peop e is this arily able told c s “ I ’ v e ex p e r i e n o t n e c e s n t m i g h e y o u ’ re us beca


ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

Interview

GUS VAN SANT INTERVIEW

GUS VAN SANT: “YOU ALWAYS WANT IT TO BE DIFFERENT” Mr. Van Sant, do you still take photos?

If I see something good, yes.

What might that be?

I used to take photographs just to remember people. I would take a Polaroid picture just against the wall in the light – the window was always right next to the person. I would take photos of somebody and there would be just this one photo that I would take so that I could remember them.

You couldn’t remember people otherwise?

Well we didn’t have digital photography and you couldn’t find pictures of people unless they brought them in. So when I met interesting people – not only actors but also kids like Flea or Anthony Kiedis – I would take a picture or else I’m going to have to go find a rock magazine and cut it apart to find a photo of them. Nowadays you just google them and hundreds of pictures appear. But at the time, in the ’80s, I used my camera. I used Polaroids so that I had the picture instantly; I could put it in a group and I could see how the group looked.

Is the book of portraits you published a long time ago the result

Yes. I just started using 665 Polaroid film, which has a really nice negative that goes with it, with the

of these photos?

idea that I could later scan the negatives and have a show. Or not scan, because you didn’t scan at the time, but blow them up and have a photography show. And then later I did have a photography show and a friend also made a book called 108 Portraits. So that was really the book made from the photographs. “It’s weird how you always end up losing your inspiration.”

How do you feel about being photographed yourself? I’ve seen

Oh yeah, the ones that were on his website? Well, those pictures are so… I think they’re bad looking.

pictures that Hedi Slimane took of you.

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ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

You don’t like them? I think he has a great eye.

GUS VAN SANT INTERVIEW

He’s really good. He’s a friend, so he just took those pictures over at my house. We were going on a hike. I don’t mind if he takes pictures. I don’t really mind pictures so much, but I really don’t like posing for pictures. Only because you become a part of a project, of someone’s art project. It’s harder than being interviewed.

It’s easier to be yourself in an interview than it is in a picture.

Yeah.

Unfortunately we will photograph you as well.

That’s good. I don’t mind when people take my photo. But a lot of times they go, “Can you do this, can you do that.” You have like seven different places that you’re supposed to look at and it just gets too much.

Who are the photographers that inspire you?

Eggleston is one of the big ones for me and my cinematographer. We always kind of have him in mind.

So do you use specific photographers as references for the

When you’re planning a film you’re imagining all these fantastic things. If you’re using Metropolis or

look of a film?

something as inspiration you see all this stuff and then by the time you get to shooting your film it looks like something different. It’s always weird how you end up losing your inspiration.

Why do you think that happens?

You have to be quite strict in order to not lose your original vision. I’m always giving in to certain things. So a lot of times it’s like, “Well, it’s going to take too long, so let’s just do it the way we normally do it.” Which is strange because you always want it to be different. So pretty much all my films look alike. They’re not super different. But mostly because we keep giving in and just going for the characters.

Speaking of characters, why does youth play such a big role in

Somehow it was always the young characters that I related to the most. I remember how even when I

your work?

first started I was writing stories that were set in high school. At that time, in the ’70s, there weren’t any youth-oriented films at all – except for a Disney film or something.

There must have been a few.

Okay, films like Oliver, but it wasn’t a genre that really existed. So when I was showing that script around the response was, “Well, this isn’t really a film that people make; it’s a thing people experience.”


ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

GUS VAN SANT INTERVIEW

It’s not just your stories that are often centered around youth

True. But Ben and Matt’s script, for example, was really, really good, too. I think that all three of us ben-

culture, you also tend to work with young screen writers.

efited from that collaboration even though I had already made some films. Still today if somebody asks me what films I’ve made, the only one they know is Good Will Hunting.

How did you get involved with them? It was their first script,

Matt had tried out for To Die For, so I knew him and he was really good. I really wanted to use him, but

after all.

I was unwilling to bend the rules of how I cast the film. He looked too much like the jock and I needed more of a dispossessed boy, which Joaquin [Phoenix] played well in the end. I wanted to use Matt so much, and I could have gone that direction, but I felt it might actually destroy the movie. So I knew him from that experience, sort of working with him, hanging out with him.

When did they approach you with the script for

He’d written the script back then, but somehow I didn’t read it. Then it was later, like two or three years

Good Will Hunting?

later, that a friend at Miramax gave me the script. When I read it I thought, “Wow, I’ve known about their script for three years and it’s actually really good.” So I called them right away and said, “This is good. If you want a director, I’ll do it.” But at the time they were trying to do all kinds of stuff with it. Jim Sheridan was going to direct it, then they wanted Redford to do it, Mel Gibson, and all these people. Finally they just ran out of people and I was the only one left.

Why did everybody else pass if the script was so good?

Because Matt and Ben were starring in it and all these people were like, “Yeah, but if it was Leo and Brad it would be better.”

Well, nobody knew them back then.

But they were unwilling to step down from the roles, which was smart. They had to fight, apparently really hard. So that was the thing that saved them. And I was the guy who wanted to have them. The other people I think were just a little bit on the fence.

The early 2000s. How would somebody go about landing a

It depends. It just depends on… I mean I lot of times they’re just friends of friends or people who get my

script on your desk these days?

email address from somebody or whatever. What, have you got a script for me?

Nope, not at all.

Too bad.


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— Gus Van San

“Even when you’re making a movie about life, death is a presence, and I guess it’s part of my dramatic viewpoint. I’m not sure why exactly.” — Gus Van Sant


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Plot Summary

DRUGSTORE COWBOY

Bob Hughes (Matt Dillon) is the leader of a “family” of drug addicts consisting of his wife, Dianne (Kelly Lynch), and another couple who feed their habit by robbing drug stores as they travel across the country. After a tragedy befalls a member of his group, Bob decides he must leave his dysfunctional clan and go straight. Parting ways with his junkie past proves more difficult than expected when Bob is stalked by an

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ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

old acquaintance looking to score drugs at any price.

Rate

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer / Audience Score)

7.4/10

100% / 85%

“All the actors are used expertly, but it’s Burroughs, cropping up near the end, who articulates the film’s socio-political moral in a contemporary context.” — 08/20/10, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

PE

“The film takes us so deeply into this shabby, transient world that we feel its texture, both its scary thrills and its bleak, fatalistic uncertainty.”

N A C Y E H T — 05/03/03, Stephen Holden, New York Times


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ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

3rd Party Review

DRUGSTORE COWBOY

Based on a novel, this is a story, set in the Pacific Northwest in the

glamorizing things even though they’re done with strong helpings

early 1970s about a group of drug addicts who rob pharmacies

of cinematic craft and style. Where the film truly shines though is

in order to get their fix and continue to stay high. They consist

with the casting and the performances. Matt Dillon had done work

of husband and wife team Bob and Dianne Hughes (Matt Dillon

before this, but his turn as Bob is pure excellence, and really made

and Kelly Lynch) and the younger couple Rick and Nadine (James

him a rising star. Kelly Lynch gives a finely observed turn as Dianne,

LeGros and a young Heather Graham). Bob is a bit paranoid and

and her performance really adds to the pain that is felt when it

superstitious, Dianne is rather sexually frustrated, Rick is a bit of a

becomes clear that she will probably never change. LeGros is

dolt, and Nadine is a young teenage runaway. They have their prob-

pretty good as Rick, but he gets a little too overshadowed by the

lems, but are nonetheless an offbeat family who make things work,

others. Graham is quite strong as the newbie of the group, and it’s

despite their dangerous lifestyle. Given the nature of how they live

wonderful seeing her in the infancy of her career. Other notable

and operate, the crew has been surprisingly lucky. When their luck

work is put in by James Remar as a cop bound and determined

begins to change however, Bob realizes that, no matter how hard

to catch the group and put them away for good and William S.

it might be, a change needs to be made. This was Gus Van Sant’s

Burroughs as a defrocked priest who shows up for just a few brief,

sophomore effort, but it became his breakout work that put him

but important scenes fleshing out the world of drugs and the toll

on the map. This is a very strong effort, and actually enjoyable

they can take. All in all, this was quite an impressive film. I think it i

despite the grim and gritty subject matter. What makes it all work

s brilliant, but can’t, for some reason, bring myself to give it the full

is that it finds that middle ground where it manages to not sugar-

5. It gets at least an A- though, it that puts things in perspective. I

coat things, but also not get too extreme or come off as preachy or

guess maybe I’m a little nitpicky because I was able to guess (cor-

pretentious along the way. It is competently and artistically made,

rectly) the outcome of some events. Maybe I shouldn’t hold

and I can see why Van Sant managed to go somewhere after this

that against the film though. After all, trying to be completely orig-

instead of becoming a one trick indie darling. The music, cinema-

inal and 100% unpredictable is something that died out long ago.

tography, and editing are all quite nice, and the film does a great job

Still though, you should definitely give this one a go.

of depicting the seedier side of the early 70s drug culture without

“Most people don’t know how they’re gonna feel from one moment to the next. But a dope fiend has a pretty good idea. All you gotta do is look at the labels on the little bottles.” — Bob, Drugstore Cowboy 4.5 stars Chris Weber Super Reviewer


D A O R S I TH D N E O N S A H n w O My o h a d I e t a Priv tion Informa n Sant play) Gus Va r: to Russo (screen Direc James n Sant a V s u eeves, G R : u rs n a te e Wri oenix , K iver Ph Stars: R R Rating: 44min 1h : e Tim pan) Drama 1991 (Ja Genre : : 20 July te a D e Releas


Plot Summary

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO

In this loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV,” Mike Waters (River Phoenix) is a gay hustler afflicted with narcolepsy. Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves) is the rebellious son of a mayor. Together, the two travel from Portland, Oregon to Idaho and finally to the coast of Italy in a quest to find Mike’s estranged mother. Along the way they turn tricks for money and drugs, eventually attracting the attention of a wealthy benefactor and sexual deviant.

Rate

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer / Audience Score)

7.1/10

82% / 81%

“Holding all these elements together is Van Sant’s sensibility, such an elusive thing it instinctively squirms away from any attempt to pigeonhole it.” — 06/02/14, Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“A simultaneously heartbreaking and exhilarating road movie.”

— 07/10/01, Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

D A O R S

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ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL


ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO

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— Mike Waters, My own private Idaho 3rd Party Review

“I always know where I am by the way that the road looks. Like I just know that I’ve been here before. I just know that I’ve been stuck here, like this one f**king time before, you know that?” Hailed as one of the most talented independent filmmakers after

a directorial flourish - some, like the still-life tableaux sex-scenes,

1989’s Drugstore Cowboy, it is hardly surprising that Gus Van

falling into the file marked Affectation, and others, like the weaving

Sant’s My Own Private Idaho was one of the more keenly awaited

of home movie footage with superb cinematography, succeeding

arthouse movies of recent years. It is, perhaps, even less surpris-

to quite startling effect.

ing that this tale of friendship, loneliness and shattered dreams is something of a major disappointment. Falling prey to the seemingly incurable disease of first-time

Despite the often ludicrous situations in which he is required to emote, Phoenix really is frighteningly convincing as the screwed-up hustler looking for direction and the love of the

writer-directoritis, Van Sant here takes up the quill with consid-

self-seeking Reeves, and there are several spot-on supporting

erably less aplomb than he takes up his camera, with the boldest

roles, notably James Russo as his violent father and William

and certainly most ill-advised of his flights of fancy being a

Richert as the ubiquitous Falstaffian figure. Van Sant’s deftness of

lengthy mid-section in which two young male prostitutes (Phoenix

touch and superb visual style, so evident in Drugstore Cowboy, is

and Reeves) join forces with a Falstaff/Fagin figure and his band

still there, too, the final shot being truly magical and really quite

of urchins and engage in quasi-Shakesperian shenanigans,

moving in its own sumptuous way.

complete with allusions to Henry IV Parts One and Two. With a

What My Own Private Idaho really needs, however, is a partic-

more accomplished script and an actor of rather more technical

ularly hard-nosed script editor and a big pair of scissors through

prowess than Reeves (nabbing the Prince Hal role), this may just

all the speeded-up fluffy clouds with which Gus Van Sant now

have worked. Here, it is just squirmingly embarrassing stuff.

seems so strangely obsessed.

Woven around all of this is the tale of Mike Waters (the excellent Phoenix), an unloved lad selling sexual favours in the Pacific North West, and his best mate, the in-actuality heterosexual and extremely wealthy Scott Favor (Reeves). Footloose and miserable as hell, the duo travel from Idaho to Seattle to Portland to Italy in search of Waters’ mother, with Van Sant bravely attempting many

3 stars Philip Thomas Empire Review


re I was me whe d e k s a ice day.” e maid Have a n ome, th . h r e ft v le e t I Wha “ When erever. aid “Wh s I . Idaho o t off private n w o y Favor, M — Scott


T O N S ’ T I T L U A F R U O Y Good nting u H l l i W tion Informa n Sant Gus Va r: Affleck to ck Direc on, Ben en Affle att Dam mon, B a M : D rs tt a te M Wri illiams, obin W Stars: R R Rating: h 6min 2 : e Tim A) Drama 98 (US Genre : uary 19 : 09 Jan te a D e Releas


ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

Plot Summary

GOOD WILL HUNTING

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level IQ but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves a difficult graduate-level math problem, his talents are discovered by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard), who decides to help the misguided youth reach his potential. When Will is arrested for attacking a police officer, Professor Lambeau makes a deal to get leniency for him if he will get treatment from therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams).

Rate

IMDB

8.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer / Audience Score)

97% / 94%

“The film works as a character-driven “The best thing about Good Will Hunting is narrative because Mr. Van Sant and his not in its well-crafted, psychological symco-screenwriters are not afraid to unlock the metries but in the just-plain messiness of psychological mysteries of their five major its humanity. It’s rowdy, it’s funny, it’s heartcharacters with clear and concise dialogue.” breaking - it rings of life.” — 12/05/16, Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter

— 02/05/08, Carrie Rickey, Emanuel Levy, Variety

T O N


PAGE 32

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ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

GOOD WILL HUNGTING

5 stars Quentin Curtis Telegraph Review

3rd Party Review

A few years ago a couple of struggling Hollywood actors hit upon

But Damon and Affleck were smart enough to realize that they

a ruse. Instead of waiting for the peachy roles to come their way,

wouldn’t get their script filmed just by writing good parts for them-

they would write them. It reeked of desperation, but it worked. The

selves. They needed a major star, and so they dangled the prospect

two actors, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, boyhood friends from

of a great supporting role before the A-list names. The part is that

Boston, sold their script for big money and - as all the world is

of Will’s psychiatrist, a native of the same Boston south side, whose

beginning to find out - became even bigger stars. They also, at their

own life has gone off the rails, and who goads Will into maturity.

own insistence, got to act in the movie of their script. Damon has

Robin Williams took the bait, and he gets to deliver two speeches

been nominated for the best actor Oscar; the two of them for best

so juicy they look set to become actors’ audition pieces: one about

original screenplay. The film they wrote was Good Will Hunting, and

the virtue of imperfection, the other a hostile lecture to Will on the

- even though it has nothing to do with the Countryside March - it

difference between knowledge and experience. Those with low

can be recommended.

schmaltz tolerances may gag, but Williams just about brings off the

The title is, in fact, a pun on its lead character’s name, Will Hunting (Damon). Will Hunting is a janitor, working at the

double of sharpness and tenderness. The other outstanding performance is Stellan Skarsgard’s as

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and living on the work-

the driven MIT professor both inspired and chagrined by Will’s

ing-class Irish side of Boston. Will is a tearaway, who spends most

brilliance. The Swedish Skarsgard, riding the waves he made in

of his spare time with mates like Chuckie (Affleck), putting the cap

Breaking the Waves, also shone in last week’s Amistad and here he

on outlandish stories and taking the heads off Guinness. But when

conveys that prickliness unique to a certain kind of slightly disap-

he’s not boozing or brawling, Will reads library books, at lightning

pointed academic.

speed, the way others flick through magazines. Will is a genius, of a

For me the film begins to falter in the scenes in which our own

sort that I’m not sure exists, but is very entertaining to watch. When

Minnie Driver plays Will’s Harvard undergrad lover, providing love

he solves a complex mathematical problem on an MIT blackboard,

across the barricades. The fault, though, may lie as much in the

he is taken up by a professor. The quest becomes to channel Will’s

script as in Driver’s unfocused performance. Good Will Hunting

brilliance - to make good of Will Hunting.

languished for a long time in “development”, and Damon and Affleck

Will Hunting is the dream part Damon and Affleck willed (so to speak) into existence. He is tough, brilliant, wild and vulnerable.

have admitted that they didn’t know in quite which direction to take the story (at one stage it was going to have an espionage twist).

When a Harvard post-graduate condescends to Chuckie in a bar,

They settled for a heart-lifting denouement, in the tradition of mov-

Will destroys him by quoting chapter and verse of the books that

ies about dysfunction such as Ordinary People.

he is plagiarizing. Damon gets both the exhilarating ease of Will’s

Yet this is a crowd-pleaser, with bags of charm to spare. It

intellect and the terrible turmoil that lurks beneath it. In the smaller

doesn’t bear thinking too much about its message: the criticism of

role of Chuckie, Affleck is superb too. The actors’ friendship infuses

formal education, embodied in the representations of Harvard and

the film: their best scenes are boyish badinage. And Affleck - surely

MIT as bastions of snobbery, is more than a little glib. But Damon

by design - gets his own big scene, in which he impersonates his

and Affleck’s writing has real wit and vigour, and some depth, along

mate at a job interview, a hilarious but also wrenching mimicking of

with the odd lapse into caricature. You imagine them writing the

what he takes to be intelligence (the use of words like “aforesaid”),

movie in the manner of the great Hollywood writing duos of the

and then touches his interrogators for a few dollars.

past, improvising and joking, rejecting and reinstalling, having a great time doing it. And that great time is communicated to us.


O E D I S T U O E F I L L A M R O N d i o n a Par Park

l) tion n(nove Informa ant e Nelso s Van S y), Blak u la G p n r: e to n se t(scre Direc or Mom an San iu, Taly : Gus V aniel L Writers D , s in v abe Ne Stars: G R : Rating 15min ry 1h : e , Myste Tim nce) Drama 07 (Fra Crime, 0 : 2 re r n e e b G to c O 4 2 Date : Release


Plot Summary

PARANOID PARK

The teenager and skateboarder Alex is interviewed by Detective Richard Lu that is investigating the death of a security guard in the rail yards severed by a train who was apparently hit by a skate board. While dealing with the separation process of his parents and the sexual heat of his virgin girlfriend Jennifer, Alex writes his last experiences in Paranoid Park with his new acquaintances and how the guard was killed, trying to relieve his feeling of guilty from his conscience.

Rate

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer / Audience Score)

6.7/10

76% / 65%

“Gus Van Sant’s capper to a trilogy of experiments in elliptical narrative and lyrical structure is a masterful triumph of art, craft and empathy for the complicatedness of being a real teenager.” — 03/21/08, Ted Fry, Seattle Times

“In the hands of cinematographic mastermind Christopher Doyle, teenage spats, telephone calls and coasting skateboarders are infused with lyricism and dreaminess.”

— 10/18/08, Alissa Wilkinson, Paste Magazine

F O E D I S T

PAGE 35

ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL


— Mike Waters, My own private Idaho

“I just feel like there’s something outside of normal life. Outside of teachers, breakups, girlfriends. Like, right out there, like outside - there’s like different levels of... stuff.”

3rd Party Review

3.5 stars

Normally, you wouldn’t want to pay attention to a story told by a

the other Greatest Cinematographer in the World, to capture the

Akiva Gottlieb

guy who admits, right off the bat, that he’s “not that good at creative

Super-8 swirl of skate-kid hero worship and the haze of adolescent

IMDB Review

writing.” But Gus Van Sant’s haunting and immediate Paranoid Park

panic. (Leslie Shatz’s sound design sporadically offers musique

understands adolescence as a kind of first draft, a series of raw

concréte as a way of conveying Alex’s fractured mental state.)

experiences unmediated by wisdom, and as a result it allows its ver-

Where Elephant‘s camera treated its beautifully doomed youths

bally-challenged protagonist to narrate in his own imperfect voice,

like lab rats, the style of Paranoid Park is perfectly in sync with its

rather than imposing a Wonder Years-style voice-over conscience.

lead character; it reflects Alex’s internal coping mechanisms. When

The films in Van Sant’s recent long-take trilogy (Gerry, Elephant,

Alex’s girlfriend responds to his fumbling we-need-to-break-up

Last Days) took sensationalist news stories from real life and then

plea, we see her vitriol, but we hear Nino Rota’s theme from Juliet of

stripped them of all causality, as a way of portraying human activity

the Spirits as a way of rendering the moment intriguingly grotesque

as essentially random and undetermined. But Paranoid Park is a

instead of just painful. Where Elliott Smith’s acoustic dirges served

deeper and even more bracing step into the unknown for the vet-

as pretty window dressing in Good Will Hunting, here the trou-

eran filmmaker, a fully subjective probe into the consciousness of a

badour’s mope music soothes like a necessary balm for wounds

young man and a generous display of artistic empathy.

accumulated in high school hallways.

Based on a young adult novel by Blake Nelson, Paranoid Park

The Iraq War comes up in conversation more than once in

follows a shy high-school-aged Portland skateboarder named Alex

Paranoid Park, as an abstract illustration of the type of pain and

(Gabe Nevins) after an impulsive decision leads to the accidental

guilt disconnected masses should be feeling. Obviously, it’s a diffi-

murder of a security guard on a train track not far from the titular

cult emotional jump from a Portland coffee shop to a battle-scarred

skate-punk mecca. Alex is not suspected in the crime, so he keeps

Baghdad, and the world is indeed too big a place for an ignorant

his involvement a secret. Consequently, his world begins to revolve

kid to have to incorporate that kind of horror. Being a kid is about

in terrifying slow orbit: His cheerleader girlfriend (Taylor Momsen)

keeping responsibility at bay and dismissing causality. (In its amoral

openly displays her previously unapparent vapidity, his parents’

disengagement, Elephant seemed childlike to a fault.) Van Sant’s

impending divorce rapidly materializes, and Alex quietly reconsiders

film microscopically reduces the scale of its moral universe to that

his emotional priorities. “I think…there’s different levels of stuff,” he

of a single person—and the one stupid decision that will haunt his

tentatively concludes, and it seems impossible not to intuit exactly

entire life—and by engaging fully in the experiment Paranoid Park

what he means.

earns its humanist stripes. By illuminating a little world where we

Van Sant cast the film using MySpace in order to foster a

can empathize with an “unrepentant murderer,” Van Sant momen-

sense of realism, but Paranoid Park is just as stylized as Elephant.

tarily awakens our potential to spread our understanding across the

Only the ends are different. Instead of depending on his long-take

street, across the park, across the globe. You start small, because,

standby Harris Savides, Van Sant turned to Christopher Doyle,

well…there’s different levels of stuff.


PARANOID PARK

PAGE 37

ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

— Bob


W I H S I W I E M O H K C BA s s e l t Res

tion Informa n Sant Gus Va r: to ase Direc r, Ryo K w Hoppe son Le Ja ry : n e rs H te , a Wri ikowsk ia Was Stars: M PG-13 Rating: 31min 1h : e nce Tim , Roma gypt) Drama Genre : l 2011 (E ri p A 6 : te a D e Releas


Plot Summary

RESTLESS

Enoch Brae is a morbid teenager that enjoys attending funerals. He meets the teenager Annabel Cotton in a memorial service and they start to see each other. Enoch has lost his parents in a car accident and lives with his aunt Mabel. His best and only friend is the ghost of the Japanese kamikaze pilot Hiroshi Takahashi and Enoch neither goes to school nor has a car. Annabel is terminal with brain tumor and lives with her sister Elizabeth and her mother Rachel. She loves to read about birds, especially the water birds. Soon the unlikely couple falls in love with each other improving their lives.

Rate

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer / Audience Score)

6.8/10

36% / 48%

“Restless is consciously lovely in the face of death. How rare.”

— 10/07/11, Tom Long, Detroit News

IS

“Director Gus Van Sant doesn’t make bad movies. He is a consummate artist, in that he can manipulate every cinematic element with grace, elegance and taste.”

E R E W I H — 10/06/11, Richard Nilsen, The Arizona Republic

PAGE 39

ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL


PAGE 40

skin. ol on my o c ls e ze fe an bree , the oce r e t t e.” le a my gr v ite this ss n to be o “As I wr o s i, Restle is ocean kahash y a r T e v i t h a s Th — Hiro


ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

3rd Party Review

RESTLESS

This is basically a contemporary take on Harold and Maude. For

blossoming relationship, with her getting some much needed

that reason, I was rather hesitant to see this, mostly because

understanding, and him learning that life doesn’t have to be a

Harold and Maude is an amazing film, and one that really struck a

gloomy as he thinks it is. This is a very sweet and poignant film.

chord with me. I kept an open mind though, and, while this film is

Thankfully, it rarely gets too sappy and schmaltzy. Even the quirk-

similar to that one, it ultimately stands on its own. This is the story

ier elements like Hiroshi, are handled in a fairly realistic manner,

of a quirky romance, as shown through the lens of the talented

despite how unrealistic it might seem. The film is also pretty solid

and versatile Gus Van Sant. Enoch is a sullen and troubled lad

with the characters and story, though there are a few plot points

whose ‘hobby’ as it were, is to crash funerals, whether he knows

that don’t really go anywhere and could have been handled better

the deceased or not. He also spends a lot of time with Hiroshi- the

(namely the Halloween bully confrontation). Danny Elfman provides

ghost of a Kamikaze pilot who may or may not be just a figment of

a solid, atypical (for him) score, Van Sant provides some good

Enoch’s imagination. At one of his many funeral crashings, Enoch

direction, and the lead performances by Henry (son of Dennis)

has a meet cute with Annabel- a young woman ho loves nature,

Hopper and Mia Wasikowska are great. Ryo Kase is also quite good

and like Enoch, spending time among the dead. Thinking she just

as Hiroshi, and even though it is odd, I like the idea of Enoch being

works at a ward for ‘kids with cancer’, he comes to find out that she

friends with a Kamikaze pilot. Give this one a shot. It’s a nice, well

is instead a patient, suffering with a terminal brain tumor. Knowing

done indie film, and makes for a great date night watch.

she doesn’t have much time, the two try to make the most of their

“I see now that death is easy. It is love that is hard. As my plane dives, I will not see the face of my enemies. I will instead see your eyes, like black rocks frozen in rainwater. They tell us that we must scream, “Banzai,” as we plunge into our target. I will instead whisper your name. And in death, as in life, I will remain forever yours.” — Hiroshi Takahashi, Restless

3.5 starts Chris Weber Super Reviewer


PAGE 42

“I think that in some cases, I’ve made films that have a sentimental quality, at least as part of the film.” — Gus Van Sant


l a v i t s e F e h T n t

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Locatio



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h throug ll gone ng w e ’ v e a t u re o r a g a n refied; e adve r i l y ra ecessa rn or a spac s not n ste e life i s a we teenag efied a r ant re a o f Van S ic.” t a s ra — Gus “ The a It’s no s own dynam eriod. it that p it has m, but ster fil

tival s e f are e h t . There d to 4th e events About June 2n th ll m a o e fr We hop be held


nd

2 E N U J y Cowbo e r o t s g Dru

Day one

11:30 to 14:30

daho rivate I P n w My O

Opening Ceremony The opening ceremony will have the introduction of “On the Edge� film festival, and also invite the producer of the festival to have a speech.

15:00 to 17:00

Drugstore Cowboy The first on show film.

17:00 to 18:00

Break & Dinner Rest time for audiences during the festival. Audiences can use this time to take a break or eat a dinner.

19:30 to 22:00

My Own Private Idaho The second on show film.


ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

JUNE 1st DAY ONE

PAGE 47

Drugstore Cowboy

Bob Hughes (Matt Dillon) is the leader of a “family” of drug addicts consisting of his wife, Dianne (Kelly Lynch), and another couple who feed their habit by robbing drug stores as they travel across the country. After a tragedy befalls a member of his group, Bob decides he must leave his dysfunctional clan and go straight. Parting ways with his junkie past proves more difficult than expected when Bob is stalked by an old acquaintance looking to score drugs at any price.

My Own Private Idaho

In this loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV,” Mike Waters (River Phoenix) is a gay hustler afflicted with narcolepsy. Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves) is the rebellious son of a mayor. Together, the two travel from Portland, Oregon to Idaho and finally to the coast of Italy in a quest to find Mike’s estranged mother. Along the way they turn tricks for money and drugs, eventually attracting the attention of a wealthy benefactor and sexual deviant.


nd

3 E N U J g Huntin l il W d Goo

Day two

14:00 to 16:00

ia Parano

Park

Good Will Hunting The third on show film.

16:00 to 19:00

Break & Dinner Rest time for audiences during the festival. Audiences can use this time to take a break or eat a dinner.

18:00 to 20:00 Paranoia Park The fourth on show film.


ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

JUNE 2nd DAY TWO

PAGE 49

Good Will Hunting

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level IQ but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves a difficult graduate-level math problem, his talents are discovered by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard), who decides to help the misguided youth reach his potential. When Will is arrested for attacking a police officer, Professor Lambeau makes a deal to get leniency for him if he will get treatment from therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams).

Paranoia Park

The teenager and skateboarder Alex is interviewed by Detective Richard Lu that is investigating the death of a security guard in the rail yards severed by a train who was apparently hit by a skate board. While dealing with the separation process of his parents and the sexual heat of his virgin girlfriend Jennifer, Alex writes his last experiences in Paranoid Park with his new acquaintances and how the guard was killed, trying to relieve his feeling of guilty from his conscience.


4 E N U J erview ctor Int th

s Restles

Day Three

Dire

15:00 to 17:00

Director Interview Interview time for Gus Van Sant. The content will include the director bio, his career plan, and Q&A part with audiences.

17:00 to 19:00

Restless The fifth on show film.

19:00 to 21:30

Closing Ceremony The closing ceremony will have the closing comment for the “On the Edge� film festival, and also invite Gus Van Sant to have a speech for the audiences.


ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

JUNE 3re DAY THREE

PAGE 51

Director Speech

Interview time for Gus Van Sant. The content will include the director bio, his career plan, and Q&A part with audiences.

Restless

Enoch Brae is a morbid teenager that enjoys attending funerals. He meets the teenager Annabel Cotton in a memorial service and they start to see each other. Enoch has lost his parents in a car accident and lives with his aunt Mabel. His best and only friend is the ghost of the Japanese kamikaze pilot Hiroshi Takahashi and Enoch neither goes to school nor has a car. Annabel is terminal with brain tumor and lives with her sister Elizabeth and her mother Rachel. She loves to read about birds, especially the water birds. Soon the unlikely couple falls in love with each other improving their lives.


ONE THE EDGE FESTIVAL

Location RISD Museum

LOCATION

History The RISD Museum was founded on the belief that art, artists, and the institutions that support them play pivotal roles in promoting broad civic engagement and creating more open societies. Established in 1877 as part of a vibrant creative community, the RISD Museum stewards works of art representing diverse cultures from ancient times to the present. We interpret our collection with the focus on the maker and we deeply engage with art and artists, presenting ideas and perspectives that can be inspiring and complex. We aspire to create an​​accessible and inclusive environment that builds meaningful relationships across all communities.

Accessibility Both Museum entrances and all galleries are wheelchair accessible. The Museum has one wheelchair for visitor use at each entrance. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Service dogs are welcome in the Museum. For more information, call 401 709 8402 (RI Relay for the hearing impaired: 800 745 5555 TTY) before your visit.

Coatrooms and Bags No bags or articles of any kind larger than 11” x 15” will be allowed in the Museum. Coatrooms with lockers are available at both entrances. The maximum size for locker storage is 23” x 17” x 15”. Backpacks meeting the size criteria for entry must be carried by hand or worn on one shoulder to the owner’s side or front. Umbrellas longer than 15” must be checked in the coatroom. No bags or articles of any kind larger than 11” x 15” will be allowed in the Museum. Coatrooms with lockers are available at both entrances. The maximum size for locker storage is 23” x 17” x 15”. Backpacks meeting the size criteria for entry must be carried by hand or worn on one shoulder to the owner’s side or front. Umbrellas longer than 15” must be checked in the coatroom.


LOCATION

PAGE 53

ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL

information about RISD cafe

Address:

Located near the entranceway of RISD and named for one of

224 Benefit St, Providence, RI 02903

the museum’s longest-serving volunteers, this casual daytime cafe offers visitors and locals artisanal espresso drinks, plus light fare ranging from morning pastries to elegant sandwiches and salads. High ceilings and skylights add an airy feel to the artfully done space.

Open time: Monday

Closed

Other Days

7:30 AM - 4:00 PM


“I had never had a positive leading character somebody that wasn’t an antihero, or who wasn’t more of a guy that you’re supposed to be on the side of.” — Gus Van Sant






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