Prince Avalanche – Film Review

Prince Avalanche

David Gordon Green first come onto my radar with his second film All the Real Girls which he made a decade ago. The film was a long mumble-filled affair that sticks in my mind as a defining example of American independent cinema and as the film that gave Zooey Deschanel her first lead role. In the years since Green has veered away from the character driven drama to a more comedic and mainstream path through films including Pineapple Express, Your Highness and The Sitter. Considering this CV you might get the wrong idea when I say that his latest feature is a comedy starring Paul Rudd; Prince Avalanche is not a broad buddy comedy but a sweet, funny, and understated comedy about two men who are anything but buddies.

Prince Avalanche is set in the summer of 1988 and two men are making repairs to a road following a forest fire. The two men are Alvin (Paul Rudd disguised as Luigi) and his girlfriend’s brother Lance (Emile Hirsch), they spend their days painting road marking and erecting reflective posts and their nights are spent camping by the roadside. As the film begins Alvin and Lance do not get on. Alvin is an uptight man who likes to spend his spare time fishing and writing love letters. He chooses this nomadic lifestyle as a way of seeking solitude and having some quiet time to think about life while Lance is a chatty simpleton who only works to earn money to spend on partying at the weekend. If Lance is not having sex on a Friday night he is not a happy bunny.

Prince Avalanche - Emile Hirsch

The entire film takes place along one woodland road and for the most part is occupied by any characters other than the pair played by Rudd and Hirsch. Considering neither of the dysfunctional duo are likeable, Alvin is too uptight and Lance too… loose(?), the film is remarkably enjoyable. In stark contrast to David Gordon Green’s more recent releases the film is funny, sweet, and charming with a subtle humour seeping out of every interaction between Alvin and Lance. My allegiance was constantly switching to whichever of the characters was being the least irritating and unreasonable at that precise moment. With the only real source of plot is the interaction between the pair Prince Avalanche is essentially an American indie take on Waiting for Godot. Character exploration is the key and the whole film rides on the shoulders of Rudd and Hirsch.

Prince Avalanche is a stripped back, gentle comedy with two strong and genuine performances at its centre. Green directs with a keen eye and only occasional strays into allowing the film to become too twee. For me this is a welcome return to Green’s roots and a trip I hope he makes again before another decade passes.

Prince Avalanche is in UK cinemas from 18th October 2013.

Sundance Sales

Martha Marcy May Marlene

We didn’t spend the whole ten days of Sundance jealously scrounging for news while stuck in an airless office in grey London. Not at all. But now that the only thing Park City has to look forward to is sub-zero temperatures and a whole lot of snow (ha! Take that, Utah!), Mild Concern sorts through the film sales and picks out the ones to watch out for when some studio exec decides they can see the light of day. (We’re still waiting for Hesher from last year’s Sundance.)

Sundance was a strong festival for Mild Concern favourites. First up (and previously teased): Like Crazy – the long distance relationship drama starring Anton Yelchin and, more importantly, Felicity Jones. We do like to see all this buzz around our fellow East London resident. Don’t forget us when you’re a Hollywood starlet, Felicity.

Having already peeked at the next tip due to this blog’s stalking casual interest in the roles of Ms. Deschanel, My Idiot Brother stars Paul Rudd as a pot-dealing idealist who disrupts the lives of his three sisters in what is hopefully a non-bromance film. At last!

Tired of seeing Paul Bettany wasted in bad films? Or period dramas? Or as English villains? Or as a disembodied voice at the beck and call of Robert Downey Jr? Well how about seeing how he does as a banker? Or at least, Margin Call is set in an investment bank during 24 hours in the financial crisis so we might be extrapolating a bit. It’s a thriller, really! Also looking to enthrall you with numbers and graphs is writer-director newcomer, J.C. Chandor and the combined acting force of Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci and President of the Earth, Mary McDonnell.

From an established cast of big names to Homework. Billed as a ‘coming-of-age romantic comedy’, it can only be filled with actors that make me show my age when I ask, “Wait – aren’t they 10 years old?” Case in point: little Charlie of Chocolate Factory fame (Freddie Highmore) and blonde starlet, Emma Roberts, who I haven’t seen in anything since she was 10. It’s got a lot of buzz and has an indie poster. It even has music from The Shins.

Does having celebrity older siblings who have demonstrated how to have a car crash of a youth acting career make you more likely to go about having a similar career in a more sensible manner? That’s probably a question that requires more research (and better editing) but if we take a sample size of one and make that one person Elizabeth Olsen, then the answer is yes. I am weirdly excited about Martha Marcy May Marlene, which stars Olsen as an escapee from a cult and tracks between her time there and her failing attempts to re-assimilate back into her life. Sounds like the girl has made some good choices; just make sure you finish that Psychology degree, Elizabeth – hey, it worked for Portman.

Every time we hear about good stuff that the UK Film Council has done, we get a little sinking feeling because we worry for its future. The Guard, starring Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson, inspires that sinking feeling. Drug smuggling, FBI agents and reluctant Irish village police. It’s either a crime thriller or a farcical comedy! (It’s a thriller.)

I’m rounding this section off with The Details – Elizabeth Banks, Tobey Maguire and Laura Linney. Apparently it’s about the ridiculousness of the every day, involves a raccoon-ruined lawn and is a comedy that isn’t going to provide obvious jokes for a trailer. Got to be worth a look, just for that.

Films about real stuff!

We like a good documentary, we do.

Being Elmo

  • Project Nim opened Sundance and looked at the chimp who was brought up as a human in the 70s. A BBC production, hopefully it’ll go on wider distribution somehow over here. Insert some sort of rambling about the license fee.
  • The advertising world pays the collective rent of Mild Concern, so we’ve got a bit of a vested interest in how marketing works. Morgan Spurlock, creator of Super Size Me, made a film entirely financed by product placement and advertising: Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
  • Seeing as penguins have already been covered, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey will probably be the second cutest thing you can get in a feature-length documentary. As far as I can tell (my sketchy research could easily be wrong), it’s not been sold yet but it’s all about the fuzzy red one and pretty much guarantees a cinema full of “awwww”s. How could it not be picked up soon?
  • The New York Times has a movie – Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times, which presumably does what it says on the tin. I am geekily intrigued.
  • Life in a Day was put together after YouTube users were encouraged to record their day on 24th July 2010, which the film-makers mixed together. Sounds like a marvel of editing.

Fave Actors Cast in Films. Shocker!

Gotta love it when those actors you love get some casting news.

First of all Zooey Deschanel has been cast in Idiot Brother about an idealist, Paul Rudd, who visits his three sisters played by Deschanel, Emily Mortimer and Elizabeth Banks. So far it sound like another Broken Flowers or Everybody’s Fine if possibly a little broader. The internet is all aflutter over the fact that Deschanel’s character is bisexual and has a girlfriend played by Rashida Jones, because the internet is twelve.

Even more excitingly Joseph Gordon-Levitt is continuing his long journey to becoming a major star in huge movies as he is, in a very indefinite way, in talk to play The Riddler in Batman 3. Films with JGL in are fast becoming guaranteed must-sees for me. Could I be more excited? Yes, but that would involve a feather boa and the theme to A Summer Place.