david gordon green is an overrated independent american director. you may know him for his first film – george washington (distributed on dvd by criterion). i think that green has a relatively distinct style, but that that, in these auteur-loving days, sometimes passes for artistic and technical aptitude. i love writer andrew sarris’ work in “the american cinema,” but i think he underrates filmmakers like stanley kubrick because they don’t appear to have a singular style. in reality kubrick does have a set of stylistic/thematic consistencies in his work; norman kagan’s “the cinema of stanley kubrick does a good job of citing and outlining these. but i digress. the point i’m trying to make here is that uniformity of style or consistency of filmic philosophy doesn’t necessitate brilliance.
from what i can tell green’s work revolves around a certain age (children 10/17) and economic range (the poor). in both george washington and undertow the main characters have to deal with the impact of a death near to them. it’s like a film version of “from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler” as realized by harmony corine. the acting in this one is better than it was in george washington, but overall i couldn’t help but feel as though i was supposed to be blown away. in other words, there’s a certain impact to the film, but it’s not as powerful as green seems to have intended.