Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Adventures of Alvin & Lance

In the summer of 2012, after severe forest fires ravaged the rural town of Bastrop, TX, David Gordon Green snuck under the radar of the press and quickly got together with his cinematographer on every-film-he's-ever-done Tim Orr to film a loosely and spontaneously captured comedy with Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch in the burnt and overcast backdrop of Bastrop State Park.


 

Green has crafted Prince Avalanche (2013, David Gordon Green) as a simple, short, camping trip/men at (road) work ballad about loss, survival, and rebuilding. The opening title card places the narrative in Bastrop, 1988, after the wake of a devastating forest fire. A dark, sombre undertone constantly supports a minimalist and bleak menagerie of odd Texas wildlife, with virtually no signs of civilization, except one---

--The road

Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch) are assigned the task of painting and placing signs along an 8 mile stretch of highway, and they are always moving, fighting, laughing, or getting drunk on that same blacktop.

So here's the twist:

Green takes these two distinct male characters and constantly pinpoints details about their contrasting characters in wide stretching intimate forest vistas--and almost every few minutes this becomes classically, essentially archetypal broad comedy that feels fresh and sincerely sweet, with a hefty resolution right where you'd expect it--the end. Yet, David Wingo & Explosions in the Sky have created a prog rock spacey fun concoction that continuously makes the film something else. The film becomes a score-propelled, shiny, bright, electronic, somewhat 80s new wave ironied adventure that never lags. Additionally, Orr's constant slow-as-molasses zooms cut together in a way that turn this trip practically into a music video. This reminds me of David Fincher's collaborations with Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross because like Explosions in the Sky, Reznor & Ross were already in a band, and also because the music is post rock electronic stuff that is wall to wall and dominant, as opposed to the only other director I can think of who uses that kind of music--Michael Mann; but, Mann uses his cues traditionally in an emotionally underscoring way, unlike Fincher and Green, who show real balls with their sonic experimentations.

The film's themes are etched out by a woman named Joyce, who first appears to Alvin in a trance. (After Lance leaves into town for the weekend and Alvin decompresses, reality becomes subjective.) Joyce's significance in the plot isn't worth mentioning in detail because it's up to the individual viewer to find their own response. However, it is reasonable to say that the film has a kindness that never approaches cruelty, as if it chooses to keep looking until it desperately finds what it needs to survive with a will to love and build.

Paul Rudd works marvels within the role of uptight, anally retentive nerdy outdoorsman against a frequently brilliant Emile Hirsch as shallow, woman-crazy, but really too sweet for his own good underneath all the vanity dude.

And if I would say the film had a centerpiece, it's the drunken montage. Green made a serious comedy that's actually hilarious--rare.

--Dregs

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