Gus. Elephant. Tiff

Tiffany Lee Brown's teaser-review for Gus Van Sant's soon-to-be-released-nationwide-not-only-in-toidy-cities-and-said-director's-hometown Elephant makes me want to see this film even more.

Portland's homegrown genius filmmaker, Gus Van Sant, has produced a calm, spacious masterpiece about American high school students, American high school life, and American high school shootings. Making a film about the Kip Kinkels and Columbines of this world is right up there with miming about 911: aim for pathos and you may hit melodrama; aim for objectivity and you might pay inadequate due to the emotional immensity of the situation…

Elephant gently presents moments in the lives of students during one ill-fated day, alluding here and there to the ultra-violence of films like A Clockwork Orange and Natural Born Killers, but refusing to moralize in any predictable way. This emotionally expansive, aesthetically mesmerizing approach slowly pierces the psyche, leaving images and moments there which will take weeks to work out. Van Sant's brilliant decision to use regular ol' kids from around Portland, rather than actors, enabled the writer/director to create an utterly self-defining and self-sufficient world.

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