George Washington | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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George Washington

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Twenty-five-year-old David Gordon Green sometimes comes across like a gifted poet who hasn't yet mastered prose; his characters and images are memorable, but this story about working-class kids, most of them black, in a small town in North Carolina is elusive and occasionally puzzling (more than one might expect, given that it's based on Green's memories of his boyhood in Texas). Working with nonprofessional actors who improvise some of their dialogue, Green seems at certain junctures to be brandishing strangeness like a crown, but the lyricism of his 'Scope framings, junkyard settings, and extremely vulnerable teenage characters registers loud and clear even when some of his ideas come across as amorphous or self-conscious. Though the film isn't especially violent, particularly by contemporary standards, it arguably has more to say about the desperation behind the Columbine High School killings than any number of editorials. It's been developing a substantial and well-deserved buzz ever since it premiered at the Berlin film festival last winter, but it's too odd to have much commercial life ahead of it, so catch it while you can. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, January 26 through February 1.

--Jonathan Rosenbaum

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