Monday, October 04, 2004

I miss the honky tonks, Dairy Queens and 7-11s

David Gordon Green’s okay with re-telling a worn-out story, apparently, provided he can place it in junkyards or on train tracks. And so we have the old Southern Gothic Abel-and-Cain suffering and redemption, Joseph Cambpelled to present day, in Undertow. Okay, actually, we’re firmly in 1974, with the old UA logo, the copyright on the title card, the freeze-frames, and the muscle-car backwoods.

As the two brothers attempt to escape Josh Lucas, it’s easy to see them as trying to escape David Gordon Green’s rural-myth constructs. "How do we get out of here?" they might ask, if their mouths weren’t filled with paint and dirt and gum and blood. "Why doesn’t anyone have a real job? Does that tattoo artist really have the hands of Harry Powell? At least when our dad was alive, he reminded us of Wayne Coyne. Where are the chain stores that might provide us with solace, or at least familiarity? And why is there a Bruce Weber-like interlude during which we dance in the rain, in our underwear?"

The beady eyes and pale skin of our hero put us not only in the mind of director Green, but of Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, another twentysomething artiste who wears his heartland on his sleeve. And just as Brock left the trailer park for Epic Records, Chris finally finds salvation in the guise of a Roswell girl who’s dressed for the L train. Goodbye, Flannery O'Connor, hello Karen O.

Bonus trivia question: Why is the last line of the address on Chris’s bag 38-24-36?

My guess: Because he lives in a Brick House?


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