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Full DVD Review
George Washington

Guide Rating -  

One of the many reasons to love the Criterion Collection is the eclectic selections of films picked for release. Not only acclaimed classics such as Children of Paradise or Juliet of the Spirits get the lush make-over and high-quality transfer, but less obvious choices like The Rock, Tokyo Drifter, and the videos of the Beastie Boys also become part of the celebrated series. David Gordon Green's George Washington, an indie movie that's barely two years old, snugly fits into the tradition of surprising Criterion discs.

Once you pop the DVD in the player, it becomes immediately clear why George Washington was such a clear candidate for the series: the lavish photography (by Tim Orr) is dazzling. Kudzu, train yards, and wind-swept Southern streets never looked so good. The story, a moody, languid affair that follows a group of adolescents searching for excitement amid the squalor, is almost incidental to the arty surface. Only on second glance do you realize that these are characters you never get to see in movies, and that alone makes this film worth watching. In the most memorable scenes teenagers and adults, both black and white, interact without condescension or racial preconceptions.

Like Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher, George Washington puts a slick shine on poverty, and the result is a jarring portrait of life in the South, a beautiful film about adolescence that somehow transcends the questions of race and age it seems to raise. With his acclaimed debut, David Gordon Green manages to pull off a surprising film that stubbornly defies expectations and looks like Terence Malick got lost in a post-industrial version of William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County.

As lush as the cinematography are the extras on the DVD, including a commentary track with the director and photographer as well as deleted scenes, several short films by Green, a Charlie Rose interview, and video interviews with the cast.

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