Gus Van Sant

"A pioneer of American independent film and New Queer Cinema in the 1990s, the Portland, Oregon-based Van Sant made his name with a run of gritty underbelly dramas featuring provocative outsider male protagonists." - Andrew Bailey (Cinema Now, 2007)

Gus Van Sant

Director / Screenwriter / Editor / Producer
(1952- ) Born July 24, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Top 250 Directors / 21st Century's Top 50 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Drama, Psychological Drama, Gay & Lesbian Films, Road Movie, Avant-garde/Experimental, Buddy Film, Film à Clef, Comedy, Romantic Drama, Coming-of-Age
Key Collaborators: Harris Savides (Cinematographer), Curtiss Clayton (Editor), Dany Wolf (Producer), Eric Alan Edwards (Cinematographer), John J. Campbell (Cinematographer), Casey Affleck (Leading Character Actor), Danny Elfman (Composer), Missy Stewart (Production Designer), Matt Dillon (Leading Actor), Matt Damon (Leading Actor/Screenwriter), Keanu Reeves (Leading Actor), Laurie Parker (Producer)

"In the late 1980s, Gus Van Sant commenced establishing himself as one of America’s leading and most influential independent filmmakers. His films, often peopled with characters scuffling along on the fringes of American society, explore human feelings and frailties in often-understated fashion, and for the most part, Van Sant has proven himself a filmmaker with a deft touch... it was Drugstore Cowboy that established him as one of independent filmmaking’s most authoritative new voices. The film’s low-key tale of a pack of 1970s-era junkies in perpetual pursuit of drugs won near-unanimous accolades." - Kevin Hillstrom & Robe Edelman (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 2000)
"Gus Van Sant’s support and patronage of Larry Clark and Harmony Korine clearly feeds back into his own cinema, resulting in Gerry (2002) and Elephant (2003), his return to independent productions about young men. Before Gerry, his career seemed to be evolving away from the independently themed films of Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and My Own Private Idaho (1991) and toward the studio productions of Good Will Hunting (1997) and Finding Forrester (2000). But Van Sant’s studio films are by no means artistic sellouts." - Steven Dillon (The Solaris Effect: Art & Artifice in Contemporary American Film, 2006)
"Directors often flip-flop between the demands of art and commerce, alternating personal projects with those that pay the bills. However, few of them have produced movies as violently and puzzlingly different as Gus Van Sant, prompting wry speculation in the press that their could, in fact, be two Gus Van Sants... If there is one thing that unites the two Van Sants, it is the pervasive sense of melancholic transience that is eloquently expressed in his trademark shots of clouds (in the perpetual motion of time-lapse photography), going nowhere fast." - Lloyd Hughes (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"A director who is capable of crafting both deeply unconventional independent films and mainstream crowd-pleasers, Gus Van Sant has managed to carve an enviable niche for himself in Hollywood. Since debuting in 1985 with Mala Noche, Van Sant has become one of the premiere bards of dysfunction, populating his films with a parade of hustlers, junkies, psychopathic weather girls, homicidal teens, and troubled geniuses." - Rebecca Flint Marx (All-Movie Guide)
"Van Sant is gay, gritty, and arty all at the same time. There is no trace of camp or swishiness: he is determined on heartfelt feelings and commonplace tragedy. He has a great eye, and an even better sense of adjacency - not quite cutting, but a feeling for cut-up simultaneity." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)
"Part of me believes in anonymous art. I got that from a writer named Jamake Highwater, who wrote about painting before the Renaissance. The way people related to art in, say, ancient Greece. How it was about the community for the community and not the self-expression of the artist. I thought of Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester as doing it for the people, and wanted to speak without the hindrance of my own style. I'm not sure if that's possible, but it was my rationale." - Gus Van Sant
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Elephant (2003)
Recommended
The Discipline of D.E. (1982), Good Will Hunting (1997), Gerry (2002) , Paranoid Park (2007) , Milk (2008)
Worth a Look
Mala Noche (1986), Drugstore Cowboy (1989), My Own Private Idaho (1991) , To Die For (1995), Last Days (2005)
Not Recommended
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), Psycho (1998)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Gus Van Sant / Favourite Films
The Last of England (1988) Derek Jarman, The Palm Beach Story (1942) Preston Sturges, Sátántangó (1994) Béla Tarr, Sunrise (1927) F.W. Murnau, Synecdoche, New York (2008) Charlie Kaufman.
Source: Newsweek (2008)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    My Own Private Idaho
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