Dirt Mattress, Shirt Basket

Gerry film still, image: viewlondon.co.uk

Watch Matt Damon and Casey Affleck stagger, scramble and trudge through the desert in Gerry to forget the snow that you staggered, scrambled and trudged through to see it. If that reasoning's too circuitous for you, though, skip the movie; it's deeply self-referential and hermetic. It's the kind of film where half of the audience got there half an hour early, all eager, and half got there three minutes early, sure they'll be the only ones there. Even with an audience pre-sorted by reviewer warnings that Gerry could be a walkout movie, the Gerrys in front of us walked out.

To hear Gus Van Sant talk about it, making Gerry's the same directorial reboot that Steven Soderbergh got from Full Frontal, questioning his way to some essence, a filmmaking stripped of its accreted editing, language and genre conventions which result in product "as uniform as a McDonaldís hamburger."

Van Sant's"real-time filmmaking" (translation: wordless seven-minute takes) references Andrei Tarkovsky and Bela Tarr, whose films, you pretend you've seen (or whose films you've actually seen and fallen asleep in). But Gerry also reveals a far more popular inspiration, one that's as meaningless to film critics as Bela Tarr comments on American Idol: computer games.

Zeus screenshot, image: sierra.com
Gerry's first extended dialogue is a fragment of Damon's story about a woman who blew it on Wheel of Fortune. And at least half the film's dialogue is Affleck's tale of conquering Thebes, only to run into trouble 'cuz there wasn't enough marble to build a sanctuary, and then Demeter blighted the crops and they couldn't train the horses and... Sounds "fraught with bogus allegorical weight," as the Times' Stephen Holden says, until you realize he's talking about Zeus: Master of Olympus!, an ancient Greek variant of SimCity. In the hermetic world of Zeus, placating Demeter isn't bogus or allegorical; it's a question of survival. In it's own world, it's as life-or-death as, say, buying a vowel. Did you gerry the mountain scoutabout and find yourself stuck on a 20' rock? Just shirt basket a dirt mattress and you're homefree.

Gerry's another example, then, of the language of videogames influencing film. Questions of character and motivation become as relevant for Gerry as they are for Mario ("But why is he trying to get past the monkey?"). It's a movie that suceeds on its own terms, and that creates an engrossing bridge between two wildly popular mediums.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

post info

first published: February 18, 2003.

next older post:
Location, Location, Location

next newer post:
If Ric Burns Calls, Tell Him You're Busy.

recent projects, &c.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots

HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.

Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99