365 films in 2016: film 15 (Elephant 2003)

Elephant-13290_1It’s rare that I find everything I don’t like in a film but Elephant gets scarily close. Elephant is largely based on the events of Columbine high school 4 years prior to the films release by actually good director Gus Van Sant which is strange because this is the man who directed Milk and Good Will Hunting, two critically acclaimed films, so how do you stray so far from the path? It’s simple really, all you need a mixture of actors who are not actually actors and in fact are just students at the high school the film is shot at, a poor sloppy script and a director that tells his actors they can improvise the majority of their lines of they want.

And in the end what you will get is a poorly made pseudo artistic movie that drags itself along for around 90 minutes struggling to make its message interesting. The worst thing about this film, not counting the performances are the characters by far, they’re not likeable or unlikeable, they’re just there. They get introduced and then that’s it, you have no reason to care about all of these people whatsoever, Van Sant introduces characters and plot points for almost no reason and makes characters have conversations that make you think ‘Okay something interesting is gonna come out of this’ and then it doesn’t, things happen for no reason and it gets tedious and boring fast because of that. It’s almost like he wanted to make a bad film, every time the film gets even slightly interesting Van Sant stops it right in its tracks.

You get the feeling even Van Sant was bored making the film himself, almost every other shot in the film is a long take, which makes a short boring film feel like a long boring nightmare, Van Sant will often have shots of characters walking to locations for 15-30 seconds for no reason and then cut away to the next scene, and this happens constantly, combine that with a forced message, poor script, atrocious acting and bland characters and you get Elephant. Elephant could have been a decent film with some effort but for some reason no one involved in this film decided to put it in, Elephant is a 4/10. If you want to watch something about Columbine go watch a Michael Moore documentary.

In 2016 i will be watching 365 films (yes, i know there are 366 days this year) and writing about how I felt about them, I decided to do this just because over the last year or so i’ve Sort of pulled away from film and I wanna start to enjoy watching movies again. This will normally be just notes I made or thoughts I have about the film.


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