DAVID GORDON GREEN’S JOE — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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David Gordon Green is one of my favorite filmmakers. Impossible to pin down, he’s dipped his hands into a multitude of genres, going big with some, small with most, and always delivering something unique. He’s been extremely prolific, releasing almost a movie per year, and in some instances, more than one film in a 12 month period; he’s busy and I like it that way, because there’s always something different, edgy, and different about his films. He’s an idiosyncratic filmmaker clearly inspired by 70’s filmmaking, and the more I see of Hal Ashby’s work, there’s almost a modern Ashby sensibility to some of DGG’s output, as he’s always been interested in character and mood and atmosphere and people just as much as he’s been in plot. In his dark, slow burn drama Joe, Nicolas Cage went down and dirty and extra deep and DGG went small town and very mean with the nasty little film. This is a really tough but oddly rewarding movie, filled with low lives and drunkards and raw emotional and physical violence, telling a bruising story about a young boy dealing with a dangerous father, and how the kid crosses paths with a mysterious drifter (Cage) who may or may not be able to change his life for the better. Thanks to Tim Orr’s gritty cinematography, Joe has a very authentic atmosphere, and it’ll make you feel like a shower is necessary afterwards. Tye Sheridan impresses yet again; this kid has a serious streak going. Gary Poulter gives one of the scariest, most unpredictable performances of an alcoholic in a long time. But it’s the Cage show all the way in Joe, and this movie is a further reminder that he can still bring it when he’s interested in working with quality filmmakers on hefty material. He’s invested in the character, and so becomes the audience, and by the finale, the film hits moments of reflection and catharsis that are both unexpected and well earned.

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