Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Transgenre Tragedy

Leaves of Grass
2009.  105 minutes. USA. Directed by Tim Blake Nelson. Watchdate: 3/24/2011.
An odd duck of a movie that novelly attempts to use the delicately promising premise of Edward Norton playing mismatched twin brothers - one an Apollonian academic, the other a Dionysian drug dealer - to combine the utterly modern subgenre of a stoner action comedy (ala Pineapple Express) with the most ancient of genres, the Greek Tragedy (ala Antigone). The result, as one might expect, is very uneven. But it deserves some attention for the curiosity of its storytelling impulses.

Oscillating between ruthlessly violent Jewish gangsters and loving tributes to Walt Whitman, satiring the pretensions of cloistered academia alongside the antics of troglodyte rednecks, the movie virtuously tries to arbitrate the idiosyncrasies of the diverse ways people choose to live their lives. It's a valiant effort, worthwhile as much for how it fails as how it succeeds.

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