Gus Van Sant: Vague Recollections
Elephant, Van Sant’s ambitious endeavor about real-life psychos, killing fellow students in American high schools—a problem about as easy to ignore as an elephant in the living room—is another effort to reach for what’s hidden, to dig into what only lies beneath, and then to put it on display.
For gravitating toward the myth of Kurt Cobain—and therefore the rock ‘n’ roll death myth itself—while simultaneously attempting to push out of its orbit, Gus Van Sant’s Last Days is a fascinating film. But it’s an awkward one for those whose formative years were affected or influenced by Nirvana . . .
Van Sant, for the most part, replicates the structure of Robbins's novel instead of adapting it, or reworking it, for film: beautiful young Uma Thurman's Sissy is caricatured, instead of characterized by her assigned attributes.
When it first came out, My Own Private Idaho was unambiguously stamped with the label “gay movie.” Van Sant himself was eventually lumped in with the nascent Queer New Wave of Haynes, Kalin, and Araki, but this was an afterthought at best.