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Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, November 6, 2000

Youths in a rural Southern town are stirred from their
slow, quiet lives to react violently to stigmas of racism
and poverty in "George Washington.

‘George’ plays like
Greek tragedy

HIFF 'Made in Hawaii' features

Bullet George Washington starstarstar
Bullet Playing at: 6:45 p.m. tomorrow at Waikiki 2; 5 p.m. Nov. 14 at Palace Theatre in Hilo; 8:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at Waimea Theatre on Kauai.

By Burl Burlingame


SINCE the advent of fast film and small cameras, movies have moved out of the sound stages and into the real world, and occasionally, you see a place on the screen that makes you think about what it's like to live there. Or, as in the case of "George Washington," about how you're glad you are that you don't live there.

What appears to be a backwater southern town in the film is neither picaresque nor genteel. It's more of a post-Apocalypse shamble. Everything's rotting, rusting or falling down. The feeling is oddly accentuated by the glowing, lyrical photography by Tom Orr and the languid, studied performances by the cast.

What's it about? That's more of a literary than a cinematic question here. "George Washington" follows oblique episodes in the lives of some teen-agers, linked together mostly by style and mood.

One constant is a voice-over narration by one teen-age girl. She has a crush on George, who she thinks could become a hero or president (hence the title), but George suffers from a "soft head" -- no kidding -- and has to keep his head dry and in a helmet.

The kids talk aimlessly and poke at each other playfully. The adults drink "sody pop" and are just aimless. Everyone's naive to a fault. Everyone's also precocious to a fault. A wicked stepfather chops wood all day and animals all night, but inwardly, he's sorry.

There's a flea-bitten dog that works on some kind of symbolic level. And -- good night, nurse! -- there's an accidental murder. Or maybe it's a tragic accident. At any rate, it's southern gothic. Imagine Flannery O'Connor writing "The River's Edge."

The movie is written, produced and directed by David Gordon Green. The tech specs on "George Washington" are first-class. The actors are uniformly stiff, although somehow it works here, giving the proceedings a good ol' Greek-tragedy groove.

Interestingly, although the cast is equally balanced black and white, blackness and whiteness don't exist in this alternate universe.

"George Washington" is almost dreamy and sucks you in through sheer style, but when it drifts languidly away, you discover there's no creamy center to this Moon Pie. Oh, you could analyze and debate and dissect the individual vignettes to smithereens, which is what makes it literary, I 'spect. But that would be too much like essay homework.

This is the second of five Hawai'i International Film Festival Golden Maile-nominated feature films that we will review through Nov. 9. Winners will be announced Nov. 10.

Following are some of the locally made works that will be presented this week during the Hawai'i International Film Festival's "Made in Hawaii" segment at the Hawai'i Convention Center. All events are free on a first-come, first-served basis, although a ticket is required. Call 528-HIFF (4433) for more information.


Bullet "Netherland": John Kelly is a former New York City cop who is imprisoned after avenging the murders of his wife and daughter . After serving his six years, he is released and begins to rebuild his career and starts a new relationship. Ultimately, he encounters secrets from the past that could rob him of his new life; 7:30 p.m. Also, 1 p.m. Wednesday at Dole Cannery.


Bullet "Mele Hawaii: The Kalakaua Family": Celebrates the legacy of Hawaii's last ruling family; 10 a.m.
Bullet Hawaii Panorama: With "Gray Matter," "Taro Roots," "Fists of Steele 2000," "You Never Know," "Parkers Pad," "Chair" and "Constructions." At noon. Also, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Palace Theatre in Hilo; 5 p.m. Nov. 16 Kilauea Theatre on Kauai; 3:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at Keauhou Shopping Center; and 7:30 p.m. at Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
Bullet "Rice & Roses: Coach": Tells the inspirational story of Soichi Sakamoto, the man who developed Olympic champions in the irrigation ditches of Maui's Pu'unene plantation camps; 4:45 p.m.
Bullet "International Kitchen": Nino J. Martin's cooking show was ahead of its time; 9:30 p.m.


Bullet "Simple Courage": Documentary examines the banishment to Molokai of some 8,000 people suffering from Hansen's disease between 1865 and 1969, lending historical perspective for society's response to the AIDS epidemic; 1:15 p.m.
Bullet Hawaii panorama: With "The Holocaust & How it Changed the World," "The Mystery of Rath Pohl," "Pacific Passages," "He'eia: Where Two Waters Meet"; 7:45 p.m. Also, 1 p.m. Nov. 19 at Keauhou Shopping Center.


Bullet "Hawaiians": Tells the story of ancient Hawaii; noon.
Bullet "Nation Within": The story of Hawaii's annexation to the United States; 1 p.m.
Bullet "Encounters with Paradise": Behind-the-scenes look at the Honolulu Academy of Arts exhibition featuring artists' perspectives of Hawaii between 1778 and 1941; 3 p.m.
Bullet Hawaii Panorama: With "The Essence of the Millennium" and "Bridging the Past to the Future"; 5:15 p.m.
Also, 1 p.m. Nov. 18 at Keauhou Shopping Center; and 5:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
Bullet "Sons of Hawaii": Documentary by Eddie and Myrna Kamae, the seventh in Kamae's award winning "Hawaiian Legacy Series," tells the story of this charismatic band, one of the leading voices of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance which began in the early 1960s; 6 and 8:30 p.m.
Also 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Kauai Community College; 6 and 8:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at Maui's McCoy Studio Theatre; and 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at Palace Theatre.


Bullet "Betrayal": Marlene Sai stars as Queen Lili'uokalanai in this teleplay about the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy; 1:30 p.m.


Bullet Hawaii Panorama: Winner shown at University of Hawai'i Campus Center Ballroom; 2:30 p.m.

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