films seen
average score
USA - 71 years old
Alive and kicking
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Forever drifting between commercial and arthouse cinema, Van Sant had an exceptional run during the early 00s. His oeuvre overall is pretty hit-and-miss, but his films rarely feel flat or uninspired, so it doesn't hurt to give them a try.



2003 / 81m - USA
Elephant poster

Elephant is one of van Sant's most impressive legacies, a powerhouse film that is tailored to perfection and deserves to be seen and to be treasured.


2002 / 103m - USA
Gerry poster

It's best to leave all hope of a decent storyline behind when you want to watch this film. Gerry is all about the experience, ignoring the rest and foregoing all compromises.

Paranoid Park

2007 / 85m - USA
Drama, Mystery, Crime
Paranoid Park poster

Together with Gerry, Elephant, and Last Days, Paranoid Park forms an interesting quadruple in Gus Van Sant's oeuvre. Very slow and low-key films that feel realistic but are still minutely stylized. It's not the best of the four, and also one of the more narrative ones, but it's required viewing if you liked the other three.

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Alex is a young kid who loves to skate. With his friend, he visits Paranoid Park, which is a paradise for young skaters, but also somewhat of a lawless place. He meets up with some older guys there, and he goes train hopping with them. When a guard tries to arrest them, things get out of hand.

The score is remarkable, the camera work is interesting, and the structure of the plot makes the story a bit more interesting. I didn't care for the 4:3 aspect ratio though and while properly stylized, I think it should've been a little more polished to ace its minimalist approach. A worthy film, but not the masterpiece I remembered it to be.


2011 / 91m - USA
Drama, Romance
Restless poster

Last Days

2005 / 97m - USA
Drama, Music
Last Days poster

A rather disappointing rewatch. I was quite a fan of Van Sant's slow cinema trilogy, and films like Elephant and Gerry were still lovely the second time around. I didn't really manage to get into Last Days though, and then a film like this because quite the struggle. It's certainly not all bad, but far from a personal favorite.

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The film is a fictional account of the last days of Kurt Cobain. We follow a man who struggles with life, who wanders around aimlessly, and feels disconnected from the world around him. Friends and professional relations come to visit him, but they all seem to need something from him.

There are some very poignant scenes, but I didn't care for the ones that were music-led. The problem with this type of minimalism is that when it doesn't grab you, you're just looking at rather dull scenes that drone on endlessly, and there are a few too many of those moments. Not bad, but Van Sant did it better.


1998 / 105m - USA
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Psycho poster

Good Will Hunting

1997 / 126m - USA
Drama, Romance
Good Will Hunting poster

Bad Night

Mala Noche
1986 / 78m - USA
Bad Night poster


2008 / 128m - USA
Milk poster

My Own Private Idaho

1991 / 104m - USA
My Own Private Idaho poster

One of the last Van Sant films I still needed to see. It's a pretty nice drama that has slivers of references to his best work, but once the stage is set and the characters are introduced, I found the film itself a little too meandering. That's not bad in and by itself, but neither the characters nor the vibe fully grabbed me.

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Mike is a narcoleptic prostitute who roams the streets. One day he meets Scott, a rich kid who loves to rebel against his family by doing the same thing as Mike. They get along rather well and start hanging out together. When Scott hears that Mike is looking for his mom, he decides to join him on his journey.

Phoenix and Reeves make a nice duo, there are some interesting side characters and Van Sant delivers a nice mix of narrative and mood cinema. I wasn't all that interested in Mike's quest to find his mom though, and once the film turned more into a road movie the film slowly lost me. Not bad though, but far from Van Sant's best work.

The Sea of Trees

2015 / 110m - USA
The Sea of Trees poster

Aokigahara has become a popular location for movies, in the hands of Gus Van Sant (thinking of Gerry in particular) it could've been genius. Sadly the reality is a bit different. The film is overly sentimental, the drama is poor, the acting way too heavy-handed. A missed opportunity that doesn't warrant its running time.

Promised Land

2012 / 106m - USA
Promised Land poster

To Die For

1995 / 106m - USA
Comedy, Crime
To Die For poster

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot poster

Gus van Sant needs another winner, because his career is slowly but surely slipping into mediocrity. This film does little to curve that trend, on the contrary. Tepid drama, gross overacting and a dreary story make this a real pain to sit through. In some instances van Sant's talent shines through, but they are few and far apart.

Drugstore Cowboy

1989 / 101m - USA
Drama, Crime
Drugstore Cowboy poster