Gus Van Sant: On the Road

Gus Van Sant’s Drugstore Cowboy helped jumpstart the late-80s wave of new indie film voices, and Van Sant’s work remains compelling thanks to his willingness to experiment rather than stay safe. That also breeds maddening inconsistency, and so his career is peppered with misfires and outright failures which are still some of his most interesting work—yes, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues has its moments. Good Will Hunting balanced indie cred with the needs of mainstream Hollywood drama, although launching the stardom of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon may yet be an ancillary effect to regret. The Walker’s month-long retrospective screens Van Sant’s entire filmography, winding up with an appearance by the man himself for the local debut of his latest film, Gerry. It’s an audacious jump back to his experimental roots, a relief after the cliché-ridden Finding Forrester, which threatened a future of earnest male-bonding tearjerkers. Gerry is a minimalist, nearly plot-free road movie (co-written with stars Damon and Casey Affleck, Ben’s brother) that’s more avant-garde in its formlessness than any of Van Sant’s previous features. It’s opening to mixed reviews elsewhere, and based on his track record, it’s too soon to tell whether that means misunderstood classic, noble experiment gone wrong, or both. Walker Art Center, (612) 375-7622, www.walkerart.org