"There is no explainable reason" is something that can be done effectively, this isn't it. If that's what he was going for, why include scenes of every stereotype imaginable for the killers? The other characters were just as badly portrayed, Van Sant putting together a collection of every high-school personality stereotype in the book. Of course they were only fodder for his little staged tragedy anyways, so there's not much to say about them.
wow, i really wanna smack you right now
Its not about him saying something, and to always expect that is kinda lazy. The intent of this and last days and gerry ect is a kind of semiotic investigation - its up to YOU to say something. Unlike say Pixar, this is actually art as film (not to knock it - i love entertainment as much as the next person). You have these ideas and judgments in your head and he give you visuals that provoke those associations. Meditate on your own reactions - not on what you think Van Sant's might be because you don;t know what they are because he's actually not interested in telling you. This is why something like Theo Angelopoulos' Ulysses' Gaze (which tries to do the same thing) doesn't work for me is that I really have no cultural knowledge base from which to draw on to interact with what I'm seeing. But to disregard this side of the film is to lose so much of what makes the film great.
Meditate on your own reactions
I did, my reactions were anger, hatred, and disgust. But seriously, you're not really addressing my problems with the movie. Your description of it sounds great, if it actually succeeded at those things I would have no doubt loved it as I have movies that work in similar ways. But the way Van Sant handles the material actively prevents me from experiencing anything meaningful. I don't expect you to agree with me, but I need you to know I'm not just disregarding Van Sants intent, I'm saying it's:
Your reaction to his movie about a high school shooting is rage and disgust. It seems like maybe Van Sant succeeded perfectly.
But his rage and disgust isn't at anything going on in the film, but at the filmmaking process. I don't think that's what GVS was going for, or a response he would appreciate.
I had to step back, Melville, before I responded to your review, because my initial response was anger and disgust to your review. I know that you have excellent opinions on movies in general (anyone who likes Spirited Away as much as you do obviously has excellent taste), but it seemed that you completely missed the point of Elephant.
I thought it was an excellently made film, taking me where it wanted me to go, lulling me with the boring events going through the maze of halls and classrooms of this quiet high school. We see things from different perspectives all throughout the movie, and even though we know what's going to happen it still shocks and horrifies us-- perhaps because it was all TOO normal, too peaceful, too boring. The complacency we felt is jarred, and our world is not the same. Is this a perfect film? No, but it is marvelous, and the acting isn't great, but real life isn't about great acting-- real life is full of terrible acting. And by the end, this was MY high school and this event was happening where I lived.
Yet, I recognize that this was my personal experience of the film, and it is wrong for me to not allow you your own response to the film. So, you were disgusted by the film making. I don't understand that, but it's your opinion and so I respect it. And you are a person who deserves respect. But you are so wrong.