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Beasts of the Southern Wild

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beasts of the

The girl, who may become the youngest nominated for an Oscar, was the only reason to watch.

I often wish there’d be more originality in filmmaking. I should’ve been careful what I wished for.

Movies don’t get much more original than this and wow, what a mess. I don’t mean the mess of dirt and squalor they live in, but the actual filmmaking.

First time writer/director Benh Zeitlin gave us this story of a town called Bathtub, which is supposed to be Louisiania during Hurricane Katrina.

The movie is told through the eyes of a talented 6-year-old named Quvenzhane Wallis, who plays Hushpuppy. Her father also does a fantastic job. He’s played by Dwight Henry, who in real life has five children and owns a bakery. He didn’t even want to be in this movie. The filmmakers persuaded him, and…along with a lot of locals given roles, and grips that played medics and building sets (wonder if anybody is upset with all the non-union/non SAG cards involved in this picture, or are all the critics just on the praising bandwagon with this?)

It’s strange that the reviews are so strong. There are beautifully shot locations, two great performances, and a story that could’ve been well told through the imagination of a girl living in poor conditions.

Instead, it becomes an abstract mess that’s horribly paced and has stupid symbolism. A smaller picture would’ve worked so much better than this ambitious production. But hey…it won the Palm d’Or at Sundance and everyone is praising it. Just remember – I warned you.

There are interesting scenes with Hushpuppy talking to her mother (who passed away), but the scenes with giant pig monsters (called “aurochs”), is just goofy.

Since we have scenes of the father (Wink) being so horrible early on, none of the later scenes do anything to win me over.

When the locals seem so determined to stay on their land as it gets more and more flooded, I don’t sit there thinking they had some indomitable spirit. I think they should stop giving liquor to kids and get out of dodge.

Is this movie showing us that these people are preserving a certain lifestyle? I had only been to New Orleans once, but I got a taste of the Cajun food, Zydeco, and caught Dr. John in concert. These poor people live in dirt and eat cat food and the occasional chicken.

They seem to imply these people are more in touch with the earth. I think just because they’re literally touching the earth, doesn’t make this so.

I will be awaiting the next performances from the talented Wallis and Henry.

When Zeitlin does his next movie, I’ll hope he has invested in a tripod and realizes that shaking the camera around doesn’t make it more interesting or authentic.

This movie gets 1 ½ stars for two new stars in the making, and for a few poetic moments among the mess.

1 Comment

  • joshboardfox5

    February is Black History Month, and at the White House there was a workshop for 80 high school students from D.C. and New Orleans. First Lady Michelle Obama decided to comment on Beasts of the Southern Wild (which was set in Louisiana, if you didn't read the above). She praised the Oscar-nominated film and called it "one of the most powerful and most important movies in a long time."
    We'll see how it does at the Oscars in a few weeks.

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