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Winter's Bone


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Couldn't find a dedicated thread.

I read two reviews of the film today, from USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. Those reviews are excerpted here.

I'm seeing it next week. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Lots of talk in the festivals about this one. It will be coming to Landmark Theaters soon. They started running the trailer a few weeks ago.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Heh. From the Twitter feeds:

: There are two indie-ish films coming out soon that I chose not to review, because I dislike them. I'm starting to wish I chose differently.

(aka gemko): @KarinaLongworth I'd like to read a good pan of WINTER'S BONE. Hard to imagine what it would say other than "I hate awesomeness."

: @gemko: I'm surprised there hasn't been one. If I had known there'd be so little dissent...

Well if THAT exchange doesn't pique my interest... :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Very strong film. One I wouldn't be at all surprised to find on multiple year end lists. At present it would have serious consideration for the top of my list for the year.

Among my notes are some key words: desperation. survival. macho bravado (a quality held people of either sex).

Heard a bit of the director and the book's author on Fresh Air a few nights ago.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Very strong film.

Cool, I'm getting to an early show tomorrow.

The words "ethnographic portrait" ... It sounds as if the writer has never spent time in a rural area, maybe? (Trying to put a positive spin on what she said.)

There are crystal meth labs where I live, too. Some of them are right under the noses of area residents who consider themselves to be sophisticates, more or less.

If this film is an "ethnographic" thing, well... so are "Fraser" and "Seinfeld," I guess.

Maybe that's because it's aimed at an urban populace? It is certainly not playing anywhere outside of city art houses, at least not for now.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Darrel: It might grow on me, but the film, while fine, wasn't the socko experience I was anticipating. I'm not sure I can fault anything about it, certainly not the acting. (And is anyone putting in a good word for John Hawkes? I thought his performance was equal to Lawrence's, albeit in a supporting capacity.) I know only that the film kept me at some distance, and I'm not sure why. It's technically impressive to look at, the music feels right throughout. And that ending ... whoa.

The ending really did get me. It reminded me of

that horrid wood-chipper scene in Fargo, only this time no one was laughing. Which is as it should be.

By then, however, I had felt a detachment from much of the film. I guess it IS an "ethnographic portrait," but I wanted something that would draw me in, rather than something I would study from afar.

I'm not sure that's the movie's fault, or just relative to how I was feeling, etc.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Watching this I was reminded of Frozen River (probably another "ethnographic portrait") with its similar themes.

I know it is a foreign world for me. In that sense, I'm not sure how drawn in I was. The experience is certainly heavy on voyeurism, but it also has a great deal of the visceral element. Perhaps where it falls short (for Christian at any rate) is its vicarious eye. Hard to balance all of those.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Loved it. I was glued to the screen. And after learning about this very alien, very different world, I don't think the "ethnographic portrait" phrase is condescending at all.

The film is tense beginning to end, the kind where you can feel that your hands were clenched and need to open them up and relax them when it ends.

From the top, it leaps straight into anything you already know about the story, so it feels longer than it is, which is a good thing because you want to fully experience this story through the end. I wanted to follow Ree and her kids all the way through the final frame of the film, to find out exactly what happens with their home, their kin, the choices that have been made.

David Eugene Edwards feels like he's all over it, and not only in its Flannery O'Connor feel, but in the actual background music. I haven't looked in the credits -- if it's not him, someone is ripping him off big-time.

And speaking of music, there were several live moments of music that were mountain friendly fun. Such moments were a nice reprieve in an otherwise very intense film.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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And speaking of music, there were several live moments of music that were mountain friendly fun. Such moments were a nice reprieve in an otherwise very intense film.

That musical group performance may have been my favorite scene.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Yeah, that singing at the birthday party was pretty good.

Thinking a bit more, I think many of these same thematic elements would be part of an urban gang drama: drugs, poverty, violence, lawlessness. Is there a sense that it is more shocking for us to see it in white rural people?

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Good question. I guess it is somewhat obvious to answer that drugs in the urban jungle are a definite contemporary film cliche, but I'm hard pressed to think of another film like this to compare it to.

There's something in me that wants to compare Jennifer Lawrence to Ashley Judd in Ruby in Paradise. But it's only been seventeen years since I've seen that... It might not even be close.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I'm not certain you ever responded to my assertion that the film is aimed at an urban market, which is why a reviewer called it that in the first place.

Look, I like of like that you highlighted that, because I actually think it's a pretty good description. This isn't just small-town America. This isn't even Deliverance. It is truly another planet, totally foreign except by imagination. It's one of those 1/10th of 1% cases. Probably even less than that.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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i don't have a problem with the term ethnography. I'd apply it to lots of situations and film. I mentioned Frozen River above. Hustle and Flo fits. Smoke Signals. Yeah, you could apply it to a film depicting middle class as well, but it's a lot harder to do because there is a bit more diversity there - even in a Manhattan setting - maybe especially in a Manhattan setting.

It isn't necessarily disparaging to note that we are seeing a particular setting that represents a fairly isolated ethos. Certainly it is not unlike many other areas, but it is also distinctive.

I expect if there is any critique, it would apply to the book as well, which I haven't read. Again, let me point you to the interview with the director and the author (the author is from the area) from "Fresh Air" that I mention above. Perhaps that will give some perspective.

Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Yeah, that singing at the birthday party was pretty good.

Thinking a bit more, I think many of these same thematic elements would be part of an urban gang drama: drugs, poverty, violence, lawlessness. Is there a sense that it is more shocking for us to see it in white rural people?

Maybe. I wasn't altogether surprised at the drug use here, although I couldn't figure out where the supply came from. I don't know anything about how to "cook meth," etc., and am not really interested in the details. I can accept the portrayal of drug-infestation here.

BTW, I ended up writing a glowing review of this film, despite my earlier expressed ambivalence. That's just how it came out. I don't know if I failed to grapple sufficiently with my own experience of what's on screen, or if in processing it, I decided that the film was more worthy of praise than I'd thought immediately after seeing it. I wouldn't mind seeing it again, that's for sure.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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And where is that review found?

I love how I'm the guy that years ago hated stars, and now I love my little Netflix stars to the point where I even record them for a film that isn't yet out. But Netflix does drive me crazy, though, with it's inability to record half stars. So is this a four star film or a five star film? Because I want to rate it at four-and-a-half. But when I think of five star films I think of my recent viewing of The Song of Bernadette. I think of The Passion of Joan of Arc. For more recent examples, I think of Apocalypse Now, Babette's Feast, Fitzcarraldo... Or even more, more recently, In This World, The Maid, Magnolia, Exit Through the Gift Shop... I really loved Winter's Bone, but I can't put it into a category with these. At least not yet.

Think of The Return, and the symbolism, whether intended or not, that you can sink your teeth into and dig out of the film. Winter's Bone has waters very much like the waters in The Return, but they do not seem to function at a level deep enough to call it anything other than a narrative level. A five star film this is not.

So I guess I'm leaning toward giving it four stars at Netflix, even though I feel that is selling it short.

Ryan, you will appreciate this -- I feel the same way about There Will Be Blood. There are probably quite a few films that cause this conundrum.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I want to stay on my own topic for one more moment while I have it on the mind, so for one moment excuse the rant.

Both There Will Be Blood and Winter's Bone are in my mind clearly superior to: Napolean Dynamite, Point of No Return and Point Break, Mean Creek, Life is Beautiful, Lord of War, Jarhead, La Cienaga, In the Line of Fire, The Fugitive, The Idiots, Gran Torino, A Film with Me In It, The Fourth Kind, Crazy Heart, Borat, (500) Days of Summer. But they are all four stars with the limited range of rating Netflix offers.

I also have The Return listed as a four star film, fwiw.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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And where is that review found?

You can find it here, or here. Also here and here.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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And where is that review found?

You can find it here, or here. Also here and here.

Nothing like covering all the bases, eh?

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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And where is that review found?

You can find it here, or here. Also here and here.

Nothing like covering all the bases, eh?

I try to hit for the cycle.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Showoff. ;)

"Winter" and "bone" are very vague terms. Let's throw in director Debra Granik to make sure this thread is searchable.

Anyone ever see Down To the Bone (2004)? Looks like it had Vera Farmiga as a cocaine momma. Think this Granik's got a thing about drugs?

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Posted rather quickly and probably will need some adjusting in the grammar, but... From Filmsweep:

Winter's Bone has been the talk of many film magazines and the festival circuit, earning big wins at Sundance and Berlin, and now it has finally made its way into mainstream U.S. release.

It's the story of Ree Dolly, a tough-as-nails seventeen year-old grown-up, played to perfection by Jennifer Lawrence. Ree is a native in the Ozark Mountains. She is dealing with a missing dad, a not-all-there mom, the need to keep food on the table for her younger two siblings, and a swarm of the locale's meth-makers she's constantly at odds with. The meth-makers might have something to do with her missing father, or at least know something about it. He was one of the crowd for years, in and out of jail many times.

In fact her dad has recently put the house up for a jail bond, and when he fails to show in court it looks like Ree, her mom and her siblings will have to find somewhere else to live. But they've got nowhere else they can go. The point of Ree's story becomes this: find dad, and find him fast, whether in trouble or not, dead or alive, and figure out how to make sure their home doesn't disappear.

Other than the Ozark setting, in which debate has cropped up when the film is described as an "ethnographic portrait" -- a description that turns out somewhat accurate given the otherworldly feel of the citizens in this land -- the film is actually an eerie endeavor into an otherwise modest genre exercise: the drug film. From gangster flicks like Scarface and Donnie Brasco to the spectacle of gang dealings in Menace II Society and New Jack City, you've seen some of this before, but not with such a dark mountain, almost Flannery O'Connor hypnotic-style spell. The decrepit backwoods flee-pit populace, with little to say or spare, butt heads with the moral crusade of the Sheriff's seemingly righteous (or self-righteous) law. Ree can't trust a soul from either side, and neither give details on the whereabouts of her runaway dad.

The lengths Ree goes to in tracking down her dad -- dead or alive -- for the saving of her home, and thus her mom and the children's home, too -- and the compassion and willingness to take care of her clan in general, turn the tables from mom's responsibility back on Ree, breaking her out of the mold of any dreams or desires of a typical teenager (or even daughter or older sister) and into the matriarchal caregiver -- she's the mom to the mom and their kids. That she's willing to enter hostile climates demanding answers from even broken blood-ties -- those who have been in the drug war with her family -- those who have shot at each other and sworn off the family name -- shows how willing she really is to go to bat for this household. She'll take a beating if need be, and even die for the salvation of the home. She becomes the aspirations and affection of a protecting mom, with an understanding beyond her years. She's full of wisdom and smarts, and a great willingness for her tribe at only the age of seventeen.

After she does go through many horrific things, one of the characters tells her he can't believe how she did it. To her, it's always been simple: "I'm a Dolly," she'll say. But given the history of the moral side of the Dollys before her, there's got to be something in her that's greater than just her blood.

With its washed out color and melancholic feel, you might seek this one out on a rainy summer night. With its Tales From the Crypt ending with a harrowing chainsaw reality, we watch as Ree the daughter and sister transcends even matriarchal interpretations, becoming a hero in the sense that only this character can bring to the situation (and the screen). Ultimately she is a one-of-a-kind, very seldom seen in cinema, a woman who gains our respect and admiration. At a moment when so many dads are missing, both in every day life and the films that reflect it, it's refreshing to find a woman who bears the soul of a loving mom.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that the film is playing well in regions close to where it's set. I wonder if this indicates that those folks aren't offended by the portrayal?

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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The Wall Street Journal reports that the film is playing well in regions close to where it's set. I wonder if this indicates that those folks aren't offended by the portrayal?

Or maybe they're looking for evidence to rise up in anger against the coastal elites.

I would expect (a) people in that area are interested because it's based on a book written by someone in the area, and (b ) there are people there who are just as capable of appreciating good stories and cinema just like there are in metropolitan areas.

Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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The Wall Street Journal reports that the film is playing well in regions close to where it's set. I wonder if this indicates that those folks aren't offended by the portrayal?

Or maybe they're looking for evidence to rise up in anger against the coastal elites.

I would expect (a) people in that area are interested because it's based on a book written by someone in the area, and (b ) there are people there who are just as capable of appreciating good stories and cinema just like there are in metropolitan areas.

Don't you "coastal elite" folks get it?! :)

Darrel's right. And I'm sure there's a lot of pride taken in the fact that various locations are being represented; also that locals likely were extras....

they got plugs out thar?

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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