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Overstreet

Beasts of the Southern Wild

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Anders   

Any assessment of this film that sees only the romanticizing and not the critique is unconvincing to me.

Agreed.

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Yeah, and in my review recently written I definitely critique the bad points. I just see an over tendency in many reviews I read to get a bit too critical if there's anything wrong about the movie, and that tending to overshadow the good points. I can love this movie while also being dissatisfied with its conclusion. In other words there's a lot of beauty in the ugliness. Not as overt as Life of Pi per se, which sorta throws it in your face, but enough to merit an acknowledgement of.

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Well, perhaps it's difficult to offer a nuanced, balanced review in a Tweet. If I had to sum up the film in 140 characters, I'd make a statement about a flawed foundation, a movie that is less than the sum of its admirable parts.

I certainly wouldn't want to say the film is devoid of strengths and impressive aspects. I just feel the generous "how" of the movie contradicts the film's core convictions. Like American Beauty, it oversimplifies one "society" in order to demonize it, while allowing great complexity in the "society" it champions, and accepting and absorbing the flaws and violence it finds there. And, it endorses an ethic of self-reliance and Sticking It To the Man By Being the Tougher Man that I find far too Darwinian and materialistic and individualistic to be inspiring. My heart breaks for Hushpuppy, especially in view of the flag she's waving at the conclusion. In that sense, the film employs what are, indeed, admirable Malick-esque methods... to recommend a worldview that feels starkly contrary to Malick's.

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Persona   

Is this supposed to be a fantasy? An absurd fantasy? Come to think of it, an absurdist fantasy. It might be just that.

Absurd would be the word that relates my view on the film. Absurd in a negative way. Someone complained in the Take This Waltz thread about the film going "off the rails" in the last half hour. You wanna see "off the rails" in the last half hour? This thing slowly slides into the improbable, and then explodes into ridiculousness. For a minute there -- the point at which the kids end up on a barge with a guy that's all too happy to just take them in, and then they all decide it might just be a great idea to go to a (floating?) strip club -- I really did think I'd somehow put in the wrong DVD and stumbled across Mulholland Dr. instead.

So you're gonna cry for daddy while he lays there dying in the end? Are we really supposed to care at this point? What is this film? Has it caused me to care for these characters? I'm too busy trying to figure out what I'm watching rather than care about the characters.

Ordinarily I might see "unclassifiable" as a strong point for a film, a positive one. By the end of this, I was just squinting and wishing I'd instead watched the two Woody Allen films I got from Netflix.

For the first 2/3 of this I simply thought, "Aah, well, no big deal. I probably just don't connect with it. It might be great and I just don't get it" And then the last half hour kicked in and I was like, YOU GOTTA FREAKING BE KIDDING ME.

Edited by Persona

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Thanks for the brutal honesty, Persona. Those were more or less my thoughts, although I found myself disconnected to such an extent that I barely even remember the ending anymore (I saw it back in October). Perhaps my experience could be improved with a second viewing, but all it really left me with at the time was an impression of disconnected plot fragments and an anti-profound sense of hardcore naturalism. Which is hard to admit, because it seemed to have pretty much all the ingredients I usually love in a good film.

Hushpuppy's face off with the prehistoric water buffaloes was definitely a memorable moment, though.

Edited by Jeremy

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That was pretty funny and awesome Persona. I wanted to like this movie so much, and there were some great moments, but overall....yeah.

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Persona   

Seriously? Armed doctors are gonna break in and take you out of your home like an invasion of commies or something? Maybe this happens and I don't know it. Fine, I guess that's a possibility in our contemporary Americanas. But then, you can just break out with of the "detention center," I'd call it," with five kids like that? And then you stick her on the bus and close the doors and the bus is timed just sooooooo perfectly to take off? And then somehow a kid that weighs like, I don't know, three gnats pounds mangles the driver or something and gets the door open and runs back to daddy but, oh, too bad, he's dyin'? And then they can all pick the feller up and get him back home..... and in All. This. Time. the commies haven't been able to get out there and re-catch them all?! Seriously?!

And that's all BEFORE the stuff I was just complaining about.

Edited by Persona

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Persona   

And ALLLLLL of that is before Hushpuppy has a staring contest with a giant pig...

Come. on.

Seriously?

what the --

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You are killing me. This movie didn't work for me either, Stef. I'm glad to have some company.

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I didn't find it quite as grating as Persona, but I'll agree the film streches for an emotional ressonance it never earned. I also don't like the inexplicable use of fantasy elements. I don't understand what that was supposed to add to the film.

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Persona   

I didn't find it quite as grating as Persona, but I'll agree the film streches for an emotional ressonance it never earned. I also don't like the inexplicable use of fantasy elements. I don't understand what that was supposed to add to the film.

Thank you for putting it that way. That is a very good to say it. It doesn't earn any emotional payoff because you can't trust it because you don't know what it is. So then we're stuck asking ourselves -- standing O.? What? Where? Why? And why is it that it that it doesn't earn the payoff for not knowing what it is when there are other films that maybe do earn the payoff when they don't know what they are either?

"Describe a film." Fine. Eraserhead is a...

waitasec, I've written page after page and had discussion after discussion about Eraserhead, and I still don't know how to describe it.

Aah. But maybe this is a trick question.

Film of the Year. Holy Motors. Is it absurd? Yes. Is it absurdist? I think an argument can be made. Is it fantasy? In moments, there can be no other conclusion. Is it farcical? Is it pomo? Is it in your face with some of its symbolism? Absolutely. Is Lavant just more enjoyable to watch than Hushpuppy? Aah, that might be a part of it. We can only take so much misery, I guess. But really, I think a "fantasy" film like Holy Motors has an actual, decent point to make. I think it is constructed in such a way that it has quite a few points to make, and many people relate in many different ways to what that message is -- but it kinda comes off in its description with some kind of a wink and a smile.

This film is a hybrid, but won't admit it. I think it's OK to be a hybrid, when you're honest with yourself and with others about what you are. Sheesh, even Jehova God Himself blesses the Eunuchs in Isaiah 54.

Thing is, here is a hybrid that wants to preach something about naturalism as well, and about how each and every part in the Universe has its place. Which, if you've seen anything of the film in the last hour and a half, you are determined to hate the Universe because this supposed "order" is obviously fucked up.

So again, I ask. Why the Standing O? The art? The craftmanship? I think many people here can talk about films that are crafted better, even in that cool-hipster-indie-shaky-dogme vibe that this is kinda fitting itself into a bit. Sheesh, the first one that popped to mind was Pieces of April, I have no idea why.

Was it the theme? And what is the theme? Hopelessness? Seriously? Are we now applauding that? Feel free if that loosens your juices, but I hold film to a higher standard. That isn't challenging to the human condition, that is wallowing in a certain human condition, and accepting your (as understood without searching or researching) fate, your miserableness, your mess. Which kinda reminds me of the film even again. As a dog returns to its vomit, so do these inhabitants to the Bathtub.

I think I'm more frustrated at the Standing O. than I am at the film itself. I can tolerate going to a film and finding it entertaining. This is a crowd that either should know better and doesn't (which I simply can't bring myself to believe), or they really do believe that the Universe is ugly, and that it sucks, and that no one grows, and that you can stare down the strong but you'd better be strong to win in the end, because only the strong survive, and yet everything has its pattern and place.

what a contradictory line of crap.

I might as well just get it all off my chest. I know Where the Wild Things Are has a lot of fans here. One of my best friends here was moved to tears by that film. For whatever reason, that film brings out the same rage in me. WHAT IS IT? And what is it saying.... But I think I can be much more forgiving with Where the Wild Things Are, because the fantasy elements are so much more upfront. It feeeeels like a fantasy, and a needed one for kids that age.

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I cry every time I watch Where the Wild Things Are. It moves me very deeply. I get at part of the reason why here, in my review for Good Letters. I find it much more inspiring than Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Edited by Overstreet

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Persona   

I've read your article, actually more than once.... But as to that topic, that was more of a throw away paragraph at the end of a long rant. Sorry about that. I am willing to admit that there is something in me that just doesn't like the very large puppets in Where the Wild Things Are, that I'm just not kid enough to get it. And that whatever rage the film produces (it's been a while now since I saw it), I've seen enough of your reviews to understand that this might just be my problem.

Let's talk about this Standing O. These people are delusional.

Edited by Persona

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I've seen enough of your reviews...

Oh, if only I had a penny for every time I've heard that.

mellow.png

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Persona   

I've seen enough of your reviews...

Oh, if only I had a penny for every time I've heard that.

mellow.png

Ugh! Oh my. That ("your") was supposed to be plural. Sorry, I need to think more, rant less, although I really don't see the need on this particular film. It's pretty self-revealing, even to a guy like me with only two brain cells left in his head.

Edited by Persona

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Attica   

I'm not sure if you got the film Persona. Maybe you need to see it again. peepwall.gif

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I've seen enough of your reviews...

Oh, if only I had a penny for every time I've heard that.

mellow.png

Ugh! Oh my. That ("your") was supposed to be plural. Sorry, I need to think more, rant less, although I really don't see the need on this particular film. It's pretty self-revealing, even to a guy like me with only two brain cells left in his head.

Stef, I was just kidding. Clearly, those are words taken out of context.

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