Beasts Of The Southern Wild (“My Only Oscar Nominated Disappointment”)

29 Jan

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Synopsis: “Faced with both her hot-tempered father’s fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.” (Rated PG-13; 1 hour 31 minutes)

This is going to be the exact opposite of what most of my reviews are. Usually I manage to see the positive fun in the mediocre crap that’s out there, and absolutely love the ones that manage to offer something original. Unfortunately this is the one and only Best Picture nominee for 2012 which I appreciated, but never got into.

The visuals were always captivating. Using the Blair Witch-style shaky camera technique (which I think is really overused these days), you really get down and dirty in this wild part of Louisiana called the “Bathtub”, where people really seem cut off from the rest of civilization, and spend most of their time drinking and dancing in the filthy but charming ambiance  Hushpuppy, the little girl and central character, impressively lives in her own independent space from her father, and one of the more interesting aspects of the movie is their unusual relationship. Not often do you see a father/daughter combo where he’s both a lousy and somewhat abusive father but also someone who clearly really cares and loves her and you somewhat…appreciate him. You are at once impressed by what he gives her but more-so disgusted by how she’s treated and neglected. I couldn’t help but be annoyed that this little girl was stuck with a group of lowlifes who ran away from hospitals, and “lived it up” in a way that basically endangered her life regularly. They were thus the titles’ “beasts” of the southern wild, especially once Hurricane Katrina struck and they ran from the safety of civilization.

It was very impressive watching a movie starring a tiny child and a drunk and sick father, when neither really seemed like they were acting. It had an effective “real” look and feeling to it all, and for a low-budget movie I’m impressed by how much Benh Zeitlin did with it all.

All of that being said, the problem is I just really never connected with it the way that most people seem to be. It was strange but never captivated me enough to get me “into” the story. I kind of felt similarly this year with The Master. An entirely different type of movie, but once again it was bizarre, expertly directed and acted, but I felt like I was watching something fascinating and impressive but also grew tired of it quickly. It’s one of those things where I felt like saying, “yes, I get why people think this is great, but when is it over, I’m getting sleepy?”

I know, I’m ridiculous and end up enjoying Schwarzenegger’s ridiculous action movie more than this extremely creative one, but hey, this is my movie obsession and I have my ratings system for a reason!

It was better than August Rush, an average drama about a child on his own in the world looking for his father, but I thought Where The Wild Things Are was a better movie about a child alone in the wild world with fantastical and imaginary creatures, whose story and emotions pulled me in far more than this Best Picture nominee.

Quality Rating: B+ (Gets major points for creativity and being technically impressive)

Boaz Rating: C (If I get bored during a movie, there’s only so high I can personally rate it)

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5 Responses to “Beasts Of The Southern Wild (“My Only Oscar Nominated Disappointment”)”

  1. sarah.a. design. (@SarahLikesGreen) January 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    you forgot to mention that you actually dozed off during the last half hour, not just a bit sleepy. it was thaaat good.

    Like

  2. boazconstrictor January 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Ha, yeah, a quick doze, don’t tell anyone! 🙂

    Like

  3. zralston January 31, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    “Expertly acted?” Wallis is amazing but using that adjective to describe Dwight Henry is an offense to all people who act. He’s TERRIBLE. It’s an aggressively awful performance — he ramps up his shouting to one note, looks extremely uncomfortable on screen (and not in a way that works for his role) and hardly ever has a true moment. He sucks. And I’ve seen way too many people defend his travesty by excusing him for being “non-professional.” That doesn’t excuse it in my book — he is crap. One of many reasons this movie is kind of a piece of shit. I wish I could say I’m shocked to see your 8/10 quality rating, but lots of people love it so I’m not. I’ll have to take solace in your 5/10 enjoyment rating (which is still too high for me). Read my shredding of it if you want to see some more savage criticism.

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    • zralston January 31, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      (Unless you mean only The Master was expertly acted but I read it as you saying it was in the same way that Beasts was. Regardless, comparing those two movies makes my head explode). 🙂

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  4. boazconstrictor January 31, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Love it Zach, will definitely have to read yours. Yeah, the style of acting between those 2 movies is kind of incomparable, that’s true. I just felt like the acting of Dwight Henry and the other characters was a very raw and real acting, you clearly didn’t though. I felt like I was watching real people who just didn’t compel me.
    But yes, that’s apples and oranges to The Master whose acting was actually technically great even if I ultimately didn’t get “into” it in a similar fashion. I was still more interested in The Master than I was Beasts…

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