Liked it, didn't love it. Has a lot of the ingredients for greatness. Zeitlin has incredible visual/audio filmmaking talent, Wallis is awesome, best score of the year, etc. Can't quite put my finger on why it falls short of greatness though. The Henry sick/shelter stuff... meh... from a more generic school of filmmaking. The Henry character/performance just doesn't work for me in general. Most of the film he felt like a shallow caricature as crazy yelling guy. Every other character but Wallis and her mom is even more one note. Drunk old guy, drunk big lady, etc. They don't feel like real people who have relationships with Wallis/Henry at all. The scene with the boat guy and his chicken/wrappers in particular embodies a lot of the falling short of the film. Just not a character who resonates and while Zeitlin may have had a profound metaphor in mind with the wrappers, it doesn't puncture the surface at all. The one scene in the film that felt emotionally real was the presumed mom character.
I think Zeitlin's presumed attempt to show the world through the eyes of a 6 year old as a magical kingdom, somewhat falls flat too. Didn't feel like this was shot through the eyes/mind of a 6 year old. Felt like it was someone else filming Wallis and co. and not coming from her. Thus it's less magical a film than Zeitlin perhaps anticipated.
In a way Beasts wants to be 3 things at once, or whatever the 3 way version of having your cake and eating it too is (wanting to have your cake, eat it and give it to a friend? Wanting to have a threesome with nobody feeling gay?) - It wants to paint a docu-drama realistic look at the Bathtub, it wants to go artistic by following the magical mind of a 6 year old AND it wants to include Hollywood sentimentality in its plot and resolution. As a result I'm not sure it reaches greatness in any of the areas
Last edited by MVP of West Hollywood; 12-30-2012 at 01:14 AM.
I have the impression that American audiences like this more than foreign people? I still don't know of anybody around here who liked this movie. I certainly didn't.
I actually re-watched this over the weekend, and while it wasn't as fresh-feeling and engrossing as that first feeling, I still think it resonates well. Though you can see the gears turning at times in the story and execution, I love how Zeitlin went for a modern-day legend in a rather unapologetic manner. The isolation of the characters, the vagueness of the setting (Is it the Katrina storm? Modern times? A post-apocalyptic future?), the young protagonist having to overcome events greater than themselves. He handles it all in a down-to-earth manner, but it works well still. Definitely one of my favorites of the year still.
"I shall immediately after I'm done watching Homeland." - DirkDiggler on his voting priorities
One of my favourites of the year, and I think seeing it in a theatre helped create some of that impact -- being immersed in the visuals and the sound, that whole environment.
I remember my head hurt through most of it. I was constantly torn between my own knee-jerk reaction to what I was seeing (rescue that poor girl and get her out of there) and trying to see it all through her/their eyes as well. Being part of a community has great value, but at any cost? As Big Edie says: "No judgements here Jacqueline."
I watched it with friends who work continuity, sets and location scouting and we were impressed by those aspects especially. Nothing looked staged. Everything was the ultimate in broken down.
Like the best films I've seen this year, Beasts feels like an original. A one of a kind.
Join the party: http://twitter.com/Zuranthium
I adored this movie, and apparently, so did the President.
People Magazine interviewed the President and First Lady of the United States for their year end issue. When asked what his favorite films of 2012 were, the President had this to say:
People: A movie you loved so much the past year you’d see it again?
The President: Beasts of the Southern Wild was spectacular. We saw it with friends and my nieces, one of whom is only 4 years old, and it captivated all of them.
A shout out from the President is a pretty cool way to end an incredible, amazing, unforgettable year! So much to be thankful for as we head into 2013. Needless to say, we’ll never forget this moment.
Thank you all! And, thank you, Mr. President!
I was quite taken with this; so glad I finally got around to viewing it. Perhaps it's a little simplistic but it also traverses quite few themes (mortality, ecology, socioeconomic plight, coming-of-age, etc.) assuredly and with a great even-handedness. The balance of fantasy and reality is quite perfect.
Quvenzhané Wallis was wonderful!
This was my first movie of 2013!
It was quite good. I have my reservations about the deliberate preciousness of some of its elements, but I was pleased to find an original voice. It’s an odd movie, but unlike other odd movies I’ve seen this year (or last year), the oddness is needed to adopt a very interesting and not at all comfortable point of view that actually says something (without expressly saying it). Its view of a community of outcasts and their way of living isn’t condescending at all (like, say, Precious was) and is instead respectful, with a hint of admiration, but without any idealization either. If I was reminded of another director, it was of Kusturica and his way of portraying gypsy communities from the inside and without patronizing. Although it even, thankfully, lacks Kusturica’s apparently desperate need to ingratiate and be part of that community. Zeitlin’s approach is observant but not detached, respectful but not blasé, poetic, but with a poetry that seems raw, something that naturally springs from what happens and not artificially imposed by a white literate man’s idealization of that community.
It’s hard to make a movie with mythic/poetic resonances about these topics (a community living in semi-poverty and mild illiteracy being hit by a natural catastrophe) and not fall in those traps (idealization, patronizing, condescension, judging…) and it’s hard to keep a balance between a certain beauty (and the cinematography is gorgeous) and the realism. I don’t know, I was surprised by the difficult tone in which the movie is told and how well it’s sustained, and by what a complex, impossible to pin-down position it takes in front of its subject matter.
I’m however not very sure telling it, entirely, from the point of view of a child adds a lot, especially when they feel the need to make that child say precious things that feel more like an adult’s poetics about childhood views than actual childhood thoughts. What’s the point in using a child’s point of view if you’re putting in that child an adult’s thoughts? Now, yes, the contrast between the naiveté of Hushpuppy’s perception of her world and how the audience is going to perceive it is part of the point, sure, but Hushpuppy herself does little more than perceiving that world and expressing views about it in overly precious voiceover, and I was more engaged when the adults interacted and the camera took a less subjective approach, and just considered hushpuppy’s view instead of filtering everything through it.
As for Wallis, lol, I’ve discussed to death how children can give great performances and nobody can tell how much is coaxed by a director and how much is a child’s performance (same as for an adult), and I still maintain that, but I must say that Wallis doesn’t really perform much? I understand the “force of nature” talk, but I think it refers much more to an impressive, fascinating screen presence than to great acting. Basically, she spends the whole film with the same determined face, cautiously surprised by everything surrounding her and determined to fight it if it turns against her. Yes, she strikes that pose so well that her presence is enough to sustain the whole movie on that alone, but that’s all she has to do. Now, I’m not gonna begrudge her possible nomination, I think she truly is a find: the camera adores her and she has more screen presence than most seasoned stars, and she gives a natural performance in which she does perfectly what she’s asked to do. But she’s asked to do very little, and it does seem that, indeed, all Zeitlin had to do was to stage a weird world around her and film her striking, impossibly cute face reacting to it, and then edit if into a 90 minutes film.
Oh and erik has some splainin’ to do: talk about a film filmed entirely in close-ups with hand-held camera.