Posts Tagged ‘Winter’s Bone’

Movie Night: “The Hunger Games”

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I haven’t read any of the novels in Suzanne Collins’ series, but when something becomes a popular culture phenomenon the way the newly released movie has, I need to see what it’s all about.

So I went to my local multiplex tonight and had a look.

First of all, I loved being transported into the world that Collins and the filmmakers created – a time and place in the future that seemed like a sinister version of Oz. Great costumes and makeup.

Jennifer Lawrence, who was so wonderful in “Winter’s Bone,” plays a young woman with similar backbone and strength. She basically carries the movie, although I adored Stanley Tucci as the over-the-top host of the “games.”

Was I captivated? No. I found myself glancing at my watch every time Lawrence’s character ran through the woods (which she does a lot). And there wasn’t really any suspense, given that we know she’ll be back for the sequels. Still, there were affecting moments between her and the younger sister, as well as with the girl who plays her ally in the woods.

What I didn’t get was any sense of star-crossed lovers – the concept that makes the “Twilight” series so popular. There was so little chemistry between Lawrence and the guy who plays her fellow contestant that it was hard to root for him at all.

I did love the soundtrack, if that counts. And some of the action scenes were really well done.

I guess I’m not the demographic for this movie, although the theater was full of geezers like me.

 

 

Movie Sunday: “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

That’s a lot of “M” names, isn’t it? (I keep calling the film “Martha etc.”) Strange title or not, it’s an indie that’s been the talk of the festival circuit, winning the Best Director prize at Sundance and being chosen for Cannes, Toronto and New York. Today it had its turn in Santa Barbara.

Trailer here.

I didn’t love it. The story of a young woman who escapes from a cult to live with her sister and brother-in-law, it does a beautiful job of asking what is memory and what is a dream and what is reality. And the performances are uniformly great. But the ending (*** SPOILER ALERT ***) made me so angry. I get that it’s supposed to be ambiguous and let us decide what it all means. And, according to the director, who came today for a Q&A, the subject is too complex to be “buttoned up neatly” at the end. Give me a break. We all sat there through some difficult scenes (i.e. the flashbacks of the main character being abused while living with the cult) and we deserved a payoff in the last scene.

I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, judging by the mass exodus as the credits rolled. I stayed for the Q&A, because the producer and director made the trip up from LA, along with the amazing actor who played the cult leader, John Hawke (nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Winter’s Bone”). I wanted to be polite. And there was a private reception afterward with yummy food, courtesy of the Simpson House Inn – no small lure.

At the reception I talked to Hawke and, unlike the slimy characters he plays, he couldn’t be sweeter or more appealing. Just a really nice guy. But even he acknowledged that the film belongs to newcomer Elizabeth Olsen. Yes, she’s the younger and more full-bodied sister of the skeletal Olsen Twins.

Photo: AP

“Martha, etc” was her first film and yet she seemed totally comfortable in front of the camera. Her accomplishment was all the more impressive because she was shooting another movie at the same time this one was being shot and would commute back and forth between the two. The buzz is she’s the indie world’s new “It” girl, but we’ll see. Suffice it to say she’s very, very good in this one.

 

 

 

Oscar Countdown Part 4

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

With the expansion of the Best Picture category to 10 films (I’d like to see them go back to 5, but that’s for another post), it’s easy to overlook the movie “Winter’s Bone.” No mega-budget. No “A”-list stars. And definitely not a warm-and-fuzzy story.

Based on Dan Woodrell’s dark and twisty novel, “Winter’s Bone” is about a young girl who must go in search of her meth-dealing father in order to hold on to her family home. Jennifer Lawrence is utterly compelling as the film’s centerpiece, but it’s the setting – the oh-so-grim Ozarks – that steals the show. Talk about stepping into a place you’d rather not visit. Still, there are real places like the one depicted in the movie; they exist and they’re right here in the good old U.S. – places where people like Jennifer Lawrence’s character struggle to put food on the table every day.

I first heard about “Winter’s Bone” from my literary agent, who represents Woodrell too. She told me his book had been optioned and that the film was actually getting produced – AND that it was being screened at Sundance. Not only did it make it to Sundance but it won the festival’s top prize, so I couldn’t wait to see it. Michael and I went the day it opened. Despite his affection for “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network,” “Winter’s Bone” was his favorite movie of the year, hands down.

Here’s a piece from today’s Huffington Post reminding us just how good “Winter’s Bone” is. If you haven’t seen it, see it!