Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild

**This is part of my 2013 Academy Award Best Picture nominee series.  Also nominated for Best Actress,  Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.**


"An almost apocalyptic tale set right in our back yard, and yes, in this century. Poignant, original, heartbreaking, and worst of all, it is all really happening."

Beasts of the Southern Wild seemingly came out of nowhere this awards season.  For a few months last year, I had heard about it on news shows and saw its title pop up in articles online.  It may have been some time in December of 2012 when I finally saw the trailer.  I was still under the impression this was some National Geographic documentary taking place somewhere in Africa and then when I found out this amazing story is set less than 5 hours east of where I am sitting right now in Southeast Texas, I was stunned.  I am still stunned at the utter brilliance of how this movie is laid out.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a movie set in the southern most part of Louisiana in an area of the bayous called the Bathtub.  It focuses on a small group of people who still call the small island home.  I know now that it was the intention of the movie makers to make us, the audience, think we were going into a NatGeo documentary about a family on another continent, but it was so subtle and so sly that I have to give them a standing ovation.  The main human character would be Hushpuppy (played by, as of now, the youngest actress ever nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award, Quvenzhane Wallis) who also narrates the story of how she, her father, and a band of Bathtubians (my own choice word) are surviving extreme poverty and flooding of their low lying area.  Her father, known as Wink, is in failing health but refuses to leave the Bathtub and tries to encourage others to stay even when a major storm is about to hit their shanty town.

During all of this plight, more extreme than most of us can only imagine sitting in our warm (or cool) comfortable homes, Hushpuppy is learning, far too early, about courage and how far the human spirit, and human imagination, can take you in this life.  Quvenzhane Wallis is way ahead of her time in actual life also.    The nine-year old Houma, Louisiana native shines in this powerful role.  Much of the cast are, in fact, Louisiana residents.  Hushpuppy's father, Wink, is portrayed in a haunting performance by Dwight Henry, who owns a bakery in New Orleans's seventh ward. Now, the movie does get a little wabbly in the middle.  It seems to not know where it wants to go. However, it does quickly get back on track and ends up leaving you speechless.  The performances are powerful, the plot is uber original, yet frightening.  When you finally see Beasts of the Southern Wild, hopefully you will see Hushpuppy and her gang as less beast and more beauty.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

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