Oscar, Remember Hushpuppy — A Little Beast

I know the week is just beginning, but I’m already looking forward to the weekend.  In addition to taking down the four Christmas trees, Ray and I are having a double theater movie experience:  “Zero Dark Thirty” Friday night and “Les Miserables” Saturday.

If you decide to rent movies, I have some suggestions and by this weekend, one or two of them could be Oscar nominees.  I’ll review them first.

“BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD”

This is that little movie that could.  Although I’ve been wanting to see it since it was released last summer, I was a little skeptical of the buzz surrounding the 9-year-old star of the movie (she was six at the time the movie was filmed).  My fears were unfounded.  I hope when the Academy Awards make the announcements Thursday morning that Quvenzhane Wallis becomes the youngest Best Actress nominee.

Her performance as Hushpuppy, a dirt poor girl raised in the Louisiana bayou called “the bathtub” that is cut off from the rest of the world by a levee, is breath-taking.  You can’t turn away from her.

We see little Hushpuppy as she deals with her dying father.  We see her and the other kids being taught about survival and about extinct large beasts released from the melting ice caps.  We see those ice caps crash into the water below as a hurricane swallows Hushpuppy and her dad’s derelict “homes”.  The flood waters from the hurricane force Hushpuppy, her dad, Wink, and some others into a makeshift boat.

Creatures in and around “the bathtub” start dying out from the flood waters and the poor water quality and we watch the survivors as they try to devise a way to save their pathetic livelihood and keep from being forced into a shelter in a mandatory evacuation.

As poor as I thought I was, as a child, living in a bug-infested, five-room apartment, I’ll never think I had it bad again.  Seeing Hushpuppy in “the bathtub” and knowing that she didn’t know there was a real world outside of her “bathtub” makes me realize how good I have it in life.

The movie is heartbreaking and a must see.  You’ll smile and you’ll want to cry when Wallis exclaims, “once there was a Hushpuppy and she lived with her Daddy in the bathtub”!

GRADE:  A

‘BERNIE”

I’ll get this out-of-the-way right now.  I’ve never been a fan of Jack Black and I’ve avoided movies that I wanted to see because he’s in them (“The Holiday”).  Now, I may have to check it out.

Black has already been nominated for a Golden Globe award for this movie and there is even Oscar buzz.  I don’t think that will happen because of the competitive Best Actor field this year.

Black plays Bernie Tiede, an assistant mortician in the small town of Carthage, Texas.  He is beloved by everyone in the community for his compassion and generosity.  He is especially loved by the little old ladies.  After they lose their husbands, he goes out of his way to follow-up to make sure they are doing well.

He does this with Marjorie Nugent, a cold, mean woman who’s even avoided by and sued by her own family.  The two become very close and are inseparable as they travel the world together.  Bernie even cuts back on his job to become Marjorie’s servant and right-hand man.

However, that’s when he really begins to see Marjorie’s nasty behavior.  When the elderly woman disappears from public, her accountant and family members become concerned.

Since this is based on true events, you can find out what happened to Marjorie.  And, that’s where the movie starts to drag and lose steam.

Most of the movie as we’re getting to know Bernie shows just how good of an actor and singer Jack Black is.  Shirley MacClaine is great in her role, which I saw as a continuation of her role as “Ouiser” Boudreaux in “Steel Magnolias” from 1989.  And, the “man on the street” interviews of locals are hilarious.

If you think of Black as a movie buffoon, you need to see this stellar performance.

GRADE:  B

“WEEKEND”

This was my favorite movie that I saw in 2012.  While I saw it back in the fall, I’m including it now because I never reviewed it and because I’m going to watch it again this week.

It tells the story of how Russell and Glen (played by newcomers Tom Cullen and Chris New) spent one weekend in Nottingham.

The story is a familiar one — the two meet at a bar and end up having sex.  The next morning over coffee, Glen asks Russell to speak into a tape recorder about how he remembers the alcohol and drug enhanced encounter for an art project he is working on.  After Glen leaves, Russell writes about his night, something he does after each time he meets someone and spends time with them.  Later in the weekend, he shares some of his writings with Glen.

Later that day, the couple spend the afternoon together and talk about their views on relationships and share stories about people who have made an impression in their life.  Glen informs Russell that he’s leaving for two years to study art in the United States and that’s he’s having a going away party that night.  At the party, one of Glen’s friends tells Russell that Glen always lets her listen to the tapes, but he didn’t let her listen to Russell’s tape.

The couple spends the rest of the weekend together with plenty of sex and some illicit drugs mixed in as they debate and argue over whether they could be happy as a couple and being “out” and how it’s different in England and America.

As the movie concludes, Glen is at the train station and Russell is at a birthday party for his friend’s little girl and his friend asks him what’s wrong.  Russell tells him about his weekend with Glen and that Glen is leaving.  Jamie, the friend, drives Russell to the train station and I won’t say what happens then!

Both actors, Cullen and New, are riveting and charming in their performance.  Despite their flaws and the drugs, you like both of them and it doesn’t hurt that they are cute.  You could definitely see yourself falling for either of them.  How compelling is this movie?  I just teared up watching the trailer again as I was writing this.  🙂

While this is a gay movie, it won several film festival awards and made many Top Ten lists in the mainstream media.

GRADE:  A+

“10 YEARS”

This overlooked comedy starring “People” magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” Channing Tatum is pretty much boring and awkward.

Channing is hot in “Magic Mike” and hilarious in “21 Jump Street”, but he is neither in this movie.

The movie follows a group of friends getting together for their ten-year class reunion.  The movie stars several well-known people like Justin Long and Chris Pratt, along with Tatum and his real-life wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, and many others.

Pratt’s character, Cully, is a frumpy, obnoxious family man who spends all of the reunion trying to make amends to the high school classmates he was a jerk, too.  You realize he hasn’t changed in the past ten years.

Tatum’s storyline is mildly entertaining, but his wife (girlfriend in the movie) is pretty to look at, while he isn’t.  Let’s just say that the past ten years haven’t been great to his body in this movie and since this movie was shot before “Magic Mike”, he really had to get into shape!

The only story line that I was invested in was Elisa (Kate Mara), a woman who hid away in high school and didn’t socialize with her classmates, and Reeves (Oscar Isaac), a musician, who was the one person that did notice her from afar.  She made enough of an impression that he wrote a song about her, “Never Had”, that made him famous.  I enjoyed their story line.

“10 Years” might be a movie you’ll enjoy.  For me, it dragged for the first 45 minutes to an hour.  The last half of the movie picked up, so it raises my grade some.

I know high school reunions can be awkward (I never went to any of mine if we had any), but I didn’t miss much if this is how they look.

GRADE:  C

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Lisa Taylor on January 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I absolutely loved “beast of the southern wild”, I am a very emotional person anyway, and I cried several times, and laughed at the strength of Hushpuppy!!! Les Mis is my other favorite of the year, so for me it is such a toss up between these two!! I just can’t decide! What to do, however I would like to see Weekend as well now. Thank you for the tip on that movie for sure. Have a Great 2013.

    Reply

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