By Kevin Kelly (reprinted from 2/2/2010 — Sundance Film Festival)“Redneck” or “country noir” isn’t anything new. Just look at Blood Simple and No Country For Old Men as examples. But when you replace the grizzled detective or outdated lawman with a 17-year-old girl trying to take care of her family, that’s where things swing wildly off course in Winter’s Bone. Jennifer Lawrence previously impressed in Lori Petty’s autobiographical film The Poker House, and she turns in an incredibly powerful performance in this movie, directed by Debra Granik and based on Daniel Woodrell’s novel of the same name, that explores the dark nature of family and secrets in the Ozark Mountains. It won both the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic category and the Waldo Salt screenwriting award, and is well-deserving of both.
Ree Dolly (Lawrence) is busy trying to take care of her younger brother and sister, her nearly catatonic mother, and a bevy of stray cats and dogs in a ramshackle cabin out in the boondocks when she’s visited by the sheriff who has some unsettling news: Her father has put up both the land and the house for his bond for cooking crystal meth, and if he doesn’t show up for his court date, they’ll lose everything. So Ree has to find him before the law does, or before some of the other unsavory characters that live in this no man’s land.
Ree goes to family members for initial help, but when Uncle “Teardrop” (John Hawkes) warns her off, she knows this isn’t going to be easy. Of course she doesn’t leave well enough alone (how can she?), and the deeper she digs, the more dangerous it gets. She’s threatened with violence for trying to talk to “Thump,” and when she doesn’t listen things turn violent. It doesn’t matter to Thump or his circle that Ree is family, however distant, and the audience quickly learns that life out here is all about keeping secrets. Blood may be thicker than water, but the almighty dollar trumps them both.
Ree has no one to turn to, save for one friend with a baby who has to beg her husband for his truck to give Ree a ride. Her brother and sister are too young to understand, her mother can’t help, and everyone else including the law is searching for her father. It’s a hopeless situation, exacerbated by the fact that they have no money, hardly any food, and no relief in sight. Ree’s backup plan is to join the Army to receive a $40,000 stipend, but she quickly finds out that might not come for months, and that she can’t bring her siblings with her, let alone take care of her mother.
In spite of all this, and with the only option left to sell the land and the woods to the lumber companies, Ree grits her teeth and presses on. She’s the very definition of defiance and perseverance, and Lawrence captures that perfectly in a performance that is full of rage, sensitivity, love, and hatred. The thought of moving her family somewhere else isn’t even a question, and they’re too proud to beg. As she admonishes her younger brother of, “Don’t ask for what should be offered.”
This is by no means an action-packed film. It’s slow, methodical, and it steeps itself in the world-weary existence that Ree and her family are stuck in. It’s not a sympathetic film either, where you’re just wishing and hoping that Ree could somehow escape this life and move on to something better. Ree is an Ozark girl, through and through, and she puts family above all else, even when it puts herself in peril. There are some extremely grisly moments to be found here, but the most horrifying ones are realizing that for a whole group of Americans, this is just everyday life.
Archive for the ‘MOVIES’ Category
This is Memorial Day weekend – when we should remember and honor the soldiers, marines and sailors who have died serving in defense of the United States of America and other countries. So I thought it would be appropriate to put together a list of classic war movies to commemorate the holiday…
This is by no means a complete list, just some favorites of mine and the writers here at Screen Rant that came to mind and have made an impact on us – We’ve also added films that were recommended by our readers in the past as fine examples of this genre. Feel free to add your favorites and nudge my memory over any obvious ones I may have forgotten in the comments below.
Casablanca (1942) – Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman, a classic if there ever was one: Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II, an American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications – and woe unto anyone who thinks of doing a remake of this film!
Flying Tigers (1942) – John Wayne leads a band of American Mercenaries called upon by China to help fight the Japanese two years before Pearl Harbour.
Midway (1976) – All star “real men” cast: Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn and Robert Mitchum in dramatization of the battle that turned out to be the turning point of the Pacific Theatre of World War II.
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) – John Wayne stars in this version of the battle of Iwo Jima.
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) – William Holden and Alec Guiness (yes, Obi-Wan) in a story about a British colonel who co-operates with the Japanese to oversee his men’s construction of a railway bridge for their captors – while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
The Caine Mutiny (1954) – Humphrey Bogart in an unusual role as a US Naval captain who shows signs of mental instability that jeopardizes his ship, causing his first officer to relieve him of command and face court martial for mutiny.
The Dirty Dozen (1967) – This AWESOME fictional story of a US Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers in World War II stars Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, George Kennedy, Telly Savalas and other fantastic actors.
Flying Leathernecks (1951) – John Wayne leads “The Wildcats” squadron into the historic WWII battle of Guadalcanal.
From Here to Eternity (1953) – Another star-studded classic with Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra. A private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit’s team, while his captain’s wife and second in command are falling in love.
The Great Escape (1963) – Another “must see” WWII film. It stars Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence and James Coburn as members of several hundred Allied POWs who plan a mass escape from a German POW camp.
Mister Roberts (1955) – Henry Fonda was brilliant in this film starring alongside James Cagney and a very funny Jack Lemmon won an Oscar for his role in this WWII semi-comedy.
Patton (1970) – Probably the crown jewel of George C. Scott’s acting career where he portrays the most famous U.S. General, ever. The film earned 7 Oscars including Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture (back in the day when the Oscars actually meant something).
Stalag 17 (1953) -Directed by Billy Wilder and starring William Holden, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss and Peter Graves. When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer.
Where Eagles Dare (1968) – Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood as allied agents who stage a daring raid on a castle where the Nazis are holding an American General prisoner… but that’s not all that’s really going on.
Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) – Directed by Robert Wise, starring Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden and Don Rickles (yes, THAT Don Rickles) about a U.S. sub commander, obsessed with sinking a certain Japanese ship, butts heads with his first officer and crew.
The Guns of Navarone (1961) – Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn: A British team is sent to cross occupied Greek territory and destroy the massive German gun emplacement that commands a key sea channel.
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) – A dramatization of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the series of American blunders that allowed it to happen.
Saving Private Ryan (1998) – A true Memorial Day film, it honors the spirit and soul of military men on the hunt for Private James Ryan, whose brothers were killed in action. The opening minutes of Steven Spielberg’s WWII film represent war in one of the most realistic settings every seen on screen.
Band of Brothers (2001) – Technically, not a movie, but brotherhood has never been so brilliant displayed on film or television. The core of what makes military men a true squadron is explored by the HBO miniseries that follows a squad brought closer by war.
Sergeant York (1941) – Based on the true story of Alvin C. York, the pacifist farm boy who turns into a WWII war hero, this movie is the very epitome of the word hero. Gary Cooper delivers what very well could be, in my opinion, his best performance ever in this film. The “turkey shoot” scene of York in the trenches taking out all the Nazi soldiers is in my top 5 all time scenes from a war movie. If you have not had the pleasure of watching this film, it should definitely be on your to-do list.
Other films that have been recommended to me as fine World War II films include:
- The Enemy Below
- The Hunters
- Objective: Burma!
- The Eagle Has Landed
- Sink the Bizmark
- The Longest Day
- To Hell and Back
- They Were Expendable
- North Star
- Catch 22
- Action in the North Atlantic
- God is my Co-Pilot
- Guadalcanal Diary 30 Seconds over Tokyo
- The Fighting Sullivans
- Mrs.Miniver Wake Island
- Air Force
- Kelly’s Heroes
And yes, I think Schindler’s List is a very powerful film and the man it was based on was incredibly heroic, but I focused on films about the military in memory of those who served and died.
What are your favorites? What do you think should be on this list?
From seeing this latest trailer I have to say I am totally looking forward th this movie. The FX and Cinematography look incredible. It’s nice to see M. NIght do something else. He needs a hit since his films haven’t done so well in the past. Hope the acting is as good as it looks but I have my doubts. Too bad they didn’t do this 5yrs ago because Boo Boo Stewart would have been perfect for this role…
Movie review: ‘Kick-Ass’
“Kick-Ass” is the movie our parents warned us about, the movie you don’t want your children to see. A highly seductive enterprise that’s equal parts disturbing and enticing, it will leave you speechless because its characters — especially a 12-year-old virtuoso of violence named Hit Girl — are anything but.
This shrewd mixture of slick comic-book mayhem, unmistakable sweetness and ear-splitting profanity is poised to be a popular culture phenomenon because of its exact sense of the fantasies of the young male fanboy population. Directed by Matthew Vaughn and written by Jane Goldman and Vaughn, this comic-book-come-to-life was not just based on a book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., but made at the same time the original comic was being created.
“I never understood why nobody did it before me,” says teenage protagonist Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) in the voice-over that starts things off. What “it” is in this case is making the decision to present yourself as a superhero even though, as the young man says, “my only superpower was being invisible to girls.”
So it’s more than the desire to “put on a mask and help people” that turns Dave into Kick-Ass, an earnest young crime fighter in an odd-looking wetsuit. He wants to impress the opposite sex, especially fetching classmate Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca), who at first doesn’t notice him and then comes to believe he’s gay.
We’ve seen this kind of high school bildungsroman, including the currently mandatory references to masturbation, more times than anyone can count, but here the scenario is helped by the genuinely likable nature of the leads and by the fact that the romance provides an appealing backdrop that the more unnerving aspects of the film play out against.
It’s not by accident that it’s rated R for, among other things, “strong brutal violence throughout (and) pervasive language.” For after events conspire to make Kick-Ass an Internet phenomenon who ends up fighting all kinds of crime, the bad guys take notice and strike back.
Led by drug kingpin Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and his son Chris, soon to be Kick-Ass’ nemesis Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the hooligans and the good guys mix it up in an ultra-violent “Kill Bill” kind of way. As zestily orchestrated by director Vaughn, who did similar work on his earlier “Layer Cake,” this is the kind of cartoonish violence, choreographed to upbeat music, that’s come to define modern action movie culture.
What makes “Kick-Ass” different is that a father-and-daughter team known as Big Daddy and Hit Girl are going the vigilante route at the same time as our hero. They’re played by Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz in a way that already wound people up when the film opened in Britain at the end of March.
Big Daddy (real name Damon Macready) loves his daughter (real name Mindy), but for reasons of his own he has turned her into a pint-size, profanity-spewing killing machine in a purple wig and pleated skirt. Her language is so astonishingly crude that it has taken people’s attention away from all the killing she does, which is mind-boggling as well.
Yet at the same time as we’re unnerved by someone so young acting this way, what makes this film so intriguing is that, largely due to the terrific spirit and skill of young actress Moretz, if you are any kind of action film fan it’s difficult to deny the live-wire pulp energy that plays out on screen. It’s as if all the arguments about these hyper-violent films — why they are so popular, what they have done to our culture — are open for business in one convenient location. It may or may not be the end of civilization as we know it, but “Kick-Ass” certainly is Exhibit A of the here and now.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
Paramount has released new images from their upcoming summer films Iron Man 2 (May 7th), Shrek Forever After (May 21st), The Last Airbender (July 2nd)
Click on an image to see it in high resolution.
Iron Man 2
Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present the highly anticipated sequel to the blockbuster film based on the legendary Marvel Super Hero “Iron Man,” reuniting director Jon Favreau and Oscar® nominee Robert Downey Jr. In “Iron Man 2,” the world is aware that billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is the armored Super Hero Iron Man. Under pressure from the government, the press and the public to share his technology with the military, Tony is unwilling to divulge the secrets behind the Iron Man armor because he fears the information will slip into the wrong hands. With Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, Tony forges new alliances and confronts powerful new forces.
The Last Airbender
Air, Water, Earth, Fire. Four nations tied by destiny when the Fire Nation launches a brutal war against the others. A century has passed with no hope in sight to change the path of this destruction. Caught between combat and courage, Aang (Noah Ringer) discovers he is the lone Avatar with the power to manipulate all four elements. Aang teams with Katara (Nicola Peltz), a Waterbender, and her brother, Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), to restore balance to their war-torn world.
Definitely a different film. Gotta love the Director Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo, Chop Shop and Man Push Cart) having the balls to do something like this..I have watched Chop Shop and Man Push Cart and enjoyed Chop Shop more. Man Push Cart was just like Groundhog Day but not as funny. Need to watch Goodbye Solo. Red West is an old friend, glad to see him working.
Cool video that shows real action scenes with robotics that look so real. Just goes to show how far we can go in film…
Philips has just released Carl Erik Rinsch’s futuristic action thriller short film The Gift, which is about a robotic manservant who flees the police. Rinsch is not only Ridley Scott’s protege, but also a commercial director for Scott’s company RSA.