About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WINTER'S BONE

Winter's Bone is a well-crafted well-acted film, the Frozen River of 2010, and I can recommend for that which is good about the film. But it also has one gaping problem, which is that the premise of the movie doesn't work for me at all.

The film is set in the Ozarks. Now, I readily admit to knowing nothing about the Ozarks, not in 2010 or 1990 or in any year you choose. I know there are backwoods parts of the US like Appalachia and maybe the Ozarks are like that but worse. The film doesn't just postulate the backwardness of economy, though. Its version of the Ozarks is a heavily clan-based version of seeming in-breeds with no ambition for better to be found where everyone answers to big daddy hidden atop like the old man of the mountain. And maybe that's true, maybe it isn't. I could buy the vision of the society.

In this society we have a man whose put up his house and property for a bail bond and is now gone missing. His 17 year old daughter, two younger children, and a mentally damaged mother will all be homeless if he doesn't show and the bond gets lost. The 17 year old sets out to find her pa.

There are clearly a lot of people in the area who know where he is or what happened to him. None of them want to talk, none of them want the daughter digging around.

And maybe I can buy that.

But...

All of these people, these members of the extended family, they're none of them giving her any good alternatives to digging around. The crazy cousin will take the teenage son. This one will give a dollar or two, nowhere near enough to compensate for loss of a home. If the community is as familial as the movie requires they have to be willing to help out a little more than this, can't just say "don't go digging around and ain't that a shame you'll be tossed on the street.". There's an inherent contradiction in the world building.

So I could admire the acting -- the performance by as the daughter is stunningly good -- and the atmosphere and the photography and the mise en scene and the unity of the directorial vision and so much else. But all of that in service of a world where the characters should be behaving in a way that would keep the film from existing.

I saw Winter's Bone on Saturday evening June 19, 2010 at Clearview's First & 62nd St., Aud. #5.

And now does the world really need another contribution on the McChrystal situation? There's stupid and there's stupid, and the stupidity would be a firable offense if nothing else was. Alas, we're still going to have time winning a war that requires winning the hearts and minds of a bunch of illiterates. And I don't say that just to be sarcastic. Literacy rates in Afghanistan are about as small as you can get. It's kind of a challenge to have illiterate police, illiterate army, to form some entrepeneurial middle class that might help better to fight back against the corruption, and so forth. "The Duke encourages all his troops to read and white" is a quote from the Sheepfarmer's Daughter audio I'm sampling which emerged at the very moment I typed the last sentence.

1 comment:

Maria said...

I dunno. Extended family (and even regular family) can be less supportive than a total stranger sometimes...


Waiting for your tennis report. Came over here certain you'd have comments on the longest match! I'm not a tennis watcher, but of course that caught my attention. Just unbelievable.