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Beasts of the Southern Wild

I’m going to write the skeleton for this post and come back to it in the morning, because I so did not notice it’s already 11:30. The Civic Theatre was oh so awesome and reminded me of the Orpheum, with its grandiosity and decoration and the general air of awesomeness.

Okay sorry but I need to go to bed. Sorry if people are reading this from Far, usually I’m pretty sloppy in here BECAUSE I CAN BE.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is going to be one of those movies that wins all the awards even people can’t quite say why. By means of describing it, I would say it will be a story that one day becomes fable. Set in the harsh reality of an impoverished bayou community, the viewer quickly finds beauty in this rich setting even if only thanks to the film’s charming narrator, 6-year-old Hushpuppy. She weaves magic into this gritty scene and helps the film to walk the line between fantasy and reality.

One of the best-told, tensest moments in the film was when Hushpuppy’s daddy came home in hospital scrubs with a patient bracelet around his wrist, angry and disoriented, and unable to answer Hushpuppy’s cries of concern for him. So she runs back to “her house” and turns on the stove burner as high as it can go, watching her pot of cat food and condensed milk start to smoke and hiss. She starts her house on fire and climbs under a cardboard box, and her narration tells of how she’s left her story behind for the scientists of the future, and it’ll tell them everything.
She and her daddy get out of the burning house just in time but she runs from him. When he strikes her in the woods she declares, “I hope you die! I hope you die, and when you die, Imma go to your grave and eat all the birthday cake by myself!” (best line of the movie, in my opinion).
It’s not just for that line I liked this scene. It just set an incredibly intense dynamic for the father and daughter relationship, because we see he’s vulnerable even if Hushpuppy doesn’t understand, and we see she cares for him but he doesn’t know how to let her.
This, too, is the scene that heralds in the tropical storm to which the rest of the movie responds.

The whole film is wrought with spine-tingling moments, scenes and images that brought my hand to my heart or over my mouth, and the kind of beauty that makes you cringe but doesn’t fail to take your breath away.

There are a few “hiccups” I can’t overlook, though. The theme of the “beasts,” which are huge physical boars reminiscent of “Princess Mononoke,” was not satisfyingly developed. Fernando and I were sort of guessing what they really meant to the film. While the point at the end when Hushpuppy turned to face them still gave me chills, I for all my literary analysis can’t quite sort out what they meant. They might have been a metaphor for Hushpuppy’s character, or for the weather, or for fortune…it’s ambiguous in a way that’s more annoying than helpful.

I had a pretty neat experience seeing this film, at the premiere show for the Auckland International Film Festival with my new Spaniard friend Fernando. The Civic theatre is on the corner of two major metropolitan roads, Queen and Wellesley. You reach it on foot, crossing huge intersections with swarms of people, and walk into an old-fashioned building that would have been much cooler if my European companion hadn’t been dissing my standards of old architecture :P.
The actual cinema, as pictured in this sample I found (no photography inside, we found out the hard way), is breathtaking. Reminding me of the Orpheum with its grandeur and decoration, I loved the Siamese-style pillars and of course the stars that lit up over our heads with drifting clouds. It made me feel like I was really at an event, coupled with the fact that the director of the festival opened with a speech for the premiere show. I really enjoyed it and I am so excited to have 2 more films to look forward to at the Civic!

2 thoughts on “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

  1. Okay…I tweeted about this movie ages ago!!!! I am so happy (and jealous) you got to see the showing! Wtf dood? That little girl can act, and the father is just fantastic (from what I gather in the trailer). I didn’t read the entire post, I don’t want you to ruin it for me. But I already know I love this movie.

    You have good taste, comrade.

    1. It is totally your thing. You would love it. Find it somewhere! And yes, the father might have made the whole film for me. I loved his vibe. Full of subtleties: you really had to watch him closely otherwise you’d miss his whole point.

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