Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 57: Winter’s Bone (2010)

R, 1 hr. 40 min. Directed by: Debra Granik. Release Date: June 11, 2010. DVD Release Date: October 26, 2010.

Today was one of those days where I struggled to get in my review for the day within the 12:01am to 11:59pm guidelines that I set for myself (without using the cheat that's built-in for me because Blogspot's clock is three hours behind my actual time). Every year, or every year since 2006, AMC theaters around the nation prepare for the upcoming Academy Awards by showing all those movies selected for Best Picture for that year in a marathon of truly epic proportions. I've gone to this event every year except for 2006 and 2008, when the AMC at Easton in Columbus (Ohio) sold out of tickets. It's a long day, especially since I start and end it with a two-hour drive, but I never fail to firmly select my favorites for each year: Atonement (2007), Avatar (2009), and The King's Speech (2010). I got a bit boned (no pun intended) this year, because in response to the increase of nominees from 5 films to 10, the AMC now holds TWO days where the films are split. Unfortunately, the only date I was able to make was February 26, and Winter's Bone was the only film on the list that I hadn't seen… so I had a long, dark hole while I sat through Inception and The Social Network for yet another run (yawn). Now that I've gone through this long day, 127 Hours and Toy Story 3 as the only Best Picture nominees that I haven't seen, and I still feel strong about my choice of The King's Speech as this year's film to beat.

Mostly, this reminded me a lot of No Country For Old Men. The rural setting, everybody engaged in illicit activities in their struggle for basic survival. This is tough and gritty… and a bit sad. You can't help but feel sorry for the lead. At 17, she's caring for two children, only one of them close to being able to care for himself, Old MacDonald's farm, and a mentally ill mother in what appears to be a log cabin with little in the way of modern conveniences. The majority of their food comes to them in the form of charity from a caring and considerate neighbor and the rest is substituted by living on the land in the roughest sense. In other ways, the setting of this movie reminded me more than a little of the rural area in which I currently live. Socially for sure, there were common factors: lots of people doing what they do to avoid censure or gossip, other people gossiping and not realizing how it impacts the folks they're talking about.

Unfortunately, this is pretty dismal. It's long and slow, despite the appealing characters. When the story finally starts to rev up, and the mystery begins to unwrap, the movie picks up a bit, but you're not in for a thrill ride. If you're looking for eye candy, you won't find it here. This may be the only movie I've ever seen where there wasn't a single pretty person involved. Technically, I thought this was a great movie, but it wasn't something I really enjoyed. I understand why it's up for the Academy Award, but I'm still leaning towards King's Speech. The cast is fantastic, even if two thirds of them (men and women) look a bit like Rip Torn. The setting is bleak and off-putting, filled with imagery that manages to both fascinate and disturb.

For a first movie of my only five movie day a year, this was a great start. I was fresh enough that I wasn't ready to walk out of the theater and my butt didn't hurt from sitting for ten hours. I still think that's what turned me against No Country, because it was the last film showed on the 2007 Best Picture Showcase… and quite frankly, I was seriously considering suicide by straw if it would have gotten me home.