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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild; Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life; Movie 43 ; Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s; and White House Down

Beasts of the Southern Wild   2012   93 minutes   Hushpuppy, a girl of about 8 or 9, and her father live in a Cajun community in the Mississippi delta called “The Bathtub.”  The beasts of the title are aurochs that she sees when things are going wrong. In her community it’s primitive, almost subsistence living in a black and white community where no one seems to notice race.  Instead they all struggle together to feed themselves and to maintain their autonomy from the modern world on the other side of the levee.  Hushpuppy’s mama is dead or gone and her father is ill.  Then the hurricane comes.  Many flee but many of those who stay survive the storm and try to recover.  The land is ruined by salt water and everything begins to die.  The authorities come and forcibly relocate the community.  Hushpuppy’s father is hospitalized and his prognosis is not good.  They all escape and return to the delta.  Hushpuppy’s father comes too to die in his home among his friends.  This is a movie about a lot of things but mainly about what’s going on in Hushpuppy’s head.  It is an amazing performance for a child actor as she comes to terms with loss of her parents, her home and her whole way of life.
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life   2010   122 minutes   This is a biopic.  Here’s the first paragraph of the Wiki article on his life: “ Serge Gainsbourg (born Lucien Ginsburg), 2 April 1928 – 2 March 1991, was a French singer, songwriter, poet, composer, artist, actor and director.  Regarded as one of the most important figures in French popular music, he was renowned for his often provocative and scandalous releases, as well as his diverse artistic output, which embodied genres ranging from Jazz, mambo, world,  chanson, pop and ye-ye to  rock and roll, progressive rock, reggae, disco and electronic.  Gainsbourg's varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize although his legacy has been firmly established and he is often regarded as one of the world's most influential popular musicians.”  The film starts with Lucien and his parents living in Nazi occupied Paris.  He is a difficult but talented boy who draws and learns the piano under the guidance of his father who supports the family by playing in bars.  That segment is soon over.  They survive, and we next meet Lucien as he begins his career as a painter, singer and songwriter.  He is often seen with an imaginary alter ego who is a caricature of himself with huge ears, long fingers and an even longer nose.  He calls him his “mug,” and the relationship is difficult.  The film follows Lucien through a career which brings great success, an interlude with Juliette Greco, an affair with Bridget Bardot, marriage and divorce and so many cigarettes that you wonder how he lived as long as he did. 
Movie 43   2013  94 minutes   This is a series of sketches, most of them with well known stars like Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, and almost everyone you never heard of.  It was sort of funny at times.  In the first sketch, Hugh Jackman meets Kate Winslet for a blind date.  He has testicles growing out of his neck, but no one notices this except Winslet.  From there things go from bad to worse.  The movie is a monument to bad taste, and if I hadn’t seen a few roasts on the Comedy Channel, I would be surprised that the actors agreed to be part of it.
Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s   2013  93 minutes   I had a only vague idea of what Bergdorf’s is, but skipping through this film made it pretty clear.  It seems to be a haven for the very rich and somewhat famous and a good place to launch a career as a designer.  I didn’t spend a lot of time with it.
White House Down   2013  137 minutes   It took a few minutes to get all the players in position, but once a paramilitary group began its takeover of the White House with help from a Secret Service officer, this was all action.  John Cale, an Iraqi vet and Capitol policeman, is in the White house with his daughter for a job interview when all hell breaks loose.  They get separated, and both play major roles in foiling the attack and protecting the President.  This is as complicated a shoot‘em up as you are ever likely to see.

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