regional delight

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a few weeks back, i had the unexpected pleasure of seeing a small film that was a big surprise. it’s an independent effort made in southern missouri. a small story with a big impact- at least on me. the tale is distinctly american. a local southern ozark girl is running the household she lives in. she’s 17 and she is the main caretaker for her younger sister and brother as well as a mother that has checked out from life from all we can tell. the mother’s still living, but has emotionally vanished from the responsibility pool. her father, a career meth cooker, has been in and out of prison/jail and is currently out on bond. our heroine is completely at home in this environment- it’s all she knows, but she hasn’t fallen pray to it’s lifestyle. she remains focused and sober, coveting dreams of her own.  a sheriff stops by to inform our heroine that her beloved daddy has put the house she and her family are living in up for bond, and if he doesn’t show for court, they will be homeless.

this sets the stage for her search to find her father and talk some sense into him. after all, she has been diligently and dutifully taking care of the family, leaving him to pursue the work of his dreams. she too though, has dreams of her own. she wants to join the army and get a break from the uninvited burden of raising a family. besides, she wants to get as far from the poverty ridden ozarks as she possibly can.

this lead-in starts the journey of the daughter visiting the local mountain community- all seeped in the meth culture. relatives, friends, and strangers all carry a distinct local flavor and the film has an undeniably intimate and local vibe. my senses felt caressed and nourished after watching this film. the sets are as barren and bleak as a dry mountain winter’s day. there are no special effects besides the quiet that two actors speaking no lines can produce.

do yourself a favor… make a decided effort to see this film… chilling story… quietly vast performances….  winter’s bone… directed by debra granik

lisbeth salander

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photo reposted from
Salander is a cartoonish super-hero, and if something bad happens to her — she is sexually violated — she more than gets back at the perpetrator. Her complete distrust of the authorities is also an interesting character-trait: this is a book where the police are largely kept out of it, even at points where they should obviously be called in. But Larsson does not seem to have much patience for bureaucratic approaches to law and order (or almost anything to do with government).

my heroine du jour has got to be lisbeth from “the girl with the dragon tattoo. she was the force behind the film and brought into the 21st century the spirit of “i spit on your grave” with her revenge segment of the film. she took a more than her share of pain and bullshit and channeled her anger into some revenge that was forceful, fearless, and unforgettable.

certainly there are parts of me that long for forgiveness and loving kindness applied to every aspect of my life. in my head, i understand that this kind of thinking is the destination i need to reach. however, i am still working towards it and i find myself relating to and almost reveling in the idea of an eye for an eye- of which the film has its share. of course i realize that this sort of revenge is out of my grasp, nor would i have the where-with-all to conjur it to life. but i must admit a very very guilty pleasure in watching and imagining. the very essence of film.

i am fairly well versed at this ripe age in reading subtitles and watching a film and this one offered no surprises in that regard.i somehow respect anything that requires my attention.  it is filmed in non-hd, in native swedish language, and without many special effects at all. yet i find it one of the more engaging films i have seen this year.

so read the books, damn it!

touching home

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photo credit …

Last Friday, i was invited to see a small independent film that was written, directed, and starred in by twin brothers Logan and Noah Miller. They grew up in Marin County California with the burden of their father being an alcoholic- well a drunk, really. They found refuge playing baseball and entertained the idea of having careers in professional baseball. Those dreams were crushed along with others. This reality can be devastating to any child, but maybe because there were two of these guys, or maybe because their father loved them in spite of his illness, they have managed to emerge from their situations with dreams and drive in tact it would seem.

The brothers also attended the film showing and participated in a Q & A afterward. I got the sense that this had been a real journey for these guys. The process of creating a film had most definitely been a labor of love and of exorcising demons. They discussed their father with compassion and respect, no doubt in spite of the years of let downs, broken promises, breached boundaries, and squelched dreams. Perhaps that upbringing trained them in a way for the grueling task of writing a screenplay, securing actors, funding, locations, financing, and distribution.

And they have accomplished something that so so many young persons (and otherwise) have dreamed to do since the onset of moving pictures. They have completed a film and delivered an honest and intimate picture of living and loving someone with addiction. The performances (including the twins’) are understated, believable, and compelling. It was frequent for me to forget that I wasn’t watching the story of someone I knew. Ed Harris, Brad Dourf, and Robert Forster make up the cast majority besided the brothers playing themselves. This is a quiet film, but has a lot to say during the pauses.

I went with a friend, both of us being in recovery. My friend seemed frustrated because the story wasn’t more about the father. But for me, this reminded me of what I have learned all during my recovery, It’s not always about me. This story is about the peripheral and collateral impact that alcholism can and does have on the people who live with and love persons who are afflicted.

I would recommend this film. Again, it is small and it is NOT a blockbuster. But it is an American tale (both the subject and the making of it) that deserves attention and reflection.