Thursday, March 31, 2011
I believe she was over looked for the Oscar because Bone's is an independantly made film and the Oscars don't do independants. Portman was fortunate Black Swan was mainstream, and it would have been interesting what would have happened if Bones had been as well. Oh well, it is done and dusted so it is no point crying over spilt milk as they say. Portman won and Lawrence didn't. But she must still be fully acknowledged for her outstanding performance.
I actually went into Bones with a low expectation. Lawrence has been portrayed as a 'pretty girl' and I thought she was going to be like Amanda Seyfried. I was expecting a teen themed movie. Boy I couldn't have been more wrong.
Winter's Bones is set in Missouri and it is a bleak setting. The people portrayed aren't quite hillbillies and not quite poor white trash. They are on the poverty line and close to being the forgotten element of society. It is an incredibly sad thing to see how they live. Their houses are either log built shacks or patched up remnants of their former selfs. The yards are full of old cars, junk is every where, it is just unbelievable watching. I was really moved by how these people lived. This is an America we don't see very often and can only be described as the 'other 'America. There is no Iraq, 9/11, Wall Street, Hollywood, high society, high rollers here. This is how the other half lives folks.
What got me was that every house owns a gun of some description. They are brandished almost like toys and yet not in a 'gangsta' type way. They grow up with them and they are an everday part of life. It is eye-opening and shows how far out of main stream society they are. This is the genuine back and beyond baby.
The people are as hard as the country they live in. Lawerence plays a seventeen year old girl and yet she is more like a twenty five year old woman. There is no girliness, make-up, dresses, soft cuddly toys, etc, or any thing else you would associate with a teenaged girl. The other girls of her age are the same and in fact most are already women. They are married with babies at a very young age. The harshness of their environment sees them having to grow up fast as it is a world of survival of the fittest. Lawrence, with no father to support her two youngest siblings, and an ill mother, survives by shooting squirills to eat.
Jennifer Lawrence's performance is just incredible. I can't believe how she has completely stripped away any femininity. She is hard, pragmatic, and just doing her best to survive from day to day. A girl of seventeen shouldn't have a life like that, she isn't even interested in boys as she doesn't have the time. She lives among a tight community with everyone virtually related to one another and knowing each others business. Lawrence's father has skipped a court apperance and had signed his house and land over to the bailers. As he hasn't showen then Lawrence will lose all.
She attempts to find him but she discovers he had been narcing to the cops about the local meth trade. It slowly becomes apparent that he is likely to have been killed to shut him up. For her troubles she gets badly beaten up for her questions. She takes it in her stride but she tells the local bad ass her story and he backs off after assurances from her uncle she'll be quiet. It is an awful situation. She is seventeen living among hardened criminals who'll kill at a moments notice. She lives with this over her young head everyday and one can only admire her resolve, and yet pity her lose of youthful innocence in the process.
This lose of innocence becomes all too real when when the women who beat her up take her to her father's body in a local swamp. She has to reach down and pull up his arms so that they can be cut off with a chainsaw. Harrowing, absolutely harrowing stuff. She is seventeen for god's sake and has to witness that sort of thing being done to her own father??!!! She takes the severed arms to the police to prove he is dead and hence the bailers cannot take the property.
It is all unbelievable and I was shocked at the harshness and brutality of their way of life. All the performances are superb, and boy there are some real hard bastards here. Back woods Missouri is beautifully filmed and adds a surreal air. It is hard and cold country with little colour, and the viewer can see how and why the people mirror the countryside as you have to be hard to survive.
Winter Bone's is a quite brilliant film. Young Jennifer Lawrence is just unbelievable. You MUST NOT miss this as she puts in a performance as good as any you will ever see. She is the standout among some good performances. It is a harrowing film. Bleak,gritty, and uncompromising, the viewer can only admire Lamerence's character the more for her reslove, and yet feel extreme sympathy to see such a young girl doing what she has to do just to survive at the expense of ever being young and having a life of her own.
Click here for a synopsis and more:
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And here for the official site:
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Sean Penn is absolutely brilliant as the dispicable Poncelet. This was his break out role and I still consider it is best, even over Milk and 21 Grams. Maybe the 'method' is being used here and Penn is delving into his own bad boy persona, but he is believable and chilling as the red neck Poncelet. One thing I remember about Dead Man is that Penn was critisised heavily for his hair style. It was said to be too poncy and vain, but for god sakes this is a vain, arrogant, piece of the proverbial. The hair style fits him perfectly and only highlights his smug belief in how tough he thinks he is. Penn was nominated for an Oscar for this performance and I will always believe it was criminal he didn't recieve one.
Susan Saradon is also brilliant and did win an Oscar. This for me is her stand out role and she is just utterly believable as Sister Prejean. She pulls off the gentleness and patience of a nun superbly even when faced with such a loathsome person as Poncelet. She is outstanding as a nun who finds the depths of despair and reaches the point of asking God for guideance as the reality of death row hits her.
The whole film is incredible and full of outstanding performances. The parents of the victims are well portrayed as is their hatred towards Poncelet. They all struggle to comprehend how this nun can supposedly be on his side and ignore their views. She does go to see them in their own homes but one couple turn her away when she says she will still see Poncelet. The other couples marriage falls apart and the father slowly asks Sister Prejean for her help. All very true to life and depicts grieving parents of murdered children far better than Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones.
But ultimately this is Penn and Saradon's show and they are good, very, very good. For me the whole film is excellent, and Tim Robbins must be highly commended for making this film what it is. It is right in every detail. Poncelet is repellant. Sister Prejean gracious and patient. The parents grieving and hateful. Poncelet's family disturbed and bullied. The jail staff just doing their jobs, etc. Which all leads to the final twenty minutes of the film. And here things really get gut wrenching.
Those last minutes depict the last half hour of Poncelet's life. He and Sister Prejean sit on death row and watch the minutes tick away. Finally Poncelet cracks and the truth comes out. He admits he killed the teenaged boy and raping the girl. He falls to pieces as he admits he only done so because he was hanging out with an older and tougher guy who he was scared of and wanted to emulate. Up to then we have dis-liked Poncelet but when he confesses we feel a real streak of sympathy for him. He is a creature of poverty with no education and no future. He drifted into crime because their was nothing else and ulitmately paid the price by siding with the wrong sort of person.
It is a truley powerful scene and once watched is never forgotten. It was as fresh in my mind as if I'd only watched it the day before and not fifteen years previously. The whole film leads up to it and is very clever in doing so because it humanises Poncelet and shows his actions in their true light. So while we gain sympathy for him we can't forgive him.
The point of the whole film, and especially the last twenty minutes, is that we find out through Poncelet's confession that he didn't kill both teens. His partner stabbed the girl seventeen times after he raped her and yet only got life imprisonment. When that comes out the whole point of the film is revealed...is the death penalty the right answer? Is it fair? In this case it wasn't fair because one murderer got life and the other got death for exactly the same crime.
Honestly, this is as good a film as you will ever see. Powerful isn't a good enough word here. It is gut wrenching and extremely thought provoking. The viewer is asked so many questions and is pulled this way and that as they are introduced to all sides of the story, that by the end they are mentally shattered. Brilliant performances from Saradon and Penn lift this film to unbelievable heights. For me personally, Dead Man Walking, along side The Bridges of Madison County and The Usual Supects, is one of the greatest films to come out of the 1990's.
Brilliant, objective, and unmissable.
Click here for a synopsis and more:
And here for more:
I recommend also a British film starring Timothy Spall call Pierrepoint. It was made in 2007 and is also about the death penalty. Spall plays the British hangman who hung most of Britain's death row prisoners and also many Nazis after the war, particularly those from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. It is also well made and extremely thought provoking. Pierrepoint himself said after the death penalty was scrapped in Britain that it was nothing but vengence gone wild.