Thursday, November 22, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

I can appreciate this movie as has many great visuals, great hand held camera shots, not with a slowish pace, some tension building elements, good editing, good raw/realistic non-actor's performances and more great tech specs for a low-budget production; but graphically tells a story that for me is very hard to watch as no matter all the magical elements present or the "happy and uplifting" message, story is so unsettling that even made feel sick while/after watching and the feeling stayed with me for a too long time.

This movie has been called by many as an American Magic Realism representative as according to them shows reality and fantasy blended in a magical way. But let me share with you a brief description of Magic Realism.

In literature the term magic realism describes contemporary fiction, often from Latin America or the third world, whose narrative blends magical or fantastical elements with reality. Was coined early last century in Europe but got wider use later in an effort to differentiate the work of Latin American writers from the European Surrealist movement. Eventually the term was transferred from literature to other arts, including films. The key element is that the magic and the reality blend so flawlessly that readers cannot differentiate them or if they do, it does not matter to them.

I'm quite familiar with many of the very different Latin American cultures and as you can tell if you are a blog regular reader, I highly enjoy Latin American movies. In my experience I have seen beautiful magical realism in the movies of directors like Carlos Reygadas, Claudia Llosa, Alfonso Arau, Lisandro Alonso, and many others. Movies that exquisitely blend magic and reality to make watching a very enjoyable ride no matter what the story is all about and most stories are about very disturbing issues like discrimination, poverty, oppression, repression, abuse of power, bleak future, sexual taboos, etc.

In my opinion this movie does not blend magic and reality. What it does is to show us some magical moments and many raw reality moments, perhaps too many. My problem starts the moment I realize that to see many of the "real" things shown I just have to walk, drive for a while and I'll be able to see them for real. But it doesn't stay there. The "real" things are shown so barbarically raw in the name of creative license, of art, that become intolerable to watch; and say this considering the many films I have seen that show us very raw realism with NO magic at all.

But also believe that viewers from the so-called "first world" does not have the sensibility that viewers for the "other worlds" have regarding the issues shown and understand why they like the story as for them has a positive message of pride, choice, belonging, prevailing, overcoming, individualism, freedom, surviving, etc. When you read American critics and viewers reviews you notice that many talk about the "politics" in the story; some go as far as to give interpretations of what story is about when seen from the left and the right of the political scale. Others say that they are sure that many only got the evident message and the real message was lost in the "beauty" of film. But all end up praising the film and some foreseeing the possible awards that will collect in the American award season.

Yes, film as a film can be good, so good that captures you attention and holds it in a very hypnotic, mesmerizing way. That's why I was able to watch the entire film that otherwise would have stopped watching as soon as I started to feel sick. My honest feeling is that I wish I stopped watching, as I have no need or desire to see what is shown in film. It is undeniable that the story, the narrative is essential in filmmaking and many times a great story makes a great movie, conversely a terrible story makes a terrible movie no matter if everything else is good. So, is this movie good, no matter the story it tells? The answer is up to you. My answer is: no, as the whole gave me a not positive cinema experience.

Do I recommend the movie? No, I don't; especially for those viewers that are not from the "developed countries" as probably your sensibilities will be touched in a very negative way. Will this movie continue to collect honors in the American awards season? Probably, especially the young non-actor that is the lead character.


Watch trailer @MOC (but be aware that trailer has very beautiful images and do not tell much about story)

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