Starts In Earnest

Three days ago Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone wrote about the trepidation she’s been feeling about the inevitable Beasts of the Southern Wild backlash. Two days later’s Tim Grierson heard her call and posted this fairly well-written riff about the “five worst indie film cliches” in Beasts.

You can read as well as I can, but here are the five in bullet form: One, the film “fetishizes authenticity.” he says. Two, it tries way too hard to be gritty.” Three, “it treats poverty as something noble.” Four, “it confuses simple characters for memorable ones.” And five, “it touches on real-life events without saying anything about them.”

  • Bix B-Roll

    It’s so weird to me that people can see a good or great movie and then nail it for stuff it clearly isn’t interested in doing.

    None of these criticisms are based on things that are actually in the movie… The film treats everyone and everything as they might be seen by a six-year-old kid, which is a storytelling technique (and which makes “simplicity” a function of the character POV, not the filmmakers), and which makes the movie really effective at what it MEANS to do.

    The idea, I think, is that anything else that would color a viewer’s understanding of the movie will be brought by the individual, and will effect their read of what’s going on. That’s a REALLY GOOD AND RARE thing!! Not a neglectful thing on the part of the filmmakers.

    The fact that it isn’t explicitly weighing the political and social ramifications of Katrina, which I guess this dude wanted from this movie for some unknown reason, is just not a realistic problem to have. Nor is anything about how the film was made. God, if living in those sets made them feel more realistic to the filmmakers, what on earth is the problem? It looked and felt fantastic!

    I keep thinking about what Lex said yesterday about film geeks not dealing with movies on an emotional level. It’s so true, and it seems kind of sad… BEASTS and THE GREY and BERNIE for EVER.

  • Krillian

    Glenn’s takedown of Grierson’s review is spectacular. Especially if you picture him putting on a scarf and leaving the room while twirling his golden cane when he’s done.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Well, thanks, Krillian. For the record, while writing it, I was wearing tracksuit pants and a Lou Reed t-shirt, and I hadn’t yet shaved. Still haven’t, actually.

    Since you mentioned it and since my riposte actually addresses a lot of what Bix-B-Roll brings up in comment #1, I figure it won’t be unforgivably immodest to provide a link:

  • Colin

    I would like to take a minute to thank Mr. Kenny for coming to the defense of some really high-caliber films that are quashed by pseudo-intellectuals.

    It is appreciated.

  • AnnaZed

    Go Glenn

  • Sasha Stone

    Writing from yosemite don’t have much to say except: what a load. The only reason he would write this is because it’s being praised. Period. But also:

    “fetishizes authenticity” – It must be a fetish because I don’t understand why it is so ugly and hard.

    “Two, it tries way too hard to be gritty.” It doesn’t need to try. It illustrates a place from the point of view of a child. Grasping at straws much?

    “it treats poverty as something noble” – calling it “poverty” does the opposite. But sure, keep insisting that if you are poor there is something shameful in that.

    “it confuses simple characters for memorable ones” there is one person who is confused and it’s not the filmmakers. Just because this writer has an inability to connect does make that the film’s fault.

    “it touches on real-life events without saying anything about them.” – Translation: I am unable to understand what the filmmaker was trying to say.

    What a load! If you “didn’t like” the movie that’s one thing. But this shit is flimsy at best and kind of typical of the too cool for school bullshit that holds everybody back and contributes to only one kind of film – and we keep seeing it over and over again.