Film: “Beasts” makes best movie short list

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August 3rd, 2012

Omaha, NE – One of the most exciting directorial debuts in ages is currently playing at Film Streams. From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood take a look at Beasts of the Southern Wild.

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Ryan: Matt, am I given to hyperbole.

Matt: No, not often. Only when you’re awake and speaking.

Ryan: I think this week’s movie, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, is on my short list for best movie I have ever seen.

Matt: Wow that’s high praise. Which Adam Sandler film did it knock off your list?

Ryan: Beasts tells the story of a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy, played by a divine tiny powerhouse with a name that’s hard to pronounce: Quvenzhané Wallis. Her father Wink, played by a non-professional actor and full time baker Dwight Henry, is burdened by her care. They live in a fictional place called The Bathtub that is quite obviously really located somewhere in the Mississippi Delta region.

Beasts of the Southern Wild stars Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy, a girl who lives with her ill father, Wink, in the fictional Bayou named “The Bathtub.”

Matt: Wink and Hushpuppy live in communion with nature, foraging discarded scraps of metal and other technology from the land-dwellers and turning them into boats or houses. See, Bathtub is surrounded on all sides by water, thanks to a government levee. And despite mandatory evacuations and rising tides, Wink refuses to leave his home. As his daughter struggles with dreams of her absent mother, the community is threatened, among other things, by prehistoric beasts that have been awakened.

Ryan: As messy as it sounds, the execution is completely elegant, with big ideas manifest in the smallest of gestures. Even though she’s only 6, this is really Hushpuppy’s coming of age story as much as it is a parable that applies not just to Hurricane Katrina or general notions of modern poverty, but to an untold number of issues. It’s just so good! So, so good!

Matt: Wallis’s performance is shut-your-mouth incredible, as is the haunting and thrilling score. Clocking in at a meager 90 minutes, the film never teeters on pretension with its themes, choosing to give us gigantic concepts presented in ways as simple as a bite of food.

Ryan: Matt didn’t love it quite as much as I did.

Matt: I rarely do. How else will you continue to think you’re better than me?

Ryan: But for me, this right here is what film is all about: Vibrant and thrilling storytelling manifest with things we’ve never seen but feelings we can relate to. I know there’s a whole lotta year left, but I don’t know what any other movie can do to knock this one from my perch.

Matt: Cast Emma Stone? Just a thought.

Ryan: Beasts of the Southern Wild may not wind up being the best movie I’ve ever seen once it sinks in, but so far, I’m not ready to say that it isn’t.

Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.

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