Strange beauty in the bayou

Review of Beasts of the Southern Wild and Victoria movie listings for Aug. 2-8.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a one-of-a-kind art film.

In a summer where the movie screens are dominated by costumed super heroes and crass comics, Beasts of the Southern Wild stands out like a unicorn at a hotdog stand. A one-of-a-kind art film by a New York collective known as Court 13, Beasts is a funky fable about a six-year-old black girl named Hushpuppy, who lives in a couple of ramshackle shacks with her alcoholic father in a muddy corner of the Louisiana bayou. Part of a small community of impoverished drop outs who exist “off the grid” and in the shadow of an industrial park, Hushpuppy inhabits a grubby but darkly magical world where giant creatures named Aurochs occasionally come charging through, for all the world like mastodon-sized boars.

Hushpuppy’s father, Wink, is slovenly and sometimes abusive, but is also determined to see that his motherless daughter grows up to be self-reliant. After barely surviving what is presumably Hurricane Katrina, this small group has a brief run-in with Social Services busybodies before resuming their harsh, hand-to-mouth lives. Hushpuppy has her own adventures, including swimming out to a floating brothel for a poignant encounter with a black prostitute who could be her mother.

There’s not a lot of plot here: Beasts is more of an immersive tone poem than a narratively conventional film. At times allegorical, it often feels like a live-action version of Where the Wild Things Are, full of dream-like strangeness butted up against the grimy reality of human existence at its most basic. Filmed with non-actors – and it occasionally shows – the film has a purity that transcends any technical limitations. Although probably too weird for casual moviegoers, this is a very impressive film debut. M

 

Perfectly Potable

Although the characters in Beasts were likely drinking Louisiana moonshine, most people are familiar with those neon-coloured frozen daiquiris they sell in the French Quarter of New Orleans. For a non-synthetic version, pour 1.5 ounces of light rum, 1 tbsp of Triple Sec, 1.5 ounces of fresh lime juice, 1 tsp of sugar, and a half-cup of fruit such as mango, banana or strawberry into a blender with lots of ice. Rev it up and let the good times roll!

 

 

Victoria Movie Listings Aug. 2 -8.

 

Opening

 

TOTAL RECALL -(SilverCity/Westshore, Capitol) Colin Farrell stars in a flashy remake of the sci-fi thriller about a man who ostensibly takes a fantasy “brain trip” only to get caught up in real life-and-death adventures. Ah, but what is really real? Starts Fri.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS -(SilverCity/Westshore/Uni 4, Capitol) Greg is totally ready for summer when suddenly his plans all fall apart. What’s the poor guy gonna do now? Starts Fri.

 

Continuing

 

★★★½ THE AMAZING SPIDER–MAN -(Capitol/SilverCity) Little-known actor Andrew Garfield suits up as everyone’s favourite webslinger in a super hero movie that’s smart enough to be a great coming-of-age story. Co-starring Emma Stone.

★★★ THE AVENGERS -(Caprice) A mob of Marvel-ous superheroes comes together to help prevent a global apocalypse, in a decent but uninspired orgy of one-liners and special effects. The galaxy of greatness includes Iron Man (Robert Downey), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Captain America (Chris Evans).

★★★★ BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD -(Odeon) Nothing but raves have greeted this unusual and touching drama, which uses moments of magic realism to portray the inner life of a young girl who is part of a small community of poor Louisiana folk who live entirely “off the grid.” See review.

★★★½ THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL -(Uni 4) A diverse group of British seniors seek out an affordable retirement hotel in India, only to find it in shabby disarray. But despite the initial disappointment, India’s exotic charms win them over. This heartfelt comedy-drama has a great cast that includes Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Judi Dench.

★★★ BRAVE -(Capitol/SilverCity) Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson provide the voices for Pixar’s animated tale that is set in ancient Scotland and tells of a headstrong young princess who must rely on her courage to undo a beastly curse. Decent entertainment, albeit occasionally a bit plodding.

★★★ THE DARK KNIGHT RISES -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) A diabolical terrorist named Bane poses a terrible threat to Gotham, as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes to an exciting but rather bloated conclusion. With Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Anne Hathaway.

★★★ ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT -(Odeon/Westshore) After their continent is set adrift, Manny, Diego, and Sid have some crazy, rollicking, humour-filled adventures. This is very fine family entertainment.

★★★ INTOUCHABLES -(Odeon) This funny and heart-warming French film features a wealthy aristocrat, a quadriplegic after a hang-gliding accident, who gets more than he bargained for when he hires a rough-edged black man from the projects to be his care aid. Based on a true story.

★★★ MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED -(Capitol/Caprice) Those mouthy NYC zoo escapees are up to their usual colourful antics in a wittily entertaining animation romp.

★★★ MAGIC MIKE -(Capitol/Caprice) Channing Tatum stars as a male stripper who takes a protegé under his wing, then eventually has to rethink his lifestyle. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.

MEN IN BLACK III -(Caprice) Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as alien-bashing crime fighters in a third outing for this wacky sci-fi comedy series. And thanks to a time travel aspect, Josh Brolin has fun playing the younger version of Jones’ character.

★★★½ MOONRISE KINGDOM -(Odeon) The ever-quirky Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox) is in fine form as he tells a tale about two very young lovers who run away, thus sparking an unusual search. The great cast includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand.

★★ STEP UP: REVOLUTION -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) The series about hip hop dancers shifts to Miami, and has lots of fun choreographing flash mobs of radical dancers who are trying to defeat a rich developer who wants to trash their neighbourhood.

★★½ TED -(Odeon/SilverCity/Caprice) Mark Wahlberg stars in a twisted — and sometimes laboured — comedy about a young man whose best friend is a foul-mouthed teddy bear that is a very bad influence on him. Written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, most famous for the TV satires Family Guy and American Dad!

★★★½ TO ROME WITH LOVE -(Odeon/Uni 4) Woody Allen’s winning streak with glamorous European cities continues with his latest comedy, which takes a sly look at adultery, fame, and self-delusion. The great cast includes Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin.

★ THE WATCH -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) In this alleged comedy a quartet of guys forms a suburban watch group after a strange murder, only to find themselves defending Earth from an alien invasion. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill won’t want to be remembered for this desperately unfunny turd.

 

Leaving Thurs.

★★★ SAVAGES -(SilverCity)

★★ ROCK OF AGES -(Caprice)

SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN -(Caprice)

THAT’S MY BOY -(Caprice)

IN THE FAMILY -(Caprice)

 

IMAX

★★★★ BORN TO BE WILD -(10am, 4 pm)

DINOSAURS: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA -(11am, 2pm, 7pm) Those “terrible lizards” come back to life in a feature that complements the fascinating dinosaur exhibit currently on at the RBCM.

★★★½ ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS -(1pm, 5pm, 8pm) Here’s a patriotic account of the many daunting challenges behind building the CPR railway: part history lesson, part glorious travelogue.

TO THE ARCTIC -(noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm)

 

SCREENINGS

 

MOVIE MONDAY – Screening The Misfits. This elegiac 1961 drama (based on a screenplay by Arthur Miller) stars Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift. Both Monroe and Gable were destined to die shortly afterwards. By donation. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca

BEACON HILL B MOVIES -The Victoria Film Festival returns with their annual Free-B Film Fest in the Cameron Bandshell in Beacon Hill Park. First up: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. SATURDAY, 9 pm.

 

Cinecenta

 

Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.

★★★ THE AVENGERS -(Thurs.-Sat., Aug. 2-4: 7:00, 9:40) A mob of Marvel-ous superheroes comes together to help prevent a global apocalypse, in a decent but uninspired orgy of one-liners and special effects. The galaxy of greatness includes Iron Man (Robert Downey), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Captain America (Chris Evans).

THE LADY -(Sun.-Mon., Aug. 5-6: 7:00 only) France’s Luc Besson is the unlikely director of this inspiring biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, the “accidental heroine” who gradually became the saviour of her Burmese people (and won a Nobel Peace Prize along the way).

★★★★ WINGS OF DESIRE -(Tues., Aug. 7: 7:00, 9:25) This poetical masterpiece by Germany’s Wim Wenders stars Bruno Ganz as an angel who empathetically eavesdrops on the sorrowing inhabitants of Berlin. But when he falls in love with a trapeze artist he is prepared to sacrifice his immortality for a chance at brief earthly happiness.

HEADHUNTERS -(Wed.-Thurs., Aug. 8-9: 7:00, 9:00) Based on a crime novel by the great Norwegian thriller writer Jo Nesbø, the story features an executive headhunter who moonlights as an art thief — but his grand life slips sideways when he crosses the wrong man, a ruthless ex-commando.

 

The Roxy

 

Prometheus (14A)    7:00 PM    (Fri-Thur)

Savages (18A)    9:10 PM    (Fri- Thur)

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (G)  2:00 PM    (Sat, Sun)

Katy Perry: Part of Me (G)    3:45 PM    (Sat, Sun)

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