I had never heard of Winter’s Bone until I read a review of it in the Globe that compared it to Frozen River. As it happened, I was going to be in Brookline that night, so I decided to make a trip to the Coolidge Corner Theatre to see it. And boy, I’m glad I did.
Like Frozen River, Winter’s Bone takes place in a very poor, remote area of the country—in this case, the Missouri Ozarks. But while the protagonist of Frozen River was a world-weary mother, this one is a seventeen-year-old girl who’s been dealt a tough hand in life but hasn’t given up yet. Ree Dolly, played by a lovely young actress named Jennifer Lawrence, is basically raising her two younger siblings by herself. Her mother has an unspecified mental illness that has left her silent and in a world of her own, and her father, a meth dealer, is missing. Then the police show up and tell Ree that her father has missed a court date and has put the house up as bail. If Ree can’t find him, or at least prove that he’s dead, she and her family will lose the house. So Ree takes off into the scary underbelly of the world she lives in, in the process learning a lot of things she never wanted to know.
I’d never heard of Jennifer Lawrence until I saw this movie—IMDB tells me that previously, she was best known for playing the daughter on The Bill Engvall Show—but although the year is young, I’m already hoping that she gets an Oscar nomination. Ree is such a fantastic character. She’s smart and caring but rough around the edges, and Lawrence plays her with such strength that, despite the terrible circumstances Ree is stuck in through no fault of her own, you never feel too sorry for her. Parts of the movie are intense and frightening, and you probably shouldn’t see it if violence bothers you, but otherwise, see it as soon as you can.
Other movies I’ve seen recently:
Toy Story 3
What’s up with these Pixar movies making me cry? The marriage montage in Up was one thing, but this movie had me crying over toys getting left behind when their kids grow up. And that right there tells you all you need to know. It’s got every bit of the charm of the first two movies, and you won’t be disappointed.
I didn’t know much about the real Runaways, the all-girl group from the 70s that is the subject of this movie, before I saw it, but it didn’t really matter. It’s the same music industry story you’ve seen in a million other movies—band gets together, band becomes famous, band’s manager is an asshole, band starts fighting and drugs enter the picture, band breaks up. But in this case, it somehow works. Maybe it’s the novelty of a true story about an all-girl group. Or seeing Dakota Fanning, whom I still remember as the little girl in I Am Sam, playing Cherie Currie as a skanky drug addict. Or Kristen Stewart’s astoundingly convincing portrayal of Joan Jett (yes, that Kristen Stewart). Whatever the reason, it’s worth renting when it comes out on DVD.
Holy shit. This is one freaky movie. I knew that it was based on a Dennis Lehane novel, so I think I was expecting it to be like Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, both gritty crime stories set in rough neighborhoods of Boston. Shutter Island, on the other hand, is more like a Gothic horror story. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a federal marshal investigating the disappearance of a woman from an institution for the criminally insane in the Boston Harbor Islands. But soon, the woman’s disappearance becomes besides the point. All kinds of strange things start to happen—so many that you can barely keep track of them—and it seems clear that the hospital is not what it seems to be. I still don’t quite know what to make of this movie. It’s definitely unsettling, so I think it did what it set out to do, but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it.