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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday May 19th 2024

Winter”'s Bone & Despicable Me

Winter's Bone

By Howard McQuitter

Winter”'s Bone
Anonymous Content
Running Time: 100 minutes
Rated: R
Director: Debra Granik

If ever there was a heroine from opening to closing scene in a film, it”'s a new actress named Jennifer Lawrence, 18. Her character Ree Dolly lives in the Ozarks of Missouri, a harsh country with tin can houses, junk cars in backyards, an occasional horse or cow, and in this backwater, more than a few dogs.

Miss Dolly has plenty on her plate, taking care of two younger siblings, Sonny (Isaiah Stone) and Ashlee (Ashlee Thompson) and a mentally incompetent mother. Times are so hard Ree gives her horse Ginger, who hasn”'t eaten in four days, to her neighbor Sonya (Shelley Waggener). Ree is saddened by leaving her horse in another”'s care.

When Sheriff Baskin (Garret Dillahurt) shows up at Ree”'s front yard, asking for her dad, Jessup, who may have slipped bail after being arrested for setting up a meth lab, she tells him she doesn”'t know where he is.

Ree goes looking for her dad after the sheriff notifies her Jessup must appear for bail and in turn put their house and property up for bail,. Unless Jessup appears on his court date, Ree, her moth, and Ree”'s two siblings will be forced to move. The community is close-knit to the point of sending up warnings to Ree ”“ don”'t ask too many questions or else”¦ There are secrets the neighbors harbor which may be linked o Jessup”'s disappearance and the distribution of meth.

Ree is determined that she must find her dad first and she asks her best friend Gail (Lauren Sweeser) to use their truck, but the husband Floyd (Cody Brown) refuses to allow her to use it. Married with a baby, Gail promptly tells Ree after he says no, “It”'s different when you”'re married.” Ree makes a visit to Jessup”'s brother Teardrop (John Hawkes, (“American Gangster” 2007, “Miami Vice” 2006, “The Perfect Storm” 2000) asking questions about his brother, something he”'s stingy about revealing. To try to get her off his back, he whisks her in his pickup taking her to the site, a burned out meth lab that he alleges was his brother”'s lab, hinting that Jessup may be dead from the fire.

Not satisfied with Teardrop”'s explanation, she presses on for answers, stepping on too many toes she”'s taken to a remote farm and beaten up. Undaunted by veiled threats and physically assaulted, Ree is the heroine in “winter”'s Bone” for valiant efforts, including keeping her family intact.

With some similarities with Courtney Hunt”'s film “Frozen River” (Grand Sundance Film Festival 2008), Debra Granik”'s “Winter”'s Bone” enhances female power without an attitude of gotcha, but with startling persuasion. Seldom does a film capture such remote surroundings with at least some of the cast familiar with the harshness and abject poverty of the subjects in areas such as the Ozarks of Missouri or the Appalachians of Kentucky or West Virginia. The rural poor whites of these areas have been largely forgotten since the 1960s, whether on silver screen or in the media. Perhaps this is one of the reasons “Winter”'s Bone” won best picture and best screenplay at this year”'s Sundance Film Festival.

Despicable Me
Universal Pictures
Southdale Mega 16 (8)
Directors: Pierre Coffin and Cures Renaud
Rated: PG
Running Time: 95 minutes

During the lazy hazy days of summer and this summer season of queued, regurgitation of remakes, reboots and riffs, comes an animation not like everything else. “Despicable Me” is not necessarily as good as a Pixar animation, but it is fun nonetheless.

A penguin-looking heavy set man named Gru (Steve Carell), is a super villain planning to reduce the moon in size and snatch it from the sky. What irks Gru is a much younger criminal mind, named Vector (Jason Segel) who shocks the world by stealing the Great Pyramid of Giza. Gru wants to steal a shrink ray (to Heist the moon), to restore him back to the THE super villain of the world. Gru borrows money from evil bankers, lives in a house that”'s just a little more colorful on its exterior than Norman Bates”' (Anthony Perkins) house in “Psycho” (1960), and drives a vehicle that looks like something out of “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” (1981).

Thus, Gru is jealous of Vector, and vice verse. To counteract his nemesis, Gru adopts three little girls (Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) from an orphanage run by an ornery cuss Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig) as a smokescreen so as to steal from Vector the instrument capable of shrinking the moon to the size of a baseball, to then yank it from the skies.

During our view of Gru, there are flashbacks of his boyhood, trying to gain approval from his hard-task mom (Julie Andrews) for inventing stuff. Through the dark humor, both children and adults can find “Despicable Me” appealing, especially when the three orphan girls pluck the heartstrings of Gru. Seeing “Despicable Me” in 3D is okay too, though unnecessary.

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