Movies are the new books. In lieu of a foodie book this month, I’m reviewing a foodie movie. Don’t call me lazy, I’m still reading. It just happens to be a really long book and it’s not a foodie one.
The Koala and I attended Films For Foodies last night at Rialto (courtesy of Rialto Newmarket). Films For Foodies is a monthly event, carefully curated to appeal to foodies. For $35 per person, there was a plate each of southern influenced food from The Professional Bar & Restaurant school, a glass of wine, lemon cheesecake from Gu and a foodie goodie bag. All this was enough for a light dinner. The movie started a little late and after some prizes and talk, we settled in to watch this month’s foodie movie: Beasts Of The Southern Wild.
Set in a fictional place called the Bathub just outside the levies of New Orleans, Louisiana, this story is told through the eyes of six year old Hush Puppy. What can I say? I loved the movie. I loved the story, the casting, the script, the location and the score.
A hush puppy is a deep fried dumpling common in the deep south of the US. Made of deep fried corn meal batter, they’re cheap to make, considered “soul food” and eaten as a side dish with fish or gators.
Hush Puppy, played by Quvenzhané Wallis is the undisputed star of the movie and I’ve fallen head over heels in love with this actress and this character. A Louisiana local, her portrayal of this character was convincing. I love the way words form in her mouth.
“Every animal is made of meat. Your ass is made of meat.”
There is a spread of food related scenes in this movie but it’s hard to call it a foodie movie specifically. From the daily bell and Wink yelling out “feed up time!” to the gross government issue food at the shelter to the magic at the catfish shack, it’s not gourmet, but food is huge in this movie. Food is survival and we’re all just part of a cycle. The food porn in this movie is gritty rather than fine dining, but I sure do have a hankering for a crab and crawfish boil up or deep fried gator right about now.
The frenzied feast scene where Hush Puppy is encouraged to “Beast it” is stunning. A table covered with messy piles crab and crawfish and I felt myself feeling so proud for Hush Puppy. When you read a good book, you can’t help thinking that you are the character. Their triumphs hit you like your own. This scene was just like that.
There’s a lot of adult, social and community issues in this movie, but told through a child, they aren’t as significant as they might be if told through say, a government worker or a teacher. There is no school, no jobs or weekends in this story. I loved Hush Puppy’s description of her people and how “the Bathtub has more holidays than the whole rest of the world”. This is not a movie about child abuse or poverty. Just like Harry Potter isn’t a social commentary about boarding school brats and The Hobbit isn’t a social commentary about the hardships of vertically challenged people. Get over it.
There are so many topics in this movie you could study it for years and still find new things to relate it to.
Global warming, giant boar creature, a defiant little girl and without giving too much away though, this had the feeling of a gritty live action Hayao Miyazaki film (particularly Princess Mononoke). I love, love, love Miyaki.
Movies that resonate in this film:
- Princess Mononoke
- The Lion King
- Where the Wild Things Are
- …plus any apocalyptic, survivalist, global warming, flood, storm, coming of age movies.
I hate to be down on anything, but the shaky hand held camera drove me crazy. It was beyond annoying. I’m no cameraman but I would be embarrassed to shoot some of the scenes in this movie. Hand held video and instagram filters are hip with the kids these days due to the implied gritty realism. I get it. Gritty = real. But the (lack of) camerawork in this movie was over the top. This is a story told through the eyes of a little girl. No need to get all Blair Witch Project on it. The toning and lack of contrast in some of the scenes was too dark see what was even going on. This excellent movie was almost ruined.
Another reason to go to Films for Foodies is to enjoy a special preview screening.
Beasts Of The Southern Wild opens in New Zealand in 2 weeks on 29 November 2012. Next month’s Food for Foodies film on Wednesday 5 December is Life of Pi which will be released here in January 2013.
More info on this event can be found at www.rialto.co.nz.