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3.6 out of 5 stars
Beasts of the Southern Wild [DVD] [2012]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2014
Interesting story and good acting spoiled by jerky camera work. I can normally watch movies more than once, but not this one.
I am not a lover of the modern trend of hand held camera work as I normally view movies fairly close on a large projection screen.
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VINE VOICEon 8 February 2014
I watched this astonishing film on DVD and I was completely blown away by how brilliant and majestic it was. I missed it at the cinema when it first came out in 2012 and it was one of those films I wanted to see. And I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. The incredible central performance of Quvenzhane Wallis was hypnotising and full of character for one so young.

It tells of a young 6 year old girl named Hushpuppy who lives with her father Wink in a forgotten ramshackle town called The Bathtub on a small southern Louisiana island. Then when an environmental disaster nearly destroys her town and her defiant father becomes ill, Hushpuppy is forced to strike out and survive on her own to face the weathers' elements, prehistoric beasts that have awoken and her own destiny.

This film is fresh, it's original and it showcases a sensational and outstanding performance by Quvenzhane Wallis in the role of Hushpuppy, the girl who has to deal with so many complications in her young life, coping with a strong defiant father in Wink (Dwight Henry), losing her mother and having to cope with what disasters lie in store for her. In my mind, she deserved her Oscar nomination, being the youngest ever actress to be nominated. And I think that the other Oscar nominations it had where deserved also.

Although this originally came out in 2012, I think that this is one of the best films I've seen that was released in 2012. Totally enthralling throughout and an absolutely terrific piece of film-making. This reviewer was transfixed and delighted. Superb and astonishing.
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Hushpuppy lives with her father, Wink, in the Bathtub, a southern Delta community at the edge of the world.

Wink's tough love prepares her for the unravelling of the universe; for a time when he's no longer there to protect her.

When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack, temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs.

With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink's health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother....

Comparisons to Pan's Labyrinth have to be made when watching this movie. And it's a massive compliment to both movies. Both follow one girls journey to adulthood, albeit this one Hushpuppy starts a little early, and obviously the fairytale overtones to the whole movie.

I really cannot understand why there are a few people who really hate this film. Of course people are entitled to their opinion, but the sheer scale of the film, and the beautiful performances from, let's face it, survivors of a hurricane, are warrant enough to enjoy this journey.

The stark imagery hints slight at Moulin Rouge and sometimes Where the Wild Things Are, and the mood of the film is decidedly tense and threatening.

Winks love for Hushpuppy is that of typical regret for actions done in the past, and due to their situations now. He loves her, but hates himself, therefore being angry at her, because he cannot understand why she would love him, not being able to give her the life he thinks she deserves.

Alcohol is the only Solace the people have, and the storm coming could depict their impending doom, slowly killing their organs due to excessive intake.

The Aurochs are Hushpuppys fears of growing up and being alone, and it's clear she has matured come the end of the film, as she faces her fears face to face.

It's a wonderful movie, this is the sort of movie that only come around once in a while and either endears or vexes.

I thought it was very very good, and well worth watching.
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Format: DVDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ben Zeitlin will be a name to watch out for in the futire. Based on this evidence the future is bright for him. A story which blends past, present and future almost seamlessly into a story of survival and courage in the face of the end of the world. Hush Puppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) lives with her father Wink (Dwight Henry) in The Bathtub, a forgotten bayou in the Louisiana swamp. Life is hard and tough, but filled with humour and passion. With the icecaps melting and superstorms brewing the existence of the community are threatened like never before. Hush Puppy is determined that she will not be forgotten by future scientists doing everything she can leave her mark for those who might find it. Praying and talking to her momma who left when she born trying to do right by her and Wink. When the storm comes and The Bathtub is drowned life changes forever. With Wink dying Hush Puppy must grow up fast. She searces for her momma, and finds her, only to find not everything is as she imagined. With the mighty Aurochs released from the icecaps and destroying everything in their path Hush Puppy must face them and her fears in a showdown.

At the centre of this movie is an amazing performance by Quvenzhane Wallis a six year old who dominates and drives the film along. By turns fierce, funny, vulnerable, passionate and masterful. Not far behind is a moving performance by Dwight Henry as Wink. A well deserved Oscar nomination for Ben Zeitlin for a movie which though shot on no budget outshines many other efforts this year. In the end though it is Quvenzhane Wallis which will delight and amaze any viewers. Not for everyone, but if you try it, it will live with you for a long time.
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VINE VOICEon 21 February 2013
Format: DVDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a film that has arrived on DVD on a tidal wave of acclaim, awards and hype. It's a far cry from the expectations of viewers who first saw the film at the Sundance Film Festival last year. Benh Zeitlin, who directed and co-wrote the film, as well as providing some of its endearingly odd music, is in complete control of his tale and his actors (many of them with no formal training). The film is an oddity that wears its low budget proudly, and its lack of Hollywood stars make it a refreshingly old school independent film.

The story of Hushpuppy, her father and her absent mother (a presence just as powerful as the others) has been described as a fantasy, a dystopian vision, an intensely realistic film about the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, a commentary, with some fantastical elements, on the danger of climate change, and even a ghost story. That said, the film defies categorisation and it is Zeitlin's triumph to have made a film that is so grand but still rooted in the independent cinema of the 70s and 80s.

What's it about? It's a little girl's journey to find some tangible trace of her mother and to try and save her ill and often ill-tempered father. Played out against an at once very realistic background of an impoverished community (although fiercely self-reliant and unlikely to describe themselves as impoverished) and a fantastical one of disintegrating icecaps and large prehistoric predatory beasts, the focus is always on Hushpuppy and her father. Some scenes are wonderfully shocking, such as Hushpuppy's arson of her father's shack and her suicidal resort to hiding from the flames in an upturned cardboard box, where she begins to inscribe the hieroglyphs of her existence, and others are painfully touching, such as her short but powerful attachment to the waitress, who resembles and possibly could be her mother...perhaps the scene is just a manifestation of Hushpuppy's desire to be with her mother.

It would be an exaggeration to say the film is a masterpiece, but it is a smart, distinctive little film that contains a few surprises even for those of us who may have felt a bit jaded after reading the almost universal praise given the film over the last year.
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on 5 February 2013
Format: DVDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is set in Bayou country cut off from civilisation by a levee. This small community live in very basic, poorly educated conditions with extreme poverty and squalid conditions.
A bayou is an American term for a body of water typically found in flat, low-lying areas, and can refer either to an extremely slow-moving stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), or to a marshy lake or wetland. The name "bayou" can also refer to creeks whose water level changes due to tides and which hold brackish water which is highly conducive to fish life and plankton. Bayous are commonly found in the Gulf Coast region of the southern United States, notably the Mississippi River region, with the state of Louisiana being famous for them. Though vegetation varies by region, many bayous are home to crawfish, certain species of shrimp, other shellfish, catfish, frogs, toads, American alligators, American crocodiles, and a myriad of other species.
Bayou Country is most closely associated with Cajun and Creole cultural groups native to the Gulf Coast region generally stretching from Houston, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama, and picking back up in South Florida around The Everglades with its center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The story is set around a young girl called Hushpuppy who misses her dead mother. Her mind has developed terrors about storms because of poor education and other terrors fill her mind concerning huge hog like animals.
Hushpuppy's father is also dying and she lives in terror of that.
The story is about her journey to come to terms with these terrors.
It is set in very squalid disturbing conditions. I have know idea as to whether such communities and conditions exist , or ever have. If they have, then it is distinctly educational and worrying at the same time.
It is filmed well.
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Format: DVDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In a near future clearly strongly influenced by the Katrina hurricane and its aftermath, 6 year old Hushpuppy, who narrates the film, lives with her father on an island ("The Bathtub") somewhere off the coast of the southern US. The Bathtub is on the wrong side of an immense seawall, so at risk of flooding. There is an atmosphere of imminent catastrophe: recounting the words of her teacher, Hush Puppy implies that the sea ice is melting and that strange, long lost creatures, trapped in the ice, are stirring.

As the storms rage and the sea rises, we then sea these massive Aurochs moving south, trampling everything in their path. What they symbolise is never made clear. That's only the first of the mysteries raised by this film - why have Hushpuppy's people been left to the sea? Where is her mother?

While there is narrative of a kind in the film - a great storm, an attack on the seawall, "rescue" by the authorities and a consequent flight into the sea - the film really operates as a series of connected vignettes: the communal meal after the funeral, the girls hitching a lift on a swamp boat, a visit to a boat-mounted dance hall ("Floating Crayfish Shack? Girls! Girls! Girls!") All of these episodes have a documentary feel, with shaky camerawork and a real sense that the people there are just being themselves. That's underscored by the lucid, self-possessed commentary of Hushpuppy herself, the child's voice conveying an unwavering sense that she understands the world and what is happening at the same time as the events on the screen seem - to the viewer - to be completely baffling. It's a stunning performance - she is either on screen or narrating for nearly the whole film, and Quvenzhané Wallis gives a stunning performance.

I found this an enthralling film. Not always an easy watch, but very satisfying
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Format: DVDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very difficult film to describe, and difficult to know where to start, but here's my stab at it:

The story is told from the perspective of 6 year old Hushpuppy, who is played amazingly well by actress of the same age, Quvenzhane Wallis.

Hushpuppy is growing up semi-feral in the Bathtub, a non-conformist / semi-outcast community in the Loiusiana bayou. The children have an atypical education (to put it mildly), and are treated like small adults for the most part. This adds another interesting edge to Hushpuppy's perpective - some elements are clearly fanciful, and the products of a child's imagination, while others are clearly true to life. And then there are those elements where you just aren't sure what is real and what is imagined.

The community live under the perpetual threat of flooding, and are defiant of the prospect that there will one day come a time when they will be forced to leave their homes - the core community insist they will die in the Bathtub.

Hushpuppy has interpreted this as the end of the world, and this becomes linked to the discovery that her father is dying.

The story takes us through a potentially catastrophe flood, and the conflict between the Bayou dwellers and the folk living on the other side of the levee. It's a story of .... Individuality? Loyalty? Conviction? Steadfastness? Recognition of our small but integral part in the universe? I'm not sure, but it was gripping, and kept me mesmerised until the end.

Post-note: actually, now reading the other reviews, a comment was made about the variability of the diction. This is true - I grew up in the deep south, and even I found Hushpuppy difficult to understand at times. My husband (a Yorkshireman) couldn't understand her at all. We put on the subtitles - problem solved. I can understand though that the film would be frustrating if you couldn't understand what people were saying!
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VINE VOICEon 29 March 2014
Format: DVDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An oddly beautiful film despite the setting of grinding poverty in the American deep south and themes of death and moving on. The beauty comes from the perspective of the lead character, Hushpuppy, a 6 year old living in the swamp land with her ailing father, as we see the world firmly from her perspective as a giant playground . Added to that are several touches of magic making the film have a dreamlike quality, so don't come looking for a straightforward, easy to follow narrative.

Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy is an astonishing screen presence. She carries much of the film in looks and glances which given the emotions are supporting heavy themes like loss of home, loss of parents and growing up, is incredible. In one of the DVD behind the scenes extras we see her running about with other child actors acting as you'd expect a 6 year old to do and the change in facial expression when "action" is called is like a special effect. Another first time actor, Dwight Henry, is also mightily impressive. Both have gone into other major films and are reunited in 12 Years a Slave.

The overall DVD package is good, a behind the scenes documentary is notable as the film wasn't a standard production and so tells an interesting story. There's also a short film make by the same film makers based in a similar bayou setting.

Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2015
I watched this film with my 9 year old daughter and we both loved it!
Quvenzhané Wallis (currently in the lead role of Annie (2014)) shows the early talent that is clearly now driving her career.
This movie is not for everyone, but if you like more depth and meaning in a film, this dive into human emotion and expression might be for you.
Beasts Of The Southern Wild explores a deeply emotional connection between family, friends, what unites and divides us and ultimately what is home.
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