Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Cyrus" and "Winter's Bone" The Ties that Bind

"Winter's Bone" and "Cyrus" are two very different films about the bonds of family.

Director Debra Granik 
In "Winter's Bone,"17 year-old Ree Dolly (Oscar nominated Jennifer Lawrence) is bound by family responsibility. When her daddy goes missing, Ree must take care of her siblings and her mentally ill mother. She has an innate gift for parenting. She teaches the youngins' how to survive in a way they can understand and they show her due respect. But she soon finds that she is way over her head when the sheriff comes by to inform them that they are about to lose their house and farm because Pa put it up for his bail bond, then disappeared. Danger mounts as she is forced to defy her deadly clan's code of silence to find her Pa and bring him home. In authentic "slice of life" style, the filmmaker (Debra Granik) gives us a rare glimpse of the gritty mountain people, customs, and code of conduct of the Ozarks. You can just feel the sticks cracking under Ree's feet as she traverses the backwoods country and tastes the squirrel meat. "Winter's Bone" is about family ties that bind and gag; and finding the strength to survive in the hardest times.

"Cyrus," explores the bond between a mother and son and how much bonding is healthy. John's ex-wife (Catherine Keener) tells him she's getting married then proceeds to invite him to a party to meet other women. John (John Reilly) gets totally sloshed at the party, yet miraculously manages to pick up the most understanding woman, Molly, (the vivacious Marisa Tomei) with his clumsy attempt at honesty. John can't help but be drawn to Molly's kind heart. The relationship gets off to a great start. Then John meets Molly's 21 year-old, home-schooled, new age musician son, Cyrus (Jonas Hill). Suffice it to say that it is a very close family. Single mom Molly is so protective of her boy that she can't see the battle he is waging with John over her affections. "Cryus," has a different tone than most comedies. It is quirky and original, yet it somehow feels real. "Cyrus," is about the ties that blind, eh, bind between mother and son; and whether a mere man should get between them. Can love win out in the end?

It is more than the theme that binds this thriller and comedy. They also share truly original, honest writing and great performances. These are two of the best films I've seen for a while.

Movie blessings!
Jana Segal


Jamie said...

Hi Jana,
Saying hello on your page. :)
Yes, I'm leaving my blog open over here, I might even start posting again I'm not sure. At least the writing only posts. You should try the networkedblogs on facebook, that gets people a chance to see the blog even if they don't use blogger or some other type of blog. :)
I'm not sure if you are on my FB author page, you can have your review of movies there and whatnot. :) It's still writing!!/profile.php?id=100001105560598

Hope you are doing well.

Janet said...

Jana, I agree "Winter's Bone" is among the best films I've seen this year. I go to the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis. Often it's like having a private screening.

In addition to the portrait of courage, the aesthetics of the film strongly support the theme. The moody pale palette of blues makes the red touches toward the end pop. The spareness of sound and tolerance of silence beautifully sets off the haunting mountain music.

Janet Riehl

Russ T said...

Jana, I liked "Cyrus" a lot. I thought it was a story that could have turned into a very typical Hollywood slapstick mess, with the plain-joe nice guy looking like a fool over and over again until the wise-ass kid got his comeuppance, only it played out in a much more realistic way. John C. Reilly was great, and the film-makers also thought to include the timeless Marisa Tomei in order to please me.

(Jonah Hill needs to lose some weight or he's going to become the next Hollywood tragedy.)

Russ T said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Reel Inspiration said...

Just went to the fascinating panel discussion of "Winter's Bone" at the Film Forward series in Tucson, AZ. Co-producer Kathryn Dean shared how she hung out with the locals to gain their trust to use their property and learn their way of life. Also, they cast as many locals as they could to give the film an authentic feel.