At long last, Silver Lining’s Playbook– David O. Russell’s story of love in a hyper-diagnosed, over-medicated, label-dependent society – is available on DVD. Bradley Cooper plays a damaged man returning home to Philly from an institutionalized stint. He returns to a football obsessed father with undiagnosed OCD (Robert DeNiro – and he’s actually acting, everybody!), and his own unrelenting determination to win back his estranged wife. And then he meets an unbalanced, brooding, unquestionably hot neighbor (Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence). Both leads are fantastic, buoyed by an excellent supporting cast and a screenplay that bends to enough Hollywood tropes to be a crowd pleaser but subverts enough to be a real surprise.
We’re not going to pretend we championed Lawrence since her TV days on the Bill Envall show, but with Winter’s Bone, she impressed us and everyone else who saw her gritty, Oscar-nominated performance. As a young woman in the Ozarks wading through family secrets while searching for her father, Lawrence is never less than frighteningly real. She is surrounded by an outstanding supporting cast, most notably John Hawkes and Dale Dickie. Director/co-writer Debra Granick crafts a latter day Deliverance that grabs you early, not letting go until you feel that you’ve survived an experience, not merely seen a movie.
The award-bedecked indie masterpiece Beasts of the Southern Wild is finally available on DVD today. Get it. Do it right now.
The brilliant tale spins quite a yarn, following 6-year-old Hushpuppy through tumultuous times in an area of the Louisiana Delta called The Bathtub. The wee heroine, played by Quvenzhane Wallis (a force of nature to match the hurricane that’s coming) puzzles through the upsetting events of her father’s failing health and the suddenly ferocious weather with the poetic logic of a child – gloriously nonsensical yet frighteningly reasonable. Wallis joins her director Benh Zeitlin in astonishing debuts, as does the equally fierce and amazing Dwight Henry, playing Hushpuppy’s father Wink. Full of folklore and enchantment, their collaboration amounts to one wonderfully original vision of freedom, self-determination and loss.
For another, more chilling, tale of subculture survival, try Winter’s Bone. In her breakout role, Jennifer Lawrence is riveting as Ree, a young Ozark Mountain girl in danger of crossing the wrong people as she searches for her father and uncovers some dark family secrets. John Hawkes leads a stupendous supporting cast and, along with the unflinching writing and gritty direction of Debra Granik, joins Lawerence to make Winter’s Bone a must.