Movie Review: Winter’s Bone

 

winters-bone

Winter’s Bone to Pick

One thing that instantly stood out about Winter’s Bone was the preconceived notion that every Ozarks town is the same: backwoods. When Missouri comes up in the news or in conversation, many people jump to the same conclusion that the people of Missouri are just that as well: backwoods. While the Missouri Ozarks will always be home, it is one perception I would like to break. Agreeably, there are still backwoods towns in Missouri, but by and large all of the Ozarks is not like this. There are many perceptions in this movie that the producers got wrong. On the other hand, there are some perceptions they got right.

Ree Dolly portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence is a teenager who takes on many of the responsibilities for her family when her father goes missing during his latest meth venture. If one has lived in Missouri, particularly the Southwest region, for very long, you discover the penchant for meth-making. Missouri has become known as the meth capital of the nation due in part to the overabundance of methamphetamines. Winter’s Bone does convey the drug culture that runs rampant through the Ozarks: the continual cycle of drug production, getting caught, going to jail, getting out, and starting all over again.

While Ree walks all over the countryside searching for her father, some details stand out. Forsyth in Taney County was where this was filmed and doubles as the setting for the film. Yes, this area is extremely mountainous and densely populated by forest, the absence of fast food restaurants and Walmart is somewhat alarming. Even when living in a rural area in Missouri, one can usually find one or both venues within a ten-minute drive. Hunting is a popular pastime for Ozarks’ residents, and a good majority still stock their freezers with meat for the winter, but who doesn’t love a good old McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries on occasion? Winter’s Bone gives the idea that unless one hunts for their food, they will starve to death. That has not been a way of life in the Ozarks for several decades.

Although certain regions in the Ozarks can come across as über religious, the town in Winter’s Bone tends to be a little on the extreme side, such as the continual presence of Gospel/Bluegrass music, adding to the backwoods perception. Where is the mention of sport’s teams (Cardinals, Chiefs, etc.) or Bass Pro? Anyone who has resided in this area knows that despite the love of firearms and Jesus, Sports is greatly celebrated in the Ozarks.

Friends and neighbors take care of each other in Winter’s Bone, which is something that is a common practice in the Ozarks. Ree’s neighbor brings by a food box filled with deer meat, potatoes, and other staples that could be used to make a hearty meal. This is a common courtesy that Ozarkians will do when they see a neighbor going through a difficult time.

Car graveyards is something that one will find anywhere throughout the Ozarks. On one of Ree’s outings to find her father, she walks through a field/yard of a guy who knows him, and it is filled with abandoned pickup trucks, cars, and a few school buses. Certainly not a crucial detail, but one that decidedly pegged the lives of many Ozarkians. In another scene, there are piles of old tires accumulating in a yard, which is another common sight in the Ozarks. Not so much hoarding, but certainly an accumulation of junk is a something that can be seen driving down any Ozarks rural road.

The language and phrases used in Winter’s Bone is surprisingly spot on for Ozarks vernacular. My family is not backwoods by any means, but they are definitely country to the core, and that shines through in their language. As an English major, and an avid reader and writer, I have spent years attempting to neutralize my accent so as not to sound like I am from a specific region. However, when spending any length of time in my family’s company, I easily drop back into the country twang and phrases. Language is a powerful aspect of one’s life.

Emotions run high in the Ozarks. Ree’s love and devotion for her family is evident in how she protects them and takes on the role of head-of-the-household when her father is gone. However, anger and retribution are also common emotions in the lives of Ozarkians. Ree gets in a bind when she goes against the advice of her neighbors while searching for her father, or for someone who might know where he has gone. The neighbors jump her and beat her bloody as they prove their point, teaching her a lesson, basically forcing her to pay for the sins of her father. Once again, it is proven that blood is thicker than water when her uncle comes to her rescue, despite his own misgivings with her interference. Life in the Ozarks can be a double-edged sword. Family and neighbors will bend over backward for you, but if you cross them, or if they think you have, they will turn on you in an instant.

Winter’s Bone conveys some aspects of the author’s life, but the events that take place in the film should not be perceived as a common occurrence in every life of an Ozarkian. There is no denying that the film merely highlights a dark facet that can be found in many places throughout the Ozarks, despite the lack or accuracy of certain details. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who calls themselves an Ozarkian, but also to anyone interested in one aspect of Ozarks culture.

Sources: Granik, Debra, Director. Winter’s Bone. Performance by Jennifer Lawrence, Lionsgate, 2010.

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Review: Be Frank With Me

Be Frank With MeBe Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adore Frank! I was not sure how I would feel about this book, but I can honestly say I would read it all over again.

Spoilers ahead:

Frank is a nine-almost-ten year old little red head son of famous recluse writer M.M. (Mimi) Banning. He would rather dress in a morning suit from the 1940s, complete with cuff-links, and top hat or fez. He is a richly intelligent boy, who is obsessed with entertainment facts of the golden age of Hollywood and radio. It did not take but a couple of chapters to realize that Frank must certainly be high-functioning autistic (Asperger’s), based on his speech, intelligence, and single-focused interests. When twenty-four year old Alice is hired by Mimi’s agent to be her personal assistant, she travels from New York to Los Angeles taking up residence with the writer and her son. Frank warms up to her, after a dire warning from Mimi not to touch Frank without his permission, and under no circumstances touch any of his things, or else meltdowns would occur. While Mimi is holed up in her office writing her latest overdue novel, Alice and Frank take on LA in a magnanimous way. The duo soon learn much about each other, their likes and dislikes, and their coping mechanisms. The more the story unfolded, the more I saw my autistic nephew in Frank. There are moments of hilarity, moments of tenderness, and moments of heartbreak. Each moment shaped the until Frank and Alice became such endearing characters that I will cherish having met.

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Review: A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I was skeptical at first, when it started out reading as a narrative of a grumpy old man. However, it quickly became a humorous, touching story about a man who had lost everything and everyone he had loved in life. Ove soon discovered love can be found in the strangest of places: a bedraggled feral cat, new neighbors, helping those in need in various ways. At every turn, Ove’s desire to die was curtailed by the needs of his new “family” in hilarious ways. I laughed. I cried. I have to read the physical copy of this book because I loved the audiobook so much. I recommend this to everyone, regardless of your genre of choice. Go read it now!

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Review: The Bone Labyrinth

The Bone Labyrinth (Sigma Force, #11)The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a huge Rollins fan for his ability to take a snippet out of a news story and turn it into masterfully crafted novel. While I’m a fan of the Sigma Force characters, it was mainly Kowalski that earned a place in my heart for fictional characters due to his relationship with Bacco (sp?) the gorilla. Tough as nails Kowalski is brought into a case to become a sign language translator for Bacco, and as man and beast bond, it is a relationship that warms and encourages those who enjoy relationships between humans and animals. I choose to listen to the audiobook version of this since I have been trying to get around to it forever. However, the narrator, while great at enunciating accents and the individuality of the characters throughout the story, he otherwise possessed a rather monotone voice that honestly put me to sleep a few times. I probably won’t read another Rollins book via audiobook for this reason, and the fact that so many details get lost in the listening that would otherwise be the point of focus in the written word. Regardless, I enjoyed The Bone Labyrinth!

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Blurred Shades of Grey

If you are living and breathing and participating in any form of social media these days then you’ve probably heard whispers (or shouts) about the popular book “Fifty Shades of Grey”. If you haven’t, you will. I haven’t read it, and I refuse to. From what I’ve been able to interpret from reviews and other blog posts, it is not anything that I would want to read. Ever. Or recommend to anyone I know and love. And I hope my plea, and those like mine, reach you before you fall into the trap of reading it. Although I know I’ll probably receive flames about what I’m about to write, I can’t sit idly by as girls, godly girls even, are pulled into the allure of this story. This book is sadistic trash. I’m sorry if you disagree and if I’ve offended you with my statement. Actually…I’m not sorry. Here’s why…

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is classified as an erotic romance. In all actuality though, it goes way beyond that. It is really just a bunch of sickening BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, Masochism).  That description in itself is enough to make me blush to my roots and want to throw up. If that makes me a prude, then so be it. But more than that, is the simple fact that so many people are held captive by the lies and bondage of this particular genre, unaware of how much damage it is doing, not only to their psyche but to their soul.

Not only are married ladies in danger, but single ladies (and some rather young influential ladies at that) and their future marriages as well. Men already have unhealthy expectations of what women should look like and what sex should be thanks to the pages of magazines that portray women as sex objects. Now ladies have that issue to battle as well due to decades of lurid romance books (i.e. soft porn, though there’s nothing “soft” about it in my personal opinion). They have this fairy tale image (laced with eroticism) of what sex and love is. Though, still never having experienced either myself, I know it can’t be as fantastical as those books make it out to be.

I can already hear what you’re thinking. “What the crap do you know about marriage? You’re single and still a freakin virgin!” I don’t have to be married to observe what a marriage should contain and what it shouldn’t. What it should contain is Respect.

What does respect have to do with this book? Everything. Respect is something that, if you don’t have it for yourself, you probably won’t have it for your mate (or future mate). The way you look at yourself and the opposite sex can fully effect your marriage. Respect is lacking from this book. The main characters in this book do not respect each other or themselves. In fact, their relationship is nothing to admire. It’s disturbing and all sorts of wrong.

I know what you’re thinking. “It’s only a book…it can’t hurt me.” Believe me, I know all the justifications and arguments out there, because I had these internal conversations with myself so many times. Everyone has addictive qualities about something, whether it be alcohol, tobacco, pornography, self-gratification, whatever it may be… the thing is, we all have vices that will trip us up given the chance. And if you know this, you should do everything you can to protect yourself from it.

I write these things not to cast judgement on anyone (that’s the last thing I want to do), but to warn you. I’ve dealt with years of self-worth issues because of reading books and stories similar to this one. The images and thoughts that the words of the book will evoke will stay with you for life. Ingrained into your memory. The things they will make you do will cause you to not even recognize yourself. Trust me. It’s been several years since the Lord helped me to break free from this bondage, and still to this day I have to battle with those images that try to surface and make me stumble. Daily.

I know from personal experience that words and images can effect the way we think and operate. Media of this nature will suck the very life from your soul until you are lying in the dark one night wondering how you got to that point. But you can break free. It takes time. You’ll have scars. But even Jesus has scars. Scars are part of the story, too.

I was at a women’s rally a couple months ago and the guest speaker reiterated over and over how as ladies we are worth something. That as ladies of faith we needed to share our story. No matter how ugly it is. Some of you may already know my story. Some of you may not. This was a very dark part of my story, and you can read it in its entirety here. But ultimately I want you, ladies and guys, to know that there are things out there that are meant to divert us from the path that the Lord has laid out for us. Things like smutty books, magazines, websites, movies and such. It’s not too late to stop. It’s not too late to get help. There’s freedom there for you if you’re willing to fight for it. And it is worth fighting for.