I’ve got one for you.
I don’t want to ‘oversell’ this film, but if you’re looking for something a bit different and at the same time a bit familiar, something with terrific acting, a good adventure story, and a glimpse into another part of America, put Mud on your ‘to see’ list.
It is written and directed by Jeff Nichols and stars Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan, and Jacob Lofland. McConaughey (Mud) and Witherspoon (Juniper) may be what draw audiences to this film, but it is the story and performances of Sheridan (Ellis) and Lofland (Neckbone) that make this movie a winner.
To say that Mud is a coming-of-age story doesn’t quite capture the depth of this film, which is kind of a cross between a Mark Twain story and Winter’s Bone (that wonderful film about a teenage girl in the Ozarks).
It’s really the story of two 14 year-old boys who discover something on an island near where they live just off the Mississippi River in a poor Arkansas community. This discovery leads to other discoveries, mostly about the realities of the world around them.
Because I don’t want to spoil any of what you will discover watching this slightly long (130 minute) independent film, I’ll refrain from saying much more about what happens in Mud.
But for me, it felt authentic (the back country life, etc.). I liked almost all of the characters and the acting (particularly the two boys, their parents/guardians, and Mud). The values the film portrays seemed real and important (loyalty, trust, honesty). And the issues raised, both the coming of age issues and the struggles that the adults have, are realistic and are portrayed in a way that we can all understand.
There is something endearing about Mud, and I suspect I will remember it longer than most of the other films I’ve seen so far this year.
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If you like ‘popular’ music there is a film that you might look for (it’s not out just yet): Twenty Feet From Stardom ****. This is a film directed by Morgan Neville that tells the story of back up singers for some of the most well known musical legends (Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, Sting, etc.). This documentary is different from what we usually see about what happens in the music ‘world’ as it portrays what goes on behind the lead singer(s). Lots of personal stories and vies about what it’s like to play second ‘fiddle’ to superstars.
Also, our Sunday Cinema Club rated the film Still Mine, previously mini-reviewed on MillersTime, 94.9% (Excellent/Good) with a recommend rate of 95.9%. Those are among the highest ratings given by this group of film watchers. I don’t think this film is in the theaters yet either, but add it to your list, particularly if you saw and enjoyed Amour.