Monday, July 30, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This film seems to be a retelling of a folktale. It has the dream logic and extreme behavior of one, but this "folktale" was created by writer Lucy Alibar and director Benh Zeitlin. It exists in the shadow of the current worldwide environmental disaster and concerns six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvanzanhé Wallis) and her father Wink (Dwight Henry). They live in a multi-racial, funky Arcadia called the Bathtub. It's located in the Mississippi Delta on the edge of the Gulf.

Hushpuppy lives in a world suffused with magic interconnections. Small local things lead to global effects. She believes that something she's done has thawed out primordial aurochs which are stampeding across the world spreading destruction. Whereas the historical aurochs were the direct ancestors of present day cattle, the "aurochs" in "Beasts" look like wild boars the size of elephants. And then the inundation comes.

Quvanzanhé Wallis gives an amazing performance. "Beasts" does not always work at all points but it has enough wonderful/beautiful moments to make it well worth taking a look at. You won't see anything else like it this summer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Sunday past, Mme Le Chef and I traveled through several microclimates on a day trip up to Limantour Beach. In San Francisco it was sunny and in the upper 60s. In Lucas Valley (50 min. away by car) it was sunny and in the upper 80s and at the sea (90 min. away) it was foggy and in the lower 60s. As usual, as soon as you walked away from the entrance to the beach it was almost totally empty of people. (Please click)

There were some other living things though.


Possible food for the pelicans.

An alien life form.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Americana Part Three

"Stormy Weather", a 20th Century Fox musical from 1943, is a time capsule containing excellent performances by some of the greatest African-American singers, dancers and musicians of the first part of the last century. The amazing Fats Waller does two songs in the film. These were some of his last recordings since he died later that year at the age of 39. The film also has Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, The Nichols Brothers, Bill Robinson and more.

However, the time capsule also contains the toxic racial history of the United States. It's a segregated film in that there are only African-Americans in it. Additionally, although some of the male performers are light skinned and some dark skinned, the female performers are universally light skinned. Was this a diktat from some studio bureaucrat? WTF?

In one scene Cab Calloway is wearing a wonderful zoot suit. This is darkly ironic since 1943 was the year of the Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles. Racist white servicemen, with the support of military and police authorities, attacked Latino, African-American and Filipino youth wearing zoot suits . One should never get too nostalgic for the perceived "good old days".

Nonetheless, I recommend this film for its great music, great dancing and great energy. Time traveling is fun.