Tuesday, January 19, 2010

True Grit


I worked at a bookstore when Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone was published in 2006. I pushed that thing on everybody from readers of badass thrillers to parents looking for fiction for their teenagers to snobby literary types with a big ol' metaphor lodged up their back sides to twitchy meth mouths looking for a cautionary tale and people of any walk looking for an authentic taste of the region.

The only dissent I ever experienced on the book's merit was from suburban rich folks horrified that their big city friends on the coasts might read it and think that life in Missouri ain't the Sex and the City episode they were trying to convince themselves it could be.

And I got that reaction a lot.

Seriously?

Well, they can go ahead and be all kinds of scaredy now, 'cause Winter's Bone, the movie, makes its debut this week at The Sundance Film Festival, (where it's in competition along with Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me). And the relatively few people that read books are waaaay outnumbered by them that sees talkies. That's right, cat's outta the bag. Everybody's gonna know that the Ozarks aint too cosmopolitan. And while the jury is still out on the film, (let's face it, it'll have to be pretty spectacular to live up to its heritage), it is an exciting thing that this kind of film is even being made today. 2009 supposedly taught us that the adult drama is dead, but here we are looking forward, in the next year, to some ambitious stabs at filmic renderings of regional gritty maturity.

I feel like a broken record bringing up my anticipation of the various William Gay projects, That Evening Sun as the first offering and other Woodrell projects including Give Us a Kiss, but I'll mention them again and add to that list the new cable series Tough Trade coming from Chris Offutt and Jenji Kohan. And I'll even throw in some movie-type recommendations along these lines. Sitting right atop my list of the best and most exciting film stuffs to come out of the (relative) south, (Arkansas) in the last decade is Jeff Nichols and his film Shotgun Stories. The aughts also brought us Arliss Howard's take on Larry Brown with Big Bad Love while David Gordon Green retooled the region twice with George Washington and Undertow and Ray McKinnon stepped behind the camera for Chrystal.

The adult drama is dead. Long live the adult drama.

13 comments:

Frank Bill said...

CANNOT FUCKING WAIT!!! ONe helluva a cast.

Rod Norman said...

Every bit as excited about Winters Bone, The W. Gay projects & Killer Inside Me. I cant wait...seems like its been awhile, ( No Country For Old Men & There Will Be Blood ) since I was this excited about a film. Also SHOTGUN STORIES w/ M. Shannon was my favorite film of that year & I saw it at the Roger Ebert Film Fest & met the director. Hes good friends with David Gordon Green.

Kieran Shea said...

Shotgun Stories. That funeral scene. Man...Michael Shannon. Scary dude. "Before The Devil Knows Your Dead" cameo blackmailer role, but killer as well.

Gonzalo B said...

Thanks for all the recommendations. Other than the excellent Shotgun Stories, I hadn't seen any of them. Another recent adult drama that's pretty good is Trucker with Michelle Monaghan.

jedidiah ayres said...

Gonzalo - Yeah, Trucker looked pretty decent. Glad you reminded me. I haven't seen it yet. Thanks

CrimeNerd said...

A post about two major obsessions of mine - Michael Shannon and Daniel Woodrell.

Agree with Kieran Shea about the funeral scene. Fucking amazing.

As a dork who leaves HI-laaarrious messages on peoples' voicemails, I think I've got Michael Shannon's voice down now, though it's fairly similar to my Ted-Levine-inSilence of-the-Lambs voice, come to think of it.

Here's hoping the Winter's Bone adaptation is even a fraction of the awesome that we know the book to be.

pattinase (abbott) said...

WINTER'S BONE was about the best book I've read in the last five years-with one or two predictable exceptions. I am afraid to see the movie-it cannot be as good as the book.

jedidiah ayres said...

Pete - Scott Phillips and I had a part written with Mike Shannon in mind in one of our scripts and then he goes and gets that Oscar Nom last year... out of our league officially

CrimeNerd said...

Jed

Maybe, but you never know, though. Guy made Shotgun for peanuts. Right script, right pitch, right connections? Fingers crossed.

Such a movie were to be made, w/ you, Phillips and Shannon in the credits? Better believe my ass is first in line.

jedidiah ayres said...

I'll quote you in future pitch meetings

Anonymous said...

Jed,

Get you a series, and then hire me to get the coffee in the writing room. My bags are packed, and I'm ready to move to LA.

Kyle

Anonymous said...

Jed,

Get you a series, and then hire me to get the coffee in the writing room. My bags are packed, and I'm ready to move to LA.

Kyle

jedidiah ayres said...

Kyle -Can you send a coffee sample?