Tuesday, January 19, 2010
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.
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.