Archives for posts with tag: island

Mud_PosterArt

Wholly original while also echoing Stand by Me in its coming-of-age adventure and Sling Blade in its rural milieu, Mud is the story of fourteen-year-old Arkansas boy Ellis (Tye Sheridan), who, along with buddy Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), discovers the titular fugitive (Matthew McConaughey) hiding out on a little island not very far downriver from his family’s houseboat. Mud is on the run after murdering a man who threatened his girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon), and Ellis and Neckbone, who are understandably fascinated by this highly unusual character, strike a deal to help him out by bringing him food and supplies.

Mud, like Luke Glanton in The Place Beyond the Pines, is a semi-mythical, romantic, rough-hewn, damaged but untamed figure whose face and tattoos tell his story. He is something out of America’s past, a sort of boy who never grew up, and locates a parallel spirit in Ellis. Matthew McConaughey, so memorable in the previous year’s Killer Joe, is perfect in this polar opposite role as the friendly and formidable but tragically naive Mud, and Tye Sheridan, too, is believably earnest in his central role as companion Ellis. Other faces enhancing the cast are Sheriff Pusser himself, Joe Don Baker, Premium Rush‘s Michael Shannon, The Right Stuff‘s Sam Shepard, and newcomer Bonnie Sturdivant as sultry teenage hussy May Pearl, Ellis’s inamorata.

5 stars. Highest recommendation. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Mud is:

6. Anti-Christian. King (Joe Don Baker) represents Christians unflatteringly when he initiates a group prayer for Mud’s imminent demise. Mud makes at least one reference to God, but comes across as more of a pagan with his wild, natural ways.

5. Gun-ambivalent. Mud’s pistol gets him into trouble, but mentor and ex-Marine Tom (Sam Shepard) comes in handy in the end with his rifle and sniper skills.

4. Anti-slut. Mud’s love is wasted on floozy Juniper (Witherspoon).

3. Anti-marriage. Ellis’s parents are getting divorced. Women are undependable.

2. Anti-vigilante. Mud’s poorly considered vengeance has made him a hunted man. King, father of the abusive lowlife Mud murdered, arranges a posse to locate and liquidate the hero, but by doing so he only succeeds bringing more woe on himself.

1. Libertarian. The River Authority callously threatens to order the family out of their houseboat. Neckbone dismisses the legislation sanctioning such an action as “bullshit”. Ellis’s father (Ray McKinnon), meanwhile, voices strong propertarian views when his son is caught in a theft. The police are susceptible to corruption.

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Ang Lee’s film of Life of Pi is a special effects spectacle and pantheistic allegory about human diversity and coexistence in a multicultural society.  When Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) escapes from a sinking ship and finds himself alone in a boat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger named Richard Parker, he is horrified to see the animals fight and devour each other until only he and the vicious Parker are left.  He finds himself, in other words, in the unenviable situation of witnessing the symbolized civil strife and disintegration of mutually resentful and belligerent ethnic groups forced to share a cramped piece of real estate.

In George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, a scientist suggests that the hordes of cannibalistic zombies taking over Pittsburgh might be pacified by a food program.  The film’s audience understands that the man is losing his mind, but Life of Pi takes his idea and runs with it.  Presented with the options of either trying to kill Parker, being eaten by him, or attempting to coexist peacefully on the boat, Pi opts for the latter and does his best to domesticate and placate the boat’s savage and carnivorous demographic by feeding it fish.  He has, in short, opted to implement a floating microcosm of the Great Society.

A visit to an island teeming with identical meerkats demonstrates the danger of a racially homogenous society.  Everything appears to be dandy on the utopian island until night falls, when the place itself turns carnivorous and secretes toxic chemicals, so that the whole island constitutes a gigantic Venus flytrap.  Take note, America.  If not for all of the minorities in your midst, you, too, would soon fall prey to a venomous meerkat conformity.  Note that a group of meerkats is, according to Wikipedia, termed a “clan” (i.e., Klan).  Pi indicates the role reserved for racially pure majorities in his Great Society when, on embarking from the island, he takes several meerkats along to feed Richard Parker.

3.5 of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Life of Pi is:

6. Green.  Pi loves animals and apologizes to a dazed fish after he beats it in the head to subdue it, imagining it to be an incarnation of God.  The sinister island of (white) anti-diversity pollutes itself with chemicals as well as intolerant delusion.

5. Anti-Christian.  Pi feeds Parker fish, indicating that Christians are expendable and fair game for processing as Soylent Green in maintaining the multiethnic peace.  They are, if not thrown to the lion, to be thrown to the tiger.

4. Pro-family.  Pi’s family is loving and he is sorry to lose them at sea.

3. Multiculturalist.  The story is framed when a directionless, unshaven white guy (Rafe Spall) comes to enlightened Indian Pi (played as an adult by Irrfan Khan) hoping to be inspired with faith.  Pi, in addition to being spiritually attuned, is a mathematical genius and polyglot.  Mexicans come to Pi’s aid when he washes up on their beach.  The desirability of racial homogeneity, the film suggests, is a poisonous illusion.  Grande Utopie Sovietique et Progressif defector Gerard Depardieu has a cameo as a grumpy and probably racist cook who, disrespectful of the exotic religious and culinary views of Pi’s vegetarian mother (Tabu),  insensitively slops murderous gravy onto her plate.  Meerkats, like fish, are expendable.

2. Egalitarian.  Feeding the tiger gives Pi’s life meaning.

1. New Age.  Pantheist Pi, who considers himself a Christian and a Muslim in addition to (and as a function of) being a Hindu, thanks Vishnu for introducing him to Jesus.  Karma is God’s way, he says.  In his present-day life as a college professor, he teaches a Kabbala class.

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