Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hound Dog - Movie Review

After watching the Runaways with Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning I wanted to explore some more Dakota Fanning films. I thought she did a great job in the Runaways and I thought Kristen nailed her part as Joan Jett - fantastic. I can highly recommend The Runaways and suggest you see that as well if you have not rented it from Net Flix yet.

In any event I stumbled upon Hound Dog and liked some of the other reviews I saw and took a chance on renting.

A serious movie with moments of sheer despair, farce and joy mixed together. Hound Dog is a slice of life, rural south, exploration and exploitation of hope, grit and determination all wrapped up in Dakota Fanning as an 11 year old. I'm guessing on her age but she's just a young girl in this movie and deals with extraordinary over the top circumstances. Well maybe on second thought not so extra-ordinary but perhaps quite ordinary, and that might be the point of the movie.

Growing up is hard, growing up poor is even harder, growing up poor and uneducated damned near impossible. There are sharks swimming all around you as a child in all sorts of strips ready to take advantage. They may be your parents, grand parents friends, neighbors and personalities, but everyone is hard scrambled and living on their wits. Some use their wits to take advantage of the naive some use those wits to make the best of a bad situation, and others struggle mightily somewhere in between waffling back and forth.

Half way through this movie I realized I was watching a movie that the small minded had a knee jerk reaction to when it first came out. You know who I mean the supposed arbiters who want everyone to act the same, think the same and live the same as if creation its very self wasn't a triumph of diversity and creativity. You know the ones who lambasted Scorsese The Last Temptation of Christ. Well that's a beautiful movie and after watching that I still do not see what the outrage was all about.

Organized religion is just another political party who wants to control their minions. Run don't walk away from their controlling behavior. You inherently know the difference between right and wrong. You do not need another man dressed up as if at a costume party haranguing you, guilting you and manipulating you into supposed norms. Norms that betray the very teachings of their messiahs. Norms that discriminate, divide and exploit our differences, norms that promote fear for personal gain and power...all dressed up as a religion...the hypocrisy is blatantly obvious.

Anyway those turkeys tried to control the viewing of this wonderful movie and I think it got passed over. Dakota Fanning delivers a remarkable performance considering her age. It is very believable and the controversial scene will knock you out as it should. There is a message being delivered here and it evolves over the course of the movie.

Robin Wright Penn gives a stellar performance as well.

Rent Hound Dog. It has moments of light, farce and joy as well as despair but the contrast is what makes the movie so powerful. And the farce will make you laugh out loud. At times it parodies itself to lighten the load but the overall message is delivered in the end.

Four stars out of five - it could have been longer and Robbin Wright Penn's Character more developed. That way the movie could have avoided stereotypes and the farcical situations. The lightening strike is a riot, and the pool hall scene incredulous. The musical scenes were a bit over the top but for the record the back porch jam sessions are what its all about. Those scenes came off a little too polished for me. The expense of all those nice instruments versus the background of being poor didn't add up. I mean the movie has an Elvis impersonator in it. Tongue in cheek or a needed light touch. I don't think the director set out to make Sounder (another beautiful movie). So its not all doom and gloom and your emotions do jump back and forth. If you look at this movie insisting on a dreaded serious topic being reduced to academia you'll be frustrated.

I never got the feeling that the director was making a documentary but rather a movie that threw up the reality of extremes that are all too common and just what depths an individual has to go through in dealing with situations beyond their control.

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