Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD (2014)



Written & Directed By: Greg Araki 
Based on the Book By: Laura Kasischke 
Cinematography By: Sandra Valde-Hansen 

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Thomas Jane, Eva Green, Shiloh Fernandez, Christopher Meloni, Gabourey Sidibe, Angela Basset, Dale Dickey, Sheryl Lee, Mark Indelicato


This is a strange film, That is truly hard to pin down, Describe properly not characterize, It's colorful and at times has some truly astonishing surreal images

I realize the film is about a girls sexual awakening . So that might unsettle some audience members who don't exactly know why kin of film they are walking into. Like myself

Greg Araki for me is a hit or miss director. Some of his films I absolutely love MYSTERIOUS SKIN, NOWHERE. Some I like SPLENDOR, KABOOM and others that are disappointing. He started out as a kind of punk rock director of queer inspired cinema. Then slowly his films seem to just be about youth and all sexual identities. Though you could see with each film a stronger sense of style and better productions overall. No matter what you could never accuse his films of being boring as they seemed to thrive on pushing buttons and being sexually open. and after SMILEY FACE. He made a comeback with KABOOM. This more or less is a middle of the road affair for him. As It's not a bad film. It's more disappointing then anything. As it’s both feels like something different and new yet familiar.

My problems with this film is that for all the sensationalism in the film. The films scenes play with a detained sense of energy as the lines are spoken with little emphasis. Which works for Hal Hartley as his films are designed thy way here it comes off as unsettling. It makes me wonder of it was a voice as the story ends up becoming so emotional as Woodley's character slowly becomes emotionally involved and not so distant from everything and everyone .

Shailene Woodley is the only actor here who makes their presence felt ad that is mainly because she is the star of the film. So she has room to grow. Which is a shame as most of the supporting actors have good characters to play, but seem to go through the motions of letting heir wardrobe speak for them. Plus the bolder names of the cast are barely used.

It's hard to feel anything for any of the characters as not only are half of then barely given anything to do, but also most are so unlikeable you don't care or want to spend any time with them anyway. Especially Thomas Jane's character who is just creepy to a degree.

This is the Shailene Woodley film that doesn't have a lot of promotion behind it though it has what her teenage make fans will want the most. Nudity. She breaks her onscreen nudity cherry many times. Seeming to do it just to get it over with for those who desire to see it and also to show a certain bravery about how devoted she is to her craft and playing the character truly. I can say it felt like an underlying theme of this film was shows her breasts as often as they could. It also feels like a transition movie that sometimes child and teen actors make. To show that they are grown adults now and want to be seen in a different way then they probably have become famous for. Usually they do a risqué role in an dramatic indie film or LINDSAY LOHAN IN THE CANYONS, VANESSA HUDGENS, SELENA GOMEZ in SPRING BREAKERS, Alyssa Milano in Embrace of the vampire and FEAR. These films while revelatory. Do brig these actors into a new frame of mind, but usually backfire In bringing them the attention they want instead bringing them more attention that is hard to love down Elizabeth Berkeley in SHOWGIRLS.

This film is certainly a film that Shailene Woodley can easily use to burn that sweet teenage image she has gained. His film she is rebellious aggressively sexual which we are shown, and constantly topless. There is even a scene where she is describing her lover’s genitals to her friends in graphic detail.

What I appreciate about the film is that it deals with sex and teenage sexuality in a more realistic way. The teens don't see it as precious in this film and the girls want to have sex it seems more then the guys do. They don't necessarily want the romance just the action. Most films rarely seem to want to admit or show that. I appreciate that difference in the film, bit that seems to be one of the few strides the film makes.

The script or dialogue at least seems more simple then clever or revelatory. Which while slowing down the film also punctuate more moments I notice rather then what is being said.

Shailene Woodley deserves all the credit as she bares mind, body and soul in her performance and it's the first one I have seen where she is more cool, normal and rebellious rather than the girl next door. She is really the only solid person or thing in this film.

I would say of you are a completist of her work seek the film. Out. If not you can wait to see the film.
The film has a certain dream like quality that seems to make everything simpler and give it a flow. Though plain in bold colors and backgrounds. To cover up a certain decay in suburbia. That kind of plays it's lead by having there always be a mode of the uncertain In Each scene

Eva Green as always is great in her role of a housewife who seems tragically bored and desperate for any kind of attention. Jealous that her family can easily leave and interact with the world and be seen as useful. Where she is at home and barely acknowledged unless she demands it. She also seems to have an obsession with her daughter who she sees as her younger clone and is jealous of her beauty and all the attention she gets. So she rages at her to not make the same mistakes and seems to want to switch places for another chance at life and happiness, or is there something more sinister afoot?

The too fast, Too soon sexual aspect of the film is familiar for fans of his work, but also works as not making the characters so precious and less role models, but rather dealing with them as believable people somewhat

When the revelations of the film are finally made. They aren’t so much shocking as eerily predicted and as it is revealed it comes off stale and so matter of fact that it drains the moment. So much so that once the film ends it comes off as rather a bleak affair. A sad story that seems like it has more power on the page then acted out. It’s not entirely the films fault as we have seen the scenario before and things that might have been shocking seem relatively tame when seen and told here. Especially, when we have seen so much tawdriness before throughout the film and especially considering the directors previous work. This feels like him keeping up with his themes but with a lighter touch. So that while it would be more of shock had it come in an earlier decade. Here in the now it is a quick eyebrow raise, but then calms down and is like a fake scare in a horror film

As the mellowness of the film continues you find yourself coming up with different directions it could go just to make the film more interesting as it goes along. As by the end you just wonder why this film was made as it seems like there is nothing new or anything to say that hasn’t been seen before so by the end it feels hollow and like a nothingness. I don’t feel it’s anyone involved fault as it just doesn’t seem like an interesting tale to hold attention for 90 minutes visually. It’s thin and what feels like it could be compelling only to someone not used to hearing stories such as these. So it’s no shock it was based on a young adult novel.

The film had a certain dream like quality that seems to make everything more simple and give it a flow. Though plain in bold colors and backgrounds. To cover up a certain decay in suburbia. That kind of plays it's lead by having there always be a mode of the uncertain In Each scene

 GRADE: D+

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