Monday, April 29, 2013

"Mud": new cultural thriller recalls the 60s' "The Chase"; Lionsgate has a new look


“My name is Mud.”  So says a river fugitive to two teenage boys by Matthew McConaughey’s grungy and tattooed character two pre-teen boys in Jeff Nichols’s new hit drama “Mud”.
  
The boys (Ellis and Neckbone, played by Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) look, more like 12 than the 14 that they say they are, but Ellis particularly has tremendous energy and charisma. They’re good at doing things with their lands, like fixing old boats that run.  They “sail” to a wild island in the Mississippi River bordering Arkansas and find a boat strung up in a tree.  Soon they encounter “Mud”, who is able to manipulate them into helping him escape and keeping his secret.

Mud is on the run, from a murder in Texas, which might have sounded justifiable.  The boys, especially Ellis, don’t have the judgment to understand the bigger picture;  instead the most important virtue is to carry out a military-style loyalty.
  
The movie gradually explores the boys’ families (divorce, of course), and the social and work environment of river “white trash”.  
  
This is a long film (130 minutes) and Nichols manages to spin a captivating tale among people whom one might not sympathize with.  Reese Withersppon and Sam Shepard also star.
  
I saw the film before a large Sunday afternoon audience at the Angelika Mosaic in Fairfax, VA. The audience seemed to enjoy it (judging from informal reactions).  Nobody thought of the characters as "losers".  That seems to be a valuable skill in screenwriting -- to gain the interest of the audience in "real people" with understandable "fatal flaws".  
    
This is another film released by the business consortium of Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions, and produced with Everest Entertainment.  Lionsgate now has a new bombastic trademark ritual, with the heavens and stars but no machine gears (to shake off the “Saw” image).  The new music isn’t on YouTube yet. 
  
The official site is here.


This film reminds me of a classic 60s thriller, “The Chase”, which I saw in Kansas while in graduate school. That film (from Columbia and Arthur Penn) offered Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda, and Robert Redford as “Bubba Reeves” who is escaped from prison while his wife has an affair with the sheriff’s friend.  The whole town anticipates his “return”.  

For today's short film, look at my GLBT blog (April 28), "The Story of Tracks Nightclub". 

Wikipedia attribution link for Mississippi River picture. 

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