Winter’s Bone, directed by Debra Granik, takes a gritty look at life in the Ozarks. This is a film that strives for accuracy–locals were hired as supporting actors, the cast held a clothing exchange with the community, and the film was shot fully on location in townsfolk’s houses, sheds, and bars. Granik’s characters lead complicated lives, many of which are fueled by drugs and incredibly difficult situations leading to one powerful and gut-wrenching tale.
(This is a capsule review because that’s all we’re allowed to write on this one until it opens in wide release!)
In other news, in my first SFIFF experience, I’ve learned a few things.
1. SFIFF hopes you’re a workout fiend. Or actually, its sponsor Zone Perfect does. There were chocolate peanut butter energy bar samples being thrown at me from every which way: in the press office, at the info table, at the corner of Fillmore and Post after the show. Each mini-bar has 90 calories, which couldn’t even be burned off by hiking the stairs five times pre-show (more on this soon). I came home with six bars, two of which I ate before my Pilates class today. They’re great as some all-natural sustenance for athletes and those who are ready to feel the burn for an hour+, but I’m not sure if this is what the regular, couch potato movie goer needs to keep himself alert and fixated to a screen.
2. Volunteers. SFIFF has tons of blue t-shirt clad people who are happy to tell you where you should be (because most likely, it’s not wherever you are). Problem is, they rarely tell you the right place. As I got to the Kabuki an hour in advance to get my ticket, and my date had to buy his, we wanted to get something to drink and sit. No one told my date, upon ticket purchase, that he needed to go outside. After going upstairs, we asked a volunteer who directed us to the front entrance, but the signs there listed movie wait times for 6:30PM and beyond (our film was at 6PM). As we found an empty line, we returned back upstairs to chill. At that point, we thought we had plenty of time to kick up our heels (OK, flats), and hang.
As it got closer to screen time, we figured we should check the line again. Empty! Huh… But then we overheard another volunteer tell someone, “No, the line is the OTHER line! The one that snakes toward Webster!” Um, what? There’s a whole other slithering line? And that’s when we finally looked eastward and spotted a line forming halfway down the street (not “right outside the doors here!”) and continuing around the block. We hurried into the line, followed everyone up the side steps, and ta da, were right back where we started by the restrooms, concessions, and bar.
Was there a need to make us line up and play follow-the-leader back into the theater like in kindergarten? Probably not. Plus, those around us were then rushing for the restrooms and to fill their soda/popcorn/vegan wrap orders before the opening scenes. I’m not the only one who was confused by the regimented entry process, so maybe things can be improved upon in the future?
3. Don’t dress up. This may be a film festival, but the shiniest thing you may spot is the real butter atop your popcorn. Hipster wear; long, flowing skirts; crocs; and walking sticks are all welcome.
4. The Kabuki didn’t plan very well for when women and restrooms collide. When in doubt, make a beeline for the first floor restrooms, which are hidden to the right of the ticket area (by theaters 7 and 8). And if you’re really need to let the flow go, grab a trusted friend, scout out the first floor men’s room, and if empty, take turns standing guard so that you can do your thing sometime this century.
5. Be prepared for a Q&A afterward! Write down questions as they come to you during the movie (however legible your handwriting on a napkin covered in all-natural butter splatters during the dark may be), and don’t be shy about raising your hand. If you don’t get the chance to voice your opinion or inquire about the original screenplay versus the final edited version, don’t think your shot at fandom is over! You may still get the opportunity to share an escalator ride with the lead actress. If you liked the movie and you’re an extrovert, give it your all and tell her how much you enjoyed her performance. But if you liked the movie and you’re a pervert, don’t give her your phone number, address, or garage clicker. That’s going just a little bit too far.