Two reviews by Tom Sims, Executive Director of Cape May Film Society
You may have trouble finding Winter’s Bone in theaters nowadays, but you should be able to rent it on DVD soon. And if you can, rent it. Adapted from the novel by the same name, this film captures the essence of desperation one could only find in the crank-factory plains of the Midwest. The sets are undoubtedly untouched from whatever town they originally scoped, and the casting was flawless. From the standpoint of both storyline and acting, this movie never once broke character! It was like watching a Coen Brothers movie without as much blood (though some) or quirky humor.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Ree, a 17-year-old with two younger siblings whose father is due in court. The sheriff visits one day to let her know that the old man put up the family house as bounty. If he doesn’t show up to trial, they have to leave the house. Ree’s journey unfolds as she travels to the far reaches of the rural ghetto to find her father. Simple storytelling, marvelously executed by Lawrence (a relative newcomer despite a stint on television’s Bill Engvall Show), makes for an entertaining suspense thriller.
The supporting cast is also wonderfully played by the likes of some relatively unknown actors such as John Hawke as Teardrop, Ree’s sometimes unstable uncle, and Dale Dickey as the tormented (and sometimes tormenting) Merab. Like the scenery, which was more natural than constructed and certainly authentic, so was the acting in this film. Is Ree’s father dead or alive? Will she find out in time to save the house? Winter’s Bone is storytelling in its purest form — and it was not an easy film to find in theaters. Undoubtedly you will be able to find it on DVD.
A film that you won’t so easily find on DVD will screen as a South Jersey premiere at the Cape May Film Festival, October 22-24 exclusively at the Chalfonte Hotel. Bowling Blind tells the story of a blind bowling league located in Manhattan. Their goal is to get to a national tournament for blind bowlers in Denver. They try everything: a trip to Atlantic City, a bazaar, local businesses – you name it. Will they get to Denver? If they get there, will they place? And just how do the blind go bowling? This is an amazing documentary, focused on the characters of the bowlers, each one as different as their bowling style (and in some cases, their score). Stay tuned for more film details!