Monday, October 2, 2006

The Height of the Sky

I think it's fair to say that I hated this movie. Maybe it's not as bad as I think, but it was recommended to us, and I can't figure out why. The screenplay was horrible, the acting also, and while the filmmakers tried to make things look authentic for Arkansas in 1935, there were just too many oversights. All the tenant farmers were wearing the same brand-new overalls. Some fastened only one shoulder strap, but they were still the same overalls! I think some of them had been ripped, and they were dirty sometimes, but they still looked too new. The inside walls of their house/shack were papered with ... paper. I've seen old cabins papered in newspaper, and maybe that's what this was. But it was way too bright inside, what with the bright white paper and lots of overhead lighting. Maybe they had overhead kerosene lanterns? Also, they keep talking about "gettin' a handle on these crops" and "bringin' in the crops," but all we see is the men hoeing in a big field of dirt, and the women scattering what looks like dust. I think it's supposed to be the dust bowl, but it just looks confusing and weird.

Did I say the acting was bad? And the screenplay? Several of the characters made furious, defensive speeches, apparently provoked by ... nothing. Or maybe the provocation was that almost sullen look given by that other person.

Apparently this won best feature film at Telluride in 1999, which is completely baffling to me. Some reviews that I found on the internet mentioned beautiful cinematography, but if it was good, I was blinded by the rest of it. The more I think about it, the more I hate it. There are plenty of other ways to learn about the South in the 1930s.

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