Nearly four years ago, a young boy by the name of Jeremy Galmon was shot and killed after a second line had passed by, a casualty of people using bullets to settle arguments. The fundraising for Jeremy’s family was held only a few blocks from my home, sponsored by members of the community and by […]
Between 2006 and 2011, Louisiana’s motion picture tax credit and rebate program lost an estimated cumulative total of $551,736,747 — nine percent of the state’s reported $6.13 billion loss, or roughly $1 out of every $11.
Last night I was at dinner in someone’s home and the following is the abridged version of a portion of dinner conversation. I say abridged because I was so mad that one, the guest had the audacity to discuss politics in a room of people this person had never met, save one, and two I […]
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This week the 5th Annual Harvest the Music concert series kicked off at Lafayette Square with a great concert by Los Po-Boy-Citos and the Iguanas. The square was hopping with people enjoying the beautiful fall-like weather, gathering with friends and supporting Second Harvest Food Bank. September is Hunger Action Month, and while the food bank […]
Recently, Lunanola and I went to see Beasts of the Southern Wild which, as most of you know, is a locally produced film with local actors. This is not so much a review of the film as just an assortment of my thoughts during the movie and in the days following. Indeed, Beasts is a grand over-the-top gothic fairy tale as told by a child called Hushpuppy whose imagination runs wild with the stories told to her by her alcoholic father, Wink. They live on a mythical swath of land off the Louisiana coast called The Bathtub by its inhabitants, a small community of people living on the edge of civilization.
Beasts reminds me of poetry in that the poet tells her story in such a personal way that the reader may never grasp its deepest meaning. The reader reads the poem, or story, through the lens of their own life experiences, often completely missing the poet’s intent. And that’s ok – it doesn’t negate the meaning of the work but enhances it by expanding and challenging the reader. The same can be said of this film and how I feel about it. I didn’t read any reviews before seeing the film because I didn’t want any other opinions influencing, even subconsciously, what I was going to see on the screen.
Having said that, I found myself wincing through much of the film; reacting to the squalor of Hushpuppy’s existence, the harshness and obvious mental illness of her father and the rampant alcoholism of most of The Bathtub residents we met. I didn’t see this isolated community largely as a celebration of a self-sustaining culture as much as the smaller stories of a few delusional souls, who’ve long since forgotten the real meaning of community, compassion and care, barely hanging on by their fingernails to a dysfunctional life. There was more about Beasts that bothered me than delighted or awed me and maybe that’s the film makers intention. In any case, it gives the viewer much to ponder.
I felt sad for Hushpuppy and the absence of a positive adult figure in her life except for an apparently cursory relationship with Little Jo (played by Pamela Harper), the resident Shaman, who taught the local kids about medicinal herbs, the flora and animal life in The Bathtub and the importance of being good stewards of the land and water. (Thank you for portraying her as a real three-dimensional healer instead of the stereotypical Voodoo queen!) She was the only positive, grounded character in the film and the only adult who attempted to prepare the kids for a real life instead of encouraging a life based on fantasy.
The interaction of people with each other, and the cause and effect of that interaction, has always fascinated me. I suppose that’s why I focused so much more on this aspect of the movie, while I was actually watching it, over the surrealism and symbolism the film was obviously pushing. In retrospect, though, the symbolism and subsequent cautionary tale is a vital part of what makes this movie unique. For instance, although I found the glacier avalanches jarring and somewhat disruptive I can acknowledge the part they played in the tale and beauty of the cinematography.
Generally, I thought the acting by all of the actors to be just about perfect. There’s a lot of Oscar buzz around this film and Quvenzhane’ Wallice, who plays Hushpuppy, and it appears she’s the darling of the Indie film set this year. There’s no disputing the child has a beautiful and expressive face but I always felt like someone was just out of view saying, “Now look fierce; now cry; now act crazy”. For me, Dwight Henry, who played the dad, was pretty incredible. I felt like he WAS the person he portrayed with all the nuances and warts of his character’s personality played completely naturally and believably. Children are so close and open to their emotions that I think most of them can act simply by following directions. But adults have to peel away layers of their own experiences and feelings to find the place where a character can come out. For this reason, I think Dwight was the better actor in this film and it’s a shame his achievement is being overshadowed when it should be equally acclaimed.
The cinematography was magical and pleasured us with torridly beautiful landscapes and seascapes. The manipulation of ordinary pigs into the hulking, mythical aurochs was nothing short of genius.
This movie had parts that I loved (Miss Jo with the kids) and parts that I hated (mamma shooting a gator while naked except for huge white diaper-like panties – WTF?). It made me laugh (the joyous fireworks scene) and cry (the death scene). In the end, I still can’t say if I “liked” it or not; I can only say it was a wild and interesting ride.
However, the most amazing aspect of Beasts is that it was made at all on the hand-to-mouth budget that produced it. The creativity of the film makers and the ingenuity required to make it is impressive and showcases the best this city has to offer artistically. That makes me proud to be a New Orleanian and, ultimately, happy I watched the film.
(And I’m still processing it.)
We all feel hunger pains at some point during the day. Most of us are lucky enough to not have to worry where our next meal will come from, however not everyone is so lucky. Summer is a busy time for most families and before starting my new job at Second Harvest Food Bank a couple months ago, I never really thought much about how families and children that receive free and reduced lunches are affected during the summer.
What I’ve learned is both eye-opening and frightening: 1 in 5 CHILDREN in Louisiana struggles with hunger, this means someone my son goes to school with could be hungry. The need for food assistance during the summer months at Second Harvest is tremendous and it is usually a time of year when donations are not as plentiful.
Last June, Second Harvest Food Bank opened the Community Kitchen inside the spacious 700 Edwards Avenue warehouse. This community kitchen prepares hot, nutritious meals for children through its Kids Cafe and Summer Feeding program sites across the New Orleans metropolitan area. Last year the community kitchen at Second Harvest fed 2,500 children breakfast and lunch totaling 101,525 meals at 36 sites.
This summer, Second Harvest has increased its Summer Feeding program to over 50 sites and feeding almost 4,000 children daily. That’s nearly a quarter million meals for children who might otherwise go hungry this summer. These meals are prepared, plated and delivered daily by a team of volunteers who often use their own vehicles. This summer these meals will feed children in the Greater New Orleans area as well as three sites in Lafayette, St. Martin and Calcasieu parishes. A new Toyota vehicle will help Second Harvest Food Bank deliver nutritious meals to more children in need!
This Saturday, June 9 Second Harvest is competing against 4 other organizations to win a new Toyota from the Toyota 100 Cars for Good program. I hope the NOLAFemmes community will support Second Harvest and their mission to end hunger and especially child hunger across south Louisiana.
To vote visit: www.100CarsForGood.com voting takes place between 9am – 11pm CDT Saturday, June 9.
I hope to be able to share more news from Second Harvest Food Bank to all of you again soon.
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Southeast Louisiana’s winter weather is so fickle. One day it’s cold, damp and gray and the next is sunny with blue skies and mild temperatures. During Christmas break from work hubby and I decided to go looking for pelicans in their winter habitats around Slidell during a warm, sunny day. We didn’t have to go […]
Please let me preface that with the fact that I am not one of those “Northshore Snobs”, I’m a yankee who’s been here since ’75, mothered a cajun girl and am not going back. Louisiana is my home and that’s that! It has been a crappy week at our house this week. We had to […]
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Titles are really important – especially for people who make snap decisions like me. When I’m cruising for a new book to read or through Netflix for a movie, I’ll often skip over selections that have what I consider lame titles. Or juvenile titles. Or just crazy makes-no-sense titles. (as opposed to crazy-but-it-sounds-intriguing titles) Last […]