by Kevin Allman
The highly acclaimed film Beasts of the Southern Wild had its premiere last night at the Joy Theater, with director Benh Zeitlin and stars Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis (above). Read Ken Korman's recent cover story about the making of the film here.)
Beasts won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (for the best film by a first-time director). Most reviews are calling it one of the best movies of the year, capped off by A.O. Scott's review this afternoon in The New York Times:
Discovering this movie is like stumbling into a bar and encountering a band you’ve never heard of playing a kind of music that you can’t quite identify. Nor can you figure out how the musicians learned to play the way they do, with such fire and mastery. Did they pick it up from their grandparents, study at a conservatory, watch instructional videos on the Internet or just somehow make it all up? Are you witnessing the blossoming of authenticity or the triumph of artifice?
Those are interesting questions. They are also irrelevant, because right now you are transported by an irresistible rhythm and moved by a melody that is profoundly, almost primally, familiar, even though you are sure you have never heard anything like it before.
Beasts of the Southern Wild opens in New Orleans July 4.