Who would have thought Mathew McConaughey would win an Oscar? Known as Mathew ‘Mahogany’ to some this guy really did play it safe for most of his career in romcoms and action hero roles. Let’s face it guys he was famous for his chest. He was one of those pretty boy actors always leaning on something on the DVD dust cover with his arms folded, be it a lamppost or a pretty girl, as phlegmatic as that career. You could see he was happy with that as long as he stayed famous and the money rolled in, famously caught by the cops for playing his bongos at midnight in the nude half-cut. Well, he didn’t need to learn the scripts in his down time. But the Texan started to lose his looks and impressive pecs and knew the game was up, unless he didn’t take on more serious roles. The Lincoln Lawyer and Killer Joe hinted at more depth and grit to the Texan and Mud sealed the deal for his Oscar winning turn in Dallas Buyers Club. His co-star here Reece Witherspoon is on a similar journey of romcom to not so cute and lets get seriously and likely to win The Oscar this year for Wild. These kids can act when they try.
14-year-old kids Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) have the run of the local rivers and lakes in rural Arkansas for the summer holidays. They live on the river banks where dad (Sam Shepard) eeks a living and from selling fish and croc meet in a very traditional life being phased out by the authorities.
When the kids explore a new island they meet Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a hobo like character hiding out there for unknown reasons. He is a local river guy who has returned for the love of his childhood sweetheart Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) and has a plan to escape with her by rescuing and rebuilding an old boat lodged in a tree after a huge storm. For that he will need parts and the boys more than happy to oblige as the friendship builds, passing on a love letter or two for Juniper to see if she is still interested. Ellis also has a sweetheart, Marry Lee (Sarah Paulson), one year older than him but determined to win her heart. The boys have something in common.
But things get serious when the cops come looking for Mud for something he has done in another state and there are wanted leaflets everywhere. The boys know the risks but trust Mud and try to bring him and Juniper together when the times right. But other people are also looking for Mud and they have no time for unrequited love whining.
As a coming-of-age, rights of passage movies go this is engaging filmmaking. With influences from Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn in the rhythms of the river it has a nice understated folksy feel to it and fine performances by the cast, especially the young lads. It always amazes me just how good kids can be at acting, with the discipline and emotional chaos that requires. It has the nice ambience and look of the powerful kid’s movie Stand By Me and thankfully no squealing pigs and rednecks in the woods this time.
It’s too long at 130 minutes but it never feels like that, always the sign of your full attention and so a good movie. The narrative leads to a violent showdown but you’re never really sure of the main characters integrity and motivation until the end and so the suspense held another sign of a good movie. There are one or two clichés but McConaughey keeps you glued to the screen on his state of mind and motives. Love is the same emotion suffered by young and old and the film plays that off well between the main protagonists.
Its one of those movies you can easily enjoy whilst doing other things and just a nice well made piece of America atmospheric drama to enjoy and so four stars from me. For $10 million it looks great and deserved its $28.6 million back.
SKY MOVIES CLASSIC is a movie channel available on the Sky Digital satellite television system in the UK. It is part of the 'Movie Mix' and is unavailable as a standalone channel.
As its name suggests Sky Movies Classic only shows 'classic' movies as opposed to more recent films. Having said that there are a wide range of movies that are shown. Some of the films that I am particularly looking forward to on this channel in the near future include:
THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Starring a variety of stars, this movie tells the story of Jesus, with Max Von Sydow in that role. Charlton Heston also stars as John the Baptist.
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
I remember watching this 'creature feature' on television years ago but have not seen it since. I remember being quite scared of it but I think that I will probably just find it amusing nowadays.
A classic science fiction movie from 1967 starring Jane Fonda as the title character. This is worth seeing just for Fonda's striptease during the opening credits, with the letters of the words placed in just the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) places to cover up her more personal areas!
Sky Movies Classic is also showing a season of Harold Lloyd movies this season - I remember seeing movies of his on BBC2 years ago when I was a child, and again I remember really enjoying them. I really hope that they live up to my memories when I see them again.
Simply put, Sky Movies Classic is a great channel if you like your movies 'old' as opposed to 'recent'.