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txhorns79

Hillbilly Elegy (2020)

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J.D. Vance (Gabriel Basso), a former Marine from southern Ohio and current Yale Law student, is on the verge of landing his dream job when a family crisis forces him to return to the home he’s tried to forget. J.D. must navigate the complex dynamics of his Appalachian family, including his volatile relationship with his mother Bev (Amy Adams), who’s struggling with addiction. Fueled by memories of his grandmother Mamaw (Glenn Close), the resilient and whip-smart woman who raised him, J.D. comes to embrace his family’s indelible imprint on his own personal journey. Based on J.D. Vance’s #1 New York Times Bestseller and directed by Academy Award winner Ron Howard, HILLBILLY ELEGY is a powerful personal memoir that offers a window into one family’s personal journey of survival and triumph. By following three colorful generations through their unique struggles, J.D.’s family story explores the highs and lows that define his family’s experience.

Began streaming on Netflix on 11/24/20.

For me, the movie was just okay.  There are a number of issues the movie touches on, like what happens when  industry abandons what is essentially a company town, and the easy access to drugs that has flooded these areas, but the movie seems unwilling or unable to really explore that.  Instead, you get a de-glammed Amy Adams yelling a lot, and perhaps a little too much home spun wisdom from Glenn Close. 

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3 hours ago, txhorns79 said:

For me, the movie was just okay.  There are a number of issues the movie touches on, like what happens when  industry abandons what is essentially a company town, and the easy access to drugs that has flooded these areas, but the movie seems unwilling or unable to really explore that.  Instead, you get a de-glammed Amy Adams yelling a lot, and perhaps a little too much home spun wisdom from Glenn Close.

Yeah, the movie kind of put the emphasis on the wrong syllable, as it were. I also thought there would be more about how JD found Yale a completely different world, and all we got was that dinner where someone sneered at OSU (okay, that was deserved, LOL; Wisconsin alum here!) and he didn't know what all the silverware was for. I bet a decent number of the other students had no idea what a dessert spoon is, either. And hey, just watch what utensil your neighbor uses!

And there was no mention of how he actually got to Yale.

The pairing of the actors with their character was amazing—the makeup people did a fantastic job.

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2 hours ago, dubbel zout said:

The pairing of the actors with their character was amazing—the makeup people did a fantastic job.

Yes, when they showed the real people at the end, I did a double take.  If the movie is going to win any awards, it should be for that. 

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I came looking for this board so that I could bitch unreservedly about what a colossal drag this mini-series is. (I'm only part-way through the first episode.) And now I've learned a couple of things:

  1. It's just a movie not a mini-series.  Okay, then I can probably stick it out until the end -- if for no other reason than to try to understand why so many top-tier actors and a top-tier director (Ron Howard) are involved with this show.
  2. It's based on a true story.  Okay, that makes it mildly more interesting and also explains why it is such a drag to watch.  (Real life frequently does not have the rising action, climax, and denounment story structure of classic drama.)

So, fine.  I'll finish watching the damn thing.  But it may drive me to drink.

ETA:  Okay, I finished it.  Whatever.  I'm guessing the book it is based on was a best-selling memoir and they were hoping  to successfully translate it to the screen, but I think something got lost in translation.  I'm happy the author succeeded in his life and I'm pleased (and surprised) that his mother got sober.  But do I recommend this movie?  No.

Edited by WatchrTina
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Was not impressed with Amy Adams, but I thought Glenn Close did a good job.

I did not read the book, but my Mom did, and I think i enjoyed this movie more than she did, she liked it, but I think she was hoping for me.

I guess I was not that disappointed because, Hollywood has long had major problems trying to tell stories for this demographic group AND they do not do a good job translating coming of age novels/biographies to the screen

 

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This was rather simplistic.

Fundamentally, I have a problem with the fact behind the "we're just telling true stories!" excuse that white folks overcoming these generational obstacles to success through a combination of their own hard work and help get movies, while black folks only get movies when they're "saved" by whites.  These people are pretty awful, and we acknowledge they're frustrating products of their environment, but make this about a Black inner city family and see how sympathetic the film - and its audience - is to the mom and grandmother.

The performances, especially Glenn Close's, are good.  But, again, it all feels tiresome - play ugly, get the Academy's attention  (But, in Close's case, I wouldn't complain - she nailed the complicated feelings for her husband and daughter behind how she treated her grandson.)

I did get emotional in spots, though, so I don't want to imply this isn't effective.  Bev was poorly developed, which is a real shame since she's such a victim and perpetrator at the same time, but her mom and kids' reactions to her rang true, simultaneously resenting the hell out of her but feeling obliged to help her.  Through J.D., this did a good job showing how hard it is to break free from toxic family, even when you're among the few with an actual path out.  His lifelong push-pull was well done.

The daughter's life was depressingly realistic, too - she's a happy ending under the circumstances because she's raising her kids in a long-term marriage, even though she's living in the same going-nowhere town, working in a shitty retail establishment getting bitched at by a boss ten years younger than her, and still feeling responsible for her mother after a childhood spent feeling responsible for her brother.

The differences in the Ohio town's set dressing between when the grandparents arrived, when J.D. was a kid, and when he came back were perfectly done.  I can't decide if not explicitly addressing the dramatic decline in employment options, and all that inevitably follows from that, is admirable restraint from a director not known for it or a storytelling flaw.

I'm glad I watched it (I was unfamiliar with the book, and am not terribly impressed with Ron Howard as a director, but I like Close and Adams in most things I see them in), but it feels a lot more like Oscar bait than a great film.

Edited by Bastet
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Was it just me, or did Amy Adams look disconcertingly like Tonya Harding in this? Glenn looked just like the real-life Mamaw.

I was only halfway through the book when I watched this, so I have to go back and finish it now, but it felt kind of sugar-free to me. I couldn't tell you exactly what changes they made from the book, but It just felt...less. Also agree with something I read about hillbillies knowing exactly how much they have in their accounts--I'm a terrible money manager, but my cards don't get declined because I ALWAYS know how much is available in any of my accounts. 

I think Freida Pinto is just adorable.

They did a good job with young JD and older JD, too--they looked enough alike that it was not jarring when they went back and forth in time.

All in all, kind of ho-hum.

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17 hours ago, magpye29 said:

Was it just me, or did Amy Adams look disconcertingly like Tonya Harding in this? Glenn looked just like the real-life Mamaw.

Not just you, my first thought when I saw her as Bev was "Damn, I know Margot Robbie killed it, but maybe Amy Adams should have played Tonya Harding".

And when I saw the picture of the real Mamaw at the end, I did a double take at how perfectly Glenn Close was made to look like her and paused the picture to marvel at the resemblance.  Per the trivia section for the film's IMDb page, those were Mamaw's real glasses; the family loaned them for filming.  And seeing Close done up as Mamaw brought them to tears, as it was like having their grandmother brought back to life for a bit.

Edited by Bastet
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On 12/21/2020 at 3:53 PM, Bastet said:

And seeing Close done up as Mamaw brought them to tears, as it was like having their grandmother brought back to life for a bit.

I think I'd be a little creeped out, as well as nostalgic.

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Oscar nominations!

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)
Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
Olivia Colman (“The Father”)
Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”)
Youn Yuh-jung (“Minari”)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Emma”
“Hillbilly Elegy”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“Pinocchio”

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Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)

I'm curious if this ends up being one of those Oscars an actor gets less for a particular role and more just as recognition for their long body of work.  I mean, the movie itself is kind of so-so.  Glenn Close's performance is fine, but nothing particularly noteworthy.     

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