FILM REVIEW: Where the Wild Things Aren’t

I had vaguely been following Beasts of the Southern Wild in the weeks leading up to its release, mostly with eyes half shut in resentment over twenty-nine-year-old first-time director Behn Zeitlin’s instant success. (“Hmpf.  Beginner’s luck.  Dude doesn’t even know how to spell his own name.”)  Following a gushing article by my Twitter friend Chris Lee in The Daily Beast, which forecasts an Oscar nom for Beasts, I was forced to book my second-favorite seat, C-26 in the handicapped section of the Arclight Hollywood.  My favorite seat, C-22, had already been nabbed.  That’s how popular this piece is for the indie film lover.

All articles about Beasts are the same: how Zeitlin made this on a shoe-string budget, yet it still has the look and feel of a much larger film; how he auditioned four thousand little girls for the lead, Hushpuppy, but finally settled on Quvenzhané Wallis because she wouldn’t throw a water bottle at him in the audition, and therefore had a strong moral compass; how Zeitlin had never even heard of Fox Searchlight before the bidding war erupted at Sundance this year and his Little Film That Could was scooped up by that specialty distributor.  So not only was I looking at a massive dose of beginner’s luck, it appears this purported wunderkind is some sort of naïve rube from New Orleans who not only can’t spell his own name, he’s just so gosh-darned pleased and dazzled by all the attention and accolades his little film is getting that…

Not so fast.  Cue needle screeching across record, please.