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1 item from 2002

The Rough South of Larry Brown

16 July 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

IFP West

Los Angeles Film Festival Reviews

It's only fitting that a documentary profiling the origins and work of highly regarded Southern writer Larry Brown is as colorful and evocative as his gritty literary milieu.

Keeping the talking-heads quotient down to an intimate two -- those of the Mississippi fireman-turned-author and his supportive but pleasantly candid wife, Mary Annie -- filmmaker Gary Hawkins artfully intersperses the down-home interviews with several dramatizations of Brown's short stories.

Each has its own distinct look and flavor. While "Boy and Dog" blends a range of film stocks with archival footage to tell a story from a kid's perspective, and "Samaritans", featuring actors Will Patton and "Sling Blade"'s Natalie Canerday, sticks to Super 16mm, "Wild Thing" is told through a montage of still black-and-white images.

Although the influence of such avant-garde directors as France's Chris Marker and Yugoslavia's Dusan Makavejev is apparent here, Hawkins, whose companion film, "The Rough South of Harry Crews", won a regional Emmy, gets maximum mileage out of the technique, which, when paired with Vic Chesnutt's compositions, allows the viewer to get a fairly authentic taste of Brown's often booze-soaked prose.

Ultimately, this spirited portrait of the man and his profession has just as much to say about his relationship with the woman who has allowed the man to pursue that calling -- raising the kids while he was out haunting the bars and the lonely stretches of road -- to find the inspiration for those Southern-fried slices of life.


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