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|Index||13 reviews in total|
First time director Elgin James infuses an admirable look to his debut
project, Little Birds, by giving the screen a hazy, cloudy look which
at times dims or flushes out the color of the picture, providing one
with the idea that they are seeing a film that is far, far away from
the mainstream breed. I imagine those poor lonely misfits that will be
able to identify with Little Birds and connect with it on a much more
personal level than I did will feel treated with wonderful
cinematography in a film that so perfectly "describes them." All I can
hope for is that the same lonely, ostracized misfits discover a film
like Larry Clark's Kids or even his other film Bully and then truly get
a deep understanding at how unexplainable and cruel adolescents can be
to themselves and to others. Those two films offer more insights and
reality and truly play more like horror films than a potboiler drama.
To be fair, Little Birds achieves at what it sets out to be and for
that one must admire it, but in the grand sea of films focusing on
young teens rebelling against societal conventions, its, how hipsters
say, somewhat uncool? Our story concerns Lily (Juno Temple), a
rebellious adolescent who just can't seem to stay in line, living in a
trailer park with her tramp of a mother (Leslie Mann) and only able to
connect with her longtime friend Alison (Kay Panabaker). Her town is on
the coast of the undesirable Salton Sea, which is literally, rapidly
decaying because of pollution and other chemicals on the sand. One day,
Lily and Alison meets some Los Angeles teens, one of them named Jesse
(Kyle Gallner), who takes a liking to Lily. Alison is impassive with
these teens, who prove to be nothing but hoodlums and degenerates. The
only reason they ventured out to spend the day in Salton Sea was so
that they could skate in empty pools.
Later on, Lily pesters Alison to steal her step-dad's pickup truck and head out to Los Angeles to meet the boys and have another day of fun. Reluctantly adhering to Lily's demand, the two girls spend the day getting into trouble, shoplifting, and going down the path of sheer ugliness before they get the brilliant idea to provoke sex-crazed strangers over the internet, which leads to rather frightening results. Yet during these scenes, which are equal parts tense and predictable, I was reminded at how captivated and cold I was during the key murder scene in Clark's Bully, which was so tense that it was hard to swallow. The idea of young teenagers being forced to commit senseless acts that offer no explanation solely because they're in the company of others who enjoy causing such acts made the experience all the more tense because of the fact that it shows how frighteningly far the boundaries of peer pressure can be pushed.
Little Birds, sadly, doesn't offer that same level of depth and substance that one should anticipate walking in. The performers are all capable, as my eyes never left the charismatic Juno Temple, and was delighted to see Kay Panabaker assume a challenging role in a confident fashion. Also good here in an unfortunately toned-down role is Kyle Gallner, who was fun to watch in Kevin Smith's Red State and poignant in the brief scenes in Shawn Ku's Beautiful Boy. And it's fair to say that Elgin James' direction always feel attentive on characters and mood and never feels sterile or anemic.
Little Birds is a solid and stable genre-exercise but nothing more. It undermines its true potential, and too often allows its characters to stew in just average material. I would've liked to see more scenes involving the teens attempting to make conversation with their parents and vice-versa. Shouting matches can get tedious, especially when you've seen a handful of films centered on rebellion.
It's also interesting to note that this makes young Juno Temple three for three in the game of "how many poor, listless trailer park characters can I play in films?" with the two home-runs Dirty Girl and Killer Joe already under her belt. I love Temple as an actress and feel she has attitude and charm that could stretch a mile wide, but perhaps in order to test her abilities more she should move up the social class food chain to either comfortably poor or low middle class. Even the most skilled and reliable typecast actors need a breath of fresh air.
Starring: Juno Temple, Kay Panabaker, Kyle Gallner, and Leslie Man. Directed by: Elgin James.
Little Birds (2011)
A harrowing movie, a slice of very believable and scary life for two fifteen year olds looking to escape their awkward or dysfunctional families. What they get into, moving from the Salton Sea to L.A. in a stolen truck, is a nightmare for any parent. Yet for the girls there is a mixture of adventure and discomfort.
All of this depends a lot on a great ensemble cast, which is pretty much here. The two girls are terrific--I had just seen Juno Temple in another excellent indie and sought this out. The boys they run into and hook up with are a little wild at first (and then more wild later) and weave into the story with surprising ease.
This is a low budget movie but it makes the most of a series of scenes inside and out that keep it from feeling constrained. The Salton Sea parts are both beautiful an so impoverished they are sad. When the edge of L.A. comes in it's rougher and yet filled with energy. The girls are divided on how the city works on them. Temple's character is exudes confidence, and sometimes has it, too, and so she gets in deeper. The other girl, played by Kay Panabaker, is more morally solid and yet more scared, and she plays a perfect counterbalance to her friend.
Writer and director Elgin James is just starting out here (that's part of what Indie films are all about) and the movie might not soar or show particular originality, but it does hold up pretty well in normal dramatic terms. The sets are very real--gritty and rough, for sure--and the acting matches. It's quite well shot, too, if nothing special is going on--give the editors some of the credit for keeping it fluid.
You wonder by the end what the larger point might be, beyond a very distracting entertainment. There might be a little (a little) sense of "there's no place like home" at work. And there's a kind of buddy movie at work--the two girls being the pals on the road. Mostly it's about how tough some teens have it, and how they want to find ways to survive that surprise their parents (usually singular, parent). It's also a tale of how kids want a lot from everyone and everything--life seems so fertile and large--and how they know so little about how to get it.
So, with vulnerability on their sleeves, these girls are a little bit of all of us. No, we aren't all so fully stupid or careless, but maybe in small ways we are all the same.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is by first time filmmaker Elgin James who, developed it in a Sundance Workshop and it was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival which isn't a slam dunk for films that come up this way. James who wrote and directed movie comes from the streets of Boston and he chose to convey his gritty experiences through the characters of two teenage girls who come from the poverty stricken coastal town of Salton Sea in California and end up with some older boys on the streets of a grimy section of Los Angeles. The strength of the film is the insight and development of these two young girls Allison Huffman (Kay Panabaker) and Lily Hobart (Juno Temple) who are portrayed magnificently. Their attachment, dependency on each other and yet their differences unfold before us as they try to escape their environment. The storyline creates tension and anxiety. The three older boys with whom these girls connect David (Chris Coy), Louis (Carolos Pena) and John (Kyle Gallner) are as real as they can be and sadly operate just as you would expect them to. Compared to these five young people, the peripheral characters are somewhat an enigma to us as their back stories are thin and vague. They do seem authentic and there are excellent performances by Leslie Mann, Kate Bosworth, Neil McDonough and particularly by JR Bourne who does a captivating dramatic role at the conclusion of the movie. Although the little birds of this story had more reason to fly the coop than the daughters of many who are reading this now, we all know that when any teenager spreads her wings, anything can happen. This movie will be released in September and we will be rooting for it to fly. (2011)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
this movie was unique in several ways which was very refreshing. sure, it may have had the whole "small town teenage girl dying for an escape" plot cliché, but it was made into something very different and raw from what you would normally see. the plot (climax especially) was unlike what you would see in most movies. the characters were extremely genuine. the relationship between Lily (Juno Temple) and Alison (Kay Panabaker) was extremely touching and a little bit depressing how much Alison relied on Lily. the dynamic between the two was very authentic and usually what you would observe between any two close, young female friends. overall, the writer and director captured the essence of this movie perfectly, leaving you with wandering thoughts at the end. if you're open minded and looking for a movie with a different sort of perspective, i highly recommend Little Birds.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really liked this movie, it was very honest , real and dark and
that's how i like movies to be . this movie is about being in a bad
situation where there seems to be no hope and wanting to get out and
away to something better not knowing that every where you go its more
or less the same , but you gotta do it so you can really know . the
acting is really good , i loved loved loved the music in this film
congrats to the director for this amazing movie.this is what real art is all about. i believe this movie has something for everyone to relate to , we all at some point of our lives felt like the main characters in this movie , specially as teens.
A fine opening for a first time director. I saw it specially for Juno
Temple and her performance was the major plus point but her co-star
attracted to my eyes. I liked Juno Temple very much in 'Dirty Girl' but
afterwords she was good, also exposed her body consistently and I
disliked it. Sometime we hate someone we admired do like that. She
could have been a good actor liked by everybody including family
audience if she does not expose much of her skin.
Anyway this movie was good, delivers a fine message and kinda a lesson to youngsters to learn. This was the story of two teenage girls Lily and Alison from a small town. Fifteen, the age of self discovering and curious about everything in the world, to find out what is future and where it will be. These girls are unhappy with their poverty and pollution town, so wanted to runaway. One day they meet the boys from Los Angeles and follows them. What comes to them is not as they expected and theirs response to the circumstance brings the curtain to the movie.
Good story and the movie looked realistic to me. The element about blackmail through social media was one of the highlights of the movie. It was based on actual happenings in everywhere like the movie 'Trust'. I am happy they used it very well for this movie. This independent drama about youngsters mistakes is totally worth seeing.
Most movies usually aren't realistic. They might be to a point but lots have a happy ending and everything is okay. Little Birds is not like this at all. It doesn't have the happy bright movie feeling. Little birds is realistic and every single event in it could easily happen. This movie also teaches a great lesson and has its shocking surprises. We learn in this movie sometimes trying new things is good, but going too far can end with terrible results. Little Birds isn't just an independent movie, it's the hard cold truth to life and proves bad things do actually happen. Always trying to impress people isn't going to get you anywhere in life except possibly leading up to terrible consequences.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Juno Temple has a talent to choose very contemporary items for her
films, and 'Little Birds' is another example of this.
In this film we are introduced to teenage girls aged 15, discovering the world around them. Complete with worrying parents, runaway-problems, and other nice & painful experiences.
Watching 'Little Birds', for the first time I get the impression that Juno Temple is able to support a fully mature film. The structure of its plot shows no flaws.
Representing the young generation, Juno Temple increasingly gets better in making us part of their current problems.
This is another one of those movies with a girl that has emotional
issues because of superficial problems. And has a friend tagging along.
And in movies like this they can be the loyal and righteous friend or
the one that is a complete negative influence. In this it's the loyal
and righteous friend and the main protagonist Lily Hobart(Juno Temple)
is the one that is trying to find acceptance and pleasure. And thus
joins up with few troublesome skateboarders. The thing is it's
difficult to sympathize with a character like Lily Hobart in this when
she has a loving mother and a loyal friend and hasn't been emotionally
screwed by other people harming her physically. I can sympathize with
Juno Temple's role in "Killer Joe" but not really in this one. Plus
after watching "Beasts of the Southern Wild" the problem the
protagonist faces is way far from being as bad. She just comes off a
uptight selfish girl that uses other people and gets used as well. I
don't know but I got kinda numb to these types of movies after a while.
These types of movies are watchable in my opinion but just far from
being all that entertaining. Some have sorta engaging aspects going for
it but not really in this one. Besides certain parts about peer
pressure, this one is passable.
Lily Hobart (Juno Temple) is a restless damaged teen desperate to leave
her Salton Sea trailer park. Alison Hoffman (Kay Panabaker) is her more
reserved best friend. They run away to LA and follow Jesse (Kyle
Gallner) and his boys. They get further and further into trouble as
their friendship is put to the test.
This is written/directed by first time Elgin James. It's a very solid debut. Juno Temple has carved out a nice niche in the damaged teenager roles. She is probably one of the best at that role right now. Kay Panabaker is one of the smarter actresses, and she fits this role. She's great at the friend role, and she's great as the wet blanket in LA. Leslie Mann has a great maternal feel. Kyle Gallner is the perfect companion to Juno Temple. Overall, the acting fits perfectly in a fairly lightly written movie. It's a well worn genre. It's not new, but it's well done.
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