Saturday, October 06, 2007

Regional Pride

Hillary Clinton wrote in her memoir Living History about the first time she met Bill Clinton. He was going on about his hometown, Hope, and its famous watermelon festival. She asked a friend who he was. “Oh, that’s Bill Clinton,” the friend told her. “He’s from Arkansas, and that’s all he ever talks about.”

Um, yeah....we Arkansans (or Arkansawyers - that argument will wait for a different time) have a problem with that. We really love our state. And we love it when locals make it big. Without thinking I could name off ten famous people with roots in Arkansas (Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Maya Angelou, Billy Bob Thornton, Levon Helm, Al Green, John Grisham, Mary Steenburgen, General MacArthur, Senator Fulbright). Hell, we even claim the B-listers or cheesy ones (Evanescence, the guy who played Herb in WKRP in Cincinnati, Tracy Lawrence).

So I was particularly excited to hear that filmmakers with roots in Arkansas, Lisa Blount (born here in Fayetteville), her husband Ray McKinnon, and their partner Walton Goggins have made another film about the south. Randy and the Mob is opening in southern cities and they've taken it on the road in hopes word of mouth will take over and it will get a wider distribution. They won an Oscar in 2001 for best live action short film with The Accountant, a hilarious and dark take on southern culture. They also made Chrystal in my hometown of Eureka Springs a few summers ago. Chrystal was a little too dark for some people but I loved how it captured the small, intangible things that make the Ozarks beautiful and special....the way the woods look and sound at night, the wild lushness of the forests and hills. Randy and the Mob is light and funny where Chrystal was dark and mysterious. The short plot sounds like a goofy movie - a small town businessman gets in over his head with connected loan sharks. They send a mob "fixer" who ends up changing the whole town and its inhabitants. Sounds like a ton of other comedies, right? But it defied my expectations. It's really really funny, actually. The writing is nuanced and natural and the acting shows a real love for the material.

Ray McKinnon and Lisa Blount introduced the showing we went to on Friday. They were personable, genuine, and clearly believed in doing whatever it takes to bring this film to as many people as possible. I love that they're committed to portraying the South on film....without relying on lame stock characters or cheap jokes. I love that they've made a southern gothic mystery, a short black comedy, and now this sweet and hysterically funny film.

So if you're in Arkansas - please go see Randy and the Mob in Little Rock or Fayetteville. I think it's only showing in Fayetteville for a week, maybe more. I'd love for these filmmakers to keep doing what they do so well.


step right up said...

You let me know when those films get to Netflix.

step right up said...

p.s. and don't forget for all those sports fans out there, Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones played for Arkansas when we won the National Championship. That's a big deal to "Arkansawyers".

Alannah said...

I sooo almost included Jerry Jones and Jerry Van Dyke (Luther from Coach!)....

I think Chrystal is probably already out on Netflix. I'll have to check on The Accountant.