Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

Discuss films of the 21st century including current cinema, current filmmakers, and film festivals.
Post Reply
Message
Author

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#2 Post by domino harvey » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:08 pm

Glenn Close has joined the cast — it would be hilarious if one movie killed both of their Oscar snub records, and you can see it happening because the narrative would be too much to resist

BrianB
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:50 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#3 Post by BrianB » Fri Apr 12, 2019 10:14 am

I read the book a while back and it’s a good memoir. My Dad’s side of the family comes from southeastern Kentucky (Harlan and Breathitt County specifically). In the 40s I believe there were years where Breathitt County had the highest murder rate in the country and a lot of that was due to family feuds. As recounted in the book, that culture still exists today. This could make for an interesting movie but I fear it will end up a sappy rags to riches story about a poor kid from drug-infested southeastern Ohio, with Harlan County roots, who makes it to Harvard Law

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#4 Post by domino harvey » Fri Apr 12, 2019 10:30 am

Justified and Winter's Bone have shown us there can be great works of art made in this setting and of these people... but Ron Howard at the wheel gives just pause to too much optimism

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#5 Post by swo17 » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:07 am

I was just gonna say, I don't know that I need another Justified

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#6 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:40 am

Netflix is producing an adaptation of The Devil All the Time, a southern gothic crime story set in the same area (southern Ohio and on down). With Antonio Campos directing, it should prove interesting.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#7 Post by knives » Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:08 pm

Honestly the last thing I would want is another director like Campos making a film about Appalachia. It's frustrating that no feature that I can recall has been able to treat the region without the excesses of genre or outsiderism (for lack of a better phrase). Les Blank is the only film artist I can recall treating the region as it is.

User avatar
tarpilot
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:48 am

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#8 Post by tarpilot » Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:57 pm

Hillbilly Elegy is also a fitting alt title for Ray McKinnon's excellent Oscar-winning short The Accountant, which Walton Goggins co-produced and starred in. Ditto McKinnon's other two (highly recommended) films, Chrystal and Randy and the Mob, as well as Scott Teems' fine debut That Evening Sun (not from Faulkner but rather William Gay's story "I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down"). McKinnon's own performance in that one is great, and of course there's Rectify, probably my favourite show this century...

What I'm saying is give Ray McKinnon money instead

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#9 Post by knives » Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:18 pm

Wow, that McKinnon film is no joke even as I consider AR to be south and not Appalachian; though as the film jokes it's really it's own weird thing.

User avatar
tarpilot
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:48 am

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#10 Post by tarpilot » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:20 pm

Glad you liked it! Flannery O'Connor's name has been used to sell a lot of swill but I think he's one of the few filmmakers who isn't completely undone by the comparison. The Accountant plays for me like "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" crossed with one of Wendell Berry's agrarian death essays. And it's hilarious to boot.

(My dream movie is him adapting Dennis Covington's Salvation on Sand Mountain and playing the author's snake-handling mentor...)

User avatar
ianthemovie
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:51 am
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#11 Post by ianthemovie » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:30 pm

I'm probably not qualified to weigh in on this because I haven't read the book, but my understanding is that Hillbilly Elegy is very controversial among many folks I know who have roots in rural Appalachia and the Midwest (Southeastern Ohio specifically). Many of them had serious problems with what they called the author's "bootstraps and blame" approach to the impoverished community that he was raised in. Again I haven't read it so I can't speak to this, but I know the book--which has apparently gained quite a wide readership--is intensely disliked by many people from within that community. If this ends up being a feel-good movie about one person's triumph over adversity etc. etc. (traumatized flashbacks to Howard's A Beautiful Mind) I would anticipate some backlash.

WmS
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:46 pm
Location: Columbus, OH

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#12 Post by WmS » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:29 pm

It is controversial. I grew up farming in Kentucky and can't stomach JD Vance or his book. And while I can't say I'm Appalachian, because I'm not from one of the 420 counties served by the Appalachian Regional Commission, I do highly recommend Elizabeth Catte's book What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia. She wrote it as a response to Hillbilly Elegy, with plenty of righteous anger and a depth of research befitting someone with a PhD in history. Unlike Vance, she still lives in Appalachia and understands its history and challenges deeply. She also knows that it's bad to call it a "culture," when that has been the foundation of discrimination against people from there for decades. She talks about that in this interview: https://www.guernicamag.com/elizabeth-c ... p-country/

I remember not long after Elegy came out, Vance did the interview rounds with right-wing outlets. The memoir then was as springboard to talk about his policy preferences. He soon moved to Columbus, Ohio, where I live now. Coastal media made it sound like he was moving to a shack in the foothills, where he would personally yank heroin needles from addicts' arms, maybe start a think tank or run for office, glowing beatific in the glory of his sacrifice. In fact he landed in German Village, perhaps the most gentrified neighborhood in Columbus, where the pastries come from a chef who trained in France and the Audis park amongst the gardens along quaint brick-paved streets.

Back to films along these lines, I hope everyone has heard of Appalshop, a venerable documentary nonprofit in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Stranger With a Camera I highly recommend. There's also the Oxford American Southern Movie Issue, with DVD, from 2007, which I can't find my copy of. I remember it had 13 recommended Southern documentaries as well as an Arkansas filmmaker who shot everything on VHS using friends who worked at the same quarry as him. The short included was unlike anything I have ever seen, in a Reverend Howard Finster kind of way, and I can't remember his name.

ford
Joined: Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:44 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#13 Post by ford » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:46 pm

An excellent corrective to Vance and other similar books and why they're so popular with the affluent:
The likes of Murray and Vance are not wrong to discern a cultural chasm between the white elite and the increasingly immiserated ranks of the white poor. Clear divergences in marriage and divorce rates, out-of-wedlock births, church attendance, and drug abuse are all observable phenomena and appear to have intensified in recent years. But that’s to be expected when almost all the growth in new income accrues to the top, while real wages and living standards collapse at the bottom. It would be quite an achievement if working-class communities and family structures held up under such enormous economic strain. But they have not, and the fallout from these developments should not come as a surprise. Vance’s grandparents could relocate from their corner of eastern Kentucky to Ohio for well-paid work at a unionized steel plant. How many people can follow the same strategy today? Who in their right mind would uproot themselves to drive an Uber or pack boxes at an Amazon warehouse for low wages and no benefits? Under these circumstances, staying home to collect disability checks or sell meth looks like a much more rational decision.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#14 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:16 pm

Yet another (seeming interesting) new book -- Dying of Whiteness. Interview with its author: https://www.rawstory.com/2019/02/dying- ... supremacy/

ford
Joined: Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:44 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#15 Post by ford » Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:24 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:16 pm
Yet another (seeming interesting) new book -- Dying of Whiteness. Interview with its author: https://www.rawstory.com/2019/02/dying- ... supremacy/
I kinda suspect that the working class whites in the upper Great Lakes and rustbelt who voted for Obama then Trump and thus swung the election voted for the latter for reasons other than "upholding white supremacy."

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#16 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:35 pm

The number of Obama voters who wound up voting for Trump is probably not all that high a percentage. Much more a difference in the level of Dem vs GOP turnout in these elections. Lots of Dem-leaning demographic groups had lower turnout for Clinton than for Obama and GOP turnout was higher.

User avatar
ianthemovie
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:51 am
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#17 Post by ianthemovie » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:26 am

Thank you WmS for summing all of that up! Your account of the book (which again I have not read) jibes with the comments many of my acquaintances from Ohio have made about it. It sounds like it makes a lot of knee-jerk assumptions and generalizations about poverty and class mobility and sidesteps a lot of the systemic inequality that causes so many rural people to be oppressed. Sounds like a readymade Oscar contender even before you factor in the director and cast!

plasticinespeculator
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:13 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#18 Post by plasticinespeculator » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:52 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:35 pm
The number of Obama voters who wound up voting for Trump is probably not all that high a percentage. Much more a difference in the level of Dem vs GOP turnout in these elections. Lots of Dem-leaning demographic groups had lower turnout for Clinton than for Obama and GOP turnout was higher.
This. Obama was a bad president who governed poorly. President’s who govern poorly suppress their bases’ turnout while increasing their oppositions. Democrats lost over a thousand seats under Obama. Clinton’s loss was just one of many Democrats suffered, however, since they’ve convinced themselves the executive branch is the only game in town, this singular loss takes up an exorbitant amount of the discourse.

Hillbilly Elegy is a bad book* and it will probably be a bad movie as the director probably won’t ruthlessly explore the subject to it’s logical end, but instead pull his punches, sentimentalizing the content, and producing something that is highly dubious, if not dangerous.

* Here’s an excellent review by the enormously talented Sarah Jones: https://newrepublic.com/article/138717/ ... ue-america

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#19 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:31 am

Obama was a bad _Democratic_ president. He had little or no interest in building/rebuilding the party or maintaining/re-establishing Democratic control in Congress. He also had no interest whatsoever in investigating GOP misdeeds during the previous administration (even if he didn't want criminal prosecutions, he should have at least set up "truth commissions" or the like). As a non-partisan president, he was better than average -- compared to other presidents of the last several decades.
Last edited by Michael Kerpan on Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#20 Post by knives » Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:30 am

WmS wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:29 pm
It is controversial. I grew up farming in Kentucky and can't stomach JD Vance or his book. And while I can't say I'm Appalachian, because I'm not from one of the 420 counties served by the Appalachian Regional Commission, I do highly recommend Elizabeth Catte's book What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia. She wrote it as a response to Hillbilly Elegy, with plenty of righteous anger and a depth of research befitting someone with a PhD in history. Unlike Vance, she still lives in Appalachia and understands its history and challenges deeply. She also knows that it's bad to call it a "culture," when that has been the foundation of discrimination against people from there for decades. She talks about that in this interview: https://www.guernicamag.com/elizabeth-c ... p-country/

I remember not long after Elegy came out, Vance did the interview rounds with right-wing outlets. The memoir then was as springboard to talk about his policy preferences. He soon moved to Columbus, Ohio, where I live now. Coastal media made it sound like he was moving to a shack in the foothills, where he would personally yank heroin needles from addicts' arms, maybe start a think tank or run for office, glowing beatific in the glory of his sacrifice. In fact he landed in German Village, perhaps the most gentrified neighborhood in Columbus, where the pastries come from a chef who trained in France and the Audis park amongst the gardens along quaint brick-paved streets.

Back to films along these lines, I hope everyone has heard of Appalshop, a venerable documentary nonprofit in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Stranger With a Camera I highly recommend. There's also the Oxford American Southern Movie Issue, with DVD, from 2007, which I can't find my copy of. I remember it had 13 recommended Southern documentaries as well as an Arkansas filmmaker who shot everything on VHS using friends who worked at the same quarry as him. The short included was unlike anything I have ever seen, in a Reverend Howard Finster kind of way, and I can't remember his name.
That makes Vances' book sound like a lamed version of Padre Padrone!

plasticinespeculator
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:13 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#21 Post by plasticinespeculator » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:22 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:31 am
Obama was a bad _Democratic_ president. He had little or no interest in building/rebuilding the party or maintaining/re-establishing Democratic control in Congress. He also had no interest whatsoever in investigating GOP misdeeds during the previous administration (even if he didn't want criminal prosecutions, he should have at least set up "truth commissions" or the like). As a non-partisan president, he was better than average -- compared to other presidents of the last several decades.
Mildly better than crap is hardly an endorsement. Also, I disagree. Obama’s policies were incredibly destructive.

ford
Joined: Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:44 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#22 Post by ford » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:50 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:35 pm
The number of Obama voters who wound up voting for Trump is probably not all that high a percentage.
It was definitely enough to swing a national election.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#23 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:20 pm

Minority vote suppression in some of those swing states also affected enough votes to make a difference in who won in those states. Lots of factors played into Clinton's loss.

plasticinespeculator
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:13 pm

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#24 Post by plasticinespeculator » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:57 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:20 pm
Minority vote suppression in some of those swing states also affected enough votes to make a difference in who won in those states. Lots of factors played into Clinton's loss.

The election was decided by about 250,000 voters spread out across a handful of swing states. In an election that close, anything and everything will have some impact. But the fact remains that the macro driver of a party’s electoral success how well the party governs. The simple factor the matter is that ever Democratic president since Jimmy Carter has been a disaster, which is why Democrats were, at least until the midterms, the weakest they’ve ever been since the 1920s.

Also, voter suppression and is awful because it prevents democracy, however, governing poorly suppresses voter turnout too. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/10/ ... ic-anxiety

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, 2020)

#25 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:18 am

Not sure that _any_ president during my lifetime has NOT been a "disaster" in one significant way or another (or in many ways) -- and I was born around the time Eisenhower was elected.

Post Reply