By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Profile: A music professor discovers beauty, danger and lesbians in Appalachia. Gorgeous American folk music is the backbone of this promising movie that ultimately collapses under the weight of its myriad plot lines. Think Ma and Pa Kettle bangs on My Brilliant Career meets O Brother, Where Art Thou? meets Attention Deficit Disorder! The Musical
Symptoms: You get that Spike Lee feeling halfway through this one, the feeling that the filmmakers, unsure whether they would ever be allowed to make another film, decided to throw every plot idea and device into this one. And they do. You've got your plight of women at the turn of the century, your glass ceiling, your plight of lesbians, four concurrent love stories with strands all their own, your plight of peoples what got no toofus, the rape of rural America, big business, the music business, the art business, the history of American music and murder. It's got, perhaps, the worst ending of any "art" movie I've seen in recent years, one in which the two main characters completely sell out all their principles. And then there's the dopiest pair of lesbians this side of Laverne and Shirley who do the absolute worst job of hiding their forbidden love. Hey, ever hear of locking the door or not doing it against a tree?
Diagnosis: O Sister, Focus.
Prescription: The music is wonderful and provides all the plot you need. The movie's central plot—whether bringing the music of the mountains down to the outside world will save or destroy Appalachian culture—is great. Along with the music, it can certainly hold our attention for the film's present length (about an hour and 45 minutes). Stick with that and the love story that accompanies it. Make the two main characters have to make a decision in the end. As it stands now, neither of them does what they have been arguing for the entire movie. Someone has to give in, or neither does and they must part. Make it a hard choice and preferably something to do with jug blowin'. Well, not really. I just really like writing "jug blowin'."