This past weekend I saw three films on DVD.
Brick is an American film. The film is a hardboiled detective story that takes place in a California coastal town (revealed in the credits to be “beautiful” San Clemente). Most of the main characters are high school students. Lots of adolescent violence. Not a commercial success.
Babel is an international co-production among companies based in France, Mexico and the USA. Big star cast, violence played a major role in the movie. Not so sure about the ending of the movie, maybe I have to see the other two movies of the director’s trilogy to make more sense of it.
Little Miss Sunshine is a dramatic comedy film about a family's road trip to a children's beauty pageant. I found it to be a funny satire and quite a contrast to the other two films.
Greg Kinnear plays a Type A personality striving to help support the family as a motivational speaker and life coach. He loses a big deal that would have jump-started his motivational technique business. This sub-plot was stereotypical, but I found the irony amusing.
The climax takes place at the pageant, which features young hypersexualized girls with teased hair and capped teeth, wearing adult-style swimsuits and evening wear, and performing elaborate dance numbers. Ruben had warned me about la explotación de las niñas. The family’s daughter Olive, untrained in beauty pageant conventions, is clearly out of place. Recognizing that her feelings could really get hurt, the family considers withdrawing her from the competition. But the mother insists that they "let Olive be Olive" and participate.
In the talent portion of the pageant, the dance that Grandpa Edwin had choreographed for his granddaughter is revealed to Rick James' Super Freak. Olive scandalizes and horrifies almost all of the audience and pageant judges with a burlesque performance that she joyfully performs. She is as oblivious to the subtext behind the dance as the other contestants are to their own provocative costumes, heavy makeup, and talent routines.
The girls acting as participants in the beauty pageant, except Abigail Breslin who played Olive, were veterans of real beauty pageants. They looked the same and performed the same acts as they had in their real-life pageants. Almost a bit scary to me.