THE BEACH BUM
Photo | Iconoclast
Matthew McConaughey achieves the sublimation of his so-called renaissance with his role as a man called Moondog in “The Beach Bum,” a guy who sometimes seems like a biographical sketch of the free-wheeling image the actor has in real life. When we meet Moondog, he is a local legend in Key West, occasionally reading a poem onstage in a bar amidst an absolutely mind-boggling amount of beer-drinking and drug use. An artistic purpose to his life and the film eventually emerges amidst the chaos.
Director Harmony Korine is in his element in this neon-lit, impressionistic, slice-of-life character study, a strangely beautiful, rambling tale of a bleached-blonde poet living a life dedicated to hedonism. He takes his time to show us who Moondog is, and after seeing him dance, copulate and shove an unfortunate sousaphone playing local off a pier, the audience is probably surprised to hear the word “genius” start to get thrown around, along with a few more obvious names. We’re also surprised to see him on the phone with a lingerie-clad woman who is apparently his wife, and she’s discussing plans for a wedding for someone who is apparently his daughter.
Summoned to Miami by wife Minnie (Isla Fisher) for this wedding, a different picture of the perpetually stoned and incredibly shaggy Moondog appears, and he himself states, lolling in his Miami mansion, “I forgot how rich we are!” Minnie and Moondog enjoy a non-traditional, wide open relationship, but are still zealously affectionate with one another. (And in that department, this is one of the strongest R ratings I have seen in a while.)
While Moondog and Minnie and friends like Jimmy Buffett and a wealthy rapper named Lingerie (Snoop Dogg) are busy “L-I-V-I-N,” a fatal accident threatens to end the perpetual party. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but also, the plot is almost beside the point of “The Beach Bum”; it is more of an experience.
Let’s just say that Moondog is forced to clean up his act and finish his promising novel, and that he only ends up doing one of those things. His defends his dedication to hedonistic anarchy as the only meaningful life choice in a world gone mad, and it’s one that is more interesting to watch than you might think. There is a perfect tonal matchup between the director’s vibe and vision and the cast, especially McConaughey, but certainly helped by Snoop Dogg, the always crazy eyed Fisher and even a wonderful turn from Zac Efron with some very special facial hair.
Korine himself might be a poetic genius of the underbelly, like Moondog, attuned to the beauty in the degraded, hungover decadence of these characters. Moondog is over the top, but he is not a cartoon, and while his wardrobe is not subtle, elements of McConaughey’s performance actually are. “The Beach Bum” is a rambling journey without a destination that is worth taking.
“The Beach Bum” is currently available to rent.
The Mobile Bay Sierra Club sponsors “Dispatches from the Gulf 3: Ten Years After The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” a newly released scientific documentary on the long-term impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.
As the 10th anniversary of the oil spill approaches in 2020, the question that is regularly posed is: “Has the Gulf of Mexico recovered?” Scientists have spent nearly a decade studying the spill’s environmental impact on humans, wildlife and the ecosystem. The film provides data and assessments of the current state of the Gulf, but the lack of funding challenges the ability to predict and assess further long-term impacts. Narrated by Matt Damon, this is the third film in the award-winning series, Dispatches from the Gulf.
The screening is Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center (30945 Five Rivers Blvd., Spanish Fort) in the Tensaw Theater. Refreshments will be served beginning at 6 p.m. and the program will begin at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.
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