Out of The Furnace
There was a lot of Oscar buzz prior to the release of Scott Cooper’s second film Out Of The Furnace. Christian Bale as Ronnie Baze would get a best performance nod, and Casey Affleck was a shoo-in to win Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Rodney Baze Jr. There was some talk that even Woody Harelson might get a nod for his portrayal of Harlan DeGroat. Nada… Nothing… Not a single nomination from the Academy. I was puzzled and spent several nights reviewing the film in my head to see what went wrong. Besides the bullshit politics that go with any type of recognition from The Academy, I believe that the authenticity of the film is what derailed it. The first time I saw this film I was bothered by the realism, how the story moved. It moved like real life. The pacing took me out of the story, and reminded me that I was seeing a movie. The strange thing is that when I watched it for a second time this didn’t happen. I am not sure if it was because I knew what to expect or that my first viewing was filled with preconceived notions of what a film should be. I am now fairly certain that the latter was the case. This only made me further appreciate the brilliance of the film. Coopers first film Crazy Heart, a portrait of a aging, alcoholic Country Star Bad Blake played brilliantly by Jeff Bridges rumored to be modeled after Kris Kristofferson, took the academy by storm. I am fairly certain that Cooper was held to a higher standard this time around. We are often used to seeing the films that deal with sensational subjects, things we don’t experience in everyday life. Out Of The Furnace was inspired by events that took place around The Rust Belt, and in particular the town of Braddock Pennsylvania. It is the story of the working man that believes in America, and the American Dream. It is a cautionary tale about the consequences of that dream being a illusion and what happens when we are forced to live with that shattered illusion. At its core Out Of The Furnace is a scathing indictment of American Apathy. A culture of who gives a shit?, A culture that sends our young men and woman out in the world as soldiers to do horrible things to other human beings, to defeat the so called enemies of America. A culture that just doesn’t care and doesn’t want to be bothered by trivial things like the decay of the human soul from easily labeled disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.