Film Review: American Honey (2016)

Hugo Unwin | Kinofilia Australia

The opening scenes of Andrea Arnold’s American Honey subtly remind us of our place as animals within the natural world. Scavenging for food, protagonist Star commences a 150 minute long existential journey, played with finesse and poise by Sasha Lane in her acting debut. Star displays lichen-like attraction to a passing ragtag group of magazine salespeople follows, as she joins their observance of essential customs, typified by the chanting of southern trap anthems.

This documentation of a particularly American style of escapism is reminiscent of Kerouac and pays homage to this tradition throughout. Arnold's talent lies in stressing the importance of bonds which drive groups of individuals, with patient and lengthy scenes that illuminate traditions, routines and stability for subjects whose liberation is found in crafting their own brand of these essential human customs. Excitingly, the bonds these impoverished youngsters forge in replacement of popular social conventions are on at least one occasion literally borne of fire.

American Honey shines in exploring the dynamic between animals in the natural world by subtly reminding us that we too are such beasts. The sound and aesthetic of fauna consistently entices a conceptualisation of the exuberant teenage and twenty-something subjects as animalistic, while simultaneously reprimanding our instinct to do so through Star's gentle demeanour.

Arnold's depiction of animals can be seen as a nuanced investigation of the connection between an impulse to accumulate capital, consumption, and the human species' place in control of Earth's climate. The bonds demonstrated throughout American Honey show an individual style of human collaboration, the foremost challenge of our age.

Unfortunately, the film loses some focus in a lengthy third act, distracted by the seemingly random and confused driven sexual relationship between Josh and Star. This could be looked upon as an expression of the randomness of reproduction that is commonly, if unconsciously and oftentimes mistakenly, associated with non-human animals' sexual activity.

Uncertainty hangs over the film’s conclusion, guiding the viewer to an acceptance of this is an essential part of the natural order of things. It is a powerful end to a film which places responsibility for empathy and understanding on the shoulders of the viewer, an evocation made throughout this engaging piece of cinema.

Love trumps hate all day, everyday

By Tom Spiegel

As it may sound like an overstated phrase, Donald Trump has managed to let fear and hate rule the United States of America in his first week in office. But what did everyone expect from a man who has always been more interested in ratings and money above everything else? There is no denying that the future is uncertain from this point on, but to everyone who is feeling hopeless and desperate I say: you can always take the peaceful approach and protest everything you believe that the Donald is doing wrong. 

But in doing so, you are automatically giving hate and fear the same level you are giving reason and understanding, and I believe that this is the first mistake every peaceful activist is making in the last days. Fear, hatred, discrimination and evil should not be normalized as an everyday activity, this is how dictatorships start. This is how social and political climate used to be in the fifties, the fucking fifties!! I really don't give a fuck about what the alt right says, no ideology based on all the characteristics mentioned above should be given a chance to see the light of day, they should be immediately silenced for the sake of mankind. 

All that extreme thinking that only divides people is falsely appearing as a conservative philosophy, but the real conservatives will tell you that their beliefs are not based on discriminating others of feeling superior in any shape or form. Conservatives think about having a more reserved way of life, but always based on respect for the way that other people think without imposing their ideology in any way. One could even say that any conservative ideology is mostly gone as chivalry is dying also, that elegance is nowhere to be seen in the United States' conservative side. 

But this goes beyond being either a Democrat or a Republican, this goes beyond being Christian or Muslim, this goes beyond being an atheist or a believer. This whole problem is a fundamental inherent issue that human beings have had to deal with since they have been able to use their intellect, it's really just about not being a dick towards your neighbor and understanding that we are all humans and we all deserve to have the same opportunities as the rest of the people. This is what the people from the alt-right, the white supremacist and any person who discriminates another doesn't seem to understand.

The media doesn't help either, there is no certain way of knowing which news outlet is the most reliable one, all of them claim to tell the truth about everything and yet they are all sharing information that automatically opposes the other self-proclaimed reliable news outlet across the street. Y'all don't realize that in this day and age, World War three has already begun, but it's not a nuclear or physical war, this is an information war that we are all a part of. The bombs dropped by the media or certain individuals with a secret agenda, are usually scandals or accusations that directly affect the fate of the world. 

I really have no idea what the future has in store for us, but whatever happens we completely deserve it, because even the people who aren't doing anything to stop the ones doing the most harm and believe that peaceful marching will solve anything, are the ones that also contribute to the problem. Evil has is like a hydra as it has many heads, cutting off the heads has already proven that doesn't work. One has to slay the hydra's very existence from the core, from the very root of the problem and not give it any chance to grow again stronger and more powerful than before. The moment we understand this, is the moment we'll start evolving as humen beings, but meanwhile we are all stuck in the same vicious cycle.