So I don't know if it's the growing up without a TV, or the 10 years of American pop culture that I missed while overseas, but I like to watch it. A lot. I admit it.
We got rid of our satellite service a year ago when I discovered Hulu.com, and subscribed to Netflix. We went from paying $80 a month, to $10. Bonus! Ever since then, I've been mining the infinite collection of movies, TV shows, and documentaries that Netflix has to offer, and have come across some really great ones. So great, in fact, that I've decided to dedicate my Monday blog posts to movie reviews. The reviews will be 1) from Netflix movies, and 2) from streaming Netflix movies (because most days I'm too impatient for the mail).
Without further ado, here is the movie I'm choosing for this, the first installment ...
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia
I avoided this documentary for a long time, even though Netflix considerately kept reminding me that I might like it, based on other movies I had showed interest in. The synopsis read, "Hailing from Boone County, W. Va., mountain dancer Jesco White may be the most famous member of the White clan -- thanks to the 1991 documentary The Dancing Outlaw -- but he's hardly the most colorful. This film focuses on the rest of the brood." Hmmm. A film about a bunch of dancing Appalachian hillbillies? Thanks, I'll pass.
I decided to give it a try a few days ago, and boy, was I wrong. I was hooked from the very first scene, an interview from Mamie White, second generation in a string of five shown in the documentary. The Whites were revealed to be an extremely intelligent, extremely volatile clan who live by their own rules and an 'f you' attitude to the rest of society and the law. The film followed the family for a year, recording the inevitable chaos and drama that flowed as a result of their dysfunctional, drug plagued lives.
Story lines include a granddaughter, Kirk White (third generation), who you meet in her initial interview, which she conducts in a pill induced haze. She relates in vivid detail how she stabbed her ex, while her 8 year old son does back flips on his bed, then cheerfully tells the camera that he will cut the man's balls off. It is later revealed that Kirk is pregnant with the same man's baby, shows her snorting crushed up pills in the hospital after the baby's birth, and then follows her struggle to regain her daughter (who CPS took away).
Mousie White, Mamie's daughter, is released from prison and goes on a mission to find her cheating, deadbeat husband. With her teen daughter in tow, she finds him with his pregnant girlfriend, then takes him home with her, stopping twice on the way to pick up a case of beers, and to visit the pharmacy where they got married.
Jesco White (second generation) is a washed up local celebrity, deemed 'Appalacian Royalty' by some, famous for his unique style of tap dancing which he inherited from his father. He "lost half my brain cells, but I don't know which one", sniffing gasoline for 10 years straight. People say he can tell high octane from regular unleaded fuel just based on the smell. With a tattoo of Elvis and Charles Manson on his back, Jesco lives to party, but has intense struggles with his inner demons.
This film had me laughing at some parts over the sheer absurdity of the way these people live, and shaking my head at others over their blatant depravity, and the depths of darkness that dominates their every day lives. It swings from humorous to saddening, an extremely raw look at how dysfunction, violence, and drug addiction can be passed on from one generation to the next. Watch at your own risk, as it is very graphic and at times just plain raunchy.