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Beasts of the Southern Wild

2012 (Benh Zeitlan) PG, 93 minutes

Quvenzhané Wallis; Dwight Henry

Hushpuppy lives with her ailing, drinking daddy (Dwight Henry) in a dirt-poor but happy Delta community called the ''Bathtub,'' a dip of marshland outside New Orleans that's particularly vulnerable to flooding. The place is part real and part magical: The girl leads a believable existence; she's also unfazed by her visions of the prehistoric aurochs who, in a bit of environmental mythology, return to earth, summoned by catastrophic weather.   The movie is small, local, and idiosyncratic. Then again, it's also a thing of beauty and originality — and for that, sustained huzzahs are in order. 

Lisa Schwarzbaum

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