Stray Dog

After the success of WINTER’S BONE which was nominated for four Academy Awards and launched Jennifer Lawrence, Debra Granik could have seemingly written her own ticket, but that’s naive. Instead, for her follow-up, Granik created a documentary portrait of Ron “Stray Dog” Hall (who played meth-man Thump Milton in the 2010 film).

This burly, sixty-something biker and Vietnam vet is a moonshine-sippin’, gun-totin’, small dog-lovin’ Missourian, an emblem of America’s Heartland— who did two tours of duty in Vietnam and is still haunted by nightmares. After seven years of solitude, he rejoins society, attending military funerals and counseling sessions with vets, serving as the benevolent manager of an RV park, and learning Spanish to bond with his Mexican wife, Alicia, whose two teenage sons are attempting to immigrate to the U.S. It’s a celebration of the extraordinary in the “ordinary,” providing a captivating, humanist account of a decent American man who has come to terms with himself and acquired a rare wisdom and patience in the process. This is a moving film about community and the bonds that hold it together; also a vivid snapshot of a changing America.

“I realized there was a lot of American history in this one man’s body and psyche—coming of age in Southeast Asia, feeling like a lost and adrift person, coming from a generation of stoic Vietnam veterans who didn’t realize they had PTSD despite retaining all their limbs,” says Debra Granik.

(US/2014/dir by Debra Granik)
unrated / 98 mins

Aug 22 Woodstock
IN PERSON: Filmmaker Debra Granik
Saturday 8:00
Aug 23 Rhinebeck
IN PERSON: Filmmaker Debra Granik
Sunday 2:30