February 16, 2010

Crazy Heart - movie (2010)

Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try...

There are films that make you weep at the end. But then there are those that make your eyes well up with tears the entire time you watch. The tears just stay there in your eyes, constantly. Enough to touch your heart, but not so much to ruthlessly tug at your heartstrings causing them to stream down your face**. Crazy Heart is just one of those poignant, beautiful films I cannot help but recommend to fans of music movies in the vein of Almost Famous and Once and movies about male mid-life crises in the vein of Sideways and American Beauty, if a bit more heavy, dark, hopeless and gritty. Thematically, it isn't entirely groundbreaking as it deals with the likes of love, loneliness, loyalty, despair, regret, disillusionment, and friendship, but it's a must for people who love movies about music, musicians, music journalism, fandom, the process of song-writing, the healing power of song, and the sparks of creative inspiration.

My life-long awe of Jeff Bridges in a film that could lazily be classified as The Big Lebowski meets The Wrestler may have caused me to walk into the theatre predisposed to falling in love with it, but the story of Bad Blake, a washed-up, alcoholic country singer on the verge (of what... a breakdown? The end? A comeback? A deadline? Redemption? Death? I'll let you figure that one out yourself) is so engaging that it matters not whether you like country music (albeit the really, really good kind) at all. I was actually pleasantly surprised just how amazing the songs were and I'm sure T-Bone Burnett and his cronies deserve most, if not all, of the credit. Of course, the killer soundtrack cannot compete with JB's authentic performance which hardly qualifies as acting anyway as clearly the man doesn't just play the role... he transcends it. The Dude's got my vote for one of the best alcoholic actors of all time. He totally deserves the Best Actor Oscar nomination... fuck it, just give him the award already. I doubt the other Best Actor nominees would have the audacity to contest it.

Favorite line in the movie:
"I wanna talk about how bad you make this room look." Trust me, in the context of the scene it was a simple, awesome segue/change of topic, had old world charm and a certain je ne sais quoi sexiness to it.

Favorite lyric:
"I used to be somebody, now I'm somebody else."

Favorite songs from the movie:
"The Weary Kind" (theme from Crazy Heart by Ryan Bingham), and "Fallin' & Flyin'" (sung by Jeff Bridges & Colin Farrell in the movie... who knew?)

**Normally, I would advise you to take this with a grain of salt as I do have a slight tendency to tear up during movies, The Lion King being no exception; however, this movie definitely has moments that lean toward the uber-sad.


Mona said...

If anyone else has seen it too, do tell! Would love to hear someone else's thoughts.

awmercy said...

This has been high on my list of movies to see since I first saw the trailer.

Mona said...

Oh, you must! I am very certain you will love this movie too. If you wait til Netflix, cool, but I'm happy I at least got to see those beautiful shots of the Southwest on the big screen. They were breathtaking... and I can see how they could inspire such music.

I have issues with the central relationship (and its believability) and the film's lack of depth/underdeveloped supporting characters, but the acting is so brilliant either way you won't care. I just can't believe he was singing... he totally needs to become a washed-up country singer.

Nightrain said...

(Spoiler Alert... if you plan on seeing this movie soon, stop reading now... kinda like a New Yorker review.)

Alright! I was gonna do a combo movie-album review, but I'm glad you got to it first.

I really enjoyed the movie, but I feel like they missed on a few major story-telling elements (opportunities, if you will).

My first criticism is that there was no courtship between Blake & Jean. It was like **poof** they're together and everything is grand, without any real development of who they were or where they were coming from. Perhaps it is slightly believable that a small town Oklahoma girl would fall for an old alcoholic country singer, but for the purposes of the movie, they could have developed this relationship further considering it was central to the movie.

The second criticism is that Blake didn't have any issues with sobering up. Again, it was like **poof** out of rehab totally sober and straight, even though he was still playing in bars and hanging with his buddies. Because there was no struggle, the character seemed flat at the end... all too clean and shiny in contrast to who he was. Everything seemed all wrapped up in a nice little bow, but the reality is that for those kinds of Outlaws, things rarely clean up so nicely.

In sum, I feel like the movie could have benefited from a deeper-dive into the Bad Blake, and perhaps Jean, characters. Bridges was great, fantastic even, but the character could have been developed further. Some flashbacks to his glory days, some reflection on his Tommy Sweet relationship, a glimpse of when the whole ride all took a turn for the worse could have added an introspective element to the character. Additionally, some uprising of "the inner beast" after rehab, and down the final stretch, would have made the end seem more believable, acceptable. It was all too simplistic... like scratching the surface, but not wanting to complicate things by going a bit deeper. Two-cents, deposited.

Thanks for the review!

My favorite song: "Hold On You"

Nightrain said...

OK. My monologue cannot be the last input in this thread... thoughts?

Mona said...

Worry not, Nightrain. Loved your commentary, just not finished with mine yet :) Sorry I didn't inform you sooner, but it's coming!

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