In writer-director Scott Cooper’s debut feature, based on Thomas Cobb’s novel, Jeff Bridges plays an aging country-and-western crooner who’s just about washed up, evidently in booze. Bridges’ Bad Blake sits comfortably within the musical tradition of Williams, Jennings, Nelson and Kristofferson, and less comfortably within his own broken-down life, which of course is why the music works so well. “Falling feels like flying,” he sings. “For a little while.”
In Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges plays Bad Blake, a country singer who’s—you guessed it—down on his luck.
So what’s Bad Blake’s story? Well, he’s got lots. These days, Bad gigs mostly in dive bars and bowling alleys, with younger players who respect him enough to let him wander offstage, mid-chorus, to puke in the parking lot. It’s O.K.; he’ll be back in time to bring the tune home. And maybe to bring someone from the audience home. After all, he’s a pro.
Bad once had a protégé (Colin Farrell) who has risen up to huge success in the slick new country music scene, but hasn’t forgotten his mentor’s tutelage—even though forgetting might be easier for both of them. And of course he still has the songs, and the booze.
Then Bad meets Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a would-be journalist who shows up at his New Mexico motel room for an interview. She’s a lot younger than Bad, but you can’t call her a kid. She’s got a kid, in fact, and she’s raising him alone. So she knows what those songs are about, and what the booze is about, too.
It’s clear how this will have to work. The sudden, phony intimacy of that interview will give way to the gradual, more genuine, and maybe more dangerous intimacy of a love affair. But how? “I want to talk about how bad you make this room look,” he tells her. It’s a line, but a good one. Like one of his lyrics.
Watching Crazy Heart unfold, it’s hard not to think of Robert Duvall in Tender Mercies, not least because Duvall shows up in this movie too. But Cooper knows what he’s doing, and we get the idea: This is an awardable performance, a probable stereotype restored to an archetype. As such, it might not have succeeded without Bridges, who inhabits his character with stoic, illusionless dignity, nor without some exceptional original songs by T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton, who tailored them directly to Bridges’ gifts.
There’s a leanness to this tale, and an almost numbing familiarity. Maybe it’s like one of those songs in Bad Blake’s repertoire. You know how it’ll go—of course you do—and you don’t listen to be surprised. You listen to be reminded: of disappointments, self-destructions, regrets, and the truthful, tuneful fantasy of potential redemption.
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men takes the stage at London’s National Theatre as part of its HD broadcast series. The play is a powerful and raw depiction of struggles during the Great Depression and the heart-wrenching bonds of friendship. James Franco and Chris O’Dowd step out of their
The longest running local community chorus returns for what has become an annual holiday highlight: The Oratorio Society’s Christmas at The Paramount. Celebrate with song as conductor Michael Slon (below) leads a program of classic favorites that soars to its highest point during an audience
Over his 20-year career, singer-songwriter Ellis Paul has released 19 records, received 14 Boston Music awards (along with a slew of other honors and decorations) and played close to 200 shows per year across the globe. With a leading role in the folk revival of the ’90s, Paul is often compared
Sarah White and Siân Richards are back with their annual songbird tradition, The Country Christmas Show. The angel voiced duo welcomes Peyton Tochterman to the tinseled stage for this year’s tribute to the season, as well as long-standing favorite Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees, who always
“One of my paintings is on the cover of American Psychologist this month, and it shows a man looking out over a field and into the mountains. My feeling was he is in harmony with nature, and if you can just be with him, you can feel that same peace and bliss from the painting,” […]
I was 10 years old when I saw Les Misérables on Broadway, and my dislike of the show was immediate and intense. I wasn’t prepared for my total immersion into a world where destitute mothers became prostitutes, innocent men served on chain gangs and girls my age toiled barefoot in the streets.
James Wilson pulls out a copy of the new Sons of Bill record Love and Logic—on vinyl of course. “Do you have a record player? Listen to it straight through, sitting in the dark,” he said. Ha. Right. Good one. Should that be backwards or forwards? James, the Sons’ de facto frontman, is not
When it comes to holiday traditions, some wait with bated breath for annual broadcasts of the 1964 stop motion animation classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Others prefer rom-coms with predictably heartwarming plots. However, no December is complete without The Nutcracker. And though I’m
Break away from the repetitive carols and TV reruns by checking out the day-long local lineup at the 13th annual Holiday Spotlight. Get jazzy with Dr. Jeff Vaughan and Greg C. Brown, tap into your Appalachian roots with the Skyline Country Cloggers (below) or spice up your night with the Latin
PVCC’s Visual Arts Department ushers in the longest nights of the year with its illuminating December tradition Let There Be Light. For one night only, curator James Yates and a slew of local artists will show their outdoor exhibit on the grounds surrounding the V. Earl Dickinson Building. The
The debate over Ridley Scott’s decision to cast white gentiles in Ancient Hebrew and Egyptian roles in Exodus: Gods and Kings is worth having, but it might carry a bit more weight if the movie were any good. If the forced 3D and mixed-bag special effects had matched Darren Aronofsky’s Noah,
When you think of storytelling, you might imagine your animated girlfriend gesticulating over Sunday brunch or a kindly grandfather telling the kids to gather ’round. But for Siân Richards and Kara McLane Burke, stories begin in the body. “You just kind of start somewhere and give yourself
What line of work is Jason Burke in? “I’m an insurance man,” he said—without a trace of irony, without a hint of recognition that what he’d just said sounded like a line from a grainy black and white movin’ picture. Burke, in a vast landscape of Charlottesville insurance men, has pulled himself
December begins on a classy note with a program of Schumann, Bach and more that features internationally renowned cellist Steven Isserlis. The concerto soloist and chamber musician is one of only two living cellists in the Gramophone Hall of Fame, and in this sonata-centered performance he is
On an 80-degree October afternoon, it was beginning to sound a lot like Christmas at the Charlottesville Senior Center. “Angels We Have Heard on High” flowed into “O Come All Ye Faithful,” followed by “Jingle Bells” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” as the Second Wind Band rehearsed for its
While the holiday season doesn’t necessarily conjure visions of scantily clad women doing the bump ‘n’ grind, Deanna Danger and her crew of vaudevillian and burlesque performers see no harm in weaving some risqué into your merry making. Performer, producer and instructor, Danger
During one of the many minutes-long stretches of Horrible Bosses 2 that pass by without a single chuckle, your mind may start to wander as you realize how strangely and unintentionally meta it is that a movie about self-employment would become a victim of its own success. It’s as though the
First Fridays is a monthly art event featuring exhibit openings at many Downtown art galleries and additional exhibition venues. Several spaces offer receptions. Listings are compiled in collaboration with Piedmont Council for the Arts. To list an exhibit, please send information two
When you view a photography exhibit that focuses exclusively on doors, you can’t help but feel a tinge of desperation to know what on earth is behind them. Artist Daphne Maxwell Reid makes no such offers in her current show at The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. “Everybody
Entering the room, two sounds compete for your attention: the steady hum of sewing machines and a Destiny’s Child song amplified by unseen speakers. It’s Friday at Crescent Halls, a housing facility operated by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and that means that a group