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.
C-VILLE Weekly is seeking submissions for our photo contest, presented by LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph—specifically creative, high-quality images of local scenes (and people in local scenes!). Prizes will be awarded, and winners will be published in the June 8 issue of C-VILLE, alongside
The Dave Matthews Band played its first gig at a private party held on the roof of a downtown Charlottesville warehouse in May of 1991. On Saturday, DMB will play a sold-out show at John Paul Jones Arena and kick off its 25th anniversary summer tour, which includes 48 dates in almost as many
IX Art Park is a place where Charlottesville gets up close and personal with art. The art is big; it’s bright. You can write on the warehouse’s exterior walls and touch many of the sculptures. So it’s no surprise that First Fridays at IX is a bit different from First Fridays at other
Frenetic drummer and composer Allison Miller began playing the drums at age 10, before studying music performance and going on to collaborate and record with the likes of Norah Jones, Michael Feinstein and Mimi Fox. The New York-based percussionist is on a nationwide tour with her band, Boom
Like many of us, Matthew Burtner gets nostalgic when he recalls his hometown. “It’s different now than the place I remember as a child,” he says. “In the north, where I was born, the time of ice was a time when you could move across the land. The ice gave you a way across. Otherwise […]
Taking a musical approach to Earth Day, Peter Ryan’s Wings is a quirky, offbeat lesson on interdependence and survival. Loosely based on Aristophanes’ The Birds, the play follows two men who find refuge in a mythical bird paradise, but soon learn they cannot shake their earthbound problems.
McCoury talent runs deep. Brothers Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (banjo) spearhead the modern bluegrass ensemble The Travelin’ McCourys, joined by Jason Carter on the fiddle and Alan Bartram slapping the bass. After a stop in Charlottesville, the foursome hits the road for DelFest, a Maryland-based
If there’s one thing Richard Linklater knows, it’s spiritual sequels. His last film, the award-winning Boyhood, evoked much of the same feelings as his before series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight) in its exploration of the inherent drama of something as simple as the passage
Going with the flow Rivanna River Company will launch Charlottesville’s first outfitter By Jessica Luck firstname.lastname@example.org When Gabe and Sonya Silver moved back to Charlottesville three years ago after various stints in other places working in the outdoor recreation field, they settled in the
If you walk or drive past the Corner in the next few weeks, you may be surprised to see people suspended from the top floor of the Graduate hotel. These aren’t aerialists or stunt doubles for a local action movie; they’re muralists painting the latest installation of the Charlottesville Mural
Witness the high drama, savagery and heroism surrounding the Battle of Agincourt in The Life of King Henry the Fifth, skillfully staged by the American Shakespeare Center. Explore the multiple sides of King Henry V’s passionate personality in the last of the Bard’s historic plays. Through
Folk musician Mark Erelli is an accomplished performer who operates just outside of the spotlight. After building a reputation of excellence on Boston’s coffeehouse circuit, the multi-instrumental troubadour took a break from his solo career in 2010 and joined singer-songwriter Lori McKenna on
M. Ward More Rain (Merge) He’s covered Louis Armstrong, Daniel Johnston, David Bowie and Bach. He’s recorded Christmas albums with Zooey Deschanel. And for 15 years, M. Ward has also been one of the country’s best songwriters, though at times less a songwriter and more of a mood, something you
Over the course of her writing career, which began at a weekly alternative newspaper like C-VILLE Weekly, Barbara Kingsolver has authored 14 books and won numerous awards, including the National Humanities Medal in 2000 and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2011. Her novel The Lacuna won the
Taking a lighter approach to the Brothers Grimm’s telling of Snow White, Charlottesville Ballet tiptoes around the tale of a girl stalked by a murderous psychopath to present a forest fantasy made up of friendly animals and merrymaking dwarfs. The massive cast includes 60 local dance
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s biting, sexy, satirical Hunter Gatherers offers up a dark look at contradiction and pretense in contemporary culture. Masquerading as a glimpse into a typical social evening, the drama ultimately reflects fragility in the manufactured sophistication of modern society,
On a freezing-cold night in February, Harrisonburg band Illiterate Light played a set under a red light bulb in the kitchen of a house on First Street South, close to the graveyard. It was 1am and a dozen or so 20somethings leaned against walls and countertops, holding cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon
Four-piece band White Denim has changed its tune quite a few times since its inception nearly a decade ago. The group, based in Austin, makes a return to its rock roots with its latest record, Stiff, and the feverish ’70s undertow and looping on the new release are reminiscent of White Denim’s
After taking a hiatus to raise her daughter, Charlottesville’s Lauren Hoffman returned to the stage last year with a new band, The Secret Storm. The current musical incarnation defines Hoffman as a compelling frontwoman backed by myriad instruments such as the cello, electric violin, piano,
You may have noticed that when many reviews compare a given movie to a video game, it’s rarely in a positive light. You may have also noticed that when this comparison is made, the reviewer has little, if any, experience with games, instead using the reference as a shorthand way of saying it’s