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.
Arguably the first all-around good film to be released in time for Oscar season, Spotlight is predictably solid in most measurable ways, with one exceptional quality buried so far beneath the surface, perhaps imperceptible to anyone who does not live and work in the world of Boston media, that
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With a sly twist on casting, director Robert Chapel makes the most of Our Town’s minimalist appeal by putting UVA drama grad student Carolyn Demanelis in the lead role of stage manager (played notably by Paul Newman on Broadway). Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play pulls back the
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On Tuesday, November 10, Piedmont Council for the Arts announced that executive director Gram Slaton will leave his current position effective November 15. The PCA Board of Directors hired Slaton in January. In May, Slaton was quoted in C-VILLE Weekly, saying that he hoped to avoid “constantly
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Back by popular demand, the United Nations of Comedy Tour once again boasts a rising star lineup of talented comedians. Aaron Berg, Jordan Rock (Chris’ brother), Jackie Monahan, Funnyman Skiba and Brendan Eyre dole out sidesplitters from the stage at what’s become an annual local highlight.
Gilded beams of light break through dark clouds as an octopus wraps its tentacles around the curved tusks of two woolly mammoths. A flaming mandrill pushes his finger into the black earth and ignites a pool of gold. A small herd of ancient bulls gathers in darkness around a burning bush. An
The namesake of a colonial route that once spanned much of Central Virginia, Three Notch’d Road: The Charlottesville Baroque Ensemble was founded in 2011 by local period instrumentalists. The group performs Bach Comes to America: Virginia’s Baroque Heritage featuring guest artists Jessica
In the parable of the blind men and the elephant, each man takes his hands and feels a part of the elephant—a tusk, a haunch, the trunk, perhaps even the tail. Each then reports back to the others with a conflicting impression of the animal, based on the small square footage he covered. The
A night of local hip-hop starts off with Spititout Inc., a quartet of hardcore rap artists that has been producing since 2012. In old-school style, the collective strives for social justice and activism to be present in its music. The evening of storytelling-driven rap continues with Ben FM,
In her non-traditional photography, local artist Cary Oliva manipulates instant film (namely Polaroid) formats to create phantom-like images with textural imperfections and light flares, reminiscent of watercolors. Oliva enjoys working with early art forms and returns to the motif of age often: