Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Plan: One down...six more to go

To recap: Saturday morning, I decided that I would try to see the following seven films before the Academy Awards broadcast on Sunday night, March 7.

An Education
The Blind Side
Crazy Heart
District 9
The Hurt Locker
The Last Station

Combining these with three previously-viewed films that have been nominated for Best Picture this year (A Serious Man, Up!, and Up in the Air) would give me a tally of having viewed:

8 of the 10 Best Picture nominees, and
3 of the 5 nominees in each acting category (except Best Supporting Actor)

[Side note: I wish I could find a way to see Invictus - but it's not playing in theaters anywhere I can find - and it's not out on DVD either.]

Why do you care about any of this? I don't know Because I've promised to feature mini-reviews of the movies after I see them. And you don't think I'm completely full of crap value my opinion.

Saturday night, I watched...

Crazy Heart (Jim Styro's mini-review)

I love seeing movies without having a lot of expectations. I'm almost always pleasantly surprised. Of course, I wasn't surprised by another Oscar-worthy performance by Jeff Bridges. He's become one of my favorite actors over the years - not only delivering wonderful and varied performances - but picking great movies in which to appear. And Maggie Gyllenhaal is no slouch either (I particularly loved her in Stranger Than Fiction).

Bridges plays an chain-smoking, alcoholic country singer/songwriter, "Bad" Blake, who is past his prime and headed for an early grave. While traveling from one sorry gig to another, he grants an interview to Jean (Gyllenhaal), whose youth and unpretentious beauty pierce through the haze of his dreary, booze-soaked existence. Against her better judgement, Jean starts to fall in love with Bad (which makes the thing sound more cliched than it is, IMO) and he begins to form a bond with both her and her pre-school-aged son. For me, the movie stirred up memories of another great little movie - Tender Mercies (which earned Robert Duvall - whose appearance in Crazy Heart is almost an homage to that earlier movie - a well-deserved Oscar for Best Actor) which featured a similar cast of characters.

But, apart from a shared faith in human endurance, the similarity between the films does not run that deep. Although Bad and Jean genuinely care for each other, their relationship never feels quite right (as perhaps it should not). And Bad's nickname is well-earned - it is not clear until near the end of the film whether he can or will change his ways. Although the story feels familiar, the plot line and performances don't necessarily take you where you might expect them to go. Even so, it is a wonderful journey - with great music (Bridges sings and plays the material himself) and fine performances all around.

Crazy Heart is a film well worth seeing.

Take care.


Middle Aged Woman said...

The one thing I would add is that this movie manages to avoid all the cliches. None of it goes quite where you predict. And Colin Farrel is quite good, too.

Berowne said...

A good, intelligent review. I hadn't thought I'd be seeing this film, but it's now on my Netflix list. Thanks.

Jim Styro said...

MAW: I thought I said that (albeit not in those words). And I purposely left out Colin (since he is uncredited...mostly) - but he did do a nice job.

Berowne: You are welcome. I hope you enjoy it when it rolls around to your DVD player.