Monday, January 18, 2010

Crazy Heart

Movies that center themselves around music can go one way or the other, either the music is lost in the background, or it outshines the actors and story. This film is the exception to the rule. The acting is too good to be out-shined and the music is what drives the script. Everyone is talking about Jeff Bridges and how he made playing a down-and-out alcoholic country-and-western star look easy. He does the same thing in this film for drunks as he did in "The Big Lebowski" for pothead bowlers, by making a lovable looser. By the first stop on this ragtag tour of rundown honky-tonks and bowling alleys Bridges get lost and all that is left is Bad Blake. This is a man left to his own undoing after years of being on the road. Then he meets a young writer for the Sante Fe newspaper, Jean Craddock played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. The light in her eyes makes him not only think twice about where his life is going, (or has been) but also starts the fire under him to wright songs once more. Gyllenhaal balances her characters laid-back back youth with the responsible mother in a totally organic way. She is perfect next to Bridges lost and lonely wonder. Bad Blake has lots to come to terms with from the tattered life behind him. It is tough to look back when all you have done for years is try to forget. When Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), Blakes old opening act comes back as a star asking Bad to wright songs for him will Bad sit back and become second fiddle? The screenplay is based on the 1987 novel of the same name by American novelist Thomas Cobb. This and the fact that director Scott Cooper let the landscape of the west be big and beautiful with wide shots of mountains and desert's made this film feel like authentic Americana. Even the secondary characters feel like they belong in the American west. When it comes to music that makes a movie it helps to have a Producer like T Bone Burnett. He help bring you the songs you loved from O Brother, Where Art Thou? In this movie with the help of Stephen Bruton, T Bone has made a film not just about a musician, but a film about music and how it can make or break a persons life.

P.S. - T Bone Burnett has also produced some of our favorite albums. (Elvis Costello's album, Secret, Profane and Sugarcane, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album Raising Sand, Cassandra Wilson's Thunderbird album, Brandi Carlile's The Story and more) All this and he still can rip it up on stage if you get a chance to see him live.

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