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Get Low and its cast were very well-received last night at Austin's
Paramount Theatre as part of the SXSW Film Festival. This is the type
of well-written, well-acted serious film that gets made all too rarely
today. The excellent cast was led by three aging legends the
cantankerous Robert Duvall, the hilarious Bill Murray and elegant Sissy
Spacek all of whom attended the SXSW performance and answered
questions. They have lost nothing with age. One-time child star Lucas
Black has begun to come into his own as an actor as well. Get Low is an
example of the type of wonderful film making that can be done with
excellent actors working on a minimal budget. The period setting in
depression era Tennessee was entirely believable. The film is both very
funny and deeply moving.
Very loosely-based on real events, the film tells the story of a backwoods hermit played by Duvall with grace and spirit who decides to hold his own funeral while he is still alive. The story is about loneliness, guilt, redemption, forgiveness, love, and human mortality. There have been few recent films that explore such difficult territory and do so with such humanity, decency and humor. I hope that this film gets a theatrical release so that more people can enjoy this rare treat.
This is what movies are about:
It's a compelling story, flawless acting with spot-on casting choices, deftly directed, and with camera work supports the story with warm tones. I don't know of one person who has seen this and doesn't rave. The Oscar race begins here. It's wonderful to be rapt in a film that doesn't need explosions, chases or CGI to make the film work.
Every person involved in the making of this film is an artisan. If your a budding filmmaker, class is in session - a must see.
Duval and Spacek are in their prime - there's also a lesson here that youth and beauty are only skin deep... and talent grows with age.
Greetings again from the darkness. I am not familiar with director
Aaron Schneider, who apparently has done mostly cinematography work on
TV for the past 10 years. He must feel like a lottery winner getting to
direct his first feature film and having a cast with Robert Duvall and
This is a very odd film centered on the story of 1930's Tennessee backwoods recluse Felix Bush, played exceedingly (no surprise) well by Robert Duvall. We learn - slowly - that Felix has been in a self-imposed exile carrying enormous guilt over an incident from 40 years prior. The wonderful thing is that it takes us just about the entire film to discover what caused this guilt and how Felix has dealt with it.
Over that 40 years, the legend of old man Bush has grown with the town people. It is approaching Tall Tale status when he whips up on a local wise-ass on one of his rare visits to town. When Felix realizes that stories have been concocted about him over the years, he heads to local funeral home to arrange a "funeral party" where everyone can come and tell their stories. The local mortician is played by Bill Murray and I can best describe his personality as eager opportunist.
While this appears to be a slow moving story, it really isn't. The real motivation for the party, a reconnection with the past and a cleansing confession all play a part in this fine story. Sissy Spacek plays a painful link to Felix' past, as well as a key to this latest/last event.
Three excellent performances by Duvall, Spacek and Bill Cobbs really make this one work. Bill Murray and Lucas Black hold up their end by supplying a bit of humor and purity, respectively, though the story really belongs to Duvall. His ability to convey emotion with a grunt or facial expression is just amazing to watch.
My only real complaint with the film is that it lasted about 2 minutes too long. The perfect ending had occurred and then we are dealt one final, seemingly forced scene. A minor quibble with a film that kept me fully engaged.
This as close to a perfect movie as you will see this year. A simple story about an old codger who wants something in the nature of an odd request. His odd deeds have made him a legend in the area in which he lives (think the deep south). He has been alone for 4o years living in a run-down cabin and chasing kids and people off his property with a gun. He is the quintessence of a deeply unhappy mournful cranky old man, and he is played by one the great actors of his generation Robert Duvall, joined by an outstanding cast--Bill Murray. Sisy Spacek and others. It deals with life (and death) memories of youth, and deep love between a man and a woman which has lasted a long time. I will not give you the plot, just ask you see this movie as soon as possible. Despite its shoestring budget, it is a GREAT film, written produced and acted by some of the greatest talents of our time. Mr Duvall is worth seeing in this tale, but the supporting cast makes it a superb experience. If you want see a great film crafted by genius, then I urge you not miss it!!
Robert Duvall is one of the best American actors of the past half
century. Witness his roles in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Godfather I
and II, The Great Santini, Apocalypse Now, Open Range, and a full TV
resume including Lonesome Dove. In Get Low, he gives a measured,
understated performance as a mysterious, old hermit who makes an
unusual, life changing decision. This independent film is deceptively
simple and honest. Yet it is done extremely well and leaves a deep
feeling about life's regrets.
After the brief image of a house burning down, we flash forward to a rural setting in the 1930's to see an old home inhabited by a reclusive, elderly man, Felix Bush (Duvall), whose disheveled appearance and reputation are the stuff of rumor and legend. Are the stories about him true? Is he a killer? Haunted by visions of a woman, he decides to arrange his own funeral before his actual demise. The funeral home is run by Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and his loyal assistant, Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black). Felix wants to invite everyone who has a story about him to tell. He sweetens the pot by offering to raffle off his vast acreage of property. He also runs into an old acquaintance, Mattie (Sissy Spacek), who has strong ties to him from way back. He later pays a visit to a preacher in another town in hopes of having him conduct the eulogy. As the plot thickens, we find that Felix is hiding a painful secret that will have the town reexamining its prejudices and assumptions about a tortured soul who is struggling for his own redemption before it's too late.
Novice director Aaron Schneider, whose previous credits were as a cinematographer of various TV shows and movies, does a solid job with a modest budget and a lean story and script by Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell.
It's nice to see veteran actors like Duvall, Spacek, and Murray play older characters, wrinkles and all with enthusiasm and conviction. Duvall does a splendid job of presenting a cipher of a man whose words are sparse and direct and slowly, as the story develops, begins to open up to reveal a complex person replete with feelings of guilt. There are reasons perhaps for why he is the way he is. Duvall is destined for an Oscar nomination, and Spacek arguably deserves a nod for strong support. Bill Murray as the funeral director does a convincing job as a businessman who isn't quite a villain or hero. He is carving a nice career niche as a dramatic character actor (aside from being a comedic superstar).
The film successfully evokes the period of depression era, small town USA. There are few items to quibble about; however, a violent break in at the funeral home doesn't really forward the plot and is never fully explained.
There are similarities in Felix and the noble character in The Ballad of Cable Hogue. In both films, the protagonist is an aged, stubborn loner, and in the end, as his life is in its twilight, the truth sets him free. Perhaps the lesson here is that each person has a story, and some of the stories are not always evident. With Get Low, we get to see the bittersweet tale of a broken heart. Your heart will be moved too.
"Get Low" is, in part, considered a psychological drama, it's also one
of those films that can be classified as almost anything because the
actors are able to add so many layers of interest with intrigue and
Starring an almost unrecognizably old Robert Duvall and a Jarmusch-styled Bill Murray, respectively, as a hermit wanting to host his own funeral and a funeral home director wanting his business. On the surface, it's a very slow drama because that is essentially all that happens, Murray helps Duvall plan his own funeral. But we are saved from a tedious drama by the actors' comedic timings. There's a lot of dry humour that I found myself laughing out-loud many times. The significance of the film is the psychology in its heart. Throughout, Duvall drops hints as to what his character is all about. You find yourself thinking about who he really is, and what he really means with every line he says. Robert Duvall just may be the best subtle actor.
"Get Low" is very stylized. Set in the 1920s, the director and cinematographer paid attention to the lighting, casting shadows where they wanted them, providing a dark atmosphere when needed to echo the times of the depression-era. I'll also call the humour stylized, it's dry, and it can take you a minute to make sure you got it right.
The one down-side is that the film-makers may have made it a bit too artsy and not accessible enough, because otherwise this could be up for every major award. At least we can rest assured that the Academy knows where to find Mr. Duvall.
A charming sleeper of a tale set in the 1930s. A reclusive hermit, the subject of mistrust and rumor by generations of local townsfolk, nearing the end of his life suddenly decides to throw himself a funeral party and invites the entire town. Superlative and nuanced performances are turned in by Robert Duvall, as the old man, Sissy Spacek, as a widowed former acquaintance, and Bill Murray, as the funeral director who agrees to organize the event. Fantastic supporting performances are also given by Lucas Black, as the Funeral director's more moral assistant, and Bill Cobbs, as the Reverend who comes to speak at the funeral. The director, Aaron Schneider, captures the period extremely well and the cinematography and musical score are wonderful. The movie handles tough subjects like death, regret, suspicion and guilt with wisdom and a gentle humor that allows the audience to take it all in like one big ice cream sundae. Bravo ! Go see it ! Tell your friends to go see it !!
While Hollywood has consistently examined the "angry young man," his
older counterpart is normally portrayed by a character actor in a minor
role. Robert Duvall is no stranger to portraying off-beat, aging male
leads, but here he accepts the ultimate challenge -- drawing an
audience in to examine the life of a self-made hermit with a widely
reviled yet barely explained past.
Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek, a dream team supporting cast, also portray vintage folk with secrets of their own. This partly frontier western, largely psychological mystery unravels slowly in scenes with little or no dialog. What dialog there is offers several levels of potential meaning through pregnant pauses, ill-defined sentence fragments and questions with no immediate answers.
The viewer either chooses to fill in the blanks by closely observing peripheral elements in each scene, or simply awaits a climax that ultimately explains everything. That scene never quite tells all, but intentionally and inventively so. It's the former viewer for whom this film has been so meticulously well-crafted to side-step the clearly declarative and ultimately obvious.
The score is a particularly captivating mix of period Americana and original music that resonates with the time and place -- even when performed by a Polish orchestra or under-appreciated U.S. folk/country performers of our own era.
In short, GET LOW is a niche film that quietly rewards a cinema-loving audience for investing its full attention. Leave your smart phone at home for the best multi-tasking experiences are built into the work itself. The 2009 copyright date indicates Sony Classics, after due deliberation, acquired a "hard sell" that other studios overlooked.
An early October Oscar season screening of this December U.S. release ended with much applause, atypical for guild audiences. Almost half even stayed through the credits, an indication that many involved in the film on all levels are worthy of name-recognition "for your consideration.
In the 30's, in Caleb County, the loathed hermit Felix Bush (Robert
Duvall) offers a large amount of money to the local Rev. Gus Horton
(Gerald McRaney) to organize his funeral, but the preacher refuses the
request. The family man Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black) overhears the
conversation and talks to his boss Frank Quinn (Bill Murray); they
visit Felix and offer the service of the Quinn Funeral Home. Felix
requests a funeral party and invites anyone that has a story to tell
about him. Further, he offers his three hundred acre land for US$ 5.00
a ticket to be disputed in a raffle. When Felix asks Buddy to drive him
to Illinois to see Rev. Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs), Buddy learns that
Felix has a painful secret and need the help of his friend to disclose
it to the population.
"Get Low" has an interesting premise of a funeral for a man that is still alive in a good screenplay. The cast is excellent, with Robert Duvall, Lucas Black, Bill Murray, Bill Cobbs and Sissy Spacek. The reconstitution of the 30's is very careful in an excellent work of costumes and art direction. Unfortunately, the story is weak, and the revelation of Felix's secret that should be the climax of the film does not impact and neither justify the attitude of Felix Bush toward the locals nor his self-punishment. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Segredos de um Funeral" ("Secrets of a Funeral")
You have to admire Robert Duvall. For fifty,plus years now,he has starred in countless films portraying characters that are somewhat left of centre. In Get Low,he plays Felix Bush,a hermit who has,for the most part,retreated from society,due to some mighty dark daemons he has been carrying around for far too long. Felix is old & feels his time for shuffling off his mortal coil is not far away. Felix is either feared or hated by most of the people that live in the town (as far from his land,as possible). Felix gets the idea of having a funeral party before he bids farewell. He gets assistance in the form of two workers at the local funeral parlor,Frank Quinn & his partner Buddy. The three of them plan the mother of all funerals to take place on Felix's land (a mighty feat,considering most of the townies want little or less to do with him). In the midst of all this,a woman from Felix's past turns up (Mattie Darrow)to make things even more interesting. All of this makes for a multi layered story that,despite the dark subject matter,will have your head in the clouds (trust me). Besides the superb work of Robert Duvall,as Felix,there is ever so fine work from the likes of Sissy Spacek (where has she been lately?),as Mattie Darrow,Bill Murray,as Frank Quinn (ever deadpan as always),and Lucas Black as Frank's business partner,Buddy. With Bill Cobbs,Lori Beth Edgeman,Gerald McRaney...and featuring Gracie,as Felix Bush's mule,Gracie (who would have thunk it?). Aaron Schneider,working his way up from cinematographer & film editor for television projects,directs & edits from a screenplay written by Chris Provenzano & C.Gaby Mitchell,from a story by Scott Seeke & Provenzano. Cinematography by David Boyd. The film's musical score is composed by Jan Kaczmarek (incidental music),and legendary Bluegrass musician,Jerry Douglas (for some of the American roots oriented musical score),as well as some nice use of some actual 1930's period popular music of the era (Example:does 'If I didn't care'by the Ink Spots strum a familiar chord with you?). This is tasteful film making,with top notch acting from a superb cast. Rated PG-13 by the MPAA for a few outbursts of rude language & some adult themes
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