In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Clifton Collins Jr.,
Bad Blake is a broken-down, hard-living country music singer who's had way too many marriages, far too many years on the road and one too many drinks way too many times. And yet, Bad can't help but reach for salvation with the help of Jean, a journalist who discovers the real man behind the musician. Written by
Fox Searclight Pictures
a subtle and moving performance in an otherwise decent little movie
People have already started the comparison, and not without some reason, of Crazy Heart with last year's film about a down-on-his-luck old timer in his chosen profession, The Wrestler. And sure the comparisons can be made quite a lot, not simply due to the same studio, Fox Searchlight, distributing the films, or that the main characters are practically washed-up in what they do but keep chugging along, or that they have medical problems, or that they're estranged from their kids, or that the woman in their lives is a stop-go-stop affair. The good news is the movies can stand on their own terms, but somehow, at the end of the day, I would probably prefer Aronofsky's gritty naturalism over the first time director Scott Cooper's more slick indie-treatment, with country and wide-open spaces substituting for grisly New Jersey.
And yet you should go see Crazy Heart, and it's not just for Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, a country musician, 57, who has been on hard times for a while and whose main problem, alcoholism, prevents him from being an unstoppable musical force (think Johnny Cash with a little extra blues) and kind boyfriend to Jean (Gyllenhaal, also quite good). Well, it could almost be all for him - it's marvelous to see him transform into this character, somewhat reminiscent of 'the Dude', but with a more cynical view of life and his former partner (Tommy, surprisingly done by Colin Farrell), and how we really do want him to get better. It's a sympathetic portrait done by a master of American film acting, and even if you don't particularly love Country music it's a worthwhile venture to see him in it.
That's the other thing: the music is actually (and this is coming from a not-big-fan of Country music save for some exceptions like Cash and Williams) quite superb. All of the songs are charged either by a real drive to bring the house down with the joy of playing live, or by the tender moments such as the "Weary Kind" title track, which may, along with Bridges, get T-Bone Burnett his first Oscar nod. The music is one of the things that makes Blake's journey wonderful to watch, even if, sadly, the story is lacking in ways that other movies (not just The Wrestler) do much better. Only a third act twist seems to be compelling, as the rest of the story kind of coasts the characters along, the only roadblock Blake's drinking.
As sometimes happens, it's a towering performance in the midst of an otherwise competent, enjoyable but slight debut feature. But it is something, and often interesting.
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