A comedic biopic focused on the life of fictional jazz guitarist Emmett Ray. Ray was an irresponsible, free-spending, arrogant, obnoxious, alcohol-abusing, miserable human being, who was also arguably the best guitarist in the world. We follow Ray's life: bouts of getting drunk, his bizzare hobbies of shooting rats and watching passing trains, his dreams of fame and fortune, his strange obsession with the better-known guitarist Django Reinhardt, and of course, playing his beautiful music.Written by
Martin Lewison <email@example.com>
The guitar that Emmett destroys at the end of the movie is (thankfully) not a genuine Selmer Maccaferri. The shattered fragments clearly show a bolt-on neck. The genuine instruments used a bolt during construction, but this bolt was removed before the guitar was completed, leaving an empty hole. (The instrument actually destroyed was a disposable prop created by Michael Dunn.) See more »
Woody is uneven to say the least. His most celebrated films strike me as failures by overreaching. But here the aspirations are slight and the result is rather winning.
All of Woody's pictures are self-referential in the sense that they are about him, his foibles and neuroses. Here, that is made more plain by the invention of a simple self-referential device: the film is about an artist who has troubles relating to women, and who has eccentric habits. Ho hum, until you add the tricks which are deft;
--The story is a documentary (complete with reminicenses) but of a completely fictitious character
--The narrative comes not from a disembodied camera, but from the contemporaries and historians, including Woody. Thus, the artist sits down with the audience, to swap tales about his avatar.
--Some of the stories are of the `as I heard it' tall tale variety, going so far as to have three versions of a scene all patent lies. This is really the best.
It all works because Penn is such an intelligent actor. He knows that he has to live in several realities:
--He is the character
--He is the fictitious remembrance of the character
--He is one of the storytellers
--He is the actor Sean Penn winking at you throughout
Penn carries this off with aplumb -- simultaneous stances, all but the first in good humor. Great drama, since you never really know where you stand. This film is a gem.
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