Monday, 8 March 2010

I'm A Little Bit Country

Another Oscars season has come and gone, and yet again they have passed me by. I always feel slightly guilty that I haven't watched them, considering the nature of our degree an' such, but hey. It's just on too late for me, and I don't have Sky Movies. It works out in my favour though; the Ross has it taped for me meaning I can skip past all the boring stuff and Steve Martin, and go straight to the Big Awards. I do try and make up for my lack of Pro-Plus and dedication though, by watching all the winners of the year.
This doesn't always work out so well though. After Halle Berry became the first black female to win Best Actress, I decided to go and check out Monster's Ball, since there was such a huge deal made of her performance. Two hours later, I left the cinema feeling like the whole world was Bleak with a capital B. L-E-A-K. The film lurched from one huge tragedy to the next, and I was far too young to have been seeing Billy Bob Thornton's naked ass bouncing up and down in Cinemascope. Shudder.

This time around I was a little bit more pleasantly surprised. After spending the morning with King Kong, 'the world's biggest film star' (groan!), we trooped over to Cineworld to kill some time before our tutorial with Gav. We opted for Crazy Heart, which I'd quite fancied seeing; the Oscars seemed to be all about 'Hurt Locker vs Avatar' and this little country and western flick seemed like the underdog choice. The Dude was nominated for an Oscar, but everyone seemed to be in a flap about Colin Firth in A Single Man. Plus, all the songs were actually performed by The Dude... sorry, Jeff Bridges. Sounded promising, yes?

The end result left me with mixed feelings... Jeff Bridge's performance as 'Bad' Blake, a broken down alcoholic old country singer, was fantastic. You could really hear the emotion in his voice when he sang, and truly believed that this was a man who'd hit rock bottom, several times over. Once a great country singer, touring huge arenas across the country, he's now reduced to playing in bowling alleys, unable to pay for his favourite brand of whiskey in a bargain booze store. The bitterness in his voice was palpable when talking about his protege Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), a young star enjoying huge success, who'd inherited all of Bad's successes and none of his failings. You could even almost kind of buy his relationship with single-mum journalist Jean (Maggie 'help, I've got the saggy face of an old lady' Gyllenhaal), and the bond he forms with her young son Buddy is quite touching. The scene in which he calls his own son, whom he hasn't seen in 24 years, is heartbreaking, yet you can understand his son's haste in hanging up.

The big problem was... not very much happened. I know that's a bit of a lamen's reason to complain, but one Oscar-worthy performance can't make two hours go any faster. It doesn't compensate for a lack of action. Bad's rehab and redemption also seemed to have a very quick turnaround. After an incident where he loses Buddy in a shopping mall, he checks himself in to AA and from then on, he's a changed man. Yeah, you get really involved with the character whilst watching, but it all seems a bit too.....easy. The story was also very slight; the emphasis of this film seems to be more on character and performance than dramatic pay-off.

Given the results of last night's awards, Jeff Bridges definitely deserved to win for his role here. He puts in a committed, totally believable performance, and the supporting players are all good too. The film is beautifully shot too, from the shadows of crummy motel rooms and the brilliant azure of the New Mexico desert, it looks fantastic. There's nothing contrived or artificial about this film, which is where I think alot of the film's dramatic gravitas comes from. Still, in years to come, if asked what film I think truly defines Jeff Bridges... The Dude abides, every time.


  1. You're right about Bridges but I think not enough attention was paid to Colin Farrell in this film. His performance is an unselfish, generous gem of a turn from an actor who is often unfairly maligned.

  2. I actually really like Colin Farrel as an actor; In Bruges is one of the funniest, smartest and most original films I've seen in years, and he was really good in Phone Booth, and Pride&Glory. Sure he's made a few stinkers, but who hasn't?? Brad Pitt near enough wiped his arse on his whole CV with his terrible guest slot in Friends, yet look how respected he is.