All a country song needs, the modern proverb goes, is three chords and the truth. In the case of Bad Blake, the truth ain’t pretty. Jeff Bridges plays a washed-up, liquor-soaked former country star in Crazy Heart, which critic Tricia Olszewski reviews in this week’s City Paper. She writes:
Bridges is generating Oscar talk, and rightly so. His performance never for a second feels like one: This character is thoroughly lived-in, from Bridges’ pro-level singing and stage presence to the wry, too-late-now attitude he brings to the character’s shitty life. Bad gets away with being an ass because of his former glory, but even when [Maggie] Gyllenhaal’s apparent Dorothy Hamill–haired madonna enters the picture, there’s not a total about-face. He may have found a new spark that puts him on his best behavior, but at his best he still drinks—and when Jean stops looking the other way, he mutters: “I don’t want to hear it” before driving off. And, surprisingly, the actors’ 28-year age difference doesn’t result in a queasy romance. Bad’s music, though out of style, keeps a nugget of him young, while Jean’s former bad decisions and life as a single mom lends her a weariness beyond her years, helping their attraction feel natural.
Also out this week is The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, director Terry Gilliam‘s latest carnivalesque fantasy—-which contains the final performance of the late Heath Ledger. Olszewski writes:
[Colin] Farrell was a last-minute addition to the project, after Heath Ledger’s death prompted director Terry Gilliam to finish the film with Farrell, Johnny Depp, and Jude Law as rotating stand-ins for his deceased star. The shared-character trope has been jarring at worst (Palindromes) and odd at best (I’m Not There, the Bob Dylan biopic in which Ledger also played a fragmented role). Here, though, the transitions not only work but make sense in the context of Gilliam’s dense story about a magic man, his traveling road show, and a looking glass that transforms anyone who walks through it.
The conceit works, she writes—-but the film as a whole, not so much. Read both reviews here.