Crazy Heart Film Review

Crazy Heart review
by Tim Hogg
Jeff Bridges has become the Hollywood face of the American story. His latest masterpiece, Crazy Heart, is sure to pick up a few more awards as it makes it way to the Academy Awards this month. This film has been around for the last several months, playing at a local arthouse theater or two until recently. Very much like the character, Bad Blake, this film is making a comeback that no really saw coming. Same thing goes for Bridges, who has had his ups and downs as much as the fictitious country legend, Blake.
What makes this film work so well is that Bridges knows his characters and its audience. This character is not much different than the role he is best known for, one Jeffery Lebowski. Bridges plays that character that we all know but don’t see often enough, the guy who didn’t become the shining star, but rather the guy who simply keeps on keeping on. Bridges plays Bad Blake, a washed up, drunken country legend that might be playing at your local bowling alley and you would never know. Blake has been moved off the mainstream concert circuit to the local dive bar, making enough money to gas up his 1978 Suburban and his kidney with enough booze to make it to the next stop, barely.
Although this is a story we have all heard before (and know that it exists every night at a local seedy motel near you) what makes this work is Bridges ability to show the soft touch in each character that he plays. This story is not about the mistakes that Blake made or the joint torch that glowed so brightly for Lebowski, it’s about the human being that is evident in all of these characters. Mistakes were made, but at some point, Blake has no choice but to make amends with the demons that haunt him.
The only problem with this wonderful film is the character played by Maggie Glyllenhaal. In every Hollywood film, there always has to a woman. No surprise there. Gyllenhaal’s character is the interview for a small town paper who wants to crack the story behind the legend. They quickly fall in love to move the storyline along, but her character is irrational, forcing a checkmate to Bad’s drinking and meandering ways. In the end, she rejects him, but not because of what he’s done or who he is but more so because she has found someone else. This is an extreme letdown for the film, which would have been much better off simply allowing her to have the strength to not put her young son through the future turmoils of a man who has no home except the long stretch of the long, lonely open road. Regardless, there are some pure lovely moments in the telling of this story and I do hope it gets the recognition it deserves. Don’t wait for this one to go to video– it’s worth a look on the big screen for the stunning imagery that is the Southwest.

travelitis

Americans are particularly funny about their travels. I have noticed it throughout my life. We tend to stay in our own country, which is understandable–it’s fucking huge!! Regardless, part of the point of traveling is to go to other places to see how people live–to speak to them and see what their lives are about, how they are getting by on their side of the rock.
The more that I speak to my brethren, the more I see how little we travel. Sure, we all know those people that are serial travelers to Vegas and Hawaii for the west coast and Florida for the east coast. We don’t generally go to experience culture, but rather to escape our own reality of things.

Vacation for the American is just that–to vacate, to leave, to part ways. American’s don’t travel, they don’t wander, they don’t go on walkabout. This is a generality of course–we do travel, some of do wander and a few of us might actually go on walkabout.

Someone said the other day, We don’t travel like John Muir did, with nothing more than a sketchbook and an imagination and perhaps a new pair of boots.
The fact is that we must prepare for that harsh world that lies outside of that comfort zone known as home. Think about all of those things you own and assess how much of it is for that harsh world you have to travel in everyday.

All of this came about because I had recently overheard that a friend of mine was going out East for a few weeks to check it out. I offered to have a drink with him and go over some details about things I experienced while I was there–the more information you have, the more time you can have to focus on the pleasantness of the trip. Anything to speed up past the minutia of traveling helps, right?
Not quite.
This fellow actually said that he would prefer just to go about it on his own. “We have totally done our research.” was the quip.
I retreated. The east is a messy place and time can easily get away from you. It’s not like the rest of the world where you can get by on “roughing it”. Countless hours and days can be wasted if you don’t know when or where to go during certain times. But the issue was a little deeper than that– I think this guys problem was also a common one– people don’t care to hear about your adventures as much as they want to make their own–they want to make the same mistakes that you make, they want to wait in the same lines that you wait in.
It also is hard to believe that things could be so different somewhere else until you have actually been there and seen what there is to see and do. When I got off the plane in China, I had not the slightest clue what the hell I would do if I got off that plane and there wasn’t someone there to rescue me, but I would have managed and that is the adventure.
Eventually, we did get to talking a little bit about the trip he was going on. He eventually told me that I was just telling him all the things to watch out for, but I wasn’t giving him any advice.
My response: it’s up to you to find the diamonds–another traveller’s job is to help you not fall in the mole holes on the journey.
You will never spoil your trip by talking to other travellers– you will own what it yours, no journey is like another. It’s for you to take and for you to see.
That’s how it is out there.