A string of winners

Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Backbefore Facebook completely took over and MySpace was still relevant, I had a MySpace page. In fact, for a few months there it was pretty bad; my work productivity, my general energy level, and interest in things outside of the MySpace universe were all dramatically down. I eventually quit cold turkey and never looked back (Facebook is a much healthier activity for me so far).

Don't worry, I do have a point. During those MySpace days, I was the "Southern California correspondent," having not yet moved back to J-town. It must have been winter time, because I actually received a note from one of the Juneauiites in my network of "friends" that went like this:

"Chester, are there any movies you actually like? Juneau is already a dark place in the winter time and the last thing we need is another reason to go to the bars because all the movies that come out are bad. Stop being such a jerk."

I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist. Admittedly, that was in the middle of a string of really awful movies and I was saying as much. Still, I was relieved when some good stuff finally started to come along again. I didn't want to be driving people to drink, after all!

Now, the situation is completely opposite. I can't remember the last film I got to rip with this column. Everything's good.

Like, really good. That includes the movie I'm finally going to name halfway into today's column: "Crazy Heart".

Jeff Bridges - up for the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar - plays Bad Blake, an aging, broke country music legend. While he is not-so-slowly killing himself with booze and cigarettes, he's also a good soul and a talented musician. We catch up with Blake in the middle of his tour, which consists of him driving himself around in an old Suburban from gigs in bowling alleys to shows in motel bars. He is not exactly thrilled with the state of his career, but he does not have any choice. He has to pay for the booze somehow!

It's dumb luck when he rolls into Santa Fe for another small-time show and a local reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) wants to interview him. Despite the obvious age gap, Bad and the reporter, Jean, hit it off. There are plenty of reasons for Jean to keep things strictly professional: the age gap, her four-year old son, the fact that Blake is a drunk. You can't fight love, though, right? They make each other happy.

Suddenly, even Blake starts to like his own existence a little bit more. He does, however, keep drinking. I don't want to spoil "Crazy Heart" completely but I will share with you that writer/director Scott Cooper doesn't take the story where I was worried it was headed (death, despair, tears, etc.).

He doesn't take Bad to happily-ever-after, either.

Bad has been how he is for way too long for everything to suddenly be peachy when, approaching 60, he finally has his wake-up call. "Crazy Heart" is actually somewhat refreshing in how firmly grounded in reality it remains in that regard. Bridges, who has been the Dude for quite a while, is remarkably believable as an aging, alcoholic country star (the man can sing, too!). Gyllenhaal, the horrendous spelling of her last name aside, is quirky and charming as always. Colin Farrell, playing the up and comer on the music scene, might be the biggest pleasant surprise of all.

I'm just starting to worry that if I still had MySpace, I'd be getting accused of loving everything.

• Check out Carson's movie blog at www.juneaublogger.com/movies.



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