The movie I was trying to watch the other night that kept skipping toward the end was CRAZY HEART with Jeff Bridges in the lead.
I was able to get it to skip to the last few minutes of the flick so I know how it turns out, but the climactic scenes before that coda at the end are missing. Nonetheless, I saw enough to know that this is another film for which Bridges should be recognized as one of our greatest and most underrated movie actors.
I've been writing and saying this for decades. I still think he was robbed of many Oscar nominations and wins.
He should have won, for instance, for STAR MAN, one of the greatest film performances ever, especially when you consider that the incremental progress his character makes—as the alien assumes the personality of the human body it has taken over—is shot out of sequence like all, or almost all, movies are. To make such tiny adjustments to the physicality and speech and awareness etc. of that character out of sequence is like Michelangelo painting the Sistine chapel.
Anyway, not to get carried away, but I hate that so many actors who have much less range and consistency, let alone craft, have gotten a lot of attention over the years since Bridges first proved what a great actor he is in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and ever since.
CRAZY HEART seems created to help him win an overdue Oscar. The story of an over-the-hill (read alcoholic) country singer, it might have critics remembering TENDER MERCIES and PAY DAY, but Bridges makes the sometimes cliched story points in the plot resonate with realism because he embodies this character so completely and fearlessly.
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays the female lead, and even though you can argue with the usual Hollywood age difference (she's thirty as I understand it and Bridges must be close to sixty) she and Bridges are so good they make it work. She's a great match for him, despite the age difference, because she's as great an actor as he is, for my taste, and equally fearless in allowing her characters a physicality that few actors let alone "movie stars" ever do.
Robert Duvall, who also co-produced CRAZY HEART has a small role playing the kind of old codger he was already playing sometimes before he was one. And there are other great performances in this flick as well (though I thought Colin Farrell as a Country Music star was miscast)—but it's Jeff Bridges' movie all the way and he makes it worth every moment of screen time.
No matter how you feel about country music, or stories about alcoholism, or failure-and-redemption, or the life of an "artist" etc.—give this movie a chance and I think you will be not only satisfied by the way it unfolds, but deeply impressed by Jeff Bridges' performance. I hope the awards season voters are equally impressed, because Bridges is so good at being a chameleon and disappearing into his characters he doesn't do that movie star thing where you never forget who you're watching. As a matter of fact, throughout this flick I kept seeing other actors and performers in Bridges, as if I was actually watching Willie Nelson or Chris Christopherson or Chris Cooper etc.
But it was just Bridges being no afraid to evoke the spirit and even the look of someone else, someone possibly even more familiar to most viewers, because Bridges is not worrying about his star status or image.
CRAZY HEART—I wouldn't miss it.
PS: Just to keep current with my progress recovering from brain surgery—it took me a little longer than normal to write the above, because of the more-than-usual amount of typos, but the typos are more obvious and easier to correct and close to what I was doing before the surgery. I also noticed yesterday when writing a note by hand that I made similar mistakes there as well (writing "to" for "so" and "unance" for "nuance" etc.). This experience has left me convinced that most of our troubles come from misunderstandings caused by different "wiring" in our individual brains. Now, what to do about that is the question.