If you're a pop culture junkie, you're most likely obsessed with both movies and music. And when those two elements intersect, it's a beautiful thing! That's why this crop of films, which revolve around both fictional and real musicians, is a special one (plus, it goes without saying that the soundtrack is always a winner). Inspired by this week's release of Country Strong, we've made our own list of the most memorable music movies.
It's Oscar DVD Tuesday! That's right, all of the featured new releases today are films that were nominated for at least one Academy Award. So you can feel very cultured as you're popping your popcorn and settling in to your sofa with one of these flicks.
Jeff Bridges won the best actor Oscar for his role as Bad Blake, a grizzled, alcoholic country singer whose poor life choices have led to a life of playing bowling allies. Things change for him a bit when a journalist (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who was also nominated) comes to interview him, and winds up falling for him.
Alice Sebold's heartbreaking novel gets an adaptation at the hands of director Peter Jackson, who succeeds at getting good performances from his actors. Saoirse Ronan stars as Susie, a murdered 14-year-old girl who watches her family grieve from the afterlife. Where he fails is in the depiction of her "in-between," which is both cartoonish and disturbing. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz are her impassioned parents, and Stanley Tucci plays the creep who kills her in the part that nabbed him a supporting actor nomination.
There are no DVD extras, though the Blu-ray disc has a production diary from Jackson.
To see one more release, just read more
It's Tuesday, which means that you not only get a dose of fresh new movies on DVD, but you also get some new music releases. Today, we've got rock, indie, and country, so check out my recommendations below for what's worth a download.
Reliable rock: I'm a huge Spoon fan and have been waiting for a new album since the last, Ga Ga Ga Ga, came out. I just can't get enough of the consistently great band, and Transference doesn't disappoint one bit.
The first single is first for a reason: "Written in Reverse" is on the more aggressive side of Spoon songs, with its banging on piano keys — it's best listened to cranked way, way up. The equally strong "I Saw the Light" keeps up the tempo, as does Nobody Gets Me but You." If you're looking for a change of pace from the band, cue up lullaby Goodnight Laura, which features lead singer Britt Daniel humming through a melancholy, but sumptuous ballad.
Rainy day tunes: Eels offers up another mellow disc with End Times, and though the title indicates the bleakness that many of the songs explore, there's a charming harmony to "Mansions of Los Feliz" (though the lyrics are pretty dark, to tell you the truth). Less upbeat, but somehow still soothing is "Nowadays." By the time you get to the haunting "I Need a Mother," you may need a hug, but it's all worth it.
To see one more new release, just read more
In Maggie Gyllenhaal's new movie, Crazy Heart, she plays a journalist who falls in love with a down-on-his-luck country singer while she's writing a story about him. She recently had this to say about allowing attraction to put emotion over intellect.
"Anyone who says they don’t understand not thinking to have something that you want is lying to you. It’s not an admirable quality, it’s not something I hope will stick with me for a lot of my life. But I do think of myself as a thoughtful person, and I have definitely thought, what was I thinking? How did I let this happen?"
Has attraction ever got the best of you? If no, are you sure you're not lying?
Crazy Heart is all about Jeff Bridges. Comparisons are already being made to Mickey Rourke's performance in The Wrestler, and I can see the similarities (an aging performer, the search for forgiveness. . .you get the idea). But whereas Rourke's performance was viewed as his big comeback, Bridges's portrayal feels more like the peak of a career that's only gotten better over the years — and it may finally get him the Oscar he so deserves.
Bridges plays Bad Blake, a washed-up country singer who strums his songs in the bowling alleys and bars of small-town America. He's unkempt (his belt is always unfastened or his shirt is wrinkled and open), and he's never without a glass of whiskey. Bad almost seems like a caricature at first — we've seen this sort of down-on-his luck guy before — but thanks to small nuances, Bridges makes Bad feel new. For more of my thoughts, read more
Is Colin Farrell having a career resurgence? I'm seeing the actor everywhere this week thanks to new release The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus and an uncredited cameo in Crazy Heart (check back later for my reviews of both films). Then I spotted these new pics from the upcoming Peter Weir movie The Way Back, and he pops up in them, too!
I used to have a fascination with Farrell and his Irish bad-boy charm, always cursing up a storm on late-night shows in his thick brogue. For a while he was pretty in demand with big-budget films like Minority Report or Alexander, but over the years, I've seen less of him (perhaps because he's no longer a tabloid fixture). Farrell's a good actor, so I welcome more time with him on the big screen, but I'm still on the fence about how I feel about him nowadays.
What's your take — do you love Farrell in anything and everything? Or are your feelings generally more "meh"?
The trailer for Crazy Heart notes that both stars Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal have been nominated for Oscars, and the solemn, raw tone of the film looks an awful lot like awards show bait for these two big talents. Jeff Bridges stars as Bad Blake, a grizzled, hard-livin', lovin', and drinkin' country singer/songwriter who's known for his amazing music, and Maggie Gyllenhaal plays the journalist he eventually falls for.
We don't see a ton of plot in the trailer, but the story seems like a familiar one, complete with introspection and a soft country anthem that fits the title. Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall also star in the film, which features original songs by celebrated songwriter T-Bone Burnett.
To see the trailer and predict for yourself if this is one you're going to be seeing in the Oscar race, just read more
A blockbuster superhero movie can certainly get the casting directors interested: Both Jeff Bridges (Iron Man) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight) will have won over critics and audiences alike come Summer's end, and now they've added another project to their schedules. Along with Robert Duvall, the two will star in a "music-based drama" based on a book by Thomas Cobb titled Crazy Heart.
The good news. . .
That cast! Love Bridges, love me some Maggie and of course Duvall is a class act, so there you go. Also, the story sounds a little generic, but I'm still curious about it. Variety has the details:
Story centers on a down-on-his-luck, alcoholic country music singer (Bridges) who is able to get his life and career back on track through his relationship and experiences with a female reporter (Gyllenhaal).
The part that makes me wonder. . .
Jeff Bridges is going to perform original songs by famed country producer T Bone Burnett in the film — but can he sing? And can he sing country music? I'm interested to see that. The movie is also being produced by CMT Films which has had a hand in the existence of Toby Keith's Beer for My Horses. So. . .yeah.