Monday, February 15, 2010

Crazy Heart: real country music

I've just seen the movie Crazy Heart. I like Jeff Bridges, and expected a small "indie movie" feel with some songs. I got that. And I really enjoyed it. One of the things I really liked about it was that the music was good. I'm not a big country fan, but I appreciate the older tradition of country music, the good stuff. Not the Garth Brooks-era country music where it's all just bad pop songs with fiddles and yodels. And excuse me, but how exactly is Taylor Swift a country artist? I like the good country music: Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson. Female country singers don't generally do much for me. But that's country music. What Dylan once referred to as "songs about drinkin' and sleepin' around. That's my kind of country music." What I liked in the film is that a distinction was made between real country music that Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) plays, and what they call country music that is coming out of Nashville these days.

In the film, Blake is being overshadowed by his protege named Tommy Sweet. For the first 20 or 30 minutes, we are teased with the name Tommy Sweet, but Blake doesn't want to talk about him. If you know anything about movies at all, you'll realize this is all set-up for the big reveal of Tommy Sweet later in the film. So I was curious as to who this Tommy Sweet would be. When a character like this is kept in name only, it often means a famous cameo. I've been on the fence about whether or not to divulge this information, since it may be better to see the film unspoiled. If you don't want to be spoiled about the identity of Tommy Sweet, STOP READING NOW!! I mean it! Spoilers ahead!! So for those who don't care about being spoiled, imagine my surprise when Tommy Sweet is played by none other than Colin Farrell! He does a very good American accent in the film, and has a nice singing voice. Bridges sings well too, in a smokey voice that fits the style perfectly. As is the nature of a story where one character plays his hits in different gigs, we hear a few of the same songs over and over, and I never minded. I felt like a fan in the audience squealing with delight at hearing this song again. And these were songs I'd only first heard ten minutes ago! The "big hit song" called "Falling and Flying" really does have the feel of a hit song. While "The Weary Kind" is sort of a theme for the film, and thus the Academy has nominated it for best original song, I think "Falling and Flying" is maybe a better song. But then, they are different types of songs serving different purposes. Too bad they weren't both nominated.

As with Coraline, this was a movie that I came out of just needing to buy the soundtrack album. If you like the older tradition of music, I recommend Crazy Heart. The songs will stick in your head. Just listen to Bridges and Farrell sing!

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