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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

December 16, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”

Screenings are coming thick and fast these days (I’ve seen four movies since midday Monday), and they’re starting to run together in interesting ways. For example, both of the movies I saw yesterday (“Crazy Heart,” “It’s Complicated”) featured a main female character named Janie. In “Crazy Heart,” there is a musician in a small role named Ryan Bingham, which is the name of George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air.” In “It’s Complicated,” Meryl Streep’s character talks a lot about the years she spent in Paris in cooking school, and you half-expect her to burst into a Julia Child trill. And in “Crazy Heart,” there’s a scene in which Jeff Bridges’ country-singing character meets a talented, portly keyboard player, and I could have sworn the keyboard player was Beau Bridges, but then I realized I was just merging it in my head with “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” (Seen it? Do.)
“Crazy Heart” is an interesting story, as it seems to be this year’s little movie (i.e. “The Wrestler”) that’s showing up at the last minute and affecting the Oscar race, certainly for best actor. In it, Bridges plays an aging country singer who drinks too much, smokes too much, and drives around in a beat-up Suburban playing gigs at bowling alleys and tired clubs. We’ve seen this sort of character before, but the beauty of this performance is that Bridges makes it fresh; we hear every day of his hard-lived life in his voice, and see it in his weary yet courtly smile. At a time when everyone’s talking about “Avatar,” it was a nice reminder of the best kind of special effect: the kind that magically happens between an actor and a camera, with nothing in between.
Bridges, who’s now 60, is having a good season; he can also be seen in a nicely lunatic role in “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” “Crazy Heart” will open in Seattle January 15.

Bridges in “Crazy Heart,” with co-star Robert Duvall (who, yes, won an Oscar playing a broken-down country singer, in “Tender Mercies”). Photo copyright 2009 20th Century Fox.

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