Tag Archive: jeff bridges

Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
This past weekend the husband and I got out to see a band over at the bowling alley. We are friends with one of the members of the band and our son plays in a band with the son of another member.
While their mix of covers run the gamut of rock-and-roll and country music from the 60s through the 90s, my growing up years, they also throw in newer songs. This was my first time hearing “The Boys ‘Round Here” by Blake Sheldon and it was a crowd pleaser as was “Wipeout” by the Safaris.
Hearing so many great tunes by a band who knows that their job is to please the audience and play a tight set really made our night.
But it also led to me thinking about my favorite movies about country singers. These movies are one that can be watched with the teens in the family, many of them talk about the harsh aspects of life that can drag a person down no matter how much success they have attained.
While it seems as if Country music leads to sad stories and addiction in many forms, sadly that is the life for musicians of a variety of genres. Look at the great jazz singer Billie Holiday. Her story is depicted in the movie Lady Sings the Blues and stars Diana Ross.
Her childhood is certainly not idyllic and her adult life was filled drama and chaos fueled by her drug addiction. But the woman could sing with disarming emotion.
Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

A few years ago Jeff Bridges starred as a broken down country star in Crazy Heart. The movie follows his romance with a younger woman who is an aspiring music journalist. The man has to decide how to find sobriety while living a life on the road and having young bucks such as Colin Ferrell taking away his spotlight.

It is a heart rendering movie filled with good music and great performances. Maggie Gyllenhall is wonderful as the love interest but Robert Duvall steals every single scene.
Then again, Duvall knows this territory well since he starred in Tender Mercies in 1988 about an alcoholic country singer who loses everything in his life. When he agrees to work for a widow and live by her request that he not drink while doing it, life begins to change.
This movie, more than any, other reminds me of George Jones. Jones died this past spring and probably no one was more surprised than he was to have made it to the age of 81. Jones was a notorious addict to alcohol and cocaine. When people did not call him ‘Possum,’ they called him ‘No-Show-Jones.’
It is my understanding that there a movie in the works on the life of Jones but no one has been signed to play Jones. What a story it will be from his many marriages, his personal and professional relationship with Tammy Wynette, his comeback in the 80s, and his battle against addiction.
Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

One of my other favorite bio pics is Coal Miner’s Daughter starring Sissy Spacek. This movie follows the rise of Loretta Lynn who became a singing sensation in her early 20s. I am a sucker for a woman who can tell it like it is and sometimes make stupid mistakes. Sadly, they do not show anything from when she and Conway Twitty were singing together and that is a real shame.

Until Next Week, see you in the rental aisle.

Do You Have Grit?

Family Movie Night

A few months ago my husband asked what is the latest western to be made that was a good movie.

Robert Duvall, Annette Bening and Kevin Kostner in "Open Range," image from IMDB.com.

If you had asked me then, I would have said “Open Range” starring Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner. The time period is the old west when men could still move their herd of cattle to graze without worrying about property lines. However, times are changing and a land baron wishes to teach these old timers a lesson.

While the movie is rated “R” for violence and perhaps not the kid friendliest because of that and its length, I find it beautiful and lyrical. It is a slow moving story and yet I am gripped by the beauty of it all. Duvall and Costner work well off of each other while Annette Bening glows as the sister of the local doctor. She is older than most women and shows her age. But her grace and heart willing to love is on simple display.

Had you asked me before Saturday, I would have said that movie. But then the husband and I watched “True Grit” starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld.

Movie Poster image from IMDb.com.

It has been years since I have last seen the original so there was nothing former to compare. Relieved of that burden, I sat back an enjoyed a superbly made movie that is moves into the darker aspects

of the west. Men formed gangs and happily robbed others. They thought nothing of shooting each other and knowing that retribution would more than likely not be delivered to them.

We see this in Tom Chaney as played by Josh Brolin. We see this in Rooster Cogburn and LaBoeuf as they argue who has grit and who did more wrong during the civil war. But lets talk about Haille Steinfeld.

This young girl puts in a bravura performance as a young girl who has been in an adult role for some time.

Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit," image from IMDb.com.

She runs the family, not her mother. And she can bargain with the best of them. But Steinfeld also allows the little girl to show when when she collects her father’s personal effects. Her eyes glows as she remembers the man and finds a way to make his hat fit on her smaller head.

It is her idealism that allows her to make the decision to hire a man to capture her father’s killer. It is that sense of justice owed to her father that makes her deal with Cogburn and LaBouef. She is constantly wrangling and bargaining. Make me wonder if this girl (Mattie, not Hailee) was ever given a chance to simply play.

Probably not.

As the story movies on, we see that she is made of a stern of stuff as the two lawmen. They may not have wanted her around on this mission but they take her when there is no choice and become appreciative of her lack of ‘missus’ behavior. Damon and Bridges work well together as two men who cannot stand each other but have a common goal. It was a joy watching them work off of each other.

This is not a kid movie. The rating is PG-13 for intense sequences such as a hanging and several gun fights. I would allow middle school age and older to watch this one although my husband and I did it as a “date night’ at home.

Sherrif Woody and Buzz from "Toy Story," Image from IMDb.com.

If seeing a western with the kids is what you want to do with the kids, I would suggest Toy Story. Maybe it is not a western with cowboys and indians but it has many of those themes. And besides, who doesn’t love Sheriff Woody?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Off to the Races

Family Movie Night

A few weeks ago, someone told me I needed to see Secretariat (2010).

Finally, I did and I really liked it.

Diane Lane in "Secretariat," image from IMDb.com

The movie follows Penny Chenry Tweedy (Diane Lane) as she takes over her father’s farm after the death of her mother. But a mare gives birth to a foal that is unlike any other horse. Suddenly Tweedy’s life is absorbed by this horse and his potential.

Once Red starts racing, a light bulb goes off, sparks flies, the horse runs like none other. At the same time Tweedy is missing out on her kids’ events and her husband wonders if she even wants to be married. But with a new-to-her trainer and a jockey who knows how to handle horses that like to run as fast as possible, suddenly Tweedy realizes she has a chance to win it all.

It starts at the Kentucky Derby on the first weekend of May. It is a day of big hats, big drama and a race that goes over one and a quarter mile of track.

This weekend is another day at Churchill Downs. Celebrate it by having a horse movie festival.

For the youngest members of the family, you could always go with the My Little Pony movies.

Another suggestion for the younger members is National Velvet (1947) starring Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor as a young girl who knows she has to ride a horse to win a big race. This is a good introduction to Taylor and the energetic Rooney.

Andrew Knott in "Black Beauty," Image from IMDb.com

For pre-teens, there is Black Beauty (1994), a story of one horse’s life and Flicka (2006) starring Alison Lohman as a girl who tames a wild horse. Based on books popular in the young adult genre, these movies connect us with the animals by how people interact with them.

If you are looking for a longer movie about horses, my favorite one from recent years is Seabiscuit (2003). The movie stars Jeff Bridges as a man who has lived through the worst a father can live through. As he picks up the pieces of his life, he starts racing horses. And one of his horses is incredible but moody. This horse runs every race in California and is incredible.

Foriegn movie poster for "Seabiscuit," image from IMDb.com

The story takes place during the Depression and a horse with a good pedigree but small in stature winning these races is a boost to the spirit. The movie is beautifully shot and tells a good story. It may not the complete story and the characters are not really as shining as we would like them to be. But this Hollywood version had me crying my eyes out over the solid performances put in by Bridges, Chris Cooper, Tobey McGuire and Elizabeth Banks. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.