Sunday, June 5, 2011

Movie Sunday: Get Low

Image from here

What do you mean where have I been? We'll get to that later. It's movie time. Get Low is a strange story, and I'm still not sure whether I like the way the plot progresses. I won't say much more about that, because I think it's either sloppy or really clever, and if it's clever I don't want to ruin it for you.

Anyway, with the acting in this joint it doesn't really matter. I could watch these people for hours. I don't know how Robert Duvall can make a movie anymore without winning an Academy Award. He is simply brilliant in this role, bringing layer after layer of complexity to a character that seems at first to be a simple archetype we all know. And Sissy Spacek keeps up. The scenes of the two of them together are marvelous, and often painful to watch. You can see individual facial muscles twitch or relax as they react to each other and their own internal dialogues. It's the kind of control that surely can't be voluntary, but is undoubtedly purposeful.

Lucas Black (the kid from Sling Blade and American Gothic) may not be the most versatile actor on the planet, but when he finds a character that matches his sensibility, he fills it up. He plays the young idealist Buddy Robinson perfectly, and the intensity of his goodness even penetrates the lifetime of bitterness that Duval's character has steeped himself in. As Duval says at one point in the film, "For every one like me, there's one like you, son. I about forgot that."

Bill Murray rounds out the core cast, in a role that seems made for him. He has become an accomplished dramatic actor, even though I still have trouble believing it sometimes. I'm sure younger people who didn't have to suffer through his years on Saturday Night Live, and didn't see Stripes* multiple times, don't have this problem.

Get Low feels a lot like some of Clint Eastwood's films, Unforgiven and Gran Torino coming specfically to mind. It also reminds me a little of Paper Moon, though I couldn't tell you why. I don't know if we are seeing more of these life retrospective type films because audiences and fimmakers are growing older, or if I'm just noticing them more because I'm not as young as I used to be. It's subject matter that I think was once primarily the domain of playwrights. In fact, this film could easily be done as a play. It reminds me a little of an Edward Albee play I did a scene from many years ago, though the title escapes me at the moment.

If you are looking for car chases and stuff blowing up, this is probably not the right film for you. I noticed several of the IMDB comments were from idiots people who watched it based on good reviews, and found it boring or not funny. One guy complained that the photography was "too pretty for the story." I will agree that it was not particularly funny, but since it's a drama that didn't really bother me.  But if you are in the mood to watch some great acting, I definitely recommend Get Low.

* I haven't been able to look at a spatula the same since that movie.


  1. you had me at "Duvall", but knocked me down with "Murray". i'd watch these two paint a fence for 3 hours...

  2. I think I recommended this to you so I'm glad you liked it as much as we the reader above, DuVall and Murray can do no wrong in my eyes (no, not even 'Caddyshack' or that army spy caper...). So glad you're back. Look forward to hearing about it.