Quote of the Day

“I’ve been high and I’ve been low/I’ve been people that I don’t know/All the fire that I walk through/Only trying to get a hold on you.”

The Art of the Crossover: Actors turned Singers & Singers turned Actors.

While listening to a Kris Kristofferson album, it got me thinking lately about singers turned actors; than even further – actors turned singers. I am going to exclude rap if that’s okay with you. I’ve always thought it was an interesting paradox; I’ve noticed that a lot of actors are musically inclined and even have tried to venture out on their own and release their own music. I understand why singers turn to acting – because they are at the height of their popularity and they’ve been turned into a cash cow (Neil Diamond in “The Jazz Singer” for example). I feel that way about rap musicians; the only reason that they turned to acting was because they were extremely marketable at the time and they never really have taken a risk with the roles they chose. But when actors turn to music, to me it feels like that music is their true passion (or their biggest hobby). I know there have been many, many crossovers, but I think these are the three best in each category, meaning that the quality of both their music and their acting are excellent.

I am the Wanderer – my home is the road

David Carradine has always had a soft spot in my heart. I was very sad when he died. I’ve always enjoyed his earlier works with Scorsese: “Boxcar Bertha” and “Mean Streets” and of course the TV Show “Kung-Fu” but it wasn’t until I saw Carradine as Woody Guthrie in Hal Ashby’s “Bound for Glory”, I really took him seriously as an artist. Portraying Woody Guthrie is gigantic feat and Carradine did an amazing job. I own his album “As Is” and his music is great. It’s a wonderful folk album and lyrically Carradine is as rich with his writing as Kris Kristofferson or Bob Dylan – the lyrics are simple yet hold this complex power that makes it truly authentic.

It’s obvious that Carradine is very much influenced by Eastern philosophies which I think is a direct reflection on the folk music he sings. The Eastern themes are a direct representation of Carradine’s folk music – the path that men take, why they take them. These Eastern themes are in step with any great western film ever made. Sam Peckinpah strived to “make a western as good as Kurosawa”.

I bought his album from his official website and if you do like Carradine or like folk music, please check it out. It is well worth your time. If you click the link, and listen to any of the tracks available – please listen to “The Wanderer” – it’s excellent and I think completely sums up David Carradine as a man. Enjoy.

The genius of David Carradine.

When The Dude meets Woody Guthrie

Before Jeff Bridges broke our hearts as Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart”, and most people were taken aback by his musical capability; Bridges released an album in 2000 entitled “Be Here Soon” and it’s nothing like Bad Blake. Jeff Bridges remains to be one of my favorite people ever – I am so smitten with him. “Be Here Soon” is a hybrid of folk and beatnik music – it’s incredibly unique and incredibly excellent. Along with finally collecting his long overdue Oscar for “Crazy Heart”, he is not only a musician but a photographer (his collecting of stills from a majority of his the film sets he’s worked on titled “Pictures” is amazingly profound) but he’s also a painter.

The music of his album is incredibly insightful and filled with innuendo and intrigue. He muses and philosophies with an admirable amount of passion and artistic skill. The first track of the album called “Movin'” is a perfect representation of who Bridges is as a man. “Be Here Soon” is Bridges first and only album, but his “follow up” is the “Crazy Heart” soundtrack. I find that the best track of the film is the track that opens the film – “Hold on You”. We all can relate to this song – there has always been at least one person in our lives that we’ve been trying to get a hold on.

The “Crazy Heart” soundtrack is available everywhere and his album “Be Here Soon” is available at Amazon.com and the iTunes music store. You won’t be disappointed.

The Egotistical Talent that can’t be ignored

We all know that Kevin Spacey holds an unbelievable amount of talent – anyone who disagrees with that is a fool. I also think since Spacey won his second Oscar for “American Beauty” his ego inflated so much that he hasn’t strived to give a challenging performance since then. The only exception that can be made is his labor of love “Beyond the Sea” which isn’t a great film, but it’s still very enjoyable. Spacey portrays the crooner Bobby Darin. Spacey not only stars, but wrote, directed, produced and sang in the film – he did it all. He did too much.

His singing is the best part of the film. Spacey’s voice is so smooth it just makes you groove with the music you are hearing, it absorbs into you. Spacey had been known for his musical capability prior to this film. He hosted a tribute concert for John Lennon in the early 2000’s and as the show was getting to a close Spacey himself performed “Mind Games” – it was excellent. Spacey truly is an incredible performer – his stage presence is untouchable.

While Spacey was out promoting “Beyond the Sea” he did a concert tour performing Bobby Darin songs and other standards from that era. Being from Chicago I was excited that Spacey was coming to The House of Blues until you had to be 21 and older to enter. I really wish I could have seen him.

Nightmares are somebody’s daydreams

Kris Kristofferson started out as another musician that had fallen prey to crossing over to cinema. He was popular, hip, and handsome and had a big following. It wasn’t until Kristofferson teamed up with Sam Peckinpah to star as Billy the Kid in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” that he became an actor. Kristofferson himself is a gentle and kind man, but his turn as Billy the Kid turned him into a steely cold killer. The film is violent and relentless. Kristofferson made a name for himself as an actor AND a musician.

From there Kristofferson went on to make Martin Scorsese’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” where he plays the ideal man; the tough, gruff man who has a heart of gold. He’s nothing less than excellent in “Alice”. He’s this big bad man who walks tall, but deep down inside he’s a teddy bear that just wants to love and take care of Alice. It’s an excellent film with excellent performances from the entire cast.

That same year Kristofferson reteamed with Peckinpah for a small role as Biker in “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”. In this role he plays the scum of the earth and rapes the main characters girlfriend. It’s amazing how Kristofferson has the unbelievable range from going to one extreme to the other. He went from David in “Alice” to Biker in “Alfredo Garcia”. Kristofferson is not only one of my favorite musicians – but also one of my favorite actors.

Kristofferson had a bit of a lull in the 1980’s but he reemerged in the 90’s showing up in “Payback” (which reteamed him with James Coburn who played Pay Garrett), “A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries” and the “Blade” trilogy and narrating the unconventional Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” and of course his amazing performance in “Lone Star”.

Putting out a fire with gasoline

David Bowie is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. His music is odd and compelling. Everyone in the world loves at least one David Bowie song. What I love about David Bowie is his unconventional career. He is one of the best crossover actors that I’ve seen. “The Man Who Fell to Earth” remains one of my favorite films. It’s so unique and strange that with the casting of David Bowie – it helps us accept the film for what it is.

His turn in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me” as Special Agent Phillip Jefferies is so bizarre you can’t even comprehend it (although how many David Lynch films are easy to comprehend?). My two favorite Bowie performances are his performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” as Pontius Pilate which I think is even more bizarre than his role in “Twin Peaks”.

My second favorite Bowie performance is as Nikola Telsa in Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige”. It was so genius of Nolan to cast Bowie. Telsa was a very strange and mysterious man and so is David Bowie. It was a perfect fit. It added authenticity and even more mystique to the character by adding Bowie. Christopher Nolan not only knows how to write a screenplay and direct a movie – but he hasn’t made one misstep in any of his films with casting. How many filmmakers can you say that about?

And how could anyone not appreciate his role as Jareth the Goblin King in “Labyrinth”? And no one could ever play Andy Warhol as good as Bowie in “Basquiat”.

“I hate Disneyland. It primes our kids for Las Vegas.”

Tom Waits’ film choices are just as offbeat and stirring as his music. Waits is an extremely talented musician that has taken select roles in his long and winding career. His music is almost an acquired taste – as are some of the roles he’s played. Waits is a close family friend of the Coppola family and he is often cast in Francis Ford Coppola’s films. Waits is also in many of Jim Jarmusch’s films and those films are defiantly an acquired taste.

The performance that I think seals Waits’ craft as an actor is in the mediocre Coppola film “Dracula” where he portrays Count Dracula’s underling R.M. Reinfield. He is so creepy and almost stomach turning as the mentally unstable man that is confined in a straight jacket in a disgusting and disturbing mental hospital. He and Gary Oldman are the only two that save that film from being a train wreck.

His role as the Engineer in “The Book of Eli” was something of a treat that I really enjoyed. I loved how he snuck into the film, making a character that was insignificant to the story interesting just by having Tom Waits play the character. I felt that “Eli” was a train wreck of a film, but again – Gary Oldman saved the film (with a little help from Waits). I haven’t seen “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” yet but Tom Waits looks divine in it.

So that is my list thus far folks. Give me your feedback, what do you think of my choices? And what are yours? I know I left some prominent crossover artists out, but I’ll be working on part two really soon. Gimme your feedback! I want to have a debate!

The harder the life – the sweeter the song.

Your heart’s on the loose
You rolled them seven’s with nothing lose
And this ain’t no place for the weary kind

You called all your shots
Shooting 8 ball at the corner truck stop
Somehow this don’t feel like home anymore

And this ain’t no place for the weary kind
And this ain’t no place to lose your mind
And this ain’t no place to fall behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try

Your body aches…
Playing your guitar and sweating out the hate
The days and the nights all feel the same

Whiskey has been a thorn in your side
and it doesn’t forget
the highway that calls for your heart inside

And this ain’t no place for the weary kind
And this ain’t no place to lose your mind
And this ain’t no place to fall behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try

Your lovers warm kiss…
It’s too damn far from your fingertips
You are the man that ruined her world

Your heart’s on the loose
You rolled them seven’s with nothing lose
And this ain’t no place for the weary kind

“Crazy Heart” – 2009 – Expanded Review

“I wanna talk about how bad you make this room look. I never knew what a dump it was until you came in here.”

I originally saw this film in a double feature along with “A Single Man”. At that point, I was excited to see this film, and not so much “A Single Man”. “A Single Man” blew me away, and I think that took from the fact that “Crazy Heart” is truly a remarkable film. As I said in my earlier post – that I was looking for something else with “Crazy Heart”. I wanted to feel bad about the film, and for myself. I was being very selfish with my review, and what I took away from the film. I’m going to get off my soap box now and give the film a review from me it truly deserved in the first place.

Jean and Bad Blake.

By now everyone knows that Jeff Bridges won Best Actor for this film. Did he deserve it? Yes. Even though Colin Firth should have won for “A Single Man”, Bridges award was well deserved and well received. The story of “Crazy Heart” revolves around Bad Blake, a washed up country singer. He goes from small town to small town playing at bowling alleys and lounges. Even though Blake is going through the motions at these venues – Blake is most animated and alive while he performs his music. Two subplots split and take us on a journey with Blake. The first is his meeting a reporter played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and a love story begins to blossom from them. The second: Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). Tommy Sweet is a rising star in the world of country music but he started as a member of Blake’s back-up band. Blake is resentful and bitter whenever he talks about Sweet, or whenever Sweet is mentioned.

The love story that grows between Jean (Gyllenhaal) and Bad is very sweet and heartfelt to watch. It’s very joyous to watch Blake play with Jean’s son. The way Blake cooks for the little boy, or the way he teaches him how to play paper football is so enjoyable to watch. You know that Bad has fallen in love with both Jean and her son. It’s also painful to watch at times because you know, you just know that Blake’s drinking problem is taking a toll on their relationship and will eventually poison it. Due to Blake’s alcoholism, something happens that Jean cannot ever forgive him for – or forget. Blake sobers up and goes to see Jean, to tell her that he’s different. That small scene is one of the many reasons why Jeff Bridges was not only nominated, but won the Best Actor Oscar, and the sole reason Gyllenhaal was nominated. It’s a heartbreaking scene that sinks right to your soul.

As for the Tommy Sweet story arc, we’re told very little about him, but every time he’s mentioned Blake coils up like a snake and get tremendously defensive. Blake is jaded that Sweet won’t do another duet album with him. Bottom line is Blake needs the money. Blake is offered to open for Sweet at his next concert and Blake reluctantly accepts because he is desperate for money. Everything is going wrong for Blake, his record label is pulling his last album from store shelves and he’s not allowed to have a tab at any of his engagements. When he shows up to open for Sweet, Blake is eating at a steakhouse and Sweet walks in. Sweet is very cautious as if he’s walking on thin ice. He sits down at Blake’s table and they begin to have a sidestepping exchange of dialogue.

Colin Farrell is absolutely perfect as Tommy Sweet. His southern accent is brooding and real. Farrell should have been nominated for his performance as Sweet, and almost should have rivaled Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor. Sweet is everything opposite of what we expect him to be. He’s very gracious and humbled in Blake’s

Tommy Sweet and Bad Blake performing "Fallin' & Flyin'".

presence. It’s as if Sweet is going to carry Blake’s torch and protect his legacy. The best scene of the film is where Blake and Sweet perform together on stage. It’s a great song, “Fallin’ & Flyin'” and they are almost singing the song to each other. “I never meant to hurt no one/I just had to have my way/If there’s such a thing as too much fun/This must be the price you pay.” Farrell’s voice as he sings is jaw dropping. He’s absolutely perfect for the role and what it requires. His voice can almost be equated to the likes of Tim McGraw.

The film’s first time writer/director Scott Cooper does an interesting job directing the film. He uses many long takes, much like John Ford did. Robert Duvall was Cooper’s mentor on the film, and was on the set everyday (although he’s only in three scenes). Cooper’s screenplay should have been recognized, and since there were ten Best Picture Nominees, “Crazy Heart” should have gotten a nomination. I didn’t, but “The Blindside” did. That’s not fair and I don’t like it.

Jeff Bridges does an unbelievable job carrying this film on his shoulders. I feel that most of the films he has been in wouldn’t have been as good if Bridges wasn’t in the film (“The Big Lebowski”, “Iron Man”, and “The Door in the Floor”). Bridges was the most underrated and underappreciated actor of his generation, but not anymore. I was so happy to see him finally get his long overdue Oscar, and he gave such a great speech. Thank you Mr. Bridges, you’ve inspired me more then you’ll ever know.

The last thing I would like to talk about is the original music for the film. I’ve never been much of a fan of country music, aside from Cash, Nelson, Jennings and those guys, but the music that Bridges sings in the film is reminiscent like that of Leonard Cohen, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristopherson. The songs in the film by Stephen Brutton and

Bridges and Burnett perfoming songs from the film.

T-Bone Burnett are fantastic. “Hold on You” plays during the opening and Bridges later perform part of later in the film and the song is absolutely amazing. It’s the best song in the film. The lyrics are amazing to these original songs, but the way Bridges conveys – performs the music is outstanding. The fact that Bridges is an accomplished musician in his personal life added to the realism and authenticity of his performance. “The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett is an amazingly great song. It’s an unbelievably sad song. It was so well deserving of Best Original Song at the Oscars, but if I had to choose, “Hold on You” would have won.

I’ve watched this film twice since I saw it in theaters and it has sunk in. It’s a much better film then I told you it was months ago. It is a very tight film, and doesn’t drag or bore you. Bridges, Farrell, Duvall and Gyllenhaal captivate you, and command your attention in every scene.

What I take away from “Crazy Heart” is that it’s never too late to change yourself; to become a better person. No matter how hard of life you’ve lived, and how many mistakes you’ve made – you can still find redemption, there is still hope. Fail, fail again, fail better. The film is heartfelt and sincere. “Crazy Heart” will stand the test of time, and I think it has more staying power then a lot of films that came out this year. As more generations explore Bridges, and see him as The Dude, they will ultimately discover his Oscar winning portrayal where he bears his soul and shows us his weak side. We all have a little Bad Blake inside of us. Be kinder then necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

All the fire that I walk through/Only tryin' to get a hold on you.

Review: 9/10

“Crazy Heart”

Colin Farrell displaying his range as a tragic yet comedic actor. Photo taken by Jeff Bridges. From: JeffBridges.com

I have been doing A LOT of thinking about “Crazy Heart” lately. I was so filled with joy watching Jeff Bridges accept his Best Actor Oscar (even though it should have gone to Colin Firth for “A Single Man”). But I suppose if you have to lose to someone, it might as well be Jeff Bridges! When I saw “Crazy Heart” I was disappointed. I was looking for something a different. I think it had a lot to do with the frame of mind I was in during that period. I was in a very deep rut in my life when I saw “Crazy Heart”, and that was tremendously unfair to the film. I was hoping the film was going to make me feel worse, help feed the self loathing inside of me. It didn’t, and I think that’s why I was rough on certain elements of the film. I have watched it twice recently since I first saw it in theaters in December and I have a lot more respect for the film. I am planning on revisiting my review of “Crazy Heart” and am going to write an “expanded” review of it.

Thanks for reading, and please – check back soon.

“I used to be somebody, and now I am somebody else…”

I just wanted to take a quick moment and revisit “Crazy Heart” and Jeff Bridges performance. I think much of the attention that has been bestowed upon Bridges’ performance is that not only was Bridges pitch perfect – but the character of Bad Blake is so appealing to us as humans. There’s been much speculation on whom Bad Blake is based off of. Bridges said himself that if Bad Blake were a real person, he would have been the fifth Highway Man, joining Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristopherson. Much of Blake’s mannerisms, appearance and lyrics are mirrors of Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristopherson – not a bad combination. I think deep down inside all of us, we carry a part of Blake inside of us. Whether it is remorse, regret, self loathing, or greatness that is imbedded within us; each one of us has a story to tell. Whether we write, sing, act or construct, our stories are built from whatever skills we have to use.

Much of the attention that Bridges is attaining isn’t without reason. Bridges was the most underappreciated actor of his generation until “Crazy Heart” came out. He always found his ways into roles that suited him perfectly (even if the film itself wasn’t that great). Bridges is a true artist. Not only is Bridges an actor, but he’s a skilled painter, photographer (Bridges is notorious for taking still photographs on every film set he’s been on, and they are remarkable) and singer. He released a folk album in the early 2000’s that is very good. His artwork was in the film “The Door in the Floor” where his character Ted Cole was a children’s writer. His artwork in the film is simple, yet holds a deep complexity of darkness and haunting within it, much like the stories that his character writes in the film. All of his art is displayed on his website, www.jeffbridges.com.

Aside from Bridges’ performance in “Crazy Heart” that makes the film compelling and real, is the music by Stephen Burton and T-Bone Burnett. The songs that Blake sings are truly beautiful, and they tell us a deep and rich story that helps explain who Blake is, and why he is what he is. His life has been filled with much joy, and much more pain; and the only way for Blake to release these feelings is through music. I personally think “Hold on You” is the best song from the film. It speaks directly to me. If any of the songs, poems, or scripts I’ve written are even as half as good as “Hold on You”, I would be delighted.

I been loved
And I been alone
All my life I been a rolling stone
Done everything that a man can do
Everything but get a hold on you
Done everything that a man can do
Everything but get a hold on you

I been blessed
And I been cursed
All my lies have been unrehearsed
A wall of fire that I walk through
Only trying to get a hold on you
A wall of fire that I walk through
Only trying to get a hold on you

I saw you waiting at the gate
But I arrived a moment late
I saw you shed a single tear
But still I can’t get there from here

I been high
And I been low
I been people that I don’t know
I been to China and old Peru
Only trying to get a hold on you
Been to China and to Peru
Only trying to get a hold on you
Only trying to get a hold on you

The lyrics don’t do the song nearly as much justice as the way Bridges sings the song.

Jeff Bridges means a lot to me. As an artist, it’s hard to find a match for him. He’s utterly brilliant and persuasively dynamic and so complex. I’ve made it a point in these past couple of months to dowse myself with as much of Bridges’ art, acting and music as I could. I am so very thankful for him, and for everything he’s given me. I still think Colin Firth gave the best performance of the year in “A Single Man”, but when Bridges wins his first Oscar, after being nominated five times – well, that’s just fine with me. And if you ask me, I think the Dude would defiantly abide.

NOTE: Thank you Alfred for the correct lyrics of the song.  Thank you for reading, and thank you for correcting me.