Stay Hungry (1976)

Stay HungryStarring Jeff Bridges, Sally Field, Arnold Schwarzenegger, R.G. Armstrong, Robert Englund, Helena Kallianiotes, Roger E. Mosley, Woodrow Parfrey, Scatman Crothers, Kathleen Miller, Fannie Flagg

Directed by Bob Rafelson

Expectations: Low. I just expect to see some good, young Arnold.

twohalfstar


Geez, what a weird movie. Its tone is pretty heavily in the drama department, but at times it ventures so far into absurd comedy that it’s hard not to shake your head and cautiously laugh. What’s even odder is that the film’s best and most successful bit of comedy comes right amidst the most fucked up dramatic situation, so laughing at it just seems wrong and out of place. It’s genuinely funny (strangely enough in something of a Hercules in New York kinda way), but due to the tone of everything surrounding it, it’s hard to understand what the filmmakers were going for.

Stay Hungry is about Craig Blake (Jeff Bridges), a rich kid who’s had everything given to him his whole life. His parents have just died and now he’s in charge of their estate. For some reason, he’s working for a real estate agency that is buying up properties for some shady reason I didn’t specifically pick up on. They need Blake to convince the owner of the Olympic Spa to sell his place to them, but because he’s got no ambition to do anything, he doesn’t much care about buying the place. Instead, he decides to befriend the people there, specifically Joe Santo (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Mary Tate (Sally Field), and see where that leads. He’s just so carefree, man.

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True Grit (2010)

True Grit (2010)

Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Domhnall Gleeson, Ed Corbin, Roy Lee Jones, Paul Rae, Nicholas Sadler

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Expectations: Moderate.


It took the Coen Bros. to get me out of the house to see one of these new-fangled remakes, but unfortunately I cannot report that it is entirely worth the trouble. The original True Grit is a household favorite from my childhood and I’ve probably seen it through at least twenty times, with many half viewings and random scenes thrown in for good measure. It was such an integral part of my youth that certain lines became standard jargon around the house. Imagine my surprise when many of these lines are represented within this newer, shinier grittier version. I can’t say that I expected that.

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Crazy Heart (2009)

Starring Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Jack Nation

Directed by Scott Cooper

Expectations: High.


Crazy Heart tells the story of Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges), an alcoholic country singer whose career is on the decline. We enter his life as he pulls into the parking lot of his next gig: a bowling alley. The last time I saw Bridges at a bowling alley were the final moments of The Big Lebowski, so this was a nice place to start the film for me. I’m sure it wasn’t lost on a lot of other viewers as well. He eventually meets up with a young reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and strikes up a friendship. The heart of the film lies within this relationship. Maggie Gyllenhaal has never looked more beautiful on-screen than she does here and she displays a deep talent for creating a believable character.

I was shocked to learn that this is the debut feature from Scott Cooper. It is a very well-made film with crisp, beautiful cinematography. The film is set all across the American Southwest and it looks gorgeous. The wide, expansive landscapes made me long for a good road trip and the bar interiors perfectly captured the heartbroken neon feeling that local bars always gives me. I look forward to what he comes out with next, because if it’s as well shot as this was, it’ll be something special.

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