Rocks Off presents a new series about film, musical documentaries and soundtracks.
Jeff Bridges is going to walk home with a shiny gold statuette following Sunday night's Oscars. Bridges, after all, has already won the Golden Globe for best actor for his portrayal of Bad Blake inCrazy Heart
, the story of adown-and-out country singer
trying to make one last hit. But Rocks Off is more interested in a lesser category,Best Original Song
, for which the film's theme, "The Weary Kind," is nominated. Critics adored the movie, but Rocks Off found it too formulaic. The music was by far the film's saving grace. That's most likely because it was written byprodigious Fort Worth native T-Bone Burnett
with his late musical partner Stephen Bruton, also from Fort Worth. Burnett already ownsseveral Grammys and Oscars
for his work with artists like Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Arlo Guthrie and B.B. King.
The most surprising thing, to Rocks Off, is that Jeff Bridges can actually sing, at times channeling later work by Bob Dylan. That's more than we can say for Colin Farrell, whose character Tommy Sweet represents the glitsy Nashville country pop all over radio these days. If Bad Blake equals Waylon Jennings, then Colin Farrell is Keith Urban. As Blake tells his backing band, "I've played sick, drunk, divorced and on the run." In the film, Bad Blake's songs serve as a kind of clever musical foreshadowing to the plot. On the first night Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is supposed to see Bad play, just a few hours after their meeting, Bad sings "It's funny how fallin' feels like flyin," as if you couldn't figure out for yourself the two were going to hook up. "Somebody Else," a quick and flashy blues reminiscent of Dylan's Time Out of Mind, was Rocks Off's favorite song from the film, but even it became tiresome after repeated usage in transition scenes and performances in smokey, boozy venues. Maybe that was intentional, though - let filmgoers sympathize with Bad Blake's monotonous repetition of his few remaining hits.
The rest of the soundtrack is solid, featuring work by The Louvin Brothers, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings and Houston's own Lightin' Hopkins. Robert Duvall also has a cameo on the soundtrack, singing hisApostle
(and real-life) buddy Billy Joe Shaver's "Live Forever." Assuming "The Weary Kind" wins a statuette - safe assumption, since it's up against a song fromNine
, a foreign film, and two cartoons - the win will be a bittersweet one. Expect Burnett and co-writer Ryan Bingham to dedicate the award to Bruton, who died last May, just after filming for the movie ended. Houston-related musical movie news and our pick for "Soundtrack of the Week" after the break...NewsThunder Soul
, a documentary about thelegendary stage band from Houston's Kashmere High School
, willpremier at SXSW Film
March 13. The documentary follows the reunion of alumni from the funk band, who gathered to play for their mentor and bandleader Conrad O. Johnson 35 years later. Rocks Offcovered the reunion
in 2008 and thedeath of Johnson
just three days after the show.Soundtrack of the Week: Broken Flowers
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Bill Murray, but this film sucked. Sorry Jim (Jarmusch). However, the soundtrack is one of our all-time favorites, thanks to the work of psychedelic Ehiopian jazz composer Mulatu Astatke. Also featuring: Rocks Off favorite Dengue Fever, Marvin Gaye and Brian Jonestown Massacre.