Tag Archives: Jeff Bridges

No. 95 THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971)

Everything Gets Old if You Do It Often Enough

The Last Picture Show, a movie about the dirty laundry of a small Texan town, was considered to be risky and scandalous at the time of its making. It has scenes with full frontal nudity and sex between high school students and married adults. So, pretty much nothing that is currently considered scandalous. But at the time of filming Cybill Shepherd had to consider many times if she would do the nude pool scene and Cloris Leachman refused to get naked on camera and instead waited until her character got under the covers.

                                       Nope – you should not have worn that shirt

It’s 1951 in a small Texas town called Anarene. Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane (Jeff Bridges) are best friends who play football, go to the movies at an old movie house and hang out at the local pool hall. Both places are owned by Sam The Lion (Ben Johnson), who has a close relationship with Sonny. Both boys also lust after rich Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd), whose mother Lois (Ellen Burstyn) gets around and also had an affair with Sam The Lion.  Jacy is going steady with Duane while Sonny falls into an affair with the football coach’s wife Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman). After Sam the Lion’s death the pool hall is left to Sonny, who is determined to honour Sam’s legacy while Jacy and Duane head away from Anarene. Sonny and Duane make one last trip to the closing movie house.

It’s a bleak town

The Last Picture Show is based on a book by Larry McMurtry. When the director Peter Bogdanovich (The Mask and The Thing Called Love) saw the book the first time he did not read it – even though he was intrigued about the name. Thankfully he did the second time around and made a movie out if it that went to win 2 Oscars (Johnson and Leachman).

                                                             Lion, Sam The Lion

The movie was filmed in Larry McMurtry’s home town, Archer City. Which is the same town that the book is based on. So no wonder that the film crew was not welcomed with open arms, as the real Duane, Sonny etc. were still there. Even though the actors never got to meet their real-life counterparts. The whole movie is shot in black and white, which was originally suggested to Bogdanovich by Orson Welles who thought that the depth of that period could only be captured in B&W. I have to say that it definitely adds dimension to the depressive atmosphere of the movie.

The Last Picture Show has many great scenes like the one where Sonny is driving Ruth to the clinic and back. So much has been left unsaid and the viewers can decide themselves the reason why Ruth is so upset. Another excellent scene by Cloris Leachman is the final scene between Ruth and Sonny.

                                                                Never you mind

Another scene, which portrays Bogdanovich great talent to concentrate in expressions and emotion instead of dialogue, is when Lois realises that her daughter has been with her lover. Total of eight different emotions run through her face while she walks from the living room sofa to the kitchen. If that’s not powerful acting, I don’t know what is. Bogdanovich’s only advice to Ellen Burstyn was to think the thoughts of the character in that scene.

I found that one of the most powerful scenes in the movie is when Billy dies and Sonny is carrying him away from the street. Once again almost no dialogue for Sonny – only one line: He was sweeping!

He was sweeping!

I am sure that The Last Picture Show is a great movie on many levels and I am glad I watched it. But would I watch it again? No – as I found it extremely depressing, which I am sure just speaks of its greatness.

Yep, nothing much has changed.

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TRUE GRIT (2010)

You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free, except the grace of God.

I am not a huge fan of Westerns, but I am a fan of the Coen Brothers. O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty are amongst my all-time favourite films. Hmm… now when I think of it – both of them have George Clooney in them. Coincidence, I ask? I do like other Coen Brothers’ movies as well and that’s why I wanted to see True Grit – and because it was nominated for 10 Oscars. I started to watch the film with low expectations, but within minutes it won me over. It is a well-done movie, where everything works; there is no weak link.

                                 I always go backwards when I back up.

True Grit is a story of a tough 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), who sets to avenge her father’s murder. Mattie’s father was unfairly shot and robbed by Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Mattie hires the toughest U.S. marshal she can find – Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) – the man with true grit, questionable character and a strong liking for booze. Against his wishes Mattie joins him and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) in tracking Chaney into hostile Indian Territory, where they encounter more questionable characters and finally Tom Chaney himself. Along the way a strong bond develops between Rooster Cogburn and Mattie.

Them men wanted a decent burial; they should have got themselves killed in summer.

The story itself is interesting. It is based on a book by Charles Portis, who is considered to be the greatest writer you have never heard of. The book paints a picture of moments of mundane reality. The Coen’s movie is closer to the original book than the 1969 John Wayne movie was. I love how the screenplay is told from a young girl’s perspective. There is no dull moment in this movie as the screenplay moves along with steady pace.

That didn’t pan out.

The cinematography by Roger Deakins is astounding. He uses the nature is such spectacular way that it provides the perfect emotional backdrop for the actors. The eeriest scene of the movie must be “the hanging man” scene, which was filmed in the middle of dead wintry cottonwoods. All the acting is stellar. Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld and Matt Damon all give fantastic performances.

  Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down

Once again the Coen Brothers have created a movie well worth of watching!

Time just gets away from us.