Sometimes I see an actor on screen and I just know that I have seen them in something else recently. Usually this feeling does not include the “big names.” I know who many of the A-listers are, I could knock out a mean game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon for most celebrities without too much effort (yes, even without the aid of the interwebs), and I can usually pick out stars in roles before they were famous (I’ll take Ben Affleck in Buffy the Vampire Slayer the movie for $200, Alex). However, it is usually the actors who are either just emerging on the scene or those who often play the supporting roles that make me rack my brain. Typically, I try to figure out what show I recognize them from on my own; but as a last resort, I consult the plethora of online resources (read: imdb).
Saturday evening, my husband and I settled in to watch Get Low. A few minutes into the film, I had a sneaking suspicion that I had seen the man who plays “Buddy”–the actor who, aside from the baby, is the youngest of the “leads” by many years. Throughout the entire film, I tried to place him. I felt that the answer was somewhere rattling around in my brain, aching to escape like a sneeze just itching to be released. Alas, as the movie concluded, I still did not have the answers I was looking for. “To the web!” I shouted as I pointed one finger in the air triumphantly. Sadly, my husband was apparently too bored by the film to share in my internet-search excitement. There, like a golden artifact in an Indiana Jones film (NOT The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Never The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) stood my answer. The actor’s name was Lucas Black and I knew him from his performance in Legion. Sigh. That was a little embarrassing– but not as humiliating as the fact that I convinced my husband to see Legion in theaters opening weekend. All I can say about Legion is that at least the first third was entertaining. Then again, it’s hard to go wrong with demonic grannies who climb walls like spiders. Yes, I’m an arbiter of class.
OK, so it’s fairly difficult to make a smooth transitions from evil, creepy old ladies with gecko-like abilities (yes, they too promote car insurance) to Get Low. Forgive me while I change gears here. It may be a little rocky. Set in the 1930s, before old women developed the ability to climb walls (Eh? Eh?), Get Low tells the story of Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), a hermit from Tennessee who decided to plan and throw his own funeral while he was still alive. Bush attempted to enlist the church to help him with this task; but when the Reverend denied his strange request, Bush turned to struggling funeral home operator Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and his assistant, Buddy(the aforementioned Lucas Black). It’s actually quite convenient that the funeral home employed Buddy, because apparently he can also fight off legions of angels if need be. However, as the date of the funeral approaches, it’s clear that Bush would like to use the event to reveal a secret he kept for forty years.
Get Low is a slow film and this is clearly established from the first scene where Bush does not utter one line of dialogue. The director takes time to offer the audience a sense of place with panning shots of landscape and little action other than “daily life” activities. I am so happy that this film is simply directed—though I do not want it to be mistaken that it is a simple film. Because there are no elaborate camera shots or funky editing, the story is allowed to be the hero. There are no smoke and mirrors, just a straightforward tale of a unique individual. I think that the slow pace is perfect for Get Low. Characters tell their stories over the course of time; they don’t vomit out exposition during the first five minutes. This allowed me to not only become more engaged with the story, but opens the door for excellent acting.
With lesser actors, this movie would have down right sucked. Watching Murray in Get Low, made me really appreciate his acting ability. I found him to be believable and he gave his character depth. Although I have seen Duvall in many other films, I guess I didn’t really pay attention to the life he gives his characters. With all of the lead actors (angel slayer included), I was able to buy them in their roles. It was so refreshing to see a character-driven drama that was (a) watchable, (b) not super pretentious, and (c )where the actors were understated yet spot-on.
I really liked Get Low. It was a surprisingly solid film and I thought all of the pieces in the film fit together just right: the actors, direction, cinematography, story, and costumes. I will admit it is definitely not a light film and I was trying to stifle my sobs at the end. However, it has been a while since a film was able to get to me emotionally, and it was actually quite nice. I don’t think my husband was as moved by the film as I was, but then again, he was probably still upset that I made him see Legion in the theaters.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!
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