Crazy Heart is a bit schmaltzy. A bit sappy. The May-September romance between Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal is tough to buy into. Colin Farrell as the biggest country star in the world (and the hideous accompanying ponytail) is even tougher. Someone slap that casting agent on the back of the hand and make them work at the WB for a year as punishment. But the film’s music, oh the music.
I am a fan of “Classic” country but don’t give the time of day to “New” country. My opinions have been solidified in this respect having lived the last 2.5 years in rural Canada where I cringe every time one of the local 20-something girls stumble towards the jukebox at Duck’s Roadhouse. The songs on the Crazy Heart Soundtrack are new in the real world, but are meant to be the protagonist’s old standards in the realm of the film. And they sound old, and they’re awesome.
Leonard Cohen meets George Jones meets The Dude.
My favorite is “Brand New Angel”, a very sad, mournful song as you would probably expect after contemplating the title for a split-second. Someone has died, hence… right. The chord progression, minor/major back-and-forth coupled with Bridges’ own solid, booze-soaked vocals make for a real unexpected treat. It could just as well been called “The Whiskey Waltz” and kicked off a 30-year-old Kris Kristofferson record. Written by Greg Brown, the song accurately reflects the musical influences producer T-Bone Burnett suggested Jeff Bridges draw from when developing the character:
“In fleshing out Bad’s background, it was decided that his influences should extend beyond the country genre and that he should have an eclectic taste in music. T-Bone made a wonderful graph for me of the music that Bad might have listened to. Leonard Cohen was one of the guys we thought of.” – Jeff Bridges
Have a listen, see what you think and then seek out the movie. It gets a solid ‘B’ from little old me. The quality of the toe-tappers, coupled with Bridges’ convincing turn as the wedding and world weary Bad Blake, ensure you’ll be glad you did, partner. The soundtrack also features performances by Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall – and you can purchase an MP3 of "Brand New Angel” or the whole shebang right here: Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) .
I wouldn’t be upset if Jeff beat out Jeremy Renner for best actor, and it’s definitely going to come down to the two of them. Morgan Freeman did little more than a great Nelson Mandela impression, Colin Firth is Colin Firth. Clooney’s performance in Up in the Air is as inexplicably overrated as the film itself. If Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett, who produced the soundtrack and composed “Weary Heart”, (the official theme from Crazy Heart and another solid tune), lose out to Randy Newman – I’m liable to swig back a fifth of Wild Turkey and find a truck stop waitress to impregnate/beat mercilessly. No one wants to see that happen, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so do the right thing.