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movies under the influence
Bloodworth (2010) and Walk Hard (2007) are two movies under the influence of music. The first has to do with a young man, Fleming (Reece Thompson), who ultimately comes to grips with southern living out of kilter with the magazine of the same name. The second is a spoof of sorts on music legends and the movies made about them. It has some nice, ribald songs in it as well as far out comedy. Like westerns, musicals have not been able to re-generate themselves sufficiently to keep the genre going. Even so, they still make them and, occasionally, produce personal favorites as well as blockbusters. Some moviegoers watch Moulin Rouge (2001) on a regular basis. Way back in 1979, The Rose touched a chord, playing off the Janis Joplin story. Several homages have come around mostly for the sake of nostalgia that do not always meet expectations. The Doors, for instance, were much more exciting in their time than any cinematic portrayal that came afterwards. In general, music is important to people. So now and again it finds its way into movies as a theme or sub-theme rather than mere background.
Bloodworth is a family name and well suited to most of those who use it. Things tend to get out of control for them and their neighbors in the rural Tennessee area where they live, perhaps too close to one another. E.F. (Kristofferson) Bloodworth's music is seldom heard on the soundtrack. But the music he does sing is not about run-down trailers, promiscuity, or the general non-existence of compassion near Grinder's Creek. In fact, the main song has to do with love and whiskey, sung on the slow side, and since this catchy composition comes out of the place as well as the man in it, there must be a better side to this countryside as well as its inhabitants. So says the Gibson guitar with jazzy abalone inlays and its player.
Walk Hard is another animal altogether, and much more fun to watch, but only if the viewer can withstand the sophomoric onslaught of various scenes and repartee, probably offensive to anyone with standards. Like Boogie Nights (1997, and another John C. Reilly film), which had to do with adult films, Walk Hard takes on the music business as it changes over the years, beginning with the fifties. In both cases, it is impossible for your average filmgoer to determine how authentic either rendition is. The music, however, as such, is actually pretty good if somewhat familiar in terms of riffs and tempo. The words, however, are the thing that will cause half of any audience to laugh and the other half to cringe.
Who really knows where songs come from or why some songwriters are so prolific while others get stuck with a one-hit wonder? Life must have been too tough on E.F. for him to have to return to this wooded, nightmarish village, which, had it not been for all his relatives, unfinished business, and intermittent flashbacks, might actually have been the best medicine. In the case of Walk Hard's Dewey Cox, drugs, legal trouble, extra-marital affairs, and all kinds of ridiculous situations only serve to lead to the next album.
Well, they are both characters dreamed up by writers, who, themselves, might rather be strumming. There are better worlds "right here on earth" and some come into existence and then vanish with the entrance and exit of a song.