Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
The Straight Story
"The Straight Story" chronicles a trip made by 73-year-old Alvin Straight from Laurens, Iowa, to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin, in 1994 while riding a lawn mower. The man undertook his strange journey to mend his relationship with his ill, estranged, 75-year-old brother Lyle.
There are twelve levels of cinematic emotionality. It goes like this, in order from least serious to holy shit bro, stop crying:
1. A slight clenching in the throat and behind the eyes.
2. Eye moisture.
3. Greater amounts of eye moisture.
4. Actual, honest-to-god, mobile tears.
5. Tears accompanied by a trembling of the lip.
6. So many tears that it becomes difficult to see.
7. Repressed whimpers.
9. Loud whimpers.
10. Full on bawling.
11. The Straight Story.
12. Shitting yourself to death.
Only three movie scenes in my life have ever actually made me cry. And when I say cry, I mean CRY. Like cry cry. I "cry" during movies all the time. But I…
Angelo Badalamenti's score swells with pure emotion. Similar to another brilliant and beautiful story, Paris, Texas, (there's way too many commas there) this is about a man on the path to redemption. Similar to that movie, this is a pure mannered, unmelodramatic weeper.
Little by little, this curious man is unpacked like a Russian doll. Across Iowa to Wisconsin, cornfields galore on his small lawn mower, we're truly in the midwest. And as the film unfolds, we're confronted with a man whose crippled old frame belies his brutal past: a past of war and alcoholism and brotherly love and loss and children reared amidst violence and tempers. It's almost unbearably close to home.
I think Forrest's stellar review sums it…
Film #89 of Project 90
”I'd give each one of 'em a stick and, one for each one of 'em, then I'd say, 'You break that.' Course they could real easy. Then I'd say, 'Tie them sticks in a bundle and try to break that.' Course they couldn't. Then I'd say, "That bundle... that's family."
David Lynch is famous for his mind-bending and surreal style and his special way of mixing reality and dream which eventually leads to nightmarish and perplexing experiences, but with this he shows that he has the ability to move out of his comfort zone and deliver something even more fascinating, and more amazingly he doesn't need anything special, just give him a stubborn old man…
It is sometimes easy to forget what a versatile director Lynch really is as he lately only deals in vagueness and weirdness. The Straight Story is a gentle reminder of what Lynch is also capable of. Delving into a character and placing him into the real world through us, his viewers.
The title is far from a clever play on words but its ambiguity serves the film really well as this really is a simple story told in the straightest way imaginable by a director who can find the realness in a performance and a character, be they big or small. Just look at the faces of the people our hero encounters, they are real people, heck, look at our…
Is it possible to give a film seven stars on here? Because it should be.
Fuck off, "Magnolia", this is my favorite movie now. Why? Because David Lynch. Because Richard Farnsworth. Because Angelo Badalamenti. Because Harry Dean Stanton. Because Sissy Spacek. Because dat soundtrack. Because dat emotion. Because dat "that's family" speech. Because dat fucking ending, holy shit.
THIS is how to make a movie, people. It's slow-moving but not boring. It's intensely emotional without being sappy or sentimental. It's well-directed, well-edited, and brilliantly acted. Richard Farnsworth deserves an enchanted longsword for the performance he gives here. My god. His face is like some sort of ever-changing, capricious elven forest. His face is like a "Magic: The Gathering" card.…
I've been going through some major life changes recently. I'm attending college, I'm becoming a full-fledged adult, and, for maybe the first time ever, I feel genuinely happy. I feel content and optimistic and hopeful about my life and the direction in which it's going. But there's one event that definitely takes the cake in terms of amazingness.
If any of you have been following me for long enough, you might remember an earlier review I did for this film. In it, I described how THE STRAIGHT STORY had become my inspiration for reconnecting with a friend who I treated like dogshit. Well, your long wait of bated breath is finally over, because I am here to tell you that…
The Strength of Determination
I'm going to go on record right now. You don't always have to reconnect with family members from whom you've disconnected. Sometimes, that's the best thing you can give yourself--the gift of distance. Sometimes, conversely, you are cutting yourself off from a good thing. I wouldn't say that only you can know that, but only you have the right to make the decision. Ultimately, it's between you and that family member, and while everyone else can show interest, no one else can tell you what to do. So there we are. I don't know the background on the brothers here; I'm not sure we get enough detail in the film so that anyone can. That's one…
The art of film-making by David Lynch. Not just a simple tale but a slow one, as necessitated by age and speed of transport. Yet, a film that I didn't want to miss a second of and one that seems to move so quickly towards its conclusion. It also managed to say a load about age; in the twin senses that a life can gather up regret and guilt, and be a life well-lived. Lynch seems to approach the film as one of those gymnastic routines where the requisite number of twists and tumbles will demonstrate his technique to the judges, but the real point is artistic grace and power. He builds in drama with the danger of a steep…
So insanely good. Maybe all of Lynch's films are, but there's something about The Straight Story, so completely and yet not at all a David Lynch movie, that is truly wonderful. I'm not even sure I can quite articulate what that even is.
So quiet, so subdued, so thoughtful, so sad and so easy to let just wash over you.
Master of the weird and wonderful, David Lynch, directing a Disney picture?!
That's right, folks: the director memorably described as 'Jimmy Stewart on Mars' by Mel Brooks leaves most of his filmic 'tics' at home to present a, well, 'straight' story which somehow still manages to come across as very 'Lynchian'.
Based on a true story, this is an episodic road movie capable of bringing a tear to the eye, beautifully presented and touchingly acted, especially by Farnsworth in his last screen role.
Trivia Note: Farnsworth was terminally ill with cancer when he took on the part of Alvin Straight and sadly took his own life the following year..
"The worst thing of being old is remembering what is was being young"
Without a doubt the most unique film Lynch has ever made. It is astonishing how sensitively and truthfully Lynch handles the material; never does he allow either over-sentimentality or cynicism to enter the narrative, yet by virtue of the story itself still lends an air of surrealism to the film. The story is told in an honest and earnest manner; in essence this is a minimalist film that never feels dull and, while somewhat simple, still manages to be quite compelling. Throughout the journey, themes ranging from determination, age, war trauma, the passage of time, and faith, to ultimately the overarching theme of the importance of family are touched on and expounded quite well in the short time dedicated to…
What a beautiful film.
Really one of my favorite movies of all time.
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…