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Arts and Culture Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 5 years ago


by: Pam Nadon Contributing Columnist

When an actor has films like "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now" on his resume, it's beyond impressive. When it's Robert Duvall, audience's expectations are always high. Duvall pulls out all the stops in his new film, "Get Low," and delivers another Oscar-worthy performance.

Set during the Depression in the Tennessee backwoods, "Get Low" spins the tale of an infamous recluse, Felix Bush (Duvall), who comes out of hiding to plan his own funeral party. Anyone who has a story to tell about him is invited. He enlists the aid of a financially strapped funeral director (Bill Murray) and his young assistant (Lucas Black) to promote the event.

From the startling opening scene in which a house is ablaze against the black night, the film is shrouded in mystery. Does the fire have something to do with Felix’s self-imposed exile for the past 40 years? Does it involve an ex-girlfriend (Sissy Spacek) who has recently returned to town? And why won't his ex-preacher (Bill Cobbs) speak at his memorial service? Sorry, no spoilers.

Based on the true story about a hermit who did throw such a party, Director Aaron Schneider and scriptwriters Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell concoct a fictionalized version. And it's a rousing good story. Unique and original, "Get Low" is an enormous pleasure to watch.

Murray's deadpan wit has never had a better vehicle. It plays perfectly off of Duvall's cantankerous curmudgeon. The best scenes in the film are between these two gifted actors.

Duvall's greatness is so acutely showcased in "Get Low" that it made me want to revisit some of his previous work. In doing so, I was reminded of how gracious and brilliant an actor he truly is.

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