Lucky Screen 17 articles



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  • Despite the many very admirable people involved in this project, it seems to me a flat procession of cliches. It's stagey in the worst ways, particularly the bar scenes, which feature "regulars" who converse with one another in the hackneyed fashion of a thousand local theatre productions: characters sitting at their own tables but obediently listening in to each other's lines, waiting for the proper interjection or to simply laugh and applaud when necessary.

  • The movie is a well-intended, loving tribute to Stanton’s art, but it looks narrowly at that art—because of the narrow mold into which Wenders pressed it. It’s a delight to see Stanton walk, turn his head, fix his gaze, think. But it would have been more of a delight to see him expand with a character rather than contract to fit it.

  • Nothing in Lucky is quite as moving as the speech Stanton’s Travis makes to his estranged wife Jane at the end of Paris, Texas. That film is about the death of love, with the mother-and-child reunion a heartbreaking cathartic coda to a tragedy. (There’s a reversal of this scenario for the abandoned father of Molly Ringwald that Stanton plays in Pretty in Pink.) Lucky never reaches for the tragic. It’s about the grim absurdity of old age and death as anticlimax.

  • A modest contribution to the grand tradition of cinematic ruminations on the inevitable, but that said, I will admit that the moment in which Stanton spontaneously breaks into song at a fiesta had me welling up.

  • It is Stanton’s walk I love most in the film. It is vigorous yet halting, an old skeleton propelled by a vivid spirit and remarkable vitality. Imagine Jacques Tati’s M. Hulot, old. Walking his old route around town one day and mad as hell at this or that, Stanton’s ‘Lucky’ takes out his frustration on a stray metal can. It is at once the old-man-iest act, and the most youthful.

  • Lucky's mawkishness is... manifested in how all the supporting characters adore Lucky without question, and in how Lucky is allowed to “win” almost every conversation. Lynch, though, is shrewd enough to complicate these tributary textures with a crucial nuance: Sometimes, we wonder if the other characters are indulging Lucky out of pity because he's old and profoundly lonely. Stanton may be a legend, and he may have been lucky, but he's still mortal.

  • It is only right that Stanton’s last film should be one in which he is unequivocally the star, and that it should be a movie practically in his honor, from one character actor to another. Lynch uses this spare premise to gracefully evoke emptiness: in the hushed but welcoming dark of the local bar, in the horizons surrounding this desert town. But he also, through Stanton, evokes the fullness of life.

  • The film's heavy themes and deliberate slowness make it feel much longer than it is; even the sun-blanched New Mexico backdrop seems purgatorial. But tracing every step of Lucky's protracted daily routine becomes a powerful exercise in both empathy and discomfort as he ponders the meaning of life and the inevitability of death, without the balm of spirituality.

  • Even though it's clear that Harry Dean Stanton, even at the end of his life, was expanding his world rather than constricting it, this is still one of those performances in which the character and the actor becomes somewhat indistinguishable. That's the poignancy of it, watching Stanton and seeing the grizzled beauty etched on his face. . . . We're content to just watch him smoke cigarettes. We are happy to listen to his World War II stories.

  • There are no long, sweeping shots through town, no set-pieces to distract the viewer. Lynch simply films one of the greatest actors of his generation doing his thing. Coincidentally, David Lynch – always a treat in front of the camera – puts in a strong shift as Howard, delivering perhaps the most poignant turtle-related tale ever committed to film. But this is undoubtedly Stanton’s show, a powerful love letter to an enduring screen icon.

  • As the titular Lucky, Stanton remains a fascinating screen presence, lending weight to the quietest, stillest of acts. The screenplay, by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja, was written with reference to Stanton’s own biography and with him in mind as a performer. Once seen, it’s impossible to imagine any other actor providing – what might have been just a fey American indie populated with quirky characters – a performance of such warmth and emotional depth.

  • It isn’t just an actor’s movie: it’s a character actor’s movie, with Stanton at the center of a roster that includes, notably, Ed Begley Jr., Ron Livingston, and Tom Skerritt... The whole movie pays tribute to Stanton’s ability to convey a rich, funky lyricism via the micro-feelings tugging at the gaunt features of his face, the economic movements of his bantamweight body, and the tangy, sardonic vibrations of his reedy voice.

  • Nothing much happens in “Lucky,” and then everything does. That doesn’t mean this leisurely portrait of its title character, a cantankerous old coot (Harry Dean Stanton, in one of his last roles), is any more eventful at the end than at the beginning. Rather, the accumulation of spot-on performances and long-familiar faces, small-town routines and dusty-worn locations, finally coalesces into a picture that’s greater than the sum of its oft-clichéd parts.

  • One of the movie's finest lines of dialogue is one that Stanton's Lucky shrugs off when... he stops at the convenience store for his customary carton of milk. He chats for a minute with the friendly proprietor before taking his leave: "Well, I gotta go, my shows are on." You may have heard of the Irish goodbye, or the French exit: the practice of leaving a party swiftly and quietly. This is the Stanton goodbye. If only every actor we loved could leave us with a farewell film like this one.

  • I’ve seen a lot of movies that try to be Lucky... but very few that have this film’s elegant shape, its sense of when to hang back and listen and when to let the camera tell the story and when to end a thought and move on to the next one. It’s the humblest deep movie of recent years, a work in the same vein as American marginalia like Stranger Than Paradise and Trees Lounge, but with its own rhythm and color, its own emotional temperature, its own reasons for revealing and concealing things.

  • If you’ve never gotten enough of Stanton – if you’ve always been happy whenever he shows up in something – then please see Lucky. He has moments as good as anything he’s ever done. Because it never seems like he’s acting. It never DID seem like he was acting. Beautiful film.

  • It’s amazing that this film gets away with as many contradictions as it does. It stays remarkably light and buoyant for a film that keeps pondering mortality, subjectivity, and “the void”, and then throws in a metaphorical Garden of Eden just for good measure. And it maintains grave serious even as its view of a small town in the American southwest is atilt with comic eccentricity.

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