Have you ever fantasized about attending your own funeral and wondered what people would say? Robert Duvall masterfully plays Felix Bush, a recluse in 1930’s Tennessee, who has removed himself from society for 40 years and decides to do just that. Bush has a mysterious past, which all of the neighboring townsfolk gossip about, and he has finally decided it’s time to set the record straight and ‘get low’, or get down to business, in his colloquial. Bill Murray costars as the quirky, money-hungry owner of the local funeral parlor who happily agrees to help Bush throw his own funeral ‘party’, despite the unorthodox technicality that he’s still alive. Sissy Spacek also costars as a woman who knew Bush before he became a hermit.
I first saw this film in April at the TriBeCa film festival, back to back with ‘Please Give’, and immediately hailed them as my two favorite films of the year. (That was definitely my best film watching day of the year, as both sets of casts showed up for an intro and Q&A afterwards.) After revisiting this film 6 months later, I still feel exactly the same. In fact, I think it’s even better the second time. Films like this one are exactly why I go the movies in the first place. It transports you to a different time and a different place, and even though the subject matter is quite heavy, it leaves me feeling so glad I spent the last two hours with these characters, but so sad to leave them.
This is clearly an Oscar worthy film and in my opinion deserves nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (for Duvall) and Best Supporting Actor (for Murray). Duvall is a living legend in Hollywood and at the age of 78 has never been better. He has said he always felt most comfortable in his many roles as a cowboy, and credits his part in the ‘Lonesome Dove’ miniseries as his favorite role. I agree he is fantastic in that part but I think he was tailor made for this one. And Murray is always one to watch, with this being my favorite role of his since ‘Lost in Translation’.
It’s also unbelievable to me that such a well made film comes from first time director Aaron Schneider. I really look forward to whatever he’s got cooking next. And the earth tone color scheme and cinematography is just beautiful. Every frame of the film is a joy to look at.
In short, I love this movie! Run, don’t walk, to the Ritz at the Bourse before it’s too late. (OK, OK I will forgive you if you wait until DVD which will probably be released by year end.)
For other must-see Duvall films, check out ‘The Godfather’, ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Falling Down’, ‘Broken Trail’, and a small but haunting role in ‘The Road’, to name a few.
And you undoubtedly know the essential Bill Murray films like ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Ghostbusters’, but for slightly lesser known gems check out ‘Lost in Translation’, ‘Broken Flowers’, ‘Mad Dog and Glory’, ‘Scrooged’, ‘Quick Change’, and even ‘What About Bob?’