Thursday, October 19, 2017

A farewell to Harry Dean Stanton

If you're interested in deep questions about life and death, you probably can do better than Lucky, a movie that's devoted to watching a man in his 90s -- played by the late Harry Dean Stanton -- consider the fate that awaits him. An atheist who doesn't believe either in the soul or heavenly immortality, Stanton's Lucky is left to smoke cigarettes, drink his daily Bloody Mary and peer into the terrifying void that awaits him. Lucky perfectly fits a parched New Mexican setting in which Stanton's collapsing face seems as natural as an aging cactus -- and just as prickly. Lucky doesn't seem to care much about anything, although he's able to summon enough anger to deliver a diatribe against a local lawyer who's helping another senior citizen (David Lynch) with his estate planning. In one of the script's awkwardly quirky touches, Lynch's character says he wants to leave everything to his best pal, a tortoise that recently escaped into the desert. Members of the supporting cast (Tom Skerritt and Ed Begley Jr, for example) have their moments, but this is Stanton's show. His Lucky comes off as a World War II vet who still recalls the horrors of conflict and who, as his doctor (Begley) says, qualifies as something of a miracle, having never moderated any of his health-threatening habits. Lucky should satisfy those who crave one last go-round with Stanton, who died in September at the age of 91. Directed by actor John Carroll Lynch, Lucky serves as an ode to Harry Dean, an actor who made a career out of playing men who never seemed to give a damn what anyone thought of them, a trait that made the actor admirable to audiences grown weary of ingratiating performances and celebrity polish.

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