Friday, February 5, 2016

Burning His (Jeff) Bridges

The pleasure of an actor's company often makes a nondescript movie seem great. Call it the Jeff Bridges Boost. Every time Bridges is on screen in Men Who Stare at Goats, Grant Heslov's satire about a top-secret cadre of military intelligentsia, the movie pops. Bridges plays Bill Django, a warrior for peace dedicated to psychic (and perhaps psychedelic) means of ending war, a character so far outside the mainstream that he seems to redirect the way the water flows. Django is a spiritual cousin of Bridges' cult hero, The Dude, in The Big Lebowski (see here for Bridges' thoughts on that movie and its belated success.) One might consider Goats an example of Lebowskism, that philosophy of process without an object.

Burning His (Jeff) Bridges

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 Jeff Bridges as Bill Django is The Men Who Stare at Goats.
Jeff Bridges as Bill Django is The Men Who Stare at Goats. Laura Macgruder

The pleasure of an actor's company often makes a nondescript movie seem great. Call it the Jeff Bridges Boost. Every time Bridges is on screen in Men Who Stare at Goats, Grant Heslov's satire about a top-secret cadre of military intelligentsia, the movie pops.  Bridges plays Bill Django, a warrior for peace dedicated to psychic (and perhaps psychedelic) means of ending war, a character so far outside the mainstream that he seems to redirect the way the water flows. Django is a spiritual cousin of Bridges' cult hero, The Dude, in The Big Lebowski (see here for Bridges' thoughts on that movie and its belated success.)  One might consider Goats an example of Lebowskism, that philosophy of process without an object.

Ironic and iconic, Bridges combines the elements that made Robert Mitchum so appealing: He's eternally the guy who doesn't give a damn, but who cares deeply. (See The Last Picture Show, Fat City, Winter Kills, Cutter's Way, Fearless, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Fisher King.) While his tarnished charisma often seems misused in more conventional movies such as King Kong and Jagged Edge, he did a hell of a job as the extraterrestrial posing as a human in Starman , as the cagy U.S. president in The Contender and the monstrously egomaniacal author in The Door in the Floor. Your thoughts? Favorite Bridges performances? Why?

Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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