Author: Walker, Leroy "Pappy"
Date published: August 12, 2010
Movie Review Revue
dir. Aaron Schneider
Gather round, chillun, and lemme tell y'all the tale of ornery ol' Felix Bush, an old Tennessee boy who lived out in the woods all by his lonesome back when cars was new and mules wasn't rare, in a cabin he built for hisself, with his picture of a pretty young dead girl and a few rifles to shoot in the air whenever any fool from town-mostly young boys come to see their local bogeyman-got it in his head to traipse 'cross his property lines.
Now they told all kinda stories about Bush back in town, from he was a coldblooded killer to he was a devil to he was some kinda hollowedout zombie left over from the War Between the States, like those Japanese fellas what hid in caves on South Pacific Islands for a dozen years after we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, thinking the war was still on. Anyway, they told stories on Bush. But nobody really knew what he was doing out there all by his lonesome. Then one day, he hauls hisself into town, looking to buy a "living funeral." Boy ain't got no friends ner family, but wants to have a funeral while he's still kickin' and invite everyone who has a tale to tell on him. And be it truth or perjury, everybody in town has a tale to tell on ol' Felix Bush.
The town funeral director, now, he's hard up for cash, so he'll do whatever. And then ol' Felix Bush says on the radio that he'll raffl e off his land and all its virgin timber, and then everybody gets all excited and it all builds up to the "living funeral" when you get to fi nd out what his inexplicable solitudinousness was all about. Thing is, it ain't all that exciting. Sorta a letdown, you might say. All these good ol' boys chewin' on their grassstraws and stogies, they tell better stories (or at least hint at better stories) 'n what the truth is. You kinda wish this Hollywood director-feller, Aaron Schneider, had let looser with the legends and done less with the truth, 'cause the truth ain't all that innerestin'. (Schneider, he likes the South, and won some award for a short movie based on a William Faulkner story, and worked on a few things you never heard of, 'cept he had some small somethin' to do with Titanic.)
And he got some big-shot actors to make the movie: Robert Duvall as ol' Felix Bush, Bill Murray as the funeral director, Sissy Spacek as a wronged woman. They're okay. Duvall mostly rumbles, Murray carries on all droll-like (y'all know he's fun to watch no matter what's happening around him), and Sissy cries sometimes. Folks up at the Toronto International Film Festival went crazy for it. Hell, these old nags might even win some awards. But if that comes to pass, it'll just be because they look more comf 'table on the screen than any young Hollywood dogs these days. LEROY "PAPPY" WALKER