• Lucky (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review

    Released By: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released On: July 3, 2018.
    Director: John Carroll Lynch
    Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt,
    Year: 2017

    Lucky - Movie Review:

    Being Canadian and all, I likely don't have the privilege to comment on, "The Last of the Great Americans" or some similar nonsense that ties in with manly men and Americana and all of that, but if I were going to put an actor's face to any such statement, it would be the still-defiant mug of the late Harry Dean Stanton, who conveys a collective emotional sigh of wistfulness and maybe a tear of long-gone eras. No matter what your thoughts on the man, there's no denying that the prolific actor had a long and storied career playing characters that struck a chord with movie-goers, with those roles seeming to be extensions of his own personality.

    And so, as a fan of the man who should have at least been taken out much earlier by those trademark cigarettes, it was a great privilege to sit down for John Carroll Lynch's 2017 film, Lucky, a touching experience that would have been perfectly at home as an autobiographical look at Stanton's final years. Lucky (Stanton) first graces the screen in the daily routine of a very old man; executing simple calisthenics in his underwear, waging war on technology in the form of a coffeemaker's flashing digital clock, and deeply dragging off of his wake-up cigarette. His fridge contains a carton of milk, which he uses to pre-pour a full glass (stored for later), but he still makes his way to sustenance at a local coffee shop, where his wizened but impatient temperament amuses and annoys the locals. "Those cigarettes are gonna kill you.", says the owner of the coffee shop, and Lucky responds with, "If they coulda, they woulda."

    The last of the cowboys then makes his way to the convenience store to purchase more nicotine before heading home to watch his daytime stories, resting up for an evening out on the town; and it's got to be Elaine's, the only bar in town that hasn't thrown Lucky out on his ear for being a cantankerous old coot, who may also have a problem with lighting up right under the no-smoking signs. Lucky is largely among friends at Elaine's, and would likely be content to finish out his days following his old patterns, but the plight of his younger friend, Howard (David Lynch), who is in the process of deeding his possessions out to an absent pet turtle, an unpleasant reminder of his own mortality. Lucky responds to this sentiment with more alcohol and profanity, mostly directed at Howard's lawyer (Ron Livingstone), the reaction of a man who realizes that he has outlived his contemporaries and feels out of step with the world.

    Lucky continues to search around the town in his own way for some kind of meaning, and finds nothing; his doctor has no explanation for why Lucky's smoking habit hasn't killed him off, and attributes his latest health concerns as the result of his body getting old and failing. He grudgingly allows Howard's lawyer to explain the art of getting ready to say goodbye to your loved ones, but has to admit that he has no family to mourn his passing. A comedic opportunity to bond with one of the younger coffee shop staff involves Liberace and some cannabis, but Lucky's inability to relate sadly places the entire situation in the land of the awkward. A chance invite to a birthday party, however, gives Lucky a moment to shine in the presence of strangers, and it's there that he realizes that life is for living in the moment, and that his old soul still has some beauty to share with the world.

    I don't find myself crying often at movies these days, but Lucky is one film I was happy to be watching with nobody but dogs around. Perhaps it's my love for the characters Harry Dean Stanton has brought to film and television over the past many, many years, and knowing that Lucky, although the perfect vehicle for the man, was not only the last film I would likely see him in, but also a hugely emotional representation of what was very likely his last few days. Perhaps it simply comes down to Lucky reminding me of elder family members who became frail with age before they passed, or maybe it just reminded me of my own mortality and attempt to get past the apparent meaningless of existing.

    In any event, John Carroll Lynch, who I had just assumed was a character actor who played some funny roles, hit a hell of a home run with Lucky. Keeping things incredibly simple, Lynch utilizes the sparse setting of the town and the local establishments in tandem with a minimalist soundtrack (much of it featuring Harry Dean Stanton) to keep the focus on the actions of the actors, allowing them to chew the scenery while the camera lingers. Obviously, Stanton is the star here, and his abilities steal every frame he's in. David Lynch is also terrific as Howard, and his explanation of the disappearance of his beloved pet turtle is heartbreaking, as is a surprisingly powerful performance from Tom Skerritt. There really isn't a bad actor in the bunch, and it's the elder statesmen of cinema who hammer this one home; Ed Begley Jr. also shows up briefly, as does Barry Shabaka Henley and James Darren (that's Moondoggie from GIDGET, in case you couldn't place the face), a talented roster with over a century of acting experience between them. Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja have written a wonderful screenplay, and an extremely talented cast and crew help make Lucky a fine send-off for one of the last great American actors.

    Lucky - DVD Review:

    Umbrella brings Lucky to Region 4 NTSC DVD with an AVC-encoded 2.40:1 transfer that looks just fine, given the lower resolution. Watching Lucky on a 65" Sony TV was a pleasant viewing experience, with no noticeable compression issues or other artifacts. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track (English) was also perfectly suitable, with the focus here being dialogue for the most part, though it did open up a fair bit for the excellent soundtrack. The spoken word was perfectly audible and unflawed, a good pairing with the video presentation.

    There are no extras or subtitles to be found here, not even a menu. That's a little disappointing given how much I would have liked to learn more about this film, but what are you gonna do.

    Lucky - The Final Word:

    A beautiful, emotional film, highly recommended.

    See Below For Lucky screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      I liked it. It wasn't overly sentimental nor was it too cynical. It needed more Lynch, though.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I agree that it needed more Lynch!

      I think that I found it more sentimental because of certain things that are going on personally, right now, but overall, enjoyed it.
    1. unclefred's Avatar
      unclefred -
      I watched it last year. Enjoyed it as well, partly because I knew he had died shortly after filming. It was cool seeing Moondoggie.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Moondoggie was great!