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on August 15, 2010
Aaron Schneider's "Get Low" is a slight, unpretentious film that would blow away in the wind if it weren't anchored by some truly wonderful performances. Based on a true story, "Get Low" is set during the Great Depression, in the Appalachian hills of Georgia. Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) an old hermit feared and despised by his neighbors, hires the local funeral director (Bill Murray) to organize a "funeral party" so he can hear what the locals have to say about him before he's actually dead. That climactic event proves the occasion for Felix to make a full confession to his neighbors about the horrific event, forty years before, that cost him his reputation and has haunted him ever since.

Frankly, not much happens in "Get Low" before that climax, but it's mostly a pleasure to watch, thanks to Schneider's deft, low-key direction and the extremely fine acting, especially by Duvall and Murray. Duvall has made a career specialty of backwoods eccentrics, and his Felix Bush is one of the more memorable of them. The pain in Duvall's eyes blasts away any suggestion of mawkish sentimentality that might be inherent in the film. Murray is equally fine as a man who has more than a little con man in him, but who also has seen enough sorrow in life to spark his essential decency. The earnest Duvall and the roguish Murray play beautifully off each other, as fellow travelers on the Train of Sadness.

Sissy Spacek, as an old flame of Felix's, doesn't have much to do, but it's nice to see her anyway. Bill Cobbs is tartly amusing an a preacher who knows Felix's secret, and Lucas Black is extremely likable as Murray's assistant. "Get Low" is a gentle, poignant film, memorable for the acting.
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on September 4, 2010
Robert Duvall should have been in contention for an oscar with his complicated portrayal of Felix Bush, a 40-year hermit from the mountains of Tennessee. Bill Cobbs' performance was also remarkable as an Illinois preacher. In actuality, all the acting was stellar. Bill Murray was worth his weight in yen as the more-than-happy-to-oblige funeral director. This innovative storyline of Felix's wish for his own funeral service during his lifetime was perfectly-paced to let each character unfurl. And it was just the right length. Both the photography and costuming were stunning and gave the impression that this really was bound by that period in time. Even the currency had a look of authenticity from back in the days of the Great Depression. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the soundtrack, especially Alison Krauss' splendidly apropos "Lay My Burden Down".
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VINE VOICEon September 4, 2010
"Get Low" takes place in the thirties and is about Felix who lives in the Tennessee woods for forty years as a foul-tempered recluse having little to do with the local townspeople. The old bearded coot is played by Robert Duvall who does a great but effortless-seeming acting job. He has a guilty secret which has driven him into seclusion. When an old acquaintance dies, he decides to have a funeral, but he decides he wants it to be a party, and he wants people to tell stories about him, and he wants to be there while he's still alive. Felix infrequently comes into town with his old mule. It's fun looking at the old thirties cars and the period hearse.
It's only later as the movie moves along that you realize this is really a mystery movie. One of the first clues comes when an old flame Sissy Spacek runs out on Felix after seeing a photograph on his wall. As a viewer you wonder what gets her so agitated. What Felix wants is one particular friend, an Afro-American minister (played by Billy Cobbs) to tell what he knows about him. Not that Felix built a beautiful church for the minister but what he confessed to him.
As the funeral director, Bill Murray is very winning playing the part of a man who is funny, sly, maybe a bit of a crook. He is only too happy to get paid for the strange funeral party because his business is tanking, not like his former home in Chicago where people were regularly getting bumped off.
It's actually a tour de force role for Duvall, but movie acting has gotten so deeply ingrained in him that he can make it seem organic. The movie is about peeling away layers of humanity in each character, and we slowly see them evolve into better people that we can admire.
It's a piece of magic storytelling which moves at a stately pace, a measured pace, but you don't get bored and you don't want it rushed because it is inevitably going to be revelatory, and Felix's secret is going to be eased out.
Basically it's a very simple story concerning a man who does not want to go to his grave with a guilty conscience.
Murray's young assistant, the deus ex machina, the catalyst, for a lot that happens in the story, is well-played by good-looking young Lucas Black. It's a movie of subtlety, humor, and deep human emotion, but I do have a lot of trouble remembering what I think is a lousy title.
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As the eccentric Felix Bush in Aaron Schneider's 2010 film "Get Low," Robert Duvall effortlessly and adroitly infuses the screen with the sweet nuance of the human spirit. In his quiet, camera close-ups the audience marvels at this actor's great gift to enrich a small film with something remarkably indefinable yet magically akin to that illusive music of the spheres that supposedly sings with celestial harmony between the atoms that fuse together to create the ultimate human instrument. As the tortured, yet shrewd and wily Bush, Duvall vibrates with a resonance beyond the machinations and the need for redemption that reverberate through an entire money-starved Depression-Era town. At seventy-nine years young, he reigns as a master of technique, his ability to depict an entire emotional bank account spiked with the deposits of utter inexplicable happiness and the withdrawals of the most unforgivable sorrow shows the audience that he knows the secret to getting older gracefully while still maintaining full control.

The other players in "Get Low" compliment and showcase Duvall to perfection. Sissy Spacek as Felix's one-time girlfriend, Mattie, dually depicts the light and the shadow: a widow caught in the soft nostalgia of younger days where the flirtatiousness of dating and the ceremony of courtship still brings a youthful dimple to her cheeks and then a woman aghast at long ago goings-on behind her back of which her propriety and sense of righteousness could never allow her to comprehend let alone believe possible. Like Duvall, Spacek demonstrates the richness of her acting tally--she flips from refined matriarch to outraged rival with the ease of expertise and confidence in one's craft. As always, Bill Murray smartly hones the archetype of the Magician of the Tarot--part con man/dreambuilder/architect and part reluctant crusader/defender/good guy. The "aw-shucks" quality that Murphy possesses as the "swindler who could have had it all but just can't bring himself to be that bad" works well in the character of Frank Quinn who aware of the great human drama revolving around Felix Bush and his desire to throw a funeral for himself, nevertheless finds a way to doggedly make the best of that which he has to work without the obvious compromise. Lucas Black's (American Gothic - Complete Series,Legion and Sling Blade [Blu-ray]) Buddy rounds out the quartet with infectious hopefulness--as a new father with a pretty wife he embodies what could have been--his liquid brown eyes trust in the goodness of which he absolutely believes and the audiences knows he will deliver as the representative of a newer generation. A portion of me--the melodrama lover--wondered if Buddy would be, at the end, revealed in some way as Felix's offspring--bringing the sense of waste that Duvall's character exemplifies to some symbolic state of balance where the future lies ahead and not romanticized by a faded portrait on a cabin wall.

The screenplay written by Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell moves at the right pace until the rather abrupt ending that works, but could have worked better with perhaps a little more tug on the heartstrings or a glimpse at the bitter resolution and despair of the Duvall character balanced by the youthful promise epitomized by Buddy and his family. Not that the idea of acceptance is not adequately depicted, it is, but the sentiment as shown comes off a bit murky. Perhaps at the climactic moment where the music and dancing at the funeral party seems muted and offset by Felix's need to come clean in a public announcement, a look into the inner workings of his mind and some disclosure may have worked better and moved the audience towards the acceptance acquired as depicted by the heart-wrenching gesture of Duvall proudly doing up his tie as he prepares to finally reencounter his lost love.

The lush cinematography shifting between the tranquility of the woodland paradise Bush created for himself and his resignation of having only a mule in which to enjoy the ride admirably creates a rather idyllic dreamscape of what could have been. The contrast of the town with its preconceived and sometimes dead-on perceptions of Bush, his rifle and his killer mule reminds us that as with all things of the heart, there is indeed more than what meets the eye.

Bottom line? In Aaron Schneider's "Get Low," the audience is treated to a wonderfully strong performance by Robert Duvall who as a self-imposed hermit living in the woods for forty years decides that in the act and ceremony of dying he will find the redemption and salvation that will bring him back to life. A beautiful exploration that allows the audience to navigate the side alleys of the human heart. Look for Oscar nominations for Duvall and Spacek. Highly recommended.
Diana Faillace Von Behren
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on May 18, 2011
"Get Low" is a winning, well-acted shaggy-dog story that showcases a polished, considered performance by Robert Duvall. The man has aged into one of our finest hams (that's not an insult) and his every gesture and facial expression is calibrated and controlled for maximum impact. Bill Murray wisely accepts the role of second banana and underplays his character, selling his lines with a dry, behind-the-beat inflection. Lucas Black does some excellent non-verbal acting, providing the glue between Duvall and Murray. There really isn't much for Sissy Spacek to do, but it's wonderful to see her and she fleshes out a rather flat character. I'm not sure how this movie was passed over by all the awards panels, but if you like polished, low-key, high-quality entertainment, you should see "Get Low."
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GET LOW (2009), to begin with, is an old Southern saying that means "get down to business" or "do business". This delightful film, a little bit a la MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER, is a magical mountain tale set in 1930 Tennessee. Old hermit mountain man Felix Bush (a brilliant Robert Duvall) comes down into town seeking a funeral - for himself. This may not sound odd to the modern audience, we who are encouraged to do all this stuff while we're alive and well. But this is 1930 - only the very reluctant had funerals arranged for them and they really couldn't argue about it at that point.

Ole Man Bush is known to the town: horrible man, with horrible stories about how horrible he is. When a loudmouth whippersnapper tries to lecture Ole Bush, the tough mountain man gives him a hell of a beating. But the reason Bush has sought out Rev. Gus Horton (an impressive Gerald McRaney) to arrange a "live" funeral is because he knows Rev. Gus.

Old Bush ends up soliciting the services of down-on-his-luck funeral director Frank Quinn (an unusually sedate Bill Murray), and Frank is ready to bust a gut to get Bush what Bush wants. After all, the old man has been flashing a hefty wad of cash at everybody. 40 years alone, well, as Frank says to his very important assistant Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black): "Hermit money! That's GOOD!"

Appearances by Sissy Spacek as Mattie, the great Bill Cobbs as Bush's old pal Rev. Charlie Jackson, and Scott Copper round out this excellent cast. Filmed in Georgia as a stand-in for Caleb County, Tennessee and southern Illinois, this nicely paced and rather mysterious film is like a modern fairy tale and I just loved it. A great family film, and I have heard that it is partly based on a true story.

While I felt exasperated at a few too modern lines (Rev. Charlie gets huffy and says, "I am outta here") it is nearly pitch-perfect. Duvall is not straining at a Southern accent here; his appearance, demeanor and accent are exactly as they ought to be. He looks like a cross between a rabbi and Walt Whitman. He brandishes his old double-barrel shotgun everywhere. The locations and sets fairly breathe life into this.

And the rest of the story is a slowly unfolding mystery, a hidden, aching tragedy that has to be seen to be understood. While Duvall's talent dominates as always, the acting and story arc are all strong. The final scenes will keep you riveted and are worth the wait. Great film for any occasion. There is even a little mystery-within-a-mystery that has kept people nattering about it ever since. You'll know it when you have seen this. (CLUE: it may be classified as a "whodunit".)

Don't let anyone tell you this movie was lame, unworthy or anything like that. It is one of the classics of our time in my estimation; and I often remark that Duvall is the equal or even the superior of Spencer Tracy. Just get this and don't miss having this classic in your collection.
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on September 7, 2014
The story, acting and cinematography in this movie are so first rate, it amazes me that we didn't have multiple oscar nominations. A very tightly written and directed story line. Terrific performances from Duvall, Murray, Spacek and all the others. The photography is so beautiful that it will bring you into the moment of the 30's. Oddly marketed movie that quickly disappeared from the marketplace. Go see this fine film.
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on June 8, 2013
If you came here looking for a funny movie; for light entertainment, for noise to have on in the background: This is not that movie.
If you have ever been moved by beauty; if a poem or a painting has touched you;
If you think of old fashioned story telling as an art...
If you can connect with this one quote:
"She turned around and looked at me... I did not even know I had a heart until that moment." Please get comfortable and give yourself to Aaron Schneider's Get Low

The story is set in a mythic bygone Hill Country America of long ago. An old hermit, Felix Bush (Robert Duval) has kept to himself since a fire some 40 years before. He is a vaguely threatening mysterious figure, feared in four counties. But it is now time for him to "Get Low" that is, come clean. He must do this if he is to accept his coming death. Fist he will turn to the town minister (Gerald McRaney) who will tell him he must confess if he is to get low. Confession is the one thing Felix cannot do

He then turns to town undertaker Frank Quinn (Bill Murry) a man with his own secrets and perhaps his own wish to get low, but a man who must have a sale. Between them and funeral home assistant Buddy (Lucas Black) they agree to put on a Funeral Party. Felix invites anyone with a story to tell about Felix and for $5 more they can get a chance to own his 300 acres.

Having exposed himself to the local townspeople he runs into old flame Mattee Darrow (Sissy Spacek) who is clearly ready to rekindle their shared past.

There is a story that Felix has to tell and cannot bring himself to tell. Most of what is known about Felix is gossip and half true and unrelated to the secret of his forty years. The one other person who knows, The Rev Charles Jackson (Bill Cobbs), and has the closest relationship with Felix cannot tell Felix's story. Felix cannot be a free man or be ready for ever closer death, until he tells his secret.

This is the kind of story telling that justifies movie making. The acting is honest, simple and true. Because of authentic accents, costumes and settings, one is fully enveloped in this story.

From here I can only make simpering sounds of admiration, or tell more spoilers. If you can be moved by a movie, this is it. This is not a movie you buy, this is a favor you give to yourself and share with friends who matter.
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on April 18, 2011
No special effects or much action in this movie, but still it is a good movie to watch.

It is about a hermit (wonderfully played by Robert Duvall) who live in the woods isolated from the towns people. As the story develops, we understand more and more why he decided to live like a hermit: to punish himself for the mistake that he made 40 years or so earlier. In fact, he publicly discloses his mistake in the climax of the movie towards the end.

Bill Murray is very funny, in a serious manner that he plays his role as funeral director. Good cast, good acting, and good plot.
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on September 28, 2014
I love this movie! For those who have the patience to watch it, this is a great example of how some people "imprison" themselves because of a self imposed moral value, not a judgement of value set by society, and basically, they live their life in isolation. They want to be left lone to ponder their "own" grief. Unlike many politicians, this type of person does not go over their issue in their mind until they justify whatever bothers them, and they can live with it, it remains a question of right verses wrong. However, the movie has it's moments of chuckles, of good humor too...
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