Tracker Pixel for Entry

​The Hero

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | March 15th, 2017

Filmmaker Brett Haley carves out a juicy and glorious victory lap for golden-voiced treasure Sam Elliott in “The Hero,” a thematic companion piece to the warm “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” which gave Blythe Danner a similar showcase. Elliott is Lee Hayden, an imagined version of the actor himself. In his early seventies and paying the bills with commercial voiceover work for Lone Star BBQ sauce (“The perfect partner for your chicken”), Lee spends his considerable downtime getting high with former co-star turned dealer Jeremy (Nick Offerman). An unexpected pancreatic cancer diagnosis pushes Lee to consider his mortality and his legacy, but he cannot bring himself to share his dire news with anyone.

Lee is particularly trepidatious about reaching out to his daughter Lucy (Krysten Ritter), who has kept her father at arm’s length following years of distance and absenteeism. Haley and co-scripter Marc Basch imply that, at least in part, Lee’s choice of career took its toll on his closest relationships. In a nice casting touch, Elliott’s spouse of more than three decades, the great Katharine Ross, plays Lucy’s mother/Lee’s ex. “I’ll See You in My Dreams” was fully female-centric, and Haley continues to rely on vivid women in “The Hero.” Lee begins a tentative romance with flinty stand-up comic Charlotte (Laura Prepon), and the movie deals directly with the significant age gap between the two.

Concerns over the familiarity of that particular device have been voiced. Jon Frosch cited “The Verdict,” “Tender Mercies,” “The Wrestler,” and “Crazy Heart” in his review, and you could add “Lost in Translation” and many more to the list. But Haley and Basch avoid most of the cliches by shifting smoothly between the likely and the unlikely adventures of the pair -- “The Hero” is, on one level, a fantasy of Hollywood, after all. Both a drug-fueled date that leads to an offbeat acceptance speech during a ceremony honoring Lee with a lifetime achievement and the fallout from some of the more pointed jokes performed by Charlotte at Lee’s expense are made fresh by the skillful and genuine verisimilitude of Elliott and Prepon.

Haley’s measured pace contradicts the more commonly utilized haste of dramatic comedies, but “The Hero” unfolds with total confidence in its star. Eric Kohn pointed out that “the [lead] character’s name... is an amalgam of Lee Marvin and Sterling Hayden -- both of whom epitomize the male swagger of a different era and the dwindling opportunities for such faces as years go by.” Lee’s signature role, which gives the film its title, was performed some four decades past, and the actor suggests it is the only work he is genuinely proud to claim. Lee is also haunted in a series of dream sequences that evoke some old-fashioned cowboy movies, with a dash of Leone mixed in for good measure.

Elliott appears in practically every frame of “The Hero,” and he is so good, you’ll make plans to revisit some of his signature turns (not that you need an excuse to dial up “The Big Lebowski” for the umpteenth time). Elliott’s comfort and ease with his own image allows Haley to mine more humor than anticipated in a movie built on the worst possible health news one could receive, but “The Hero” is capable of having it both ways. Elliott is magnificent in a pair of mirrored audition scenes that alternately command laughter and tears. Here’s hoping the man, the myth and the mustache will be making movies for years to come.

The Fargo Film Festival will present a special screening of “The Hero” on Friday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the Fargo Theatre. Producers Erik Rommesmo and Jeff Schlossman will participate in a Q & A following the movie.

IF YOU GO:

FFF screening of The Hero, with a Q&A with producers Erik Rommesmo and Jeff Schlossman

Friday, March 24, 7pm

Fargo Theatre, 314 N Broadway

Recently in:

Alt White: The Siege of North Dakota. Part five in the series on racism in North Dakota. The state is no stranger to hate groups seeking attention, and while Pioneer Little Europe and the Creativity Movement form hit lists of North…

I have purchased many computer printers in my time, some good, some bad, some terrible! It has always been a necessary evil to have a printer on your desk. Early dot matrix printers were a nightmare to keep running, keep the paper…

Friday, April 28, Various timesMarcus West Acres Cinema, 4101 17th Ave, FargoThis movie, based on the award-winning novel by Kent Nerburn, is a story about a road trip through Minnesota and the Dakotas showing the beauty, tragedy,…

We’re living through hard times, but they are hard times with an important basic amenity: strong, tasty beer and ale, brewed by independent craft brewers. When did it all start? Historians are in disagreement. In 1976, the low…

Are we nearing the end of the human race?Moore’s Law is a rather simple observation made by Gordon Moore back in 1965 when he founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, two very important computer chip makers. He remarked that he…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

All About Food

​Twist

by Logan Macrae

On Saturday at 4:40pm I headed into Twist to grab a quick bite to eat before work. I was promptly greeted by one of their friendly serving staff. I was in a bit of a hurry as I worked at 5:30pm and I needed to get in and out, and…

By Sabrina Hornung and Tom Bixby sabrina@hpr1.comGoing back in time for one night only, the Sidestreet Grille presents a powerfully nostalgic show. You’ll remember where you were and what you shouldn’t have done!And how to…

Now on Netflix instant watch and not to be missed is director Keith Maitland’s “Tower,” one of the most memorable and gripping films of 2016. Carefully, even meticulously, constructing a moment-by-moment chronological account…

Arts

Gardens Galore!

by Sabrina Hornung

After months of planning, a theme was chosen. This year the Plains Art Spring Gala totes a decadent Art Nouveau-inspired theme with Gardens Galore. Art Nouveau imagery is known for its flowing, organic, nature-inspired forms as it…

Ovid’s mythological tales undergo dramatic transformation by award-winning director/playwright Mary Zimmerman as Concordia, MSUM, and NDSU deliver theatrical productions of three of her modern takes on his work.Concordia’s…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

If you are at all like me, you have been itching to fire up the grill and get down to some outdoor cooking. If you and I are really alike, you probably almost always have a beer in one hand when there’s a grilling utensil in the…

What are essential oils anyway? Have you been hearing a lot about them, smelled them, and perhaps even purchased them but have no idea what they are or what they do?You are not alone. The essential oil industry is a booming one,…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

The North Dakota State Water Commission has violated state law more than 600 times in recent years by issuing permits for industrial use of water (read: fracking oil wells) from the Little Missouri State Scenic River. Employees…