GET LOW:

A funeral is a ceremony when people get together to say nice things about a person on the one day they know he won’t be able to come. Such is the sentiment of the reclusive, backwoods old “coot” (Robert Duvall) who aims to be present at his “going away party” in this highly watchable independent film. But since none of the Depression era townsfolk have anything good to say about their local hermit, he takes it upon himself to use the event to try and explain his self-imposed, 40-year isolation. How he gets to that point of redemptive revelation is at the heart of C. Gaby Mitchell and Chris Provenzano’s screenplay. Duvall (TENDER MERCIES) is one of the few actors around who can pull it off. However, as good as the veteran actor is, it’s Bill Murray’s (See sidebar below.) enterprising funeral director that is the standout performance. Like Jack Benny, the former SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE alum is one of those guys who can make you laugh by just standing around as he conveys his feelings with an economy of expression. This is definitely an actor’s movie, but David Boyd’s cinematography has an authentic feel to its setting and time that enhances its credibility. Even though the narrative occasionally meanders and leads to a concluding confession that’s somewhat anti-climactic, GET LOW has a certain charm that I found hard to resist. It’s not a great movie but it’s a good one in which the pleasure lies in watching a couple of A-list character actors draw us in with their craft. CRITIC’S GRADE: B

EXCELLENT MOVIES STARRING BILL MURRAY: CADDYSHACK (1980), STRIPES (1981), TOOTSIE (1982), GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), QUICK CHANGE (1990), WHAT ABOUT BOB? (1991), MAD DOG AND GLORY (1993), GROUNDHOG DAY (1993), ED WOOD (1994), KINGPIN (1996), RUSHMORE (1998), THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001), LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003)*, ZOMBIELAND (2009), FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)

*Academy Award nomination for Best Actor