Mickey Reece makes a movie a year and every time, it’s something different. Like the exorcism movie Agnes or Climate of the Hunter, a movie that plays with horror and age. This time, he’s made a comedy — kind of, as always the genre isn’t always absolute — about Troyal Brux (Reece), a country singer on the rise who pretty much seems like Garth Brooks, seeing as how this was made in 1994. In fact, it was Garth until the Oklahoma film commission took away the tax rebates they promised; when the name was changed, those rebates came back. Brooks is from Tulsa and his real first name is Troyal, so you understand.
In the middle of his rise to fame, Troyal gets a written invite from George Jones (Ben Hall). Jones is on the opposite side of life as Troyal and he wants to spend one night out in the world before he gets frozen the very next day.
This is the night they spent together.
Reece has already made Alien, a film about Elvis, but this one is about the gulf between country of old and modern country. The outlaw world of Jones and the commercial world of Troyal. Is Jones trying to make fun of the new family man who is trying to be a star? Or does he see something of himself at the start of his career, when he could see into people and write songs that connected to people?
I grew up in a town with one radio station, all country, so Jones’ songs — “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “You and Me and Time,” “She Thinks I Still Care” — mean so much more to me than anything country has had to say for itself in decades (and don’t tell me that Sturgill Simpson and today’s presented alternatives are any more authentic country than Garth was). The songs that played on WFEM — well, with the exception of “The Bird” — were raw expressions of life gone off the rails. The life of Jones parallels Brooks in that they both had marriages to fellow performers — Jones famously with Tammy Wynette, who sang “Stand By Your Man,” and Brooks to Trisha Yearwood — but while it took Jones until 1999 to get sober and stop blowing off concerts — “No Show Jones” — Brooks has been a steady superstar. Well, except for that whole Chris Gaines thing, which this movie hints at.
I loved that this movie has asides about Tasha Yar and Denise Crosby coming back to be on later seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as fantasies — or maybe not? — of Jones killing people for organized crime figures or destabilizing anti-government officials. I’m of the feeling that the best stories don’t have to be true if they’re entertaining.
Sure, this is a movie of basically two men in a room talking. Yet it’s that conversation and where it goes that make for an incredible tale, ending with perhaps the strangest baby reveal and musical number I’ve seen in a movie. That pushed this way over the victory line for me.
I watched Country Gold at Fantastic Fest.
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