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Friday, February 9, 2007

The Better to See You With, My Dear 2/9

Crossroads (1986)

A Juilliard student (Ralph Macchio) travels cross country with a blues legend (Joe Seneca) hoping to learn a "lost song" of Robert Johnson.

This movie starts out reasonably well. Eugene (Macchio) is a classical guitarist at Juilliard whose true love is the blues, and he tracks down septuagenarian blues legend Blind Dog Fulton aka Willie Brown (Seneca) who was once a playing partner of the late, great Robert Johnson, played in flashback by actor/guitarist, Tim Russ (Tuvok, to trekkies.) He is convinced that there is a lost blues song by Johnson, and that Blind Dog can teach it to him. Blind Dog only agrees to teach the song if Eugene breaks him out of a detention center and they set off across country to Fulton's home in Mississippi. On the way, they encounter Frances, played by Jami Gertz, who was apparently hired for two two purposes: to over-act and to look good. Both of which she does, particularly the latter. (Nothin' but the dog in me.)
Macchio is less annoying than usual, and mimics guitar-playing very well, though his "blues face" is a bit laughable at times.
The movie de-rails because of a sub-plot that can't decide if it wants to stay a subplot:
Blind Dog sold his soul to the devil, and he aims to get it back before he dies.
This seems to come out of nowhere, but at least culminates in a spectacular guitar showdown between Eugene (actual guitar-playing by Ry Cooder) and the devil's man, Jack Butler (rocker Steve Vai.)
If you like blues guitar or are a Ry Cooder or Steve Vai fan, this movie is worth checking out. Otherwise, just skip it.

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