Sunday, 22 May 2011


“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” - Jane Austen

This is going to be another non-movie Monday as we spent the day travelling from Perth back home to Melbourne. If you read this blog, you may remember I dislike watching movies on planes and this time was no exception. Usually, until the plane takes off and the seat belt sign goes off, I do the cryptic crossword from the day’s paper. This is a good way to start off the flight and gets my mind working. Although I am a good flier, I do like staying awake and alert during flights, especially the sort to medium length ones. The flight from Perth to Melbourne is about three-and-a-half hours long so it is not too long at all.

Once the use of electronic devices is allowed, I take out my computer and work on that for the majority of the flight. There is always something to do on the laptop, both work and leisure, so that keeps me occupied. Afterwards, when we approach our destination and I turn the computer off, I finish the crossword or do few more word puzzles in the paper while the plane lands.

On today’s flight, I was distracted by a movie that a passenger sitting in the seat ahead of me had chosen to see and I was able to look at, through the gap in between the seats. The movie (as it turned out from the end credits, since I had not seen the starting sequence) was “Country Strong”, directed and written by Shana Feste and starring Gwynneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester. I investigated it on IMDB once back home to see whether in fact I would search the movie out to watch.

During the flight, I looked up several times (“eavesrising”? Is that we call eavesdropping for the eyes? ;-) and it seemed whenever I looked up someone was singing on the screen. The film was clearly a musical. As a genre, musicals don’t really attract me, especially the biographical type, which this movie seemed to be as well. Further along the film it was also obvious that the music in question was country – not my favourite genre, either. It is amazing what one can tell about a movie by simply looking at the pictures and not listening to the soundtrack at all – even if the movie in question is a musical.

Just by looking, it appeared that the story was about an ageing country singer with an alcohol problem and a young singer who admires her and want to become like her. Superficially it reminded me of (now, in retrospect, after reading the IMDB plot summary) the classic Bette Davis 1950 film, “All About Eve”. Gwynneth Paltrow is the Bette Davis equivalent and Leighton Meester is the Anne Baxter equivalent. There appeared to be several relationships all going on at the same time and overall “Country Strong” seemed to be just an excuse for stringing together a clutch of country songs for the fans.

The IMDB discussion about the film seems to be polarised. Half the reviews are positive and they are generally by self-disclosed country music fans, while the negative reviews are written by the critics and the non-fans of country music. The plot line according to IMDB is:

A drama centered on a rising country-music songwriter (Hedlund) who sparks with a fallen star (Paltrow). Together, they mount his ascent and her comeback, which leads to romantic complications involving her husband/manager (McGraw) and a beauty queen-turned-singer (Meester).

Now the verdict. Would I seek out and watch this movie on DVD? No. If caught it on TV or the DVD fell into my lap, I would probably watch it while doing something else. If anybody has seen it, enjoyed it and would like to convince me otherwise, please leave a comment.


  1. Hello Nicholas V;
    Today's post combines two of our pet hates: flying and musicals.

    The first we do of necessity, as in the flight between London and Budapest, the second never. It always seems to us that most musicals are little more than an excuse to string together a number of often disparate songs, the majority of which have little in the way of real merit. This we find particularly so in the case of those written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.Those of 'Country Strong' may, of course, be entirely different.

  2. Oh Nic!!!! I really think you should see this film with sound properly.....
    It was a wonderful film full of courage and warmth!!!! The music was great too....

  3. I have not seen this movie, but I know it was trashed by the critics. For me, that is probably enough to make me go and see it. Critics so often get it wrong.
    I like some country music, but I am pretty eclectic. In answer to your question, see it and hear it for yourself before you make up your mind about it, Nicholas!
    By the way, "All About Eve" was a great movie!
    (For a non-movie Monday, you done well...)

  4. It doesn't sound like something I would want to watch.