29 January 2004 | tmellers
The warmth and humor of a family film in a story about an uncompromising man alone.
The music world, like every other social realm, has limits and therefore aspirants fogging up its windows from the outside. One such is James Lee Springer (David Carradine). Flinty and no longer young, Springer ekes out a spare, unsatisfying existence rather than bend to the callowness of a business he can not live without. To his rescue rides a frenetic, devoted, self-serving agent (Michael Maloney). Sometimes together and sometimes at odds, the unlikely duo assaults the windmills of popular song. Along the way Maloney hires a laconic lesbian with problems of her own (Mariel Hemingway) to try to keep his talent from galloping off a cliff.
Carradine and Hemingway lope caringly through this touching story of three people alone together, while Maloney, chattering like a Western sidekick, manifests enough energy and hope for the three of them. While the movie plots the aspirations of Carradine, Maloney, without ever diminishing his costars, provides the spark.
Tom Bishop's music has a soft penetration. Mark Archer's direction is as measured as a metronome. Scott Fivelson's and Junior Burke's screenplay is clever and true.
You may never laugh out loud while watching AMERICAN REEL, but you will smile from start to finish.