Commentary - Country Strong

Thursday, January 6, 2011

So after the PFS preview of Country Strong on Wednesday night, I was discussing the film with a staff member who felt the movie was too song oriented. I could tell he was not a Country Music fan, so I agreed with him and said I feel the producers of the film were more interested in selling a soundtrack than making a good movie, which I truly feel. What I didn't say, was that I would be one of the people looking to buy said soundtrack. I was already on YouTube yesterday watching the music video of Gwyneth marching around in her red cowboy boots to the title track. And looking for the "Give In To Me" duet sung by Leighton Meester & Garrett Hedlund. I was disappointed to discover their version is not on the soundtrack, Faith Hill sings it instead; nor did their duet of "Friends in Low Places" make it onto the album.
In terms of the singing, I thought all 3 did a very credible job. It seems that Leighton did have some previous singing experience. Her character, Chiles Stanton is a beauty queen turned honky tonk bar singer with a case of stage fright that gets to her every now and then. I've only seen one whole episode of Gossip Girl, I don't remember taking note of Meester one way or another, but I wasn't feeling like her role in Country Strong would be too promising. I was wrong. She's the best character in the film. Meester plays the role with different levels of vulnerability and unsure vibrato and sexual prowess. She's got an unusual mouth, like she wore braces on her teeth too long. I like it though, it keeps her from being too ordinarily pretty.

Hedlund had no previous singing experience. He started training 4 months before shooting. I loved his voice best. Real deep and soulful, just a little scratchy, he was very confident on stage and he's got this 2 parts good guy/2 parts bad boy sex appeal going on! I hear he was wooden and stiff (not in a good way) in Tron Legacy, so he's lucky to be able to redeem himself so quickly with this performance in Country Strong.

We all learned of Paltrow's singing aspirations over a decade ago from her film Duets and more recently her guest appearance on Glee. In one of the interviews I watched, Paltrow admits to not having any real country music knowledge, that she did more preparation for this role than any of her previous movies; learning to play the guitar and listening to a heap lot o country music from George Strait to Brad Paisley and Loretta Lynn to Carrie Underwood. I think the research comes through, it's no Oscar winning performance, but she's pulling it off. Like most people, I see Gwyneth Paltrow as a well-educated, patrician, former debutante. I enjoy her in roles like A Perfect Murder or The Talented Mr. Ripley; for me, she has to work twice as hard to play against type.

Tim McGraw ironically doesn't sing in the film at all. I would have liked a scene where he as Kelly Canter's (Paltrow) husband/manager, sing a duet. Not on stage, just as a little moment between the two. The character of James Canter is somebody who is in control, ambitious and a bit arrogant. McGraw does a good job of showing the cracks, as if underneath his stomach is in constant knots.

I read that writer/director Shana Feste (The Greatest) got the idea for this movie from Brittany Spear's breakdown back when she shaved her head and all. I wish we got to live through this kind of drama with Kelly Canter, but the story opens with her in rehab. She's already had a major breakdown culminating in being drunk during a concert, falling off the stage, resulting in the loss of her unborn child. Beau (Hedlund) is singer by night and rehab orderly by day. He and Canter have started an affair during her recuperation. Kelly's husband/manager, James (McGraw) decides to put Kelly back to work before her rehab is over
, she tells him she wants Beau to open for her. James says he's got somebody else in mind, Chiles Stanton (Meester), but after seeing Beau rescue Stanton from stage fright during her "audition", he decides to book them both.
There's some interesting interplay between all four characters. There's two scenes where Kelly makes up lyrics for a song on the spot like a rapper spittin rhythms, there's a good moment where Kelly is drunk and laying on Chiles' lap in a cab and realizes this girl is "just somebody's daughter". And a few other well-written moments. But there's no build
, there's no pay off, and most importantly, there's not enough backstory to Kelly. Basically, It's no Walk The Line, but if you're a fan of country singing, go and enjoy the music.

Philly Events Calendar

ADD YOUR EVENT for FREE! - which includes SOCIAL MEDIA BLASTS!  Click AGENDA VIEW to see complete list of happenings.

Featured Post


Tinsel & Tine Winners for Preview Screening Contest Guest on The LAMB Podcast Lambcast #470: CAPTAIN MARVEL w/ Rich Kirkh...

Food n Film: BURNT

Food n Film: BURNT
Bradley Cooper has more than charisma, he has an over abundance of Chi, which radiates out from him; so for me, this role as temperamental and damaged chef Adam Jones, who also inspires great love and admiration from those around him, works on the level of characterization. In fact, I think he's among a very short list of actors who would be able to pull off being so self-involved and yet likable. Doesn't hurt that he really speaks French too! READ POST

Food n Film: CHEF

Food n Film: CHEF
Much of the movie centers around the father/son relationship, and how much they learn from each other. But the real star of the film is all the food preparation, every other scene made me groan with want of everything up on that screen! Particularly the perfectly roasted and rubbed brisket, the crispy fat of the pork belly, sizzling bacon and the much ballyhooed Chocolate Lava Cake. READ POST


The key to deciphering both the city it beautifully depicts and the man who eats it best - City of Gold

By Tinsel & Tine Contributor Denine Gorniak (The Bicycle-Chef)

What Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times food critic/writer, has done for food writing journalism and for the restaurants that he loves, the movie, City of Gold has done for Jonathan Gold and Los Angeles and its surrounding environs – it has planted taco covered kisses on them... READ POST

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT
If you’re a foodie movie lover who saw Lasse Hallström’s The Hundred Foot Journey (see T&T post), this summer you may be wondering what delicious visual journey might be awaiting you in the theater next. Well, how about a look back at his film Chocolat (2000), which stars French actress Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp. Hallström’s has a special talent for turning cooking into a dramatic movie journey...READ MORE


...young Hassan, a soulful-eyed boy with lush, thick eye lashes, places his face into the sea urchin basket, and breathes in the exotic briny scent. He sticks his fingers into the aquatic ooze, takes it to his mouth and is transfixed by the taste. The vendor, oblivious to the thrusting arms of frenzied women, notices the boy and realizes he is the only one worthy of this oceanic prize; he is the one who can “truly taste.” ... READ MORE

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA
Personally, I like the unevenness of it, because I fell in love with the post World War II, Parisian sights, sounds, food and romance between Julia and Paul. I always felt a bit jarred back into reality when the scenes returned to Julie's meltdowns and cramped kitchen.READ POST

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE
Six months into my 38th year of this life, I had my first panic attack. I didn't know that's what it was until months later. Symptom after symptom starting piling up on me until there were days I could no longer move my arms or neck. The doctors told me I was suffering from an auto-immune condition that they felt was most likely Lupus. And so began my much deeper journey and exploration into the world of spirit, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation and Eat, Pray, Love. READ POST


With a film like this, food plays a main character in the story and I was lucky enough to get an interview with the film's Food Stylist, Janine Kalesis.READ POST

Food n Film: WAITRESS

Food n Film: WAITRESS
In this 2007 film, Keri Russell stars as Jenna - a desolate diner waitress seeking solace in the art of pie-making. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she’s eager to escape her husband and her small-town hell and sets about to make a run for it by entering an out of town pie baking contest. READ POST


Those of us in attendance were not only given the opportunity to see Babette's Feast, the Oscar winning, Danish film, considered one of the all-time great "food films"; we also got to taste Babette's menu! READ POST


I participated in WalkMS Philly on 4/30/16
Thank you to the readers who donated to the cause - It's not too late to support! Click badge below

15 Top Food in Film Flicks

15 Top Food in Film Flicks
Cozy Quilt of Food Movies, we'll add more patches as T &T discovers more films where food plays the biggest "roll"

Tinsel & Tine on

Tinsel & Tine on
Really love this platform, you feature your stuff and other people's stuff you follow, and it all configures like the front page of a newspaper. Click to see what I mean

Visit Our YouTube Channel

Visit Our YouTube Channel
View Q & A's with visiting Filmmakers to Philly

Philly Food and Film

Videographer Oliver Gallini 5 min short featuring organic-chemist-turned-chef, Townsend Wentz, who got his start at The Four Seasons Philadelphia.


Cross Content Blogs


Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tinsel & Tine was nominated for a VBA



group of 10,000 women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments

Women Online

The Blogstress Network

The Blogstress Network
Female Bloggers Unite

Contributor from 2010 - 2012

About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

Camera Tips


  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP