Lucky (2017) Poster

(2017)

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10/10
Five bags of popcorn
Rosebud81517 October 2017
In terms of humanity, Lucky is the simplest story I've ever connected to. Seeing it in theaters was one of the most emotional experiences I've ever had watching a movie.

Lucky walks the thin line between being an exploration of death and a celebration of life, because it manages to be both. Lucky is a character that at first couldn't care less about his mortality. He didn't think about it because he didn't have to. But when the effects of old age start to set in, Lucky can't help but see his own death everywhere. With the onset of this fear, he learns to embrace death - "realism", as said in the movie. However, this process was not so easy, as he first had to let go of his anger to understand the beauty and sadness in the experience of his whole life up until his old age, and everything he has yet to be a part of.

Many try to claim that movies "used to be simpler" and "had better stories" due to less technology, but I'll be damned if they aren't easier to connect to now than ever. Lucky follows suit of movies, loosely like "Manchester by the Sea", and greatly like "Paterson" which both came out within the past year. These movies pay homage to real life by stripping the substance down to normal human experiences that most end up having to face, and everyone can at least recognize. In particular, Lucky is that of accepting how everything in life will go away in time, so all that can be done is to experience it. This ephemeral experience of life is both beautiful and sad, as this movie is both about life and death.

The reason that a movie like Lucky hit me so hard was because it threw nothing in my face. I was so immersed in what felt like real life to me that it was as sudden as extreme as life can be when all the sudden it got so emotional, like in the bar. Lucky's stance in the bar, letting go and explaining his stance as a human being was one of the most emotionally moved I've ever been by a single scene. Again, this is because everything develops so naturally, and because I personally connect with what Stanton's character has to find his way back to after 90 some years of age - being able to smile. While all aspects of the filmmaking delivered this effect, I especially recognize the script and Stanton's performance for their organic emotional accomplishment within the story.

To me, Lucky owns up to the internal and external unknown. It represents the ongoing process of learning how to smile in a life that will continue to break you down.
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9/10
Goodbye Harry.
js-6613015 October 2017
If ever there was a deserving send off for a grand actor, then this be it.

As "Lucky", the cantankerous but lovable old sole, shuffling his way out of this mortal coil, Harry Dean Stanton is, as always, remarkable.

Striding with purpose, very slowly, through a very regimented daily routine - diner coffee, crossword, game shows, cactus watering, smokes, drinks at the local watering hole - Lucky is revealed as a complex, always thinking, opinionated, ready to drop the gloves, 91 year old.

There are several great performances, highlighted by David Lynch bemoaning the escape of his pet tortoise, but the film really belongs to Harry. Swiping some great real life histories (Stanton's stint with the Navy) blurs the line between fact and fiction just enough to act both as a fitting tribute and engrossing movie on it's own merit. This is a talkie, where action moves at a tortoise pace, but it matters not, for Lucky has that rare power to draw the audience right on in.

Among the many low key but brilliant highlights, is a stirring scene to which Johnny Cash sings Bonnie Prince Billie's "I See a Darkness".

Harry Dean Stanton was indeed Lucky.
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8/10
A wonderful swan song to the amazing career of Harry Dean Stanton
ollie1939-97-95799413 October 2017
In terms of actors, there were very few like Harry Dean Stanton. He could bring emotion and eccentricity to a role like few others. Whether it being a "space trucker" in Alien, Molly Ringwald's father in Pretty in Pink or any one of his collaborations with David Lynch, Stanton was a icon of cinema. His presence though always felt like seeing an old friend, a sense of comfort seeing his withered, story driven face. Other than Paris Texas, Stanton was only litigated to supporting and minor roles in films. Appropriately, for one of his final performances, Stanton was given the chance in the spotlight again.

Lucky isn't a film about much. Directed by John Carroll Lynch (another great character actor) in his directorial debut, it simply follows the everyday routine of Lucky (played by Stanton) and the interactions he has with many of the local townsfolk. Lucky seemed like the role that Harry Dean was always born to play. It could almost be considered a companion piece to the 2013 documentary on Stanton, Partly Fiction. It incorporates much of Stanton's real-life philosophy, dry wit and even his musical ability into the final product as well. It feels like Lucky is just an extension of Stanton's personality which is absolutely wonderful. He was born to play this role and it would be a crime to see anyone else play Lucky. There's wonderful cameos from many different great actors including Ron Livingston, Tom Skerritt, Ed Begley Jr and of course his long-time collaborator David Lynch. All of them bring a wonderful warmth to their performance, despite their brief screen time (Lynch in particular, has a wonderful monologue about his lost tortoise 'President Roosevelt').

This is very much a character piece over a narrative piece which may put some viewers off. However, to anyone that enjoys these types of movies with philosophical contemplation with wonderful characters and dialogue, this is certainly a movie for you. It serves as a great ending to Hollywood's best character actor.
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10/10
Harry Dean Stanton's Masterpiece
JDumpster28 September 2017
Please disregard that review by an IMDb user who claims to "Crave intellectual depth" but is clearly unable to recognize it, and cannot see beyond the superficial.

It proves what Lucky says in the film: "I always thought that the one thing we could agree on is what we were looking at...but that's bullshit, because what I see isn't what you see."

Mr. Stanton's powerful, truth-telling performance is at turns heartbreaking, uplifting, hilarious, and inspiring.

Please do yourself a favor and see this very special film.
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10/10
The older you are, the more you will see in this movie.
tomindc-544529 January 2018
When born actors live long enough to perfect their talent, and they share the insight that their characters experience in life, you get a masterpiece. But, like the Mona Lisa, viewers perceive nuance as THEY age; even though the painting ITSELF remains unchanged.

What cannot be seen with young eyes waits for older eyes to catch up. The younger viewer perceives the ironic as insight. The emotion they experience evolves from the pathetique. In contrast the emotion I felt was that of fulfillment and apprehension regarding the next chapter of existence.

When it was first unveiled, I doubt that people came from the world over to stare at Mona Lisa as they do today. Harry could not have spun a better yarn, nor crafted a better legacy for future generations. How lucky some of us have been to see his career flower - what a thrill to watch its last petal set free.

Watch this movie every 10 years.
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7/10
A meditation on mortality
Bertaut25 September 2018
Lucky is the directorial debut of prolific actor John Carroll Lynch, who has worked with everyone from John Woo to David Fincher to Martin Scorsese, and appeared in recurring roles on TV shows such as The Drew Carey Show (1995), Carnivàle (2003), and American Horror Story (2011). However, more noteworthy than this is that Lucky features the last performance from the legendary Harry Dean Stanton, who was 90 at the time of shooting, and who died on September 15, 2017, two weeks prior to the film's North American release. Written specifically for Stanton by Logan Sparks (one of his closest friends) and Drago Sumonja, the film is a meditation on mortality, and is as much about Stanton himself as it is the eponymous character he's playing. Beginning like a quirky comedy full of strange characters with gentle eccentricities (imagine a David Lynch film softened by John Waters), the film later morphs into a more serious meditation on how a nonagenarian atheist with no family faces up to the fact that death is not that far away. Moving entirely at its own measured pace, the film manages to explore a plethora of themes along the way; mortality, routine, impermanence, friendship, love, loss, regret, hope. Laid back and tender, graceful and sedate, Lucky works primarily by way of presenting individual vignettes that very much add up to more than the sum of their parts.

The film tells the story of Lucky (Stanton), a 90-year-old living in an unnamed backwater town on the edge of an Arizonan desert. An atheist who doesn't believe in an afterlife or the soul, never married, and with no children, he is happy to explain to people that he's alone, but he is not lonely. Living his life by way of a rigid routine, Lucky's day begins with yoga exercises, followed by a walk to the local diner, where he chats with owner Joe (Barry Shabaka Henley) and waitress Loretta (Yvonne Huff), and completes the crossword in the paper. Visiting the local shop run by Bibi (Bertila Damas), he buys a pack of cigarettes, and then returns home to spend a few hours watching game shows. At night, he heads to a bar owned by Elaine (Beth Grant) and her husband Paulie (James Darren), where he trades stories with his best friend, Howard (David Lynch; yes, that David Lynch), and barman Vincent (Hugo Armstrong). However, when he falls for no apparent reason one morning, the local doctor, Kneedler (Ed Begley Jr.), tries to explain that at his age, the body simply starts to break down. On the other hand, Kneedler is unable to find anything seriously wrong with him, despite his nicotine addiction, pointing out that trying to get him off cigarettes would probably do him more harm than good. Meanwhile, he continues with his routine, albeit more aware that he doesn't have a huge amount of time left. Over the next few days, he attends Bibi's son's birthday party, encounters life-insurance man Bobby (Ron Livingston), who he feels is exploiting Howard, and trades stories from the Battle of Okinawa with former marine Fred (Tom Skerritt).

And that's about it. That's the plot (if you can even call it that), and it should be obvious that this is a character-driven film, where the vagaries of a well-laid plot simply don't factor into things. That this is the case is signalled in the slow and methodical opening sequence, which depicts Lucky ambling past boarded-up and dust covered shops, as the hot sun beats down. This is an especially well-handled example of form and content mirroring one another, as the lethargic pace playing out on screen (no one ever seems to be in a rush) correlates with the lethargic pace of the editing rhythm (Lynch allows the scenes and the characters plenty of room to breathe, unburdened with trying to race to the next pivotal plot-point).

This sequence also works to set up the style and tone which the film will adopt for the remainder of its runtime. Rather than a standard cause-and-effect narrative, Lucky is instead built upon a series of small, usually idiosyncratic, moments, often with only the barest amount of connective tissue between them. Neither does Lucky, nor any of the other characters, have what you would call a significant character arc. He doesn't encounter something which forces him to go on a metaphorical/spiritual journey, arriving at some kind of universal truth which softens his gruff exterior. Instead, he's essentially the same man when the film ends as he was when it began, which is, of course, the entire point.

Also in the opening sequence, prior to seeing Lucky wandering around town, the film features a series of shots of the barren desert, with a tortoise slowly ambling into view. The film then cuts to Lucky waking up. This could have been a trite metaphor, but in actual fact, this tortoise becomes a plot-point later on; his name is President Roosevelt, and he belongs to Howard. However, he recently escaped from Howard's yard, sending the man into an emotional meltdown, as Roosevelt is his oldest friend. The missing tortoise is one of the few strands which occurs over multiple scenes, and is central to the way the film defines Howard's character, whilst Lucky's incredulity that Howard could be so upset over a tortoise affords him the opportunity for some nihilistic philosophising.

Indeed, in relation to philosophy/theology, Lucky's atheism is an important component of his character; he doesn't believe in God, an afterlife, or the soul, arguing instead that we only get one life, the corporeal one, and when we die, that's it, we turn to dust, and we're gone forever. However, as Lucky starts to become more and more conscious of the imminence of death, his darkly existentialist outlook starts to look less like a grumpy old man's innocent ramblings, and more like something which could genuinely make his last few years miserable. In relation to this, when Lucky goes to see Kneedling, the doctor stresses the fact that he is both blessed and cursed to have gotten as old as he has - blessed in the sense that very few people make it this far, cursed because physically, Lucky's body is beginning to fail him.

One of the major themes in the film is routine; Lucky's day is rigidly mapped out, to the point that if someone is sitting in his favourite diner seat, it throws him off and puts him in a bad mood. In this sense, repetition is a major part of both Lucky's life, and the film's structure (for example, we see him walking his route around town on four different occasions). Another important theme is impermanence, the transitory nature of existence, which ties into Lucky's rejection of a never-ending life after death. For example, when he visits a pet shop, he doesn't know what a "forever home" is, and even when it's explained to him, he still seems to be somewhat confused. Tied to this, the issue of mortality is brought up time and again, seen most clearly in Howard's dealings with Bobby, preparing for his own inevitable death. Indeed, it's worth pointing out that the five yoga exercises Lucky performs each morning are the Five Rites of Rejuvenation, so although he knows this life won't last forever, so too is he doing what he can to prolong it as much as possible. With this in mind, after he falls, the film shifts gears, changing from a pseudo-comic examination of a curmudgeonly old man into a subtle analysis of the inescapability of death and the transient nature of mortality.

The film also deals with the importance of small anecdotes and seemingly minor personal connections - scenes which aren't especially dramatic, but which tell us a huge amount about the characters. Working together, the acting, the expressive faces, the seemingly insignificant dialogue, the importance of routine, the crumbling town, the desert, all serve to create the whole, which conveys far more than any one aspect of the film could. However, this is not to say that individual scenes don't work, or are disposable. For example, several scenes contain achingly beautiful anecdotes; Lucky's story of accidentally killing a mockingbird as a child; Howard's narration of what he imagines President Roosevelt's birth must have been like; and, in a scene obviously paying homage to a very similar scene in The Straight Story (1999), Lucky and Fred swap heart-breaking stories of their time in the war (just like Lucky, Stanton was a cook on board the USS LST-970, which participated in the Battle of Okinawa). The film also contains one of the best lines I've heard in a long time - as Paulie is talking about how he used to be a bum worth nothing, but everything changed after he met Beth, he explains, "I'm still nothing, but now I have everything. Isn't that something?"

If I was to find fault, there would be a couple of things worth criticising. Although the film avoids mawkish sentimentality for almost its entire runtime, it does become a little maudlin towards the end. Additionally, by its very nature, the narrative is very episodic, which creates a slight impression of disconnection. For the most part, the tone and design of the film also work to keep the audience at arm's length, preventing us from becoming too emotionally involved with Lucky himself, something which I'm not entirely sure served the film, or the character, very well.

However, these are relatively minor flaws in an otherwise excellent film, and in the end, this is a fitting swan song for an actor of Stanton's calibre. And how many people can say they've appeared in their own filmic obituary?
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9/10
An homage to old age and the meaning of life, if there is one
andreacallon-160-11218220 October 2017
A loving homage to an actor and musician that anyone over 50 has seen in movies over several decades. I wiped away tears several times over beautiful, thoughtful musings by Lucky, who, in most respects, was Harry Dean Stanton himself. This is a small but significant slice of life movie and showcases excellent writing, direction and acting by several collaborators who've worked together before. Notable understated performance by David Lynch whose character's lost tortoise serves as an analogy that some viewers who haven't lived several decades yet will not yet appreciate. I was stilled when Lucky sang, sad when Johnny Cash sang and I smiled, satisfied, at the end. I will watch this movie again with friends who understand the beauty of a simple and well written film like this and we will all feel satisfied and more connected as a result.
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8/10
Not a great film, but it is an important one I think.
Hellmant27 October 2017
'LUCKY': Four Stars (Out of Five)

A drama starring Harry Dean Stanton in one of his final on-screen roles, before his death on September 15th, 2017. Stanton plays a 90-year-old atheist dealing with old age. It was directed by veteran actor turned first time director John Carroll Lynch, and it was written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja (two veteran actors turned first time screenwriters). The movie also features supporting turns from David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Beth Grant, Ed Begley Jr., Barry Shabaka Henley and Tom Skerritt (reuniting him with his 'ALIEN' costar). The film has received almost unanimous rave reviews from critics, with Stanton's performance getting especially high praise. I think it's a well made character study, with a good performance from Stanton, but it's also just a little overrated.

Stanton plays Lucky, a 90-year-old stuck in his ways, including smoking, that spends his time walking around his small town and hanging out with other elderly locals at a dive bar. He faints one day, and has to see a doctor (Begley Jr.) about it. Then he starts worrying about his upcoming death. The whole time he gets into arguments with his friends, and outsiders; like a lawyer (Livingston) setting up a will for his friend's (Lynch) turtle. He also continues to try to light up cigarettes in non smoking establishments.

The movie is slow-paced, but it does have a lot of interesting dialogue. Not a lot happens in it, so it will seem pretty uneventful (and dull) to some viewers, but those that appreciate a good character study should enjoy it. It's also pretty insightful; about dealing with old age and your quickly approaching death. Stanton is really good in the film, and it's great to see him in a lead role finally. It's also sad that he's no longer with us, but it's touching that he got this one last good role to play (about death and old age oddly enough). It's not a great film, but it is an important one I think.

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7/10
Harry Dean Stanton Says Goodbye To You All
LeonardHaid9 October 2017
Lucky is both eerie and alluring in that it hasn't just turned out to be Harry Dean Stanton's swan song, it's as if all of those involved in the making of it were watching the Grim Reaper approach Mr. Stanton from a distance during filming.They were certainly aware - and impressed - that he was 90 years old. There's not a bad performance in the whole film; everyone gives a thoughtful, elegant performance as if there is no room for childishness in the presence of the approaching death of their friend. Surely Mr. Stanton could feel to the core that his days were numbered, and wow did that make for an eloquent performance in a role perfectly suited for him. Despite Lucky being a film about the waning of life, it's not a morose film; the message seems to be that while death is scary, you can still smile at it, and still smile till the end. And while you lose some liveliness as you grow old, that doesn't mean that you have to lose your feistiness. As much as I enjoyed Lucky, I also believe that a good filmmaker could have followed almost any old man for a few weeks with a video camera and come up with an equally interesting film. Lucky is essentially one down-to-earth old man's tale of a rather unexciting present-day life, and that's about it...but maybe that's special in itself. Still, I didn't see a whole lot that was fantastic about it beyond Mr. Stanton's performance. But there's no denying that it's a well-made film, with poignant and sometimes amusing moments, moving stories from the distant past, and many good shots of the desolate, solitary desert.
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8/10
90-year-old atheist prepares for death by enjoying last days on earth
maurice_yacowar26 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Lucky moves — and moves us — on two levels, the personal and the thematic.

Our visceral experience is of Harry Dean Stanton's valedictory. He died shortly after completing this work. Across a career of (IMDB says:) 200 film/TV roles, he fashioned the persona of a stoic, weather-pounded and beaten survivor. He had — nope, has — one of the most lived-in faces and starved bodies in American cinema. His role in Big Love was one of the few which let him wield power. But that role apart, moral authority he always had.

So when Stanton at 91 plays the 90-year-old veteran living out his last solitary days in a desert town, Stanton is living out his last days too. He's telling us he feels Lucky — lucky even to be living this reduced hard-scramble life, lucky to have stumbled into that long and rich career, lucky even to be moving towards his — our —unpromising end.

The film's major themes centre on two phrases. One is the definition of "realism" that Lucky seizes upon: It's a "thing," the ability to see things as they are and to learn to live with that. When he describes realism and then freedom as "a thing" he blurs the line between the material and the abstract. There is no abstract beyond our physical existence.

As an atheist, Lucky has no afterlife to worry about, nor any judge to whom to hold himself ultimately accountable. He is free to do what he wants and to accept only what responsibility he chooses. He chooses when and when not to light up a cigarette in a no-smoking area.

The second phrase is the fall that gives Lucky his first intimation of mortality. He literally falls. But in a broader sense, Lucky is postlapsarian man. Adam's fall left mankind mortal and alienated. The harsh desert landscape here is relieved solely by the plush garden/oasis of Eve's, the fancy dining spot from which chef Lucky was fired for toking up in the kitchen. That's weed as the Forbidden Fruit.

Whenever Lucky passes that garden he spits the misogynous c-epithet at it. But not the last time. The last time he passes it without resenting his expulsion, his alienation. Perhaps that shows his response to some particular episodes of community. In his daily morning coffee shop, he chats with a fellow WW II vet. He also engages with an irritating insurance agent Lucky earlier challenged to a fight over this predatory job.

Two key scenes involve his engagement with women. The black waitress drops by to check on him and they share a joint, then a hug. The corner store owner invites him to her five-year- old son's fifth birthday party, where Lucky to everyone's surprise breaks out in a warm, gravelly Spanish song. After these scenes, he doesn't resent Eve's any more, because his community on earth is the only Eden we can expect. That we need to enjoy.

At first Harry lives days of unthinking ritual. He buys the daily quart of milk even though he still has two in the fridge — and little else. He mechanically lights up and tosses cigarettes because he has outlived their threat to his health. He swaps barbs with the coffee shop staff and regulars. He paces out the desert.

The two scenes with the women restore his sense of genuine community, recover his awareness of the richness of life — even at this reduction, in the arid land and aging.

So here is Lucky living out his last days, sharply attuned to seizing the present riches — such as they are — because there is no beyond to diminish them. If there is a faith to be had then it's in what we find on earth, not in anything supposedly beyond. In two scenes he talks on his red phone to some man — whom, we never learn. That's a parody of speaking to someone supposedly in the beyond, of uncertain existence. That's where he learns his "realism" — from the implied absence at the other end of the line.

Lucky here recovers his faith in the people around him, the friendly and accepting community. If there is any justice or reward it will have to be here on earth, nowhere else. That may dishearten the conventionally faithful but it should hearten the rest.

And once we accept the limits on our existence, the futility of our attempts to control what lies beyond us, once the only "things" we need are that "realism" and "freedom," that's when we can get the most out of life.

After all, once the other man gave up his hopes for finding his escaped tortoise, once he sat back and accepted his fate, that's when the tortoise came back. That's the "new deal" that President Roosevelt (that tortoise) here represents.
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8/10
A film of reflection on life, thought, time, and journey at one's end of the road.
blanbrn25 October 2017
Just recently saw an independent film called "Lucky" with the now late character actor Harry Dean Stanton and clearly it was a touching swan song for Harry and for those who viewed it. Stanton is Lucky a living 90 year old man who's probably at the end of the tunnel despite okay health. And you guessed it he's set in his ways especially with the belief that he doesn't want to face death or he's not too set on the believe of a higher power.

Living in the southwest Lucky's days are spent walking, and going to the local bar and diner to drink and he passes his time during the day after getting up working puzzles and watching game shows. Plus he even smokes some weed with a new African American female friend. And the chats and visits with locals and friends help Lucky move along.

Still thru it all this old man is set in his ways he who doesn't want new acceptance or change in which he fears in his small town life it's a long last reflection on life and being who he is. The supporting cast is well rounded here with David Lynch, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skeritt and others. Overall well done film of one looking at their life and surroundings and coming to terms with time and reflection without change.
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9/10
A reflection about facing the reality of our own mortality with joy.
vvr28 January 2018
Harry Dean Stanton portrayal of old age and the fear of dying that might come with it was natural and honest, I could see my late grandfather through his performance so it was an emotional experience for me.

Lucky found joy again by accepting reality as it is instead of worrying about it till the inevitable end. In his own way, he started living again by making his peace with it. This is a wonderful gem about wisdom, a remarkable debut for John Carroll Lynch as a director and Stanton's most heartfelt legacy.
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6/10
Critics are raving about it, myself... not as much
RonDirect7330 September 2017
"YOU'RE NOTHING!" That's Lucky's announcement each time he enters his local diner. It's his way of greeting everyone in the place and in a way it is also sums up this movie. It has some wonderful scenes and wonderful performances but really doesn't add up to very much.

Since legendary actor Harry Dean Stanton passed away I have had this movie's release date circled on my calendar. I would have anyway since I am a fan of his and it was only his second leading role in a 60+ year career. His other, "Paris, Texas" (1984), is one of my favorite movies of all time.

The movie turned out to be his Swan Song and, with so much of his real life experiences incorporated into his character makes it all the more poignant. When the film is over it's difficult to not think that Stanton wasn't saying goodbye to all of us.

That makes this movie worth seeing. He has some terrific scenes with a great cast including director and friend David Lynch, Ron Livingston, James Gavin, Tom Skerritt and Ed Begley Jr. There's a touching scene when Harry/Lucky admits he's concerned about life's end and another at a fiesta where he sings in Spanish (something he's always done beautifully throughout his life).

In spite of this I cannot say the movie as a whole really jelled. In between the banter with his co-stars there was too much... well, NOTHING. That may have been the point when you consider it was Harry Zen's real-life philosophy but I couldn't help but feel a bit empty by the entire viewing experience. There were certain behaviors he exhibited in the town he lived in that I hoped to see fleshed out and it never happened. Places in town he'd observe and are left to guess what he's seeing, never to find out. There were relationships he had with people where I thought some kind of arc would materialize but NOTHING happened. What can I say? I wanted more and got too much of NOTHING! Lol.

Aesthetically, I was bothered by the editing transitions of fading to black/fade in from black of which there are way too many. It became a distraction serving only to contemplate being in a theater with other patrons and taking me away from what was happening on screen.

"Lucky" is really not a bad film. At all. It is a nice cap to Stanton's career. His fans will appreciate his final role and I'm glad to have seen it. I only wish I could say it was a movie I would revisit repeatedly. For me it really isn't.

Rest In Peace Harry Dean. We'll always have Paris... Texas. 😊
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10/10
Harry Dean Stanton deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award
carlsonjw3 January 2018
What can you say about this movie and this performance. It resonated with me in so many ways. The existential journey was so perfectly centered in this character. The dialogue, the character development, and the story that was proffered were perfectly in sync. One of the best films I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. I'll be going back to this time and time again.
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9/10
a poignantly introspective essay on aging and dying
CineMuseFilms7 February 2018
If this is the first half of your visit on earth the chances are this film is not for you. Even viewers who have been here longer may find the film excruciatingly slow, painfully confronting, or both. Staring into the face of death can be like that. But if you have ever pondered the reason or sequel for your visit, the poignantly introspective essay on aging and death, ironically called Lucky (2017), may be one of the most honest films you have ever seen.

It may be a metaphor for life itself, but the plot is as insubstantial as it is profound. Framed by the wide and dusty Arizona desert, Lucky (Harry Dean Stanton) is a humourless and crabby 90-year old loner whose daily routines are repetitive and banal. We meet him at an aesthetic low point in his sagging underwear, meticulously conducting his morning yoga stretches in between puffing his packet-a-day lifetime habit. Just as he sets out on his daily pattern of visiting a shop or bar or wandering the streets of his small-time nowhere town, he notices a kitchen clock ominously flashing 12:00 and falls to the floor. His doctor confirms that the unhurt but dazed Lucky has nothing wrong with him other than being old.

The fall is Lucky's epiphany for confronting his mortality and, as an atheist, there is no comfort to be found in a higher power. Not much more happens in this film. A friend deep in grief over his missing 100-year old tortoise named President Roosevelt becomes a dark comedic touchstone for the same inconsequential and inevitable fate that awaits Lucky and the audience. The doctor and the tortoise are hinge points that shape the sparse narrative; another occurs at a young boy's birthday party where the usually morose Lucky unexpectedly sings a mournfully beautiful Spanish song. It is the only scene where Lucky appears to embrace the rawness of being alive. If there is a tension curve it snaps taut when he speaks the words "I'm scared" at what lies ahead; mercifully, the curve softens with a glimmer of optimism in the film's final scene.

This minimalist narrative compacted tightly into 88 minutes feels so much bigger because it is. The film's centre of gravity is Lucky's face, where the camera spends a lot of time looking into the sunken sadness and deeply etched markings of decades gone by. It's a face that rarely emotes except for annoyance, confusion, or fear, which heightens the contrast with his almost spiritual gaze while singing the Spanish lament that means 'Going Back'. It seems odd to credit Stanton with performance authenticity given that, in reality, he is an old man playing an old man.

For many fans of Stanton and his long illustrious career, the film climaxes in two very different worlds. The fact that he passed away late last year before he saw the film's release transforms his final work into something akin to an existential masterpiece.

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8/10
'LUCKY' to have got this directed of you before ya tortoise off
Bofsensai5 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
(And incidentally RUINED by its trailer = warning, if can: DO NOT watch trailer first!)

Now well known to have transpired to be HDS's acting swansong - and which he was surely aware likely to be, too* - initially introduced with static west outback like shot, as a tortoise, almost unnoticed, slowly traverses the screen, foreshadowing what would seem to be an equally slow paced dull drag of a film:

ah, but wait; soft: be patient - as you likely have to be at such advanced age as HDS was when he appeared in his final role. For once you adjust, you begin to be inveigled into what is likely to be an insight into what really is the actual pace of lifestyle for those apparoaching their sunset / shadow years: slow, meticulous, uneventful routine, as is the eponymous 'Lucky' shown slowly, oh so slowly, waking - and walking - from place to place e.g. diner, but the local bar especially, meeting therein various locals and patrons as in the latter, with all their individual life important drives - not least an acting role of David Lynch who has lost (highway?:-) his tortoise (and just incidentally also prompting a surely deliberately Lynchian homage 'red' oddity interlude with Harry in a scene reminiscent of an outtake from 'Mulholland Drive', too!) N.B. Indeed to the extent that first time director John Carol Lynch would seem to have cast as a sort reunion homage to HDS with some of his erstwhile co-stars of significant film roles, too. (e.g. Tom Skerritt from 'Alien', incidentally riffing on a story that would seem to be based in fact for both)

Overall, Lucky doesn't waste his precious left of life time pontificating over irrelevancies to the aged (even of well meaning unctuous, pulchritudinous (!) visitors), until near the end when he's given a superb monologue to deliver that surely, if not scripted by himself, then written for him to oh so poignantly represent his (real?) life's philosophy - and it's wonderful to hear it delivered (top kudos to writers Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja): as is, too, the (now trailer ruined) famed, drawing to close 'performance' that Lucky weedily but oh so movingly renders at a party - which, in both a grumble at trailer-makers but also warning invocation to any of you who have stll not seen this: I implore you NOT to watch the trailer first, since it plot spoils one of the most lachrymose essential moving scenes I've ever seen on screen - indeed it's a cinematic crime that this key part was put in the trailer because beforehand nothing in the setting of it up has otherwise given you a clue of the most moving scene you are about to witness. (yes, so just to repeat, make sure: shame on you opportunistic trailer makers!)

OK: and at that stage you might think it's been so moving that it's all over; but it's not, with more meandering but which then, well, if you weren't moved to tears before, then the final scene that Lynch sets up with Harry insouciantly breaking into a huge beam of a fourth wall breaking smile (presumably his "ungatz" moment = recall that bar-room monologue), I defy you not to be touched then.

Ah, but and yet and still, Lynch, this supebly empathetic director in his magnaminous debut effort, doesn't close: stay patiently put, for after Harry exits the scene, still he 'directs' yet another slow pace metaphor that'll surely finally bring on your "ungatz" smile - likely along with even more tears (as it did for quietly in the dark cinema) for this gentle tribute.

This is an utterly moving, beautiful love letter to the lost HDS.

*Scriptwriter Sparks has said that this was the case.
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8/10
A Fitting End to a Career of Playing Restless Outsiders
Marc_Horrickan30 September 2018
2017 saw the passing of both Harry Dean Stanton and Sam Shepard, two-thirds of the creative triumvirate behind the classic 1984 road movie / western PARIS, TEXAS. Wim Wenders and Shephard contrived to give Stanton - a career character actor - one of the greatest roles in twentieth century cinema and he owned every guilt-ridden moment of that film. John Carroll Lynch, in many ways a modern day Stanton, uses his directorial debut to showcase the ninety-year-old Stanton's formidable cussedness and aching vulnerability in a way that is as perfect a bookend to an acting career as GRAN TORINO was to Clint Eastwood.

LUCKY is a deceptively simple tale of a determinedly alone old naval officer, who has got to the stage in life where even his doctor (a fabulous cameo from Ed Begley Jr.) has nothing to tell him when he takes a dizzy tumble. This is an old man, going about things the only way he knows how. His days are a series of little routines sparingly conveyed through repetition and variation in the first half of the film. He knows he is going to die, he knows this scares him, but he also knows there is little else he can do other than persist, like the best of Samuel Beckett's characters.

There is something a little reminiscent of another Wenders' film in LUCKY, namely LIGHTNING OVER WATER. In that part-documentary, Wenders' sought to approach his own fear of death through the imminent mortality of veteran Hollywood filmmaker and close friend Nicholas Ray. Carroll Lynch is similarly engaging with the genuine fears of vulnerabilities of the ageing Stanton, as a means of tapping in to a wider understanding of what death is and what it means.

The film vacillates between profound human empathy and a less appealing, although far less prominent, sentimentality. It is often at its strongest in the barroom scenes in which Lucky goes through the motions of his compromised masculinity and desperately rails against and longs for the reckoning that remains a few miles further down the road. Carroll Lynch keeps the overall tone light and as sunny as the Californian landscape that his film cleaves to, which only makes moments like when Stanton lets rip with a Mariachi band all the more poignant, urgent and arresting. With some great supporting turns from the likes of David Lynch, Tom Skerritt and Ron Livingston, this perfectly formed, smallscale movie, has much bigger concerns at its heart.
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10/10
Rare and terrific movie
donegal-6570030 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
There aren't any other movies like this one. No answers, just the blue sky and the desert. Who else gives us the end of our lives so bleakly, so movingly, and so warmly? At the very end Lucky spots Mr. Roosevelt, the tortoise who escaped Howard's yard and will live--probably--another hundred years, and he almost smiles. That's about the size of it for him. And for many of the rest of us.
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8/10
Towering last performance from Harry Dean Stanton
paul-allaer15 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Lucky" (2017 release; 90 min.) brings the story of an old man whom everyone calls Lucky. As the movie opens, we watch a turtle walk across the cactus landscape somewhere in the Southwest. We then get to know Lucky, as he gets ready for the day and does his daily exercises, all while smoking a cigarette. Other than a couple of milk cartons, his fridge is empty. Lucky gets breakfast at the small town's diner, where he does word puzzles. In the evening, Lucky meets up with his buddies at Elaine's, one of 2 bars in town. Howard tells of Mr. Roosevelt, his beloved turtle who has escaped. Next morning, as Lucky is starting his daily routine, he blanks out and falls. When he wakes up, he is in a doctor's office. What will become of Lucky? At this point we're 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the pot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from director John Carroll Lynch, who most recently brought us "The Founder" and "Jackie". Here he goes a very different direction, namely to give legendary Hollywood actor Harry Dean Stanton one last lead performance, in a role specifically written for Stanton. Lucky is, like Stanton in real life, 90 years and grew up in Kentucky, so this is almost (but of course not quite) a look at the real Harry Dean Stanton. There are some fine secondary roles in this, including David Lynch as Howard the turtle guy (Stanton has played in a number of Lynch movies), and Tom Skerritt as the WWI Marine veteran. But in the end this is all about watching Stanton, who remained in full control of all of his acting talent (check out the scene where Lucky attends a Mexican fiesta...). As it turned out, this was indeed Stanton's very last film (he passed away exactly a month ago today), and what a towering last performance that turned out to be! You can bet your last dollar that Stanton will get a posthumous Best Actor Oscar nomination for this.

"Lucky" finally opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was not attended well (5 people, including myself), That is a darn shame. I imagine interest in this movie will pick up coming the awards season. If you want to see an amazing actor at work in the last part of his life, in a movie that is rich in so many ways, I'd suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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10/10
Harry Dean Stanton will be missed but not forgotten
thekudu-997-97495119 January 2018
I was "lucky" enough to have viewed this film in Harry Dean Stanton's home state of Kentucky with the director John Carroll Lynch and screenwriter Drago Sumonja present. This was shortly after Harry Dean passed on. I say "lucky" not to crack wise or be punny, but because it was a fitting tribute to a great actor and an even more fitting way to say goodbye. This picture is a love letter to Harry Dean Stanton. A glimpse into a life that was as surreal as it was unspectacular (and not in negative way). The film follows Lucky through his day to day routine which is interspersed with philosophical questions that Lucky "works" out. Mostly Lucky explains his Tao or "way" until the very end of the picture (and caps it off in the very last scene). To be present in this film means to grasp the person that was Harry Dean Stanton. To be as unfascinated with celebrity or fame as Harry Dean was. To be as uncommitted to nailing anything down. And then to realize how lucky you are for being so. I enjoyed this film. I would say that the enjoyment of this film for others requires a healthy appreciation for Harry Dean. Those that do not, simply are not lucky enough to have really "seen" Lucky.
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8/10
Harry Dean is Great
billcr1215 February 2018
Harry Dean Stanton's last film is a perfect ending to the actor's life. Here is as a cranky 90 year old man. He watches game shows, and does crossword puzzles, while smoking cigarettes and drinking bloody Mary's at a local bar. he also visits a nearby diner on a daily basis, to drink coffee and trade barbs with fellow town residents. His outlook is grim, no God, only an unknown and expanding universe. I am thirty years from 90, but I have a similar view of life as Lucky. Stanton should have been one of the five nominees for the best actor Oscar. I'm sure that he will be part of the tribute of those we've "lost" in the past year. Once again, the Academy blew it.
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8/10
A meditation on solitude and mortality
kconeill-17 April 2018
Beautiful! A film that is good for the soul that - "doesn't exist"!
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5/10
Creaky, Worn and Obvious
EdD522 January 2018
This is not a good movie. Wanting it to be a worthy valedictory for HDS isn't enough to make it so. When Harry is alone, just being or exercising or walking, there is some grace and some weight, but once he's required to interact with the rest of the overly emoting characters or the stilted, trite dialogue, he sadly feels reduced to their level. The direction, dialogue and other actors - with perhaps the exception of Ed Begley's brief scene - all seem amateurish and tone deaf. More than once, the attention turns towards Lucky and everyone in the place stops, turns to him and practically put their arms around each other, hum and sway, while he declaims about this or that. It's embarrassing and not worthy of a high school play, let alone a film that's based in tone and character rather than plot or action. It's like this film took its cues from Paris, Texas, but then dumbed it all down to the point of witless parody. Watch Harry do some yoga, have a couple smokes and give one knowing look near the film's end, but don't expect any poetry or even competence beyond that.
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6/10
You'll Die Too Late
thirtyfivestories22 October 2017
Beams crack through the window, and a radio sparks a tune. Lucky twirls the dial to cut off the morning theme, reaching for a cigarette to breathe. Hybrid yoga calisthenics disrupt his lung blackening, and a digital coffee pot blares a preset time. A ritualized beginning slowly bleeds all meaning.

Lucky earned his name by doing nothing much at all. His non- combative post in the Navy as a backseat soldier birthed this apt moniker. A suitable title, for even his physician cannot fathom the stock of good fortune the old bastard possesses. With the health of an oxen, Lucky seems doomed to an immortal life sentence.

A word fiend by heart, he has a dictionary of biblical proportions enthroned on a sunlit pulpit. The morning paper offers a grid of linguistic possibilities to quench his lust for articulation. Each day comes with a new pillar of language that Lucky attaches a melodramatic but charming significance to.

Stopping by predictable spaces, his daily proceedings have a cyclical and absolute geography. The diner feeds his hunger for camaraderie. The grocery outlet fills his calcium and nicotine addictions. And the tavern houses a captive audience that will occasionally entertain his existential ramblings.

Howard might be the only friend left that resonates with Lucky's twilight nightmares. Ascribing galactic meaning to his tortoises, Howard chooses to be in awe at every possible moment. Lucky still has a knack in upsetting the open-minded Howard, but only due to his brash form of prophecy.

Not a particularly wise man, Lucky gains insight that is indecipherable to his peers. A deteriorating man stuck in a town that shrinks whenever his knowledge expands. A mortal coil suffocates his desire to thumb through etymology, and sends him into the desert to examine callous cacti.
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9/10
One of the great existentialist movies
hond-920645 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A great movie has to be entertaining right to the end and also examine life in a brutally honest way. This movie does this. It is about the question who and what are we and about the emptiness we fear is outside our consciousness. But is also is funny in a real way. Not like the Adam Sandler crap. Of this movie one can say: Watch it. It is about you. And about what Ernest Hemingway called "grace under pressure" - where pressure is the life we all experience. I am glad I saw it.
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