‘Lucky’ is living film memorial to Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton is superb as a weather-beaten 90-year-old in “Lucky.” Photo, courtesy Magnolia Pictures.

“Lucky” profiles a craggy loner, a geezer who’s as involved in life as any 18-year-old. But differently.

The film’s an imposing, semi-comic tone poem to old age — and acceptance of who you are.

Lucky’s an existentialist Navy vet, a lifelong bachelor who can cite poetry and needlepoint catchphrases with equal ease — despite his penchant for java and booze drinking, chain-smoking, doing yoga stretches, watching banal TV and filling in a daily crossword puzzles with occasional help.

I rejoiced in the resplendent art-film performance by a weather-beaten, sallow- and hollow-cheeked Dean Stanton, who died only several weeks ago at age 91 (almost the exact age of his cinematic alter ego) after a six-decade career.

For sure, it’s a showcase worthy of at least a best actor Oscar nomination, if not the whole enchilada.

Accompanied by camera work that could take my breath away.

Memorable scenes include Lucky startled awake by a death dream, contemplating a bareknuckle fight with another barroom patron, and quasi-strutting along long patches of an unidentified desert town like a wounded bird.

The movie also features a wonderfully metaphoric tortoise that moseys back and forth across the screen.

No car chases. No explosions. No special effects. Just methodically paced character development and exquisite filmmaking.

I’d became a permanent Stanton fan watching “Repro Man,” the first time I’d seen him, and then loved his work in “Paris, Texas,” “Escape from New York,” “Cool Hand Luke” and so many others — even excelling when his parts were so minuscule another actor would have disappeared in them.

This 90-minute film, which leans judiciously on Stanton’s real life, was never intended to be a living memorial to a top-notch character actor in a leading role.

But it turns out to be just that.

“Lucky” is playing at the Rafael Film Center, 1118 4th St., San Rafael. Information: 415-454-1222.

Contact Woody Weingarten at http://vitalitypress.com/ or voodee@sbcglobal.net

About the Author

Woody WeingartenWoody Weingarten, who can be reached at www.vitalitypress.com/ or voodee@sbcglobal.net, can’t remember when he couldn’t talk — or play with words. His first poem was published in high school but when his hormones announced the arrival of adulthood, he figured he’d rather eat than rhyme. So he switched to journalism. And whadda ya know, the bearded, bespectacled fella has used big, small and hyphenated words professionally since jumpstarting his career in New Yawk City more than 60 years ago. Today the author of the book “Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer” is also a reviewer-critic, blogger and publisher — despite allegedly being retired. During his better-paid years as a wage slave he was an executive editor and writer for daily and weekly publications in California, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. He won writing awards for public service and investigation, features, columns, editorials and news. Woody also has published weekly and monthly newspapers, and written a national column for “Audio” magazine. A graduate of Colgate University, he owned a public relations/ad agency and managed an advertising publication. The father of two and grandfather of three, he and his wife, Nancy Fox, have lived in San Anselmo in Marin County for three decades. He figures they'll stay.View all posts by Woody Weingarten →