Colorado's connection to Harry Dean Stanton's final film

by John Moore | Sep 16, 2017
Harry Dean Stanton 800Photo from 'Lucky,' starring Harry Dean Stanton, which will be released in Denver on Oct. 20 at the Chez Artiste.

 

Director John Carroll Lynch allows actor Harry Dean Stanton, who died Friday, to go out fully seen and heard

By John Moore
Senior Arts Journalist

Harry Dean Stanton does not go gentle into that good night. Rather, he goes thoughtfully, spiritually and with unflinching honesty, thanks to a triumphant capstone film called Lucky directed by Colorado native John Carroll Lynch.

Stanton, who died Friday of natural causes at age 91, was nothing if not lucky, said Lynch, who also considers himself among the charmed for having had the opportunity to direct the iconic American actor in his final leading role. Stanton plays an ornery 90-year-atheist who drifts toward terms with his mortality in an off-the-grid desert town. The supporting cast includes Ron Livingston, Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant, James Darren, David Lynch — no relation but yes, that David Lynch — and Ed Begley Jr. "There went a great one," David Lynch wrote in a statement earlier today.

Harry Dean Stanton 400Lucky is a film, John Carroll Lynch says, that allows the indelibly gaunt character actor whose face “was etched with loneliness,” one critic wrote, to go out fully seen and heard.

“This is a performance you can only get to when you get there,” Lynch told the DCPA NewsCenter today. “And I think the role successfully encapsulates his particular world view.”

Stanton’s breakthrough came decades into his film career in Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas. He was also known for Twin Peaks, Pretty in Pink, Repo Man and most recently a high-profile role as a manipulative cult leader in the HBO polygamy drama Big Love.

This morning, Denver’s Alamo Drafthouse announced it will screen Repo Man in Stanton's honor on Saturday, Sept. 23, and donate a portion of the proceeds to the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief to members of the Colorado theatre community facing situational medical need. Last year, Lynch made an appearance at his hometown Alamo to discuss his role in Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation.

Lynch, a graduate of Regis Jesuit High School and a former member of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, is himself a veteran actor of more than 100 films and TV shows, most recently The Founder, Jackie and The Architect. He makes his directing debut with Lucky, which was rapturously received at the recent South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The film, written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja, will be showcased on Art House Theatre Day on Sept. 24 on the University of Colorado Boulder campus, and will be released in Denver on Oct. 20 at Landmark’s Chez Artiste movie theatre.

“How lucky, no pun intended, we have this charming — with an edge — movie that has a terrific and humane performance from Harry Dean Stanton but is also infused with his view of the world, including his atheism,” contributing Denver Post film critic Lisa Kennedy told the NewsCenter today.  “It’s a gift, melancholy and affirming. It was that before news of his passing and even more so now.”

Stanton’s character is the core of Lucky. He’s described as a lifelong smoker who is shaken by accident into tackling his inevitable death head-on. He searches for enlightenment against the backdrop of the desolate desert town, interacting and learning from those he encounters. Lynch said the character in the film was as much Stanton himself wrestling with his impending fate.

“When you get older, you know you have fewer days, so you have no time to waste,” Lynch said. “Harry did not waste his days."

Lynch said Stanton’s performance is no less than “(bleeping) awesome — and it is so vulnerably and humanly him. I hope people give it its due.”

One of the producers of Lucky is familiar to DCPA Theatre Company audiences: It's actor Jason Delane Lee, who appeared in One Night in Miami and Two Degrees.

Harry Dean Stanton: In theatres

  • Alamo Drafthouse will screen Repo Man in Stanton's honor at 7:20 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. BUY TICKETS
  • Lucky will be showcased on Art House Theatre Day at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24, in the Muenzinger Auditorium on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. BUY TICKETS
  • Lucky opens in full release Oct. 20 at Denver’s Chez Artiste movie theatre.


Lucky: The official film trailer

Video above: The trailer for 'Lucky,' starring Harry Dean Stanton, which will be released in Denver on Oct. 6 at the Chez Artiste.

Lucky: What RogerEbert.Com had to say:
"Let’s start at the top of the pile with the fantastic directorial debut of John Carroll Lynch, an actor who always struck me as someone who cared about who he worked with and clearly was paying attention to former collaborators like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and Joel Coen. Lynch knows how to frame a shot and tell a story that actually feels like the recent work of a filmmaker with whom he has yet to work, Jim Jarmusch. There’s a similar, shambling, everyday poetry to Lynch’s Lucky, a beautiful showcase for the 90-year-old Harry Dean Stanton, giving one of the best performances of his remarkable career. With supporting work from other icons as diverse as David Lynch and Tom Skerritt (Alien reunion!), Lucky is a film about both not much at all and, well, pretty much everything." — Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

 

Leave a comment

POPULAR POSTS
 
ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.