In Crazy Heart, based on a 1987 novel by Thomas Cobb, rotary telephones coexist with bottles of Smart Water, and Jeff Bridges takes a hot air balloon ride. The setting is neither past nor present, but a composite of several decades, a Sun Belt landscape of two-lane highways, motor inns, and malls constructed of sloping, lacquered brick—that near-extinct corporate-park architecture of yesteryear. The film’s subtle eccentricity and candor stem from the mentor-protégé relationship between Robert Duvall and Scott Cooper, a first-time writer, producer, and director. Cooper shared his Crazy Heart screenplay with Duvall (already a friend), who agreed to anchor the production. With Duvall’s aura as a magnet, Cooper assembled a top-tier cast, Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, and Beth Grant (she’s top-tier in my book), and enlisted two strong composers, T-Bone Burnett and the late Stephen Bruton. Read Leah Churner on Crazy Heart.