While the Dallas Int’l Film Festival ended this past weekend, we’re still fest-ing it up, here. In fact, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll fill you in on some of the Texas-centric films that were showcased in Dallas.
Of course, it’s hard to get more Tex-centric than a movie that details the musical life of the legendary troubadour outlaw, Jerry Jeff Walker. OK Buckaroos, an extremely well-made and polished documentary from filmmaker Patrick Tourville, really highlighted the music that has made the man into a legend, worthy of a retrospective and loving film. Here’s the thing, though: the film might’ve been too loving, actually.
In an effort to present Walker as a rightful elder-statemsan who truly has grown his legend outside of the major-label machine, the film comes off as more of a cute, somewhat fluffy, Walker info-mercial than it does a proper document of the good, bad and crazy times that have also helped define Walker’s legacy.
Again, this was a well-made film and had many moments of warmth, especially when Walker himself played tunes acoustically in-front of Tourville’s cameras. Perhaps the point wasn’t to get into the sordid details of Walker’s drunken, rowdy lifestyle of early, Outlaw-era Austin. Mission accomplished, if indeed that was the case. With only Ray Wylie Hubbard adding somewhat empty, forced platitudes that merely hinted at Walker’s wild side and Walker himself not really divulging much, all the viewer was really left with was a goodie-basket full of the warm and fuzzies.
Speaking of Hubbard, another disappointment was the curiously small amount of notable artists that contributed Walker-intensive tales to the film. Aside from bits of archived footage that featured Willie Nelson and Guy Clark; Hubbard was the only contemporary of Walker’s to play a major role in the film. Even as great as Bruce Robison and Todd Snider are, only having them chip-in seemed ill-fitting and only served as more hero-worship on top of a film that was already full of such adoration towards its subject.
Personal aside, if you don’t mind: My all-time favorite song is Walker’s version of “L.A. Freeway,” and my all-time favorite “Texas Record” is Viva Terlingua, so I’m coming from an appreciative perspective of the man’s work. But this is a film that serves more as a basic introduction or as a wistful reminiscence. If one needs anything more balanced or in-depth than that, keep waiting.