We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
The musician’s name is Maury Dann and he’s perhaps on the edge of stardom and certainly on the edge of an abyss. He started in life as next to nothing and by the age of 35 has worked his way up to his own band, a couple of hit records, string of groupies and a chauffeured Cadillac limousine. “You only pass through life once,” he is fond of saying, “and it might as well be in a Cadillac.” He does not realize he is pronouncing his epitaph.
He more or less lives in the back seat of his Cadillac. He’s on the way to Birmingham, and then to Nashville, where he has a booking on the Opry and a sure guest shot on Buck Owens and -- maybe -- a chance of getting on the Johnny Cash show. Those are his destinations, but they seem somehow insubstantial as he relentlessly moves at 95 miles an hour through an endless Alabama. He isn’t basically a cruel man, but you would have a hard time proving that by anyone who knows him. He lives on Cokes and Dr. Peppers and handfuls of pills, and there are times when he’s so strung out that it must be physically painful for him to appear to be present.
It’s interesting that “Payday” comes along on the heels of Robert Altman’s “Nashville,” because Maury Dann could have wandered through “Nashville” and fit right in: He’s cut from the same cloth as the singers in that movie, but he’s a little more desperate. The pills are keeping him alive and killing him, all at the same time, and his life is filled with great terrors. He tries to distract himself by expeditions back into his past, where he apparently felt some pleasure, but when he arrives for the birthday of one of his children he finds that he is either four months late or eight months early, and when he joins old friends for some quail-shooting the day ends in a fight over a dog.