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The Buddy Holly Story 

When: July 12-13 2014
Oh, children. How do I explain that the professional wingnut who pimps himself out to reality shows and commercials (“Hello, pants!”) was once a top-notch character actor with serious leading man potential? I could provide a rundown of the early Gary Busey filmography, from ’70s cult classics The Last American Hero and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot to the amazing Dustin Hoffman ex-con drama Straight Time — but The Belcourt has spared you by booking a new 35mm print of the 1978 biopic that got Busey a deserved Best Actor Oscar nomination. In Hollywood fashion, Steve Rash’s tribute is close to worthless as biography, changing names, altering anecdotes and omitting key figures. That doesn’t make it any less entertaining, though — not with Busey, a real-life musician who’d been a drummer in Leon Russell’s band, delivering electrifying versions of Holly’s hits with Charles Martin Smith and Don Stroud as fictional facsimiles of The Crickets. The star is a whirlwind in the title role, even if former Cricket Sonny Curtis (not a fan) reportedly said he thought Busey seemed more like Chuck Berry. Set partly in Nashville, the movie screens Saturday and Sunday as this week’s entry in the “Best of Both Worlds” repertory series; watch for writer-comedian Paul Mooney (as Sam Cooke!) and, capping what amounts to a two-film Belcourt mini-retrospective this weekend, Gailard Sartain as The Big Bopper. JIM RIDLEY

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