Friday, December 16, 2005

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout... [UPDATED]

I have that song stuck in my head today. I was singing it in the car on my way to work. I loved these guys, who didn't? Who could NOT love them?

I think I'm going to go see "Walk the Line" finally. I know nobody but nobody could really play either one of them, but I think I want to see it anyway.


So we went to see Walk the Line last night. I liked it! I had this mental block about the movie because I said to myself: "nobody can play them", but then it dawned on me:"Well, *duh*, so what? Get over it." So I did.

I think Joaquin Phoenix really did a very good job. He was actually better than I expected him to be. Dave didn't like the movie and said he thought that Phoenix overacted and "chewed up the scenery" throughout the movie. This is kind of true in a way, yet it somehow worked for me. Yes, he did a little too much brooding, snarling and lip curling, yes he swaggers and poses a bit too much... but he kind of had to, in a way.

It's ironic, since I associate Johnny Cash with a kind of understatement and substance-over-style... yet he was also so naturally charismatic that in order to give him that large presence that most people just don't have, Phoenix had to overdo it. Does that make sense?

And, as Rusty points out in the comments below, Cash was a performer, and I'm sure at least some of his own gestures and mannerisms were studied. It's just that he was subtle enough in doing it that it seemed utterly convincing. Phoenix may fall short at times, but I think he does as good a job as any actor could do in that role.

Those are big shoes to fill, and a big voice too. As for the singing, Phoenix's voice isn't as deep as Johnnys, so he has to reach for it. He missed a few notes, but he does a decent job. At points, it's great!

Now, I'm biased, since I hold her in even higher regard, but I was a little disappointed in the choice of Reese Witherspoon to play June. I know the critics loved her. I think she's a really good actress, she obviously gave it her all, she had tremendous energy, skillful timing and even sang like June.

The thing is, Witherspoon is just too cute to play June. She doesn't have that slightly goofy-amazing-grace that June had. I kind of wish they had picked some unknown actress who had that quality instead.

June, (even more than Johnny, and that's saying a lot!) personified that quality of wabi-sabi that I love. She was both hillbilly-homely and radiantly beautiful at the same time. She was so unapologetically herself that she embodied the essence of "cool" to me, whatever that is.

I think Witherspoon made June seem too perfect, a little too calculating. Watching Walk the Line, it's obvious that he is crazy about her, but not that she is equally crazy about him. They do have chemistry on screen, but it mostly seems to flow from him to her. He comes across and a psycho-drug-mess, and she as an hard-headed angel. I know that's part of their mythology, but I think they could have tried to show a little more than that.

If you listen to the lyrics of "Ring of Fire", you know she was totally madly in love with this man who was married. It was an inner moral struggle. I think she really feared going to hell. The movie gives me the impression that she was just afraid of public disapproval for being perceived as a "homewrecker". I think that sells her short. I also think Vivian, Johnny's first wife, is shown in a poor light.

Still, overall, Walk the Line was enjoyable. There are some great moments in it, it's funny and touching and and the music is rocking. It's T-Bone Burnett just as much as it is Johnny Cash, but it's still good.

Of course, nobody could really be like Johnny and June, they were each so unique and so authentically themselves. But I've decided that's ok with me. I see the movie as sort of a tribute to them, and I'm glad there is one.


Blogger Gothamimage said...

My to see list is pretty big, but will see.

Thanks for your kind words on my last post - made my day to see I got a real laugh.

I improved the Hitchens dialogue and the rest of the post, so read it again and I have a new post about McClellan, along the same lines, so stop on by,

11:01 PM  
Blogger Rusty said...

I heard the other day that before he died, Johnny Cash had actually coached Joaquin Phoenix on how to hold the guitar just like he did and other little nuances that would make it more like the real Man in Black. Johnny Cash is one of my favorite singers of all time...definitely my favorite classic country singer. :)

I haven't seen the movie yet. Let us know if it's good! :)

2:36 PM  
Blogger Liquidplastic said...

I loved Johnny Cash too. He had a unique voice. But I am going to wait until the movie come on cable so I can have something to look forward too.

4:47 AM  
Blogger glamkitty99 said...

When I get over this bout of the flu, (a present which I'm giving a big shout-out thank you to my 3rd and 4th graders)Noah and I are running to see the Man in Black and the fabulous June Carter Cash.

7:05 AM  
Blogger PFG said...

Thanks for the review. As a grad student, my social life is pretty limited so movie rentals make up a good chunk of it. I always like to hear people's thoughts on movies that are out.
Also, thanks for the interesting new word! Wabi-sabi. Excellent. I'm going to ask my lab mate Takashi for his take on it.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous neko said...

Wabi-sabi is a real word. It's Japanese for exactly as catbird stated it- beauty that comes from being a little rough around the edges. I've heard it describe clothing and ceramics before, but this was the first time I've heard it attached to a person. It works quite well.

I'm really looking forward to watching this film when I get back home for Christmas. Johnny Cash is pretty big in our house.

8:43 PM  
Blogger LonesomePolecat said...

I like your review even though I didn't like the movie. I felt at times that I was watching a Saturday Night Live parody of Johnny Cash. Reese Witherspoon was totally miscast...just another example of Hollywood cramming in star power to bring in the money.
At least it wasn't Nicole Kidman.
Wabi-sabi is why I keep an old and
very weathered baseball bat in my tangible purpose, but the contrast with the young, vibrant green plants is fascinating.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Rusty said...

Well, now I really can't wait to see it, Kate! Thanks for the update, as well as the small shout-out! :) It would be difficult to play such legendary people, so I'm okay with them not being spot-on the entire time.

I LOVE the idea of wabi-sabi, as I've been using it my whole life without knowing such a thing existed. I guess many of us possess that same quality ourselves, and look for it in others. Perfection is creepy.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Salt Water said...

Thank you for your great review! I loved the movie. I have seen it twice and am going back for a third time tonight. I've seen Johnny Cash live twice and I will never forget the feeling of being alive that comes from the rythm of his music. I listen to him on MusicMatch often. So you can guess how happy I was to see you had caught the film. Your comments about Reese were greatly appreciated. Prior to your review I could not imagine that anyone would falt her performance, but now I see too much perfection could be accurate. I love their story. I have even read the book she gave him. How true the line (from memory)"If you run from the threshing room floor, you will laugh, but not all your laughter, you will cry, but not all your tears." They did not run, but cryed and laughed. God Bless them and you. Happy New Year!

5:35 PM  

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