Outstreched arm

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Johnny Be OK, I Suppose

My recent music noodlings, programmery, and cookery have adversely affected my moviewatching, which is a shame if only for the unusually high number of movies getting good reviews in the past month or so. With Capote and Jesus Is Magic tragically unavailable in The Bay, I saw two longawaits this weekend. Here's the first one:

While I have absolutely nothing in the world against Johnny Cash, I could hardly be called a fan - it's as if I were raised in a jungle where they only played Elvis and Buddy in the 50s (plus, I was born in the 80s, so I don't know anything about those two either). I was thus interested in the biopic Walk The Line mainly for the film of it, and not the music. Well, it's a fine piece of acting and directing and everything else film-y, but it's a, uh, biopic, and those seem to come with legally mandated story arcs.

I loved Kinsey, for instance, but there were times when I would have rather seen things get dropped or given more screen time than their importance in the real guy's life called for simply because they worked (or didn't work) as cinema. I really don't know if biopics should be truer to life or art, and it's entirely possible that choosing the latter isn't always smart anyway.

Back to Walk The Line, and I will assume you're familiar with or can at least imagine the rough outline of Cash's early career - he rises from ignorance and poverty to fame (a reasonable replacement for an education) and riches, and descends back down via drugs and debauchery. Even if you're like me and this is the first time you've actually heard Cash's story told, it's your typical rock star curve - you remember Kurt Cobain, right? Anyway, the most biopictorial moments here have to do with his descent - when, following all sorts of downgrading steps culminating in detox, he tells his life-love June Carter that he's "nuthin'", she comes back with "you're not nuthin'!" Though it was unsaid, I could hear Johnny clearly say, "It's not that I'm not nuthin'!"

But I'm being catty. Actually, my summary point was going to be that I was surprised by how much I took to the music in Walk The Line - there's a lot of it, and not a second too much if you ask me. I know saying you actually kinda like Johnny Cash is like sheepishly admitting a fondness for chocolate, but it's true. Not knowing much about this sort of stuff, I can only say that Joaquin Phoenix, doing all his own singing, projected a voice far too powerful for his prettyboy looks.

There are 4 Comments:

Anonymous Bill Hall said...

Ring of Fire is one of the all-time greatest American songs in any genre. Period.

2 cents tossed in by Bill...

4:39 PM  
Blogger Neven said...

I thought the movie version of the song was a bit weak - not Joaquin's singing, but the way it was played short and loungey.

4:46 PM  
Blogger FreeThinker said...

I saw "Jesus Is Magic" and I'm not sure it was OK to laugh!

But I laughed anyway.

Check it out when you can.

Here's my post on the movie.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous louise said...

I haven't seen the movie yet (it's not out in this backwards country yet)

But Johnny Cash is one of my all-time favourite musicians. He strikes me as being the sort of singer you'd really like. Though maybe not on the really religious stuff

12:12 PM  

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