I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die

Went out to see Walk the Line yesterday, while BW hauled himself to Harry Potter and the Neverending Series of Lameness.

I’ll have to preface this by saying that even though I worship JC, I don’t really know anything about his life story. So I can’t speak at all to the film’s accuracy, but since it was based on mainly on “Man in Black” written by The Man himself, I’ll assume it was mostly true.

Overall, I thought it was quite good, but could have been better. I was amused quite a bit by how similar it was to the JRM ELVIS CBS miniseries. Both movies begin in 1968, with their stars backstage, waiting to come out to perform a crucial show (In Cash’s case, it was the Folmson Prison show). Then both movies go into flashback mode, telling the life story, then returning us to 1968 at the end of the movie. And even funnier, *the same guy* who played Elvis’ dad Vernon in ELVIS played Johnny Cash’s dad in Walk the Line!!! Freaky. Given the similarities and overlap between the lives of JC and E, they probably could have saved some money by filming at the same time and using the same sets and casts. :) (While I’m on this tangent, the things I liked least about Walk the Line were the Elvis-related things. The Sam Phillips from the ELVIS movie was much better. And the guy who had the brief cameos as Elvis in Walk the Line just flat-out sucked!! I mean, I had to figure out that he was supposed to be Elvis from the context of his scenes, because he didn’t look like Elvis, he didn’t talk like Elvis, he wasn’t hot like Elvis, and oh gawds they had him do his own singing and it was sooooooooooo bad! Could they not have slipped JRM a couple grand for a day’s work? Would have been so worth it.)

Am I saying that Walk the Line wasn’t far removed from a high-quality made-for-TV-movie? I guess I am. I don’t feel they went in-depth enough into what was going on in the characters’ heads. Especially June. Though I think that Reese Witherspoon did an admirable job as June Carter Cash, given the script, I really couldn’t figure her out. She kept pushing John away, and for a while it made sense, but after several years of this behavior, her old reasons didn’t wash anymore. Then she didn’t want to be with John because of his drug use, but the film made it seem like the main reason John was doing so many drugs was because June was pushing him away! You just wanted to sit her down and ask, “What is WITH you?!”

Instead of more scenes that could have helped to delineate characters’ inner turmoil, they gave us lots of musical numbers. And while I was suprised at how enjoyable they were, I would have preferred more meat to the story.

I suppose you’re all wondering what I thought of Joaquin. In truth, he wasn’t bad. I expected to tolerate him in the dialog scenes, and hate him in the singing scenes. Amazingly, it was the reverse. He did a very, VERY good job at mimicing John’s singing style and inflection…in all the musical scenes, he just came to life. There was a real electric vibe, and I found myself tapping my feet and (quietly) singing along. (I believe, though, that that might say more about the power of Cash’s music than anything else.) But during the talky scenes, I never once forgot that I was watching anyone other than Joaquin Phoenix. However, in a movie about a man who was so defined by his music, I suppose it’s more important that he nailed the musical scenes while the rest was just average. No matter what I think of them otherwise, I had to give immense credit to both Joaquin and Reese for the great job they did with their singing and playing. I was amazed at the skill with which they carried it off.

To sum up, if you’re a Johnny Cash fan, Walk the Line is a must-see. It is not the great movie John deserves, but it’s a good one that fans will enjoy. To everyone else, I’d say it’s a must-rent.

One Response to “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”

  1. kta Says:

    I want to see this movie. I’ll wait and rent it! :-)

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