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Thread: Walk the Line

  1. #16
    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    Walk the Line review, from The Toronto Star

    2 1/2 stars (of 4)

    The danger of attempting a truthful biopic about a legend is that the legend always plays better than the facts.

    That goes double when the subject is Johnny Cash, who looms large in the American psyche for his outlaw image and hard-living songs, yet who in reality was a much gentler soul.

    Walk the Line has an abundance of truth about the Man in Black, but not nearly enough of his mythology and music. Titled for a classic Cash tune, it's directed by James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted), who also co-wrote the screenplay with Gill Dennis, drawing on the singer's two published autobiographies.

    The movie is well acted but highly selective. It tracks the singer's life from his 1940s boyhood in the cotton fields of Arkansas up to his celebrated performance at Folsom Prison in 1968, which yielded the best-selling live album that sealed his claim to immortality.

    Whatever reservations fans have about the movie and there are sure to be some, chiefly the heavy emphasis on romance over rebellion few will find reason to fault the two most important casting choices. As in last year's Ray, where Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles overcame deficiencies in writing and directing, the performances carry this picture.

    Joaquin Phoenix may not have been born to play Johnny Cash the physical resemblance isn't striking but he claims the role regardless and he's sure to be considered for awards glory. No stranger to demons in his own life, Phoenix delivers a convincing portrayal in both word and song of a performer who walked with God but partied with Satan. Most impressive is how he gets that deep Cash growl exactly right, and how he holds his guitar with purpose.

    Reese Witherspoon is equally stirring as June Carter, Cash's second wife and constant muse, who led Cash away from his wife and family (she also left her own husband) but saved his life and career. Witherspoon and Phoenix came to their roles with little prior musical training, but you'd hardly know it. Phoenix has Cash's cadences and phrasing down so well, you'd almost suspect his singing is supplemented with tapes of original Cash vocals, but Mangold insists no studio tweaking was done.

    Walk the Line begins by rendering an uncomplicated portrait of the singer as a timid boy, schooled in folk songs by his musical mama (country star Shelby Lynne) and terrified by his abusive papa (Robert Patrick). The tragic sawmill accident that claimed the life of his older brother Jack figures prominently in the film, suggesting that much of Cash's grim outlook was forged by guilt that he was the brother who should have died.

    Young J.R. Cash (as he was known before the U.S. Army demanded a first name) is at first strictly a gospel singer, even when he is in Memphis auditioning for Sam Phillips (Dallas Roberts), the production wizard who launched contemporaries Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to rocking acclaim.

    Legend has it that an exasperated Phillips told Cash and his Tennessee Two band to "go home and sin, then come back with a song I can sell." In Walk the Line, however, the exhortation is reduced to "I don't record material that doesn't sell," and the abbreviation isn't trivial.

    Mangold and Dennis do show Cash as a sinner the pill-popping and groupie-bopping roustabout who enjoyed brazen adultery with Carter but they gloss over many things. And by ending the film in 1968, thus ignoring the San Quentin Prison recording triumph of a year later, which yielded the huge crossover hit "A Boy Named Sue," they also neglect Cash's rebirth as a devout Christian in the 1970s.

    Cash's famous contemporaries are given short shrift in this movie and there are questionable exchanges between them. Did Elvis (Tyler Hilton) really introduce Cash to amphetamines, as the film suggests? On the other hand, films about Presley and Perkins don't give Cash much screen time, either.

    The singer's first wife Vivian, well played by Ginnifer Goodwin, comes across as an unsupportive shrew, a characterization that has brought criticism from Kathy Cash, one of the couple's four daughters. The truth is likely more nuanced than the film suggests.

    Most troublesome of all is the lack of attention paid to Cash's music. Unlike Foxx's triumphal performances in Ray, the songs by Phoenix and Witherspoon aren't given the screen time they need to make this a truly musical event.

    Also missing, regrettably, is a proper recreation of the Million Dollar Quartet, the 1956 jam session with Cash, Presley, Lewis and Carl Perkins, which would have given Walk the Line some needed energy. Didn't the film's music producer, roots revivalist T-Bone Burnett, feel it was worthy of inclusion? The filmmakers keep cutting away from the music to show the slow-building love affair between Carter and Cash when they are still married to other people. She is attracted to him but wary of his family ties, and appalled by his increasing dependence on amphetamines and booze.

    Most Johnny Cash fans probably don't care that much about how their hero ended up with June Carter, especially the legions of newer recruits under the age of 40. Therein resides the main problem with Walk the Line's devotion to simple truth over cherished fable.

    What Cash's faithful really heeded, and will forevermore, was the wild America he painted in his song portraits, a land of the mind where you could hear the lonesome wail of a train from your prison cell or shoot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

    They'll take the legend over the lover anytime.

    This is an edited version of a review originally published during the Toronto International Film Festival.
    If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

    - Kahlil Gibran

  2. #17
    Elite Member CherryDarling's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    Quote Originally Posted by DeChayz View Post
    I would pay to watch Joaquin Phoenix read the back of a cereal box
    A-MEN...good God he's beautiful. And the movie is amazing...he should be nominated for an Oscar.
    Mischief. Mayhem. Tattoos. Soap.

  3. #18
    Elite Member olivia720's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    this movie was really AMAZING. joaquin was so great. reese was too. joaquin's voice was very impressive. and his acting was off the hook. the man draws you in. he needs an oscar, stat.

  4. #19
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    I am in LOVE with Mr Pheonix, I was so impressed by him, he is amazing, truly amazing, I am in love with him. Reese did a wonderful job also, but Jaoquin is just too much, I can't take it, he is so talented. I loved the movie it was one of the best movies I have seen in the theater in years!

  5. #20
    Bronze Member Pologirl903's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    This was such a good movie! I saw it and loved it! They both sounded and looked great singing and acting! Def buying it!

  6. #21
    Elite Member ekee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    Yup. The best 7 bucks I have spent in a while.

  7. #22
    Bronze Member imatree's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    Quote Originally Posted by DeChayz
    I would pay to watch Joaquin Phoenix read the back of a cereal box
    shit, me too.

    I love that guy.

    Walk the Line isn't out here until February 3rd though : (

  8. #23
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    I loved this movie so much, I PAID to see it a second time - something I've never done. Both Joaquin and Reese deserve Oscars for their performances. They got me hook, line and sinker. I really believed I was sitting there eavesdropping on the real thing. I don't think there is a better compliment I could give it than that. The singing was very impressive. I had no idea until after I'd seen it twice that both hand sung the songs themselves. Amazing! If you have not seen this movie yet, RUN to the theatre!!!!

  9. #24
    Elite Member olivia720's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    i agree. this movie was one of the best i've seen. i also felt like i was "evesdropping". joaquin is one of the best actors of his generation. he deserves an oscar.

  10. #25
    Super Moderator NoDayButToday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    I'm supposed to get Walk the Line today from Blockbuster Online. Hopefully I'll be able to watch it before the Oscars, but I'm really excited. Everyone keeps telling me how good this movie is and I'm a lazy ass who never made it to the theater to see it.

  11. #26
    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    Quote Originally Posted by Elisa
    I loved this movie so much, I PAID to see it a second time - something I've never done. Both Joaquin and Reese deserve Oscars for their performances. They got me hook, line and sinker. I really believed I was sitting there eavesdropping on the real thing. I don't think there is a better compliment I could give it than that. The singing was very impressive. I had no idea until after I'd seen it twice that both hand sung the songs themselves. Amazing! If you have not seen this movie yet, RUN to the theatre!!!!
    I loved how he told in one of them "the making of" movie specials how deep his voice got through vocal lessons, but also how quickly it went back up its own register as soon as he quit doing the vocal exercises!!!
    I have great respect for the dedication he showed to learn how to sing and play the guitar for this movie. Haven't seen it yet, but soon will.
    Must say, from friends who've seen it, that the Elvis parts are off, since it's apparently indicated that Elvis introduced Johnny to pills, whereas everyone who knows a bit about Elvis' history, is aware that Elvis' pill problem didn't begin until 1958 whilst in the army in Germany. Also too bad that at 5'7" Joaquin is not of the same stature as 6'2" Johnny Cash. But then, no movie about real, historic, people has ever been 100% factually correct.
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  12. #27
    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    I think its funny how now that Reese won the Oscar the dvd release is being promoted at her being the star, poor Joaquin, I'm sure his friend Jack Daniel will be of comfort to him in these hards times...he never seems to catch a break.

  13. #28
    Elite Member DeChayz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    Quote Originally Posted by AliceInWonderland
    I think its funny how now that Reese won the Oscar the dvd release is being promoted at her being the star, poor Joaquin, I'm sure his friend Jack Daniel will be of comfort to him in these hards times...he never seems to catch a break.
    Heh, nah he's got his women on both coasts & his floater in between. Not to mention a slew of us here who''d be more than willing to comfort Mr. Phoenix.

  14. #29
    Elite Member MrsMarsters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    I love this movie..I'm probably going to buy it..and that's saying a lot!
    Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable.

  15. #30
    Super Moderator NoDayButToday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Walk the Line

    My family apparently bought it. I don't think they've watched it yet, maybe I'll make them tonight after 24. I loved it when I saw it a few weeks ago.

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