11.25.2005

The Blog in Black

I caught Walk the Line last night and though it wasn't the most awesome biographical movie I've seen, I would still recommend it to anyone who has a passing interest in Johnny Cash, or even a passing interest in bad-assery -- because that's what this movie proves, he was just a plain bad-ass.

He grew up poor, fought hard, wrote like he fought even harder, and touched a nerve with his audience like no other performer before him. The movie does great justice to the lyrics that Johnny wrote by showcasing several complete songs (and sometimes more than once).

The film will no doubt draw some comparison to Ray, the 2004 biopic of the late Ray Charles. Both films were released relatively soon after their subjects' deaths (Ray a few months, Line a couple years), both were sanctioned by their subjects (Line is based on two Cash autobiographies), both deliver strong performances by their actors. However, that's where the comparisons should stop because Walk the Line is simply a much better movie. Whereas Ray seemed aimless and plotless, simply chronicling the the rise, fall, and redemption of Ray Charles like it's all in a day's work, Walk the Line sets its sight on the near self-desctructive love that Johnny Cash had for his future-wife June Carter and allows the relationship between the two characters to take center stage, rather than musical performances (which are still fan-friggin'-tastic).

Like I wrote above, Walk the Line is a far from perfect biopic, but what really is? Do audiences want a dry, straight-facts PBS special, or do they want a well-dressed story in the style of (yet another biopic subject this season) Truman Copote? I'd rather have the latter.

The film fails somewhat in making this a JOHNNY CASH movie. Replace the names of the characters with Joe and Jane Somebody, and we have basically a story that could be told a thousand times over, but for those who are knowledgeable of the personalities and relationship of John and June can take joy from the what shows up on the screen. But really, who can play Johnny Cash except for the real Johnny Cash? I almost feel that this should be turned a trilogy -- the Johnny Cash story, the June Carter story, and the Johnny Cash and June Carter story.

I'll avoid the nuances of the film and just finish by saying it was a great, enjoyable film that didn't give much insight for someone who already knows something about its subject, but that's not what I went for in the first place anyway.

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