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|Index||791 reviews in total|
Whenever I see so much "Oscar worthy" tags/blurbs in an ad campaign I
get nervous, see Cinderella Man. Usually you look closely at the fine
print and see that the esteemed critic lauding the film is Joe Schmoe
from the One Stop Light Bugle Press in Buttcreek, Illinois or a low
level flunky who just happens to work for the media conglomerate that
is distributing the film. So my heart sank a little when a film I have
been eagerly awaiting was swaddled with such praise when the ads hit
But they're right for once.
Joaquin Phoenix wears Johnny Cash like a suit. He isn't doing a Rich Little impersonation, you don't rub your eyes in disbelief, but he channels a man so distinct in appearance and voice to a level that is beyond admirable. One of the traits that made Johnny Cash a legend was that nobody sounded or looked like him. Short of a computer generated Cash walking around in his own bio-pic like one of those John Wayne beer commercials this is the definitive representation.
And yet Phoenix may not give the best performance in the film.
Reese Witherspoon more than holds up her end in a role that easily could have been reduced to a clichéd bumpkin. Witherspoon portrays the on-stage June in the way June portrayed her own "character", the stage persona that people adored, while giving her the resolve and inner strength to be the woman who tamed a hell-bent, grizzly bear of a man like John.
The chemistry of Phoenix and Witherspoon together in any scene, but their on-stage duets in particular, are truthful in a way that resonates long after the credits. I know that unless you have been living in a cave for the past week you have likely been bombarded with the word that the actors sing themselves without use of lip syncing. I have never been a fan of musicals, or even musical performances in a film. They generally seem forced and uncomfortable to me, the moment when I stop experiencing the story and feel reminded that I am watching a movie. I never felt that in this film. I never felt that their singing took the focus of the film, but the performances work with the story like no other music bio I have ever seen. I never felt as if I was being led through the catalog, the songs felt as organic and natural as any spoken dialog in a great narrative.
This film far exceeded my expectations and afforded me the first trip home from a theater with a true feeling of satisfaction in a very, very long time. Highly recommended.
Wow, what a film. I had been waiting to see this movie since I read that Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were cast in the lead roles. I was not sure what to expect when I heard they were going to do their own singing, but was I ever impressed. Their performances in this movie were brilliant, and I had chills down my spine. It was truly amazing how much Phoenix sounded like Johnny Cash-this was a role he was born to play, and he was mesmerizing. Totally sizzling. Witherspoon was positively radiant as June Carter, and talk about chemistry between the two actors. Talk about lightning striking! I only hope they are rewarded for their efforts come Oscar time. This was a truly amazing movie, filled with great music, a top-notch supporting cast and a terrific script which was wonderfully directed.
I've long thought that James Mangold was one of the most underrated
American directors; while other acclaimed auteurs like Wes Anderson and
David Gordon Green have made names for themselves by essentially
repeating themselves with each film, Mangold has attracted considerably
less attention for actually having the gall to show some range. Like
the great directors of the Hollywood studio system, Mangold shows
visual and narrative skill across a wide array of genres:
character-driven crime (COPLAND); horror (IDENTITY); issue-oriented
drama (GIRL INTERRUPTED), etc. What each of these films shares in
common is a stunningly elegant and expressive visual style, an
attention to character reminiscent of Renoir, and an economy of
storytelling that would make Howard Hawks envious.
Now Mangold has delivered his masterpiece, and it's the best studio release I've seen so far this year. WALK THE LINE, Mangold's story of the relationship between Johnny Cash and June Carter, is deliriously romantic, exhiliratingly entertaining (as a musical it invites and earns comparison with the best of Vincente Minelli), and profoundly moving--all set to a spectacular soundtrack. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are both brilliant as Cash and Carter, but not only in the ways you would expect. Their most impressive achievement is to convincingly portray two people falling in love in a manner that's sincere and sweet but never cheaply sentimental. This is the most unabashedly romantic American movie since THE NOTEBOOK, but it's totally authentic and lacking in melodrama; the subtlety with which Mangold and his performers delineate the one step forward, two steps back nature of Cash and Carter's love affair is staggering. Phoenix is particularly brilliant, not only in the romantic scenes but in moments in which Cash discusses his brother's early death; in these scenes the major tragedies of both the character and the performer's lives merge in a way that is heartbreakingly real. And the movie gets across the intoxicating nature of creative collaboration between two people in love better than any film I've ever seen--perhaps no coincidence given that Mangold and his closest collaborator, producer Cathy Konrad, are married. I could (and will) go on about this movie for hours, but let's just say that it's the movie to beat for the rest of the year.
I absolutely loved it. More my dad's music than mine (I was born in
1960-am a rock-n-roller), but tapped my feet the whole way thru. It is
funny, I grew up with certain songs of Johnny Cash, and heard about the
legend of the "man in black" for as long as I remember, but this movie
adds a whole new dimension to the man, his music. I think it's great
maybe a whole new generation might come to enjoy his contributions too.
J.Phoenix and R. Witherspoon were phenomenal and made this film a joy to watch. I have not enjoyed any movie so much in a long time. Judging by the applause and the grins on the movie goers faces on the way out-I was not alone in my whole-hearted enthusiasm for the movie.
Gonna order me a J.Cash CD!
Forget North Country, Walk the Line directed by James Mangold (Girl
Interrupted) and written by Mangold and Gill Dennis is the better 2005
This romantic tragedy, which is based on the autobiographies of Johnny Cash The Man in Black and Cash: the Autobiography was actually written and perfected alongside the famous duo Cash and June Carter Cash before their deaths in 2003.
The movie begins with a young, music obsessed "J.R." Cash growing up in a poor cotton farming family in Arkansas. Shortly afterwards, a family tragedy changes his life forever.
Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) leaves for the air force, where he is stationed in Germany, buys an old guitar and proceeds to write one of the most recorded songs in history along with many others.
Upon returning, Cash's obsession leads him to a recording studio and into the spotlight with June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) as well as Elvis Presley (Tyler Hilton) and the comical Jerry Lee Lewis (Waylon Payne.) The next emotional hour and 45 minutes is filled with great music, drug dependency, infidelity, and most of all love.
Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, who sang every song themselves, completely shined in this movie. There are no better actors that could have filled the shoes of the Carter-Cash duo. Phoenix and Witherspoon had such great chemistry, by the end of the movie you actually think they might really be in love.
However, if you tend to get restless in longer movies, the running time of 136 minutes can start to seem a little long towards the end, but it's well worth it.
Overall Walk the Line receives nine out of ten stars. The movie did an excellent job portraying the life of the "man in black," his soul mate and their rocky path on the way to love. If Phoenix and Witherspoon are not nominated for their amazing voices and chilling performances, it will be a great disappointment.
Considering the formula junk coming out of Hollywood these days, I was blown away by how good this movie was. The direction was perfect. Using close ups to get us in under the skin of Johnny Cash. And since it was a period piece, he could have bored us with lots of cgi of Memphis and L.A. to take us back in time. Instead he used the actors and the music to take us there. Biopics naturally have a formula to them, but the director and screenwriter did not take us down the track of overly sentimental scenes. These were real and done with a bit of well placed humor. Just like real life. Afterall you still have to follow the real lives of Johnny and June. You can't make it up, just to be original! The movie was also a movie you can take most of the family to. No nudity and sex to SHOW how in love they are, just real dialog...it's nice to hear REAL dialog and not just another chase scene, or four letter word. Yes, some movies need that to tell the story, this one doesn't. This movie goes onto my short list of great biopics, with "Ray". Not much else comes close to Ray or Walk the Line. The true test of any biopics is: can you still understand the plot even if you never heard of the people the movie is about. This movie is a great love story even if you never heard of Johnny and June Cash. Oscars all around I say! Plus I loved the Rockabilly music through out the movie.
Walk the Line is a great movie. When you watch it, you feel as though you are watching Johny Cash in person. Juaqin Pheonix is amazing as Cash, a man with so many regrets and self doubts. Reese Witherspoon gives an Oscar performance as the love of his life June Carter. The film is long, but worth every minute. But what is great is that T Bone Burnett chose the right songs to play. When I saw it today people in the theater were singing along with the movie. And what is great, is that Pheonix and Witherspoon sand the songs themselves. This movie should win several Oscars this year. Go see it. It is an amazing film, and it perfectly protrays an amazing man.
"Walk the Line" is without question the zenith of Reese Witherspoon's
acting career thus far. Joaquin Phoenix IS Johnny Cash in this biopic,
but Reese as June Carter Cash sets this film on fire. It is one thing
to portray a person's life, with feeling and emotion, something which
Joaquin pulls off effortlessly. However, it is quite another to make a
portrayal bigger than life, and Reese makes June Carter Cash the
central character of this film.
To say that Reese steals the show is an understatement. Reese becomes a lightning rod for Joaquin's character, in a way that is actually quite scary. After all, Reese is from Nashville, and her Southern affect is flawless and absolutely winning. Suffice it to say that Reese will thankfully be present when the Academy Awards are presented next year. She might want to get a few words ready.
This movie will not be everyone's favorite flick, if for no other reason than that it is a biopic of flawed, Southern characters. However, perhaps the very flaws that imbue these characters with vitality and realism can establish the acting of Joaquin and Reese with an almost spiritual meaning, as they live these real people on screen. But in the final analysis, Reese Witherspoon will become the greatest contemporary screen actor upon release of this film. See for yourself. You read it here first.
I don't know about "Mangold the Auteur", and might need a bit more
proof that this is really a director worth paying attention to, but
this is a pretty watchable film. I found the story and film-making a
bit predictable, like the usual bio-pic formula that you might expect
if you've seen, say, coal miner's daughter, or any other bio-pic of
someone you love. What makes this movie stand out is the two lead
performances. Reese is unbelievably convincing as June Carter Cash. She
almost disappears into the role. And her singing! Who knew???
And Joaquin! We've been waiting for him to deliver a really spectacular performance for some time, and this is finally it. I, for one, resisted the idea that ANYONE could portray the man in black, but he does a pretty fine job. Not just an impersonation, but actually a performance worth watching. Really fine.
Watch for the Jackson duet. Really awesome.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Walk the Line
reviewed by Sam Osborn of www.samseescinema.com
rating: 3.5 out of 4
Director: James Mangold Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon Screenplay: James Mangold, Gill Dennis (based off the Johnny Cash autobiographies) MPAA Classification: PG-13 (language, drug content)
To be honest, I've never been a fan of Johnny Cash's music. I listened to it every now and then when flipping through the presets in my car, stopping to sing along to the few lyrics I knew, but I never gave the musician much thought. Until now. For me, Walk the Line is everything Ray was not. Ray was plagued by an uneven screenplay, but got enough sentimentality and acting points for people to look past its flaws, and managed to nab a Best Picture nomination. Walk the Line, however, is worth all the press it's likely to get. With acting work just as impressive as Ray's, music just as affecting, and a screenplay that hits all the right chords, Walk the Line is a fine, fair biopic for Mr. Cash.
The film faces the threat of what music critics call "same-songiness". A volley of biopics have been released in the past year making it only a matter of time before American audiences call it quits for the genre. Making matters worse, the story arcs for Ray and Walk the Line are essentially the same. A small time musician with tragic childhood memories goes on to become an international sensation, but finds himself wrapped up with extra-marital women and illegal drugs. Yes, it sounds like a re-hash of Ray, but believe me, Walk the Line's storytelling works much, much smoother.
Also, what Ray lacked was romance. Yeah, yeah, I know, there was that cute scene with the hummingbird; but that little tidbit will be soon forgotten when Reese Witherspoon hits the screen. Taking on the role of June Carter, Witherspoon takes a page from her role in Vanity Fair (and not Just Like Heaven), and completely inhabits her character. Her pairing with Joaquin Phoenix yields beautiful chemistry and makes their romance believably realistic, something I frankly didn't feel with Ray.
There's sure to be some trepidation over the fact that Director James Mangold used Phoenix and Witherspoon's real voices for Cash and Carter's songs. Again, I'm not really an authority on Johnny Cash music, but from what I've heard, Phoenix and Carter nail it. And Cash enthusiast Roger Ebert, who was in the same screening room as me and heard the same songs, stated afterwards that he was incredibly impressed by their mimicry.
To extend my comparison between Ray and Walk the Line, I found James Mangold's directing style for Cash's biopic to be very similar to the formula used by Taylor Hackford in Ray. Each put a strong visual emphasis on the musical scenes and neither busied themselves with distracting camera tricks or visual pizazz. There are beautiful shots to be found in both films, but this is no Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener) behind the camera. Instead, where each director plays his cards is with the screenplay. And this is where Walk the Line truly shows its colors.
Biopics are difficult in that a coherent story must be told over a great span of chronology. Films often run into the problem of trying to fit too much into a two hour film, an issue Ray suffered from. For instance, when Ray starts his downward spiral with Heroin and begins poking himself with needles, there were often straight cuts to joyous scenes of his son being born, or him returning home to his wife from a tour. The story never let itself settle down with a mood and tell a coherent story. Instead, the film jumped around so much, it left audiences dazed and numb to the emotions on-screen. But Walk the Line avoids this problem with James Mangold and Gill Dennis' screenplay, which is based off of Cash's two autobiographies. The script gives Walk the Line a backbone for the story to follow, keeping a foundation for the sub-plots to wrap themselves around. This foundation is Cash's obsession with June Carter. His childhood story and even his music are motivated by this romance. She was the center of his life up until his death, and she's the center of this film. And with Witherspoon's performance as terrific as it is, the foundation is solid as rock.
If the American public is still willing to pay money for a musician's biopic, then Walk the Line's their film. Of the recent four I've seen (De-Lovely, Ray, Beyond the Sea), Walk the Line's the finest.
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