Walk the Line directed by James Mangold
Usually if a film is phenomenal you leave the theatre changed. No, you don’t leave a brand new and better person but you take something away from the film. Maybe you’re touched by the storyline, an actor’s performance gave you chills, the cinematography took your breath away. After watching Walk the Line I wanted to make out with Joaquin Phoenix. I’m kidding. Okay, I’m not but anyway…
Director James Mangold’s (Identity, Girl Interrupted) take on a small part of the life of the Man in Black, Johnny Cash, is a well-crafted film that tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways. To his credit, Mangold managed to muster up Oscar worthy performances from Joaquin Phoenix (To Die For, Gladiator) and Reese Witherspoon (Election, Legally Blonde). Both do their own singing and when Phoenix leans into that microphone to baritone “hullo, I’m Johnny Cash”, you’d think you were in the presence of the great Cash himself. But be forewarned, those expecting to see the meat of Cash’s life brought to the big screen, you ain’t gonna get it here. The film focuses on Cash’s rise to fame and his courtship of June Carter, ending with his legendary performance at Folsom Prison.
Witherspoon is a tour de force as June Carter, a reserved livewire with a knack for humor. Her June is a fierce woman unsure of what to do with her attraction to a man that seems bad for her. As for Phoenix, what can I say? He acts the sh*t out of it, making you believe that you’re not looking at River’s brother on screen, you’re looking at the Man in Black. Phoenix captures Cash’s guitar swinging bravado and the hurt behind those dark shades. And the chemistry between the two is sizzling. Their sexual tension is explosive as you see their love unfold. Also hiding in the shadows is a phenomenal bit performance by newcomer Waylon Payne as Jerry Lee Lewis.
James Mangold’s tender and involving bio-pic is not to be missed. And trust me, you’ll wanna make out with Joaquin Phoenix too.
-10 Deleted Scenes
-Extended Musical Sequences
-Folsom, Cash & the Comeback
-Celebrating the Man in Black: The Making of Walk the Line
-Ring of Fire: The Passion of Johnny and June
Crazy Heart directed by Scott Cooper
Before going into this film I had been on the George Clooney winning the Oscar for Best Actor bandwagon but after watching Jeff Bridges’ performance in “Crazy Heart” last night I have totally changed my mind. This is the male performance of the year.
I went in with my doubts as Bridges has already done a fantastic musician film (The Fabulous Baker Boys) and I wasn’t sure that lightening could strike twice. It is also another in the long line of films about a washed up, hard drinking musician. We’ve seen it all before and I was wondering what more director Scott Cooper (debut film) could bring to the dialogue.
Due to actor Jeff Bridges heartfelt and note perfect performance he makes what could have been a one note film much more than that. He has taken the role and the character and breathed life into it. Bridges becomes the character. He knows his character is pathetic and a mess but he doesn’t try to change him. Bad Blake is a talented loser. It is the type of performance that doesn’t come around often enough.
Cooper also does a great job in that he doesn’t do very much. Let me rephrase that. He is smart enough to leave well enough alone and makes a film that is quiet and slow. Just as you would expect a story like this to be. He lets the story unfold at its own pace.
Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is the type of country music singer that you thought did not exist anymore. He has been married four times, smokes like a chimney, is never sober, and is booked to play in dives all across the American southwest.
The man is 57-years-old but due to the years of abuse he has the body of a 70-year-old. The sad thing is that he doesn’t know any other way. Talent oozes out of him – the many songs he has written are loved by his fans and even other musicians and writers are jealous of his ability to write a good song so easily. He is literally pissing and puking his life away. And he doesn’t seem to care or see it.
Suddenly an angel in the form of a young music writer named Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) appears in his motel doorway and Bad has a reason to live. Pardon the pun but Bad has it bad for her. He falls fast and he falls hard. She feels the same way about him as Jean feels she is finally allowed to see the man behind the music.
But just like life it is not that simple for the two. She has been burnt by men before and has a 4-year-old son, Buddy (Jack Nation), to consider. Bad has another love in his life that is bound to come between them – McClure’s Whiskey.
-Deleted Scenes and Alternate Music Cuts