Thursday, October 12, 2006

Walk the Line review.

Before watching this film, I had my doubts. Johnny Cash is one of my favourite country singers, nay, singers of all time, and I was unsure as whether, as with other mediocre biopics, namely the flashy Ray, could do him enough justice. As it turned out, Johnny gets the film he deserves, and, what’s more, Walk the Line got me extremely interested in the work of his wife, June Carter Cash.

Covering 20 years of his life, including Cash’s rise into fame and delve into near-self-destruction, James Mangold concentrates on the key things in his life – his music, the drugs, and his all-consuming, untameable love for the very special June Carter Cash. It is as a romance that Walk the Line truly shines. In real life, Johnny and June didn’t get together until 20 years since their first meeting, and that they could wait that long for each other, is quite poignant.

Holding the film together are the Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning figures of Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, and their chemistry pretty much carries the film. When they’re together, they both dazzle, gelling perfectly, whether it’s a bout of verbal jesting, they’re doing a duet, or just chatting. Phoenix captures the tortured soul of Cash eloquently in one of his finest performances, and one that exudes that dangerous yet enthralling edge of danger present in Cash. His singing voice resembles that of Cash’s, yet he never resorts to downright imitation, which only adds to the viewing pleasure.

But the shining star of the film is Reese Witherspoon, as June Carter Cash. She plays the singer-songwriter-country music star that grabbed the attentions of Johnny Cash, but proved a hard win, forcing him to quit his narcotic dependence and violent self-destruction before she’d consider him. Although many have disliked Witherspoon’s work her, I simply adore it. She makes June a truly memorable, Crouchesque, person. For the audience, she can be goofy and loveable, but alone, with Johnny, she displays a vulnerable side. Witherspoon here radiates a strong, feminist, yet effortlessly loveable vibe, and every scene she appears in, she steals.

The look and feel of Johnny’s time are captured well in the set design and T-Bone Burnett guitar-led score, and the costumes are nothing short of sublime. The dressing of Cash is inspired, but it is June’s clothes – floral print, pink, domestic, or snazzy, that, again, steal the show. Each of Reese’s costumes captures the mood of her characters.
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There’s also great fun to be had in the musical numbers. Ring of Fire and Jukebox Blues allow the audience to get their toes tapping, but my favourite number is the performance of Jackson, where their unmatched chemistry is showcased in one of my favourite songs of all-time. Like the film, this song is entertaining, sweet, and more intelligent than frequently given credit for.

30 comments:

Reel Fanatic said...

Hola Emma ... I loved this one too, more than I did Ray .. I think it was the superior film because it focused on a tighter period of time and because, like you said, Reese Witherspoon was simply charming

Emma said...

Yay! A person who rates her performance. I'm very pleased you do.

Anonymous said...
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Dan said...

What. the. fuck

Emma said...

Excuse me, Daniel, but what were you doing @ my school today? :{ I think I may just give your school a call.

I kid.

Dan said...

I was there because she told me she wanted me there. What a waste.

Emma said...

Oh God, I feel for you. Unrequited love sucks, I know, but especially if she's PLAYING with you. That's cold.

Move on. You deserve way better!

Dan said...

I know I do, but I can't stop it. i can't quit her :)

I hate it

Emma said...

MSN. Now.

Anonymous said...

You done good, girl

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jaime said...

Bugger you. What do you know? What do you know at all?

Well done on the review Ems

Anonymous said...
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Irene said...

You made me want to watch this movie. I'm getting a copy now. c",)

Katie said...

Good usage of Crouch as an adjective. :)

Anonymous said...

Written by John Godber in 1987, Teechers is a play where three school leavers, Salty, Gail and Hobby, present their takes on each of the teachers at their school, Whitewall Comprehensive. Seen by all the present teachers as failures, only the new Drama teacher Mr. Nixon saw talent in these three friends and eventually they manage to enjoy school life, through the redemptive power of Drama. Godber wrote the play, primarily to entertain, but also because he was discontent with the education system as it was and it’s way of treating students who weren’t perfect. Teechers is a play of the comedy genre, the title itself being a joke – Teechers, because the school had not educated their students well. Or, at least in Godber’s opinion, well enough.
As we studied Teechers, we used a range of explorative techniques:
Still Image
On our first activity, we created a still of a stereotypical school character. I choose a Chemistry lover, and posed holding two test tubes, wearing an exaggeratedly excited face. I felt that there were characters like him everyone, including in Teechers, the characters who were very passionate about subjects.
In our lesson on caricatures, we were also asked to create a still image. Here, we expanded and exaggerated our actions to make them more noticeable and interesting. In my caricatured still image I was a furious mother. I pulled an angry face and was very expressive with my hands.
We used still image a lot when introducing our characters, and here it would be where everyone took the most notice of our postures and facial expressions – for most of the teachers I stood with a straight back to convey their sense of discipline. For the different students I did stills of, I stood in different ways –
Walter, the chemistry fan – upright and enthusiastic.
Gail – pulling gum out of her mouth, frowning, slumping.
Narrating
I created a short improvisation where I narrated a play which I was in. Here I narrated the actions of another person in the character that I was playing.
I also did narrated action, where I played a self-satisfied man who loved himself. I narrated his story, smiling through, whilst acting out everything that happened. Here I also played his wife, and gave my voice a very high pitch. I narrated his story even while he was supposedly eating, and here I mimicked how a person’s voice would sound if they were eating.
In another scene, we performed a classroom sketch that I narrated. The stimulus was the line, “Nobody speaks in Mr Basford’s lessons,” and I played an irritating student. To make her even more annoying, I have her a high pitched voice. She deviated from this when telling the story, which she told in a normal voice.
Cross Cutting
We spent a lesson focussing on the techniques in changing from character to character.
We started by just having students switching from character to character in different situations. I walked around, changing between 3 characters that could all be seen in a school - a 5 year old angel, a bored, joyless teenage boy and the caretaker, old man with a bad back. To change between these characters, I would first change posture – the girl had her legs bent down, feet faced inwards, the teenage boy slouched and curved his shoulders inwards, and the old man bent his back entirely and leaned. I then changed the facial expressions. The girl was happy, and the other two were miserable. Lastly, I altered the pace at which they walked, the girl skipped, the boy trudged and the man hobbled.
I also performed in two scenes, which we cut in between. In one I played an incompetent teacher. He had a quivering voice and ran everywhere. In the other I played the antithesis of a typical Whitewall Comprehensive character, a perfect teacher’s pet, which sat with their legs crossed and spoke with a haughty accent.
This technique helped me in the understanding of Teechers as there was a lot of cross-cutting between characters and events in this play, sometimes very rapidly.
Role play
I role played a variety of different teachers, some of which featured in Teechers. Firstly, I played the stereotypical pseudo-cool, the type who thinks students laugh with, but in truth, laugh at. He danced his way towards the centre, winked for a while, then, with a low voice, I said, “Alright? Have you heard the new 50 Dollar song? I think it’s boppin’.” The audience participated by shouting random comments at me, and this was helpful as I was able to react with some thing that I imagined by character would say. This character was crafted on the character of Deanie, and it helped to understand him better.
I performed a short passage from two Teechers characters. I spoke a line of dialogue which would likely to be said from them. My two characters were Mrs. Parry and Gail. To play Mrs. Parry I stuck my chest out proudly, and beamed at everyone. I walked in long, slow paces and spoke with a high pitched voice. This was completely different to my portrayal of Gail, who slogged her steps, stared down a lot and spoke languidly.
Playing the different types of teachers in Teechers was helpful to me in learning about how and why each behaved the way they did.
In our last performance, we performed from the script, and I played a variety of characters, from Hobby to a ninja. Here I used a combination of all four explorative strategies – I was in still image at the beginning in the pose of Hobby, standing tall and nervously, biting her nails. I narrated for a while, casually walking about. I also did narrated action, where I ran about wildly while speaking. I imitated some of the teachers, changing my voice from Hobby’s soft, colloquial tones to a posh, grown up voice. I also played Hobby imitating teachers, and this caused me to change my voice but not posture.
The different characters and situations that I met through Teechers were amusing and often enriching, and by participating in the workshop I have gathered understanding of the play, the characters and the different stages of life they go through.

cs said...

This movie is awesome, i have seen it 5 times, hope to make film like this.......

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Nasim said...

you NEED to watch it. It's AMAZING. It's absolutely phenomenal.sorry, I needed somewhere to express my joy...YAYOMGITWASSOGOOOOODD!!!
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dubaiexperies said...

yeah! A person who rates her performance. I'm very pleased you do.
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Tony said...

Love Johnny Cash and great article, really enjoyed!



Anthony Hopkins movies

Nasim said...

Oh God, I feel for you. Unrequited love sucks, I know, but especially if she's PLAYING with you. That's cold.
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Walk The Line 2005 said...

I like the music numbers especially of this movie. All are very good but few are my favorite one. Even I bought a music CD also to have it in my collection. All credit goes to the music of this movie rather the plot.

Anthony Hopkins said...

I have many Johnny Cash cds but I never heard much about his life or drugs - good review, I will try and get hold of this movie.

anthony hopkins

Floor Sanders Edinburgh said...

They are really awesome. You are really fantastic.

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I must admit that this is one great insight. It surely gives a company the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and really take part in creating something special and tailored to their needs.

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