i wouldn’t classify myself as a huge cash fan, but i definitely like the guy. naturally i was hesitant when i heard about the film, but i finally watched and must say i wasn’t disappointed.
the first two minutes of the film begin at folsom prison with the rhythm line of “folsom prison blues” playing somewhere deep within the prison. the sound here, as it is throughout the film, is just great. it’s tight, strong like a train, and heavy on the reverb to give the impression that the music is coming from the center of a cavern. as the credits roll the music gets louder and the camera gets closer to the stage, which lacks cash. the inmates are beating along to the rhythm and the tennessee three are punching out the rhythm section while waiting for johnny. it’s a powerful few minutes, especially for those who know the power of his work. the camera goes “backstage” where phoenix is in front of a bandsaw thumbing its teeth pensively. from here we go back a number of years and it’s not until about 60 minutes into the film that we pick up where we left him in the prison. it’s a great beginning that draws you in immediately. don’t be like the dozen or so texans i saw who strolled into the film 5-20 minutes after the start time.
the music and the sound were absolutely great. i can’t remember a film with such a good use of sound since the aviator (which was nominated for an academy for its sound – it lost to ray). i think that walk the line had a better use of sound than ray or aviator. take note during cash’s outburst in a hotel room during which he collapses and the music loops backwards and forwards with one of songs building slowly in the background. difficult to describe, but trust me it’s good; as is the rest of the film in this regard.
i liked most of the performances. the woman who played cash’s first wife (vivian) was less than stellar, but otherwise it was a solid cast headed up by oscar worthy performances by phoenix and witherspoon. she’s sassy, fun and strong. his voice is pretty close to cash’s, and his performance captures the cash fairly well. i still think hoffman should win though. phoenix first piqued my interest in 1992 with to die for. since then he’s gone largely unnoticed to the mainstream so it’s good to see him get such a big role.
johnny cash’s songwriting is his strength. he captures the essence of the proletariat struggle and the pain of existence so succinctly and in such a heartfelt way. add to that the fact that his songs are always so steady and walk the line (pardon the pun) between folk, country and rockabilly so well, and you have a man who truly is a legend.
could this be the new hollywood? we know that hollywood can’t tell new, original stories the way it used to. perhaps hollywood could be the source of blockbusters (which it has always done well) and biographies. i suppose that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. we’ll see how it shakes out, but there certainly does seem to be a trend: ray, walk the line, capote, north country, frida, erin brokovich, monster, hotel rwanda, aviator, ali, beautiful mind, etc. all based on true stories, all of a high caliber. anyway, walk the line is great, check it out.Watched in theater