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We caught a preview screening of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line last week. What is it with biopics lately? Ray, Good Night and Good Luck, Capote - c'mon, Hollywood, give me some good fiction! As educational as these films can be, I have PBS, Discovery Channel, The History Channel, The Biography Channel, and a slew of Behind the Music/True Hollywood Story shows for my edutainment.
Walk the Line features Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and he does a fine job impersonating the man, as well as bringing some of those boiling emotions to the screen. The script could've followed any of the many important plot lines in Johnny's life - his musical career, his struggles with drugs, his struggles with family, but it goes for romance with his nearly lifelong pursuit of June Carter, played by a cute-as-a-button Reese Witherspoon. Some of the other plot lines are woven into the tale but they take a back seat for the most part. It's probably a wise choice, as it's tough to sum up any person's life in 135 minutes of film and this plot probably has the broadest appeal. They didn't take as many chances with the script or photography as were done with Ray, which is too bad as Johnny took just as many chances with his life and work as did Ray Charles. But there are moments when Joaquin turns his head a certain way and cradles the guitar that you could swear you're backstage and back in time, watching Johnny Cash crank out music that grabs you by the bones. Definitely worth seeing.
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