The story of the late great Johnny Cash depicted in Walk the Line is not quite all encompassing. The film dramatizes just one moment in Cash's life: his tumultuous 20s and rise to fame. The young Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) married and straight out of the army struggles with his music finally finding his patented blend of country blues and rock music. Haunted by a troubled childhood Cash sings songs about death love treachery and sin--and shoots straight to the top of the charts. On tour he also meets and falls for his future wife June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) whose refusal to meddle with a married man only further fuels the fire and contributes to his eventual drug addiction. Their cat-and-mouse love story provides the film’s core but unfortunately can’t quite overcome Walk the Line’s formulaic nature. Biopics are generally good to actors. Phoenix and Witherspoon could easily each walk away with Oscar statuettes for turning in two of the most jaw-dropping spellbinding performances since well Jamie Foxx in Ray. Neither actor had any musical background whatsoever but they both underwent painstaking transformations for the sake of authenticity doing all of their own singing as well as guitar-playing for Phoenix. The actor's performance is purely raw and visceral; his vulnerability is aptly palpable at first but then he becomes the Cash with the unflinching swagger. Witherspoon's Carter is Cash's temptress and she'll be yours too by movie's end. She eerily reincarnates Carter as if she was born to play the part. If Walk the Line is the ultimate actor's canvas then Phoenix and Witherspoon make priceless art-and music-together. While good for the actors biopics can prove to be difficult for the director. It’s hard to highlight a person’s life without it coming off like a TV movie of the week. Unfortunately director James Mangold (Copland) plays it safe with Walk the Line. The duets between Johnny and June on stage are about the only electrifying moments of the film. The rest is pretty stereotypical. And it isn’t because the film only focuses on certain years of Cash's life. It's simply not possible to fit a lifetime into the short duration of a film. The problem instead is that Mangold's presentation of Cash's life would lead one to believe that Cash actually exorcised his demons. But in reality his lifelong demons are what endeared him to the layperson. There was nothing cut and dry about the Cash story--and adding a little grit would have given Walk the Line the edge it needed.
November 07, 2001 11:46am EST
The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is calling claims that the film is in head-to-head competition with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone crazy. Reuters reports that while newspapers have cast the two movies as rivals for box office receipts, Jackson has declared himself a huge Harry Potter fan and hopes the film will do well. The Lord of the Rings premieres in London on Dec. 10.
Harry Potter was named the most famous character in English literature in a poll conducted by marketing research group NOP World. The survey asked 1,000 people of all ages to name the first fictional character that came into their heads. According to PageSix.com, Harry beat out Winnie the Pooh, Sherlock Homes and Oliver Twist.
Screenwriter Gregory Grant's copyright case claiming Steven Spielberg stole his idea for DreamWorks' 1998 Small Soldiers is headed for trial early next year, Variety reports. Defense attorney Bert Fields claims DreamWorks has a license from Grant's ex-wife and co-author, which defeats an infringement claim under copyright law, but Grant says Spielberg sought out his ex-wife after he sued and bought her off for $20,000.
Author Richard Martin Stern died on Oct. 31 at his Santa Fe home, The Associated Press reports. Stern, 86, wrote The Tower, which was the basis for the 1974 film Towering Inferno.
British film director Roy Boulting died on Monday, Reuters reports. Boulting, 87, made some of Britain's best known films from the 1940s to the 1970s, including Brighton Rock and I'm All Right, Jack.
British playwright Anthony "Sleuth" Shaffer has died of a heart attack at his London home at age 75, Reuters reports. His thriller Sleuth ran 2,000 performances in London and on Broadway before being turned into a hit film starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.
Chris Carter is in talks with 20th Century Fox to develop a second X-Files feature film. According to Variety, no cast deals have been set but original series stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have indicated interest in returning for the sequel.
Angelina Jolie and actor-director husband Billy Bob Thornton arrived in Cambodia on Wednesday for a weeklong visit, Reuters reports. They will join United Nations projects with returned refugees on the Thai-Cambodia border. Jolie is the goodwill ambassador for the UN's refugee agency.
Little-known actress Renee Aubry is challenging Friday's Screen Actors Guild election results, Reuters reports. Aubry claims said the results should be voided because 25,000 ballots mailed out to New York-area members lacked the signature line and instructions that were included on the ballots sent to West Coast members. Melissa Gilbert defeated Valerie Harper for president.
Paul McCartney said he cried every day for the first six months he went out with Heather Mills because he was still grieving for his wife Linda who died of breast cancer in 1998. McCartney and Mills are getting married next year, Reuters reports.
The Concorde is once again flying celebs and other jet-setters from London to New York, according to Reuters. On Wednesday, the airliner returned to service for the first time since its crash in Paris last year. Sting and broadcaster David Frost were among those who checked in at London's Heathrow airport for the 200-minute trip across the Atlantic.
Country crooner Garth Brooks will give a welcome-home concert for the crew of the Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise on Nov. 21, AP reports. The concert will take place on the flight deck of the Enterprise, which is scheduled to return to Norfolk, Virg., on Saturday. It will be the second of three "Garth Brooks: Coast to Coast Live" concert specials broadcast by CBS.
Production on Hank Azaria's upcoming NBC sitcom has been shut down since last week, Variety reports. Five episodes of The Hank Azaria Show had already been produced when executive producer Seth Kurland exited the project because of creative differences.