Sunday, November 27, 2005

Walk The Line

Rating: C+

Being as I work in country music, I felt the need, yeah compelled to see Walk the Line, the latest biopic Oscar-bait served up by Hollywood. As it turns out, the mostly true story of country music legend Johnny Cash is more interesting than most original stories coming out of Hollywood these days. Go figure.

This slice of Cash's life deals with his time between his childhood and 1968. He deals with a harsh father, the death of his brother, and basically no one that believes that he will make it as a singer. He gets married and then starts his career in Memphis alongside Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Roy Orbison. Can you imagine the seesions those guys had? Chili fries all around!

I was slightly disappointed that the movie delt more with Cash's drug addictions and his endless pursuit of goody goody singer June Carter. Johnny falls for June the moment he sees her, but as both of them are married, the union will have to wait. And so begins the dance between the two. Well, it's mostly Johnny throwing himself on her, and her rejecting him, and then him doing drugs to cope.

Joaquin Pheonix is pretty dead on as Johnny Cash. If you look at him in profile, it's a twin, but from the front, no so much. He lacks Johnny's hard edge looks and crags and wrinkles that truely shaped his music. Pheonix does look perpetually sleepy, even when sober, and he sweats a lot. Don't know if over active sweat glands were a problem with the real Johnny Cash, but they are here. Reese Witherspoon is fantastic as the lost, sometimes lonely, but very resiliant June Carter. She sure puts up with a lot more than my girlfriends have.

One place where this movie really shines is on the stage. Pheonix and Witherspoon do all thier on vocals and play thier own instruments , and they do both in very convincing fashion. Close your eyes, and you can just hear Johnny and June belting out "Jackson"

Overall, not a bad movie. It will definately be up for Oscars, there is no doubt. I just wish they had toned down the drugs and turned up more of the music. Perhaps more of his work with the American Indians or expanded the time after he got clean and became extremely religous. Oh well, it seems that the scars and all biopic pattern that is being set in Hollywood is here to stay for now.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Rating: B+

Harry Potter is growing up and experiencing all the normal changes a teenager goes through; noticing girls, straining friendships, awkward sexual moments, goofing off in class, fighting dragons, getting blasted by evil wizards, you know, normal stuff.

We find Harry starting his fourth year at Hogwarts, and there is more villany afoot. This year, Hogwarts has been chosen to host the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Two more schools show up, a all-girl Frenchie school and a Bulgarian school. Oh, will Harry win the tournament? Gee I wonder.

This is probably the best Harry Potter movie so far next to the first one. I have a hard time remembering everything that's happened up until now, so I got lost a few times, and I'm sure I didn't get one or several jokes or insights that I should have had I read the books or watched the other movies more intently.

The characters are portrayed very well as awkward teenagers. They are falling in love, experiencing jealousy, and starting to realize what growing up a wizard is all about. Harry is probably the most out of place ironically, but he's got the tournament to worry about. The movies are gradually focusing more on him than the others, but that's to be expected. Ron's brothers provide a ton of comic relief.

This Harry Potter is darker, scarier (not for the littler ones), and in fact funnier than the others. The special effects are top notch. Alan Rickman is hilarious. Brendan Gleeson is fantastic as Mad Eye Moody. Of course the main three are good as usual.

This one is worth checking out and no doubt will make a dragon-load of money. Plus, there is the King Kong trailer and the Superman Returns teaser before it. Now get on your broom and go see it!