Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

As a so-called rock rebel once famously asked...
Well, the other night I went to watch Walk The Line, the new film biopic of a much grittier, grizzlier, more inspired and inspiring musician than Johnny Rotten: Johnny Cash.
And a lovely piece of work it was too, enough to send me scurrying back home to very deeply croon along to the full Folsom Prison concert, and five discs of late-life Unearthed gems the rest of the weekend through...
Joaquin Phoenix looked very little like the Man In Black himself - too good-looking, really - but seemed to inhabit him with the right amount of intensity. Yet Reese Witherspoon was the real revelation, a delight as the equally-delightful June Carter, both in song and in sunny comedy.
The between-concert, cramped tourbus tetchiness was well-played too, especially the simmering 'Killer' Jerry Lee Lewis - even if the gauche young Elvis cameo seemed a cute and unnecessary nod and wink too far... Did Cash never tour with anyone who didn't go on to become a rock'n'roll legend in their own right?
All in all, the performances and the music helped transform a fairly straight, unspectacular, uncannily-Ray-like biopic into top-class entertainment (speaking of Ray, while Jamie Foxx was superb and certainly Oscar-worthy as the elder Ray Charles, I'm amazed more attention hasn't been given to the spellbindingly poignant portrayal of the young Ray by C J Sanders)
Into the same class must go Coal Miner's Daughter, from 25 years ago, featuring Sissy Spacek in an Acadamy Award-winning portrayal of the goddess-like Loretta Lynn (who wittily remarks in her stunning - sorry for all the superlatives, I'll get back to whingeing soon - 2004 album Van Lear Rose: "Some big folk in Hollywood thought a movie about my life'd be good - It was a big deal, made a big splash - what I want to know's what happened to the cash...?")
But, but, BUT: ay, here's the rub.
137 whole minutes devoted to supposedly the most intriguing, important moments in the legendary life of Johnny Cash.
And yet nowhere to be seen is the scene of his crazed farmyard fight with an ostrich called Waldo, which left the outlaw who supposedly "killed a man in Reno, just to watch him die" less heroically nursing five broken ribs and a torn-open abdomen...
History fails to record the precise damage inflicted upon the ostrich.
But still: surely this is the kind of thing any right-thinking movie-goer would love to see recreated on the silver screen...?
For shame, film-makers, for shame.

Let's just hope it's being saved for the special Director's Cut DVD...

1 comment:

Adam said...

I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know much at all about Johnny Cash or any of the other acts you've mentioned. Although, you'll be glad to know that I have heard of him, but for the life of me I can't recall where.

If I'd have gone, 'ever get the feeling you've been cheated?' would be more closer to, 'who the hell was that?'. Hail to the uneducated one!