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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Quick Capsule Movie Reviews
Walk the Line
Pretty much what Jon Stewart said about this movie at the Oscars: It's Ray with white people. And I feel the same way about both biopics: their subjects weren't exactly great people. I didn't know anything about Johnny Cash before I saw the movie. Now I know that he was a philandering rocker who glorified crime. The gangsta rapper of his day, if you will. I was not impressed.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)
I have not read the book (Robert Avrech, please don't shoot me), but I enjoyed the film's understated wit. Mrs. Ralphie didn't like it because it was basically just about marrying off a bunch of chicks. Fair enough. But I did learn one thing: the difference between the rich and the poor is the servants. Rich people in England had servants who wore wigs. The poor people's servants had no wigs. And there you have it.

Also: Keira Knightly, Winona Ryder called and she wants her face back (and her career, while you're at it).

The Squid and the Whale
This movie could use less squid, more whale.

I have no idea what that means. The Squid and the Whale is a tale of divorce in Brooklyn in the 80s. Its performances are superb. Jeff Daniels' arrogant, manipulative novelist is heartbreaking in his inability for true introspection. Laura Linney, one of the best actresses out there, doesn't have a lot to do but wins you over, even though she (at first) seems to be the bad guy.

The film is more the story of the family's two sons, however, each of whom sides with one of the parents. The story is ultimately disappointing, with an ending that is just too subtle for my taste. But for some reason the film is captivating - maybe it's the abovementioned performances - to the point that Mrs. R & I forced ourselves to stay up and watch it late into the night, even though we were exhausted and the DVD has no due date.

Warning: some of the behavior in the movie is highly disgusting and disturbing. I was a little embarassed to be watching it with my wife. If my parents had been there I probably would have eaten my own lips. If you don't watch movies on principle, this is probably not the one you should start with.

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
The best of this lot. Julianne Moore stars as a woman who must eke out an existence for her 10-member family by winning 60s-era jingle contests. Woody Harrelson is superb as her sad-sack husband, an alcoholic with a dead-end job. He knows he's a loser, the kids know he's a loser, and he knows that they know that he's a loser. But, aside from sporadic outbursts, they must all behave like no one knows anything. The movie is filmed in a unique style that evokes the feel-good kitsch of the era while depicting the dire straits that this family often finds itself in.
I'm not a huge Johnny Cash fan, but did we see the same movie? I sure didn't see him glorifying crime anywhere. He did a lot of immoral stuff, to be sure. But most of his music is about his remorse. Not glorification. At least I never got that- from the movie, or from the man.
As I said, I know nothing about the man or the music. But in the movie, the only lyric we here is "I shot a man in Vegas just to watch him die." Maybe he regrets doing it - the melody is certainly morose - but all I gathered was his glorification of serving time. By extension this glorifies crime - I didn't make that clear.

When he announces that his comeback concert will be at Folsom Prison - because the incarcerated criminals seem to relate to him in overwhelming numbers - the record executives are skittish. They are meant to be the bad guys. But I'd be skittish, too. Maybe they were reluctant because they thought there would be a public backlash. But presumedly that's because the public would object to the attention lavished on the convicts. I'm sure the album did fine, but those are my reservations.

In the film, he scolds the warden for providing the prisoners with substandard drinking water. That is fair enough. But the bigger message of the scene is that the poor ol' lawbreakers deserve our sympathy. Cash is their - and therefore should be our - hero.
Plus, Reese Witherspoon's performance is fine, but the best performance of the year?
Hey, Woody Harrelson is a loser. How 'bout that.
Yes, but here he's an drunken loser, as opposed to a stoned loser.
No, Cash never shot a man in vegas, nor in Reno, which is what he actually sings. In the beginning of the film, you can see him writing the song on a pawnshop guitar in Germany. To my knowledge, Cash abused drugs and alcohol, and may have cheated on his (first) wife. He had to clean up his act to get June to marry him. Once he did, he stayed clean,(other than a brief painkiller relapse in the mid 80's, IIRC) and so far as anyone can tell, never strayed. As far as playing prisons, he did that not to have any sympathy for the prisoners- thogh he probably did- but to try to make them understand the reason they were there. You have to listen to the song a little harder: "I know I had it coming to me. I know I can't be free. But those people keep a-movin, and that's what tortures me" Cash was also a huge proponent of prison reform, and he did a lot to advance the cause.

For the last twenty years, Cash led a decent Christian life. True to his family. Wrote about the Apostle Paul, and the conversion he underwent. Humbled by his own sins. June was his rock and his life, he died a couple years after her.

I saw the movie myself a couple weeks ago, and didn't think it was bad, but if it gave you the impression he was a gangster, the filmmaker must not have done anything like a good job.
Now I know that he was a philandering rocker who glorified crime.

OG is right, we saw different movies. Cash wasn't glorifying crime at all. Folsom Prison Blues was written from the perspective of being a criminal, but not as anything that supported it.
I haven't seen a single one of those.

Hmm... How 'bout that?
Keira Knightley is much prettier than Winona ever was and way more talented. Great movie, but so was Walk The Line.
Ralphie, you definitely saw a different movie. I'm personally waiting for the Barry Manilow story, "Ray" with Jewish people.
Kiera Knightly's only mistake is opening her mouth during interviews.
Okay, let us stipulate some facts:

1.) My writing is unclear.
2.) I am confused about cities in Nevada.
3.) I didn't think that Mr. Cash shot anyone, either in self-defense or just to watch him die. If I did think that, I would really wonder why he'd sing about it on national radio, at least if I thought he didn't want to get caught. For the record, I don't think Ice-T has killed any cops, either.

I did not have any Cash background going into the movie (or starting it up on my DVD player), so I knew nothing about his God-inspired redemption. Shocking that a big Hollywood movie would leave about a positive aspect of Christianity (the only reference to religiosity that I recall is the stick-up-her-butt woman in the Piggly Wiggly who scolds June for being divorced. This woman also shows up in the crowd for the crucial "Time's a Wastin'" duet plot point. Not exactly praise of the kindness of religion).

Does Cash capture the isolation of the incarcerated criminal? I suppose. But he's not singing about a man who's been framed, or even who got caught up in a no-win situation that required him to kill. The picture of isolation painted by that song might be haunting and poetic, but I'm sorry, the line "just to watch him die" is the one that sticks in my mind. Apologies if that's not as important as empathizing with the senseless murderer's loneliness. (The murderer depicted in the song, that is - I realize that no such murder occurred in actual real life.)

And also, about everyone saying they saw a different movie - I'm talking about the one with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, released last year. You might be thinking of "Dude, Where's My Car," which was in theaters a while back. It's easy to get them confused.
"Dude, where's my car" was great! I didn't realize that was the one you were talking about.
LOL! Some people just write LOL when something was funny and made them smile, which is of course wrong since it means that you Laughed Out Loud. If something makes you smile it's worth maybe a :-) but not a LOL. I actually (b&c can vouch for me) chuckled hysterically and coughed up some phlegm. It was great. With plegm, I guess that's LOLWP.
I have trained my children to yell "And then!" at random and inappropriate moments. (After all, day school doesn't have time to cover everything.)
You're right. Day school teaches earnest, wholesome belief. Someone has to teach sarcasm.
I like pride and prejudice - but I'm predisposed to like the movie because I love the book.

it's not just about marrying girls off, either.

And winona never could act. Recently watched little women with my mom, and her delivery made me CRINGE. Heathers was the best movie she was in, and I'm afraid it was typecast.

never saw the rest of these.

Making a movie about Johnny Cash, and leaving out the Christian conversion, is just plain dumb. Oh, wait, that's exactly what Hollywood did. How 'bout that?

The real-life prize winner is my hero. My mom is very much like her.

I haven't seen P&P the movie. But in the book, which is by the wonderfully satirical Jane Austen, my favorite author, she's making fun of the fact that contemporary society is all about who marries who. If you haven't read it, go read it. If you have read it, go read it again.
"I actually (b&c can vouch for me) chuckled hysterically and coughed up some phlegm. It was great. With plegm, I guess that's LOLWP."

Dr. Bean you make me LOLWP whenever I read you. I think you should write a book.
Wickwire: Aw, shucks. Thanks! I'm working on a horrible science fiction short story. It's not at all funny.
Hmmm... maybe it should be?

has nothing to do with plegm though
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