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A few thoughts about...WALK THE LINE


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#1 of 55 Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 15 2006 - 08:16 AM

Posted Image

Steady like a train. Sharp like a razor.


I never considered myself a huge fan of Johnny Cash
and after watching Walking The Line, I don't
foresee myself going out and buying any of his music.
On the other hand, watching this upcoming DVD release
was a very positive experience for me. I walked away
with a better understanding and appreciation for the
man behind the music.

While watching Walk The Line, I couldn't help
but to be reminded of the 2004 film, Ray, whose
storyline almost runs parallel to that of Johnny Cash.
Both are stories that involve a lackluster southern
childhood, the death of a brother, and a sudden rise
to fame and fortune that leads to dependency of alcohol
and drugs.

In the same way that Jamie Foxx captured the essence
of Ray Charles, Joaquin Phoenix has resurrected the
"Man in Black" from the dead, not only completely
nailing all his mannerisms but the brooding voice as
well.


Posted Image


This film could have easily fallen into a slump
with its repetition of depressing themes if not
for the inclusion of Reese Witherspoon as June
Cater. It is a performance certain to win her an
Oscar for Best Actress. From the moment Reese walks
on stage, we are drawn into her smile, energy, and
relentless spunk.

The DVD transfer is quite good, though there is a
noticeable amount of grain in the southern childhood
sequences that take up the first quarter of the film.
I summized that the grain was intentional, as it quickly
disappears as the film progresses into Johnny's adult
years. The film has a very subdued color pallette with
mostly earthy tones. This isn't a colorful film by
any means, and I actually enjoyed the warmth of this
transfer, though it's a bit on the soft side resulting
in a slight loss in detail. Perhaps again...intentional.

Audio is excellent. The concert sequences put Joaquin
and Reese in the three front channels while the sounds
of an appreciative audience can be heard roaring through
the rears. The rear channels also make great use of
weather effects including thunder, wind, and even the
movement of trees in the background.


Posted Image


While yet another biopic where everyone roots for
the man who cheats on his wife and becomes dependant
on drugs and alcohol, Walk The Line somehow
remains very entertaining mostly for its dead-on
performances from its stars. I'll even go on record
saying that there was a lot of toe-tapping going on
throughout.

This is absolutely a film worth a blind purchase.

Release Date: February 28, 2006

Note: Compressed screencaps are not a proper
representation of film ratio or transfer quality.

Ronald J Epstein
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#2 of 55 Brandon Conway

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Posted February 15 2006 - 09:44 AM

I enjoyed the film a lot and I'm looking forward to the DVD. Thanks for your thoughts, Ron.

The one thing I felt the film lacked, however, was a better understanding of WHY Cash's music was so important to the industry/American musical culture. Ray seemed to do that better.

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#3 of 55 Justin Bauer

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Posted February 15 2006 - 11:32 AM

My favorite movie of the year by far and I cannot wait for the DVDs.

My one problem with the movie is that it did not touch on Cash in his latter years...only his struggles. I know that alot of people did not "cheer for the man who does drugs and cheats on his wife." Most of my friends who saw the movie and know nothing of Cash did not understand why people liked him so much...one friend even claimed she hated him because of what he did to his first wife. The movie failed to show some of these people that Cash was more than just a cheating, alcoholic.

This is one of the only biopics that I feel needs a follow up. There is soo much more they can cover, the surface was barely scratched.

I was a casual Cash fan who knew alot about him just from my diehard friends and family. I have since bought The Legend CD box set and several other albums.

Thanks for the initial impressions Ron. I saw the movie 3 times in theaters and each audience reacted differently to the movie. I was amazed when during 2 viewings that the audience would actually stamp their feet and clap with the songs...I have never experienced anything like that before in a movie theater.
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#4 of 55 Shane_M

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Posted February 15 2006 - 12:53 PM

I'm right on par with you Ron. The only problem I found with the DVD was the audio. I found some of the dialog muffled. I'll be re-watching it in DTS tonight.

I've never been a fan of Johnny Cash either. In fact the only song that I knew he sung was Ring of Fire. I won't be running out to get any of his stuff, but I must say I gained a new respect for the man in black.

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#5 of 55 Tim Glover

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Posted February 16 2006 - 01:55 AM

Good Stuff...one of the year's best Posted Image

#6 of 55 Juan C

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Posted February 16 2006 - 02:51 AM

Great stuff Ron. I'm looking forward to watching this one.

BTW...

Quote:
Note: Compressed screencaps are not a proper
representation of film ratio or transfer quality.

No kidding. When I looked at the second screencap I thought for a second that Reese Witherspoon had been replaced by Sarah Jessica Parker. Posted Image

#7 of 55 Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 16 2006 - 04:01 AM

Been a long time since I did screencaps
and PowerDVD isn't saving the captures in
the correct ratio despite the fact I select
"keep in original aspect ratio." Not sure
where the problem is, but I wanted to make
certain that nobody got the wrong impression
of the aspect ratio from those screen caps.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#8 of 55 Ray H

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Posted February 16 2006 - 05:29 AM

I think it's supposed to be set as "keep in current aspect ratio" or something like that.
"Here's looking at you, kid."

 


#9 of 55 Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 16 2006 - 05:37 AM

Ray,

See my post above yours. That's exactly
what was done.

Ronald J Epstein
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#10 of 55 Eric Huffstutler

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Posted February 16 2006 - 05:46 AM

Been having problems with Power DVD myself in the fact that it went from working flawlessly to died completely - or lets say won't recognize any DVDs. Thought that maybe that Sony anti-copy protection thing had something to do with it and so downloaded the patch from them. It made my DVD-ROM play music again but not movies?

As for the movie, I am a sucker for biopics and this looks like another purchase for me.

Eric

#11 of 55 Andrew Bunk

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Posted February 16 2006 - 07:40 AM

Guys,

If I right-click on the screen capture button in PowerDVD, I get some options, one of which is "By Current Video Window Size". This is what you want instead of "By Original Video Source Size". This is in PowerDVD 4.0 Not sure if it's called something different in later versions.

And Eric, I've found PowerDVD goes wonky once in a while, and I simply reinstall, which seems to correct any issues.
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#12 of 55 Ray H

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Posted February 16 2006 - 08:47 AM

Quote:
See my post above yours. That's exactly
what was done.
You said you have it set as "original size" but it should be "current size"
"Here's looking at you, kid."

 


#13 of 55 Andrew Radke

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Posted February 17 2006 - 01:39 AM

Thanks for the impressions Ron. I saw this just before Christmas and am eagerly waiting this on DVD. I of course will be getting the 2-disc set. Not only for the amazing cover art, but the music videos as well. The musical numbers to me were some of the strongest points of the film, second only to the amazing performances by the film's leads. I literally couldn't take my eyes off the screen when I first saw this, and I'm ecstatic to finally be able to own this.
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#14 of 55 Matthew Clayton

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Posted February 17 2006 - 09:39 AM

I saw the film yesterday and I was blown away by how good it was. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon definitely deserved their Oscar nominations and then some. It wasn't boring at all, and the musical sequences were well-edited and quite rousing. I found myself stamping my feet and clapping during those sequences (I didn't worry about anyone seeing me, as I was the only one at the matinee showing). And I was very satisfied -- it's never boring and Phoenix just captured the mannerisms and voice of Johnny Cash.

I have to say that this is Reese Witherspoon's most serious work in her entire career, and she was just fantastic. If she choses more of these meaty roles later on and stop appearing in frothy romantic comedies, she could have a really good career ahead of her.

I look forward to getting the 2-Disc Collector's Edition in 11 days. Funny, that movie had been playing at my local theater since November, and it's going be shown for another week.

#15 of 55 Richard--W

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Posted February 17 2006 - 11:57 PM

Quote:
I never considered myself a huge fan of Johnny Cash and after watching Walking The Line, I don't foresee myself going out and buying any of his music.

While Joaquin Phoenix's vocal impression is servicable, Johnny Cash's voice was much richer and deeper. Try listening to Johnny Cash himself, particularly his early Sun recordings. These are among the most important recordings of the 20th century, for many reasons. Then listen to the Folsom Prison concert. Even if you don't like early country music, you may come away with a different impression.

I was pleasantly surprised by how factual the film is and how seriously it treats its subject. It avoids a history lesson, but it captures some of the atmosphere and colorful characters of the time. I particularly enjoyed the tour caravan. These early country / rockabilly singers were a bunch of misfits and freaks with an enormous talent, and they were doing something new and different in music for the very first time. Johnny Cash and his music was part of that.

#16 of 55 Robert Crawford

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Posted February 18 2006 - 12:02 AM

While Joaquin Phoenix's vocal impression is servicable, Johnny Cash's voice was much richer and deeper. Try listening to Johnny Cash himself, particularly his early Sun recordings.

I totally agree with that assessment. I have some of Cash's early efforts because of my deep interest in early rock n roll.





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#17 of 55 Richard--W

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Posted February 18 2006 - 12:31 AM

I also enjoyed the impersonations. Maybelle and Ezra Carter were living legends by the time Johnny Cash met their daughter June. The Carters were the first country / hillbilly singers to be recorded in the United States during the 1920s; all country music originates with them. Sandra Ellis Lafferty and Dan Beene nailed Maybelle and Ezra perfectly. Waylon Payne really stands out, investing Jerry Lee Lewis with an egocentricity and hint of danger that was no joke -- he killed three of his wives. Dan John Miller and Larry Bagby were perfect as the Tennessee Two, Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant.

But what I like most about the film was the absence of CGI. They don't use it and we don't miss it. The mid-1950s music scene is recreated convincingly the old-fashioned way.

#18 of 55 Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 19 2006 - 12:34 AM

Quote:
These early country / rockabilly singers were a bunch of misfits and freaks with an enormous talent

This was sort of brought out in the
film and managed to surprised me the
most.

Imagine....Johnny Cash hanging out with
Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, a bunch of misfits
blowing shit up in the parking lot.

Ronald J Epstein
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#19 of 55 Henry Gale

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Posted February 19 2006 - 01:02 AM

Quote:
Waylon Payne really stands out, investing Jerry Lee Lewis with an egocentricity and hint of danger that was no joke -- he killed three of his wives.


Really?
And he's still walking the streets?
Waylon Payne's characterization did not even begin to approach the reality of Jerry Lee Lewis, but I think that was a purposeful choice to keep the focus of the film on Johnny Cash.
One of Jerry Lee's nicknames is The Killer, like all much loved beings he has several including The Hawk and the Ferriday Fireball.
"Killer" comes from him calling everyone else Killer, it's not based on his activities.
He once shot his bass player accidentally. Accidental shootings do happen. He has never been charged in the death of a wife.
Of Jerry's six ex-wives four are enjoying good health. Jaren drowned, alone, in a swimming pool and Shawn died of a methadone overdose.

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Some men are searchin for the Holy Grail
But there ain't nothin sweeter 
Than riden' the rails."
-Tom Waits-

#20 of 55 Richard--W

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Posted February 19 2006 - 02:15 AM

Quote:
Waylon Payne's characterization did not even begin to appoach the reality of Jerry Lee Lewis, but I think that was a purposeful choice to keep the focus of the film on Johnny Cash.


Sure he did. He was required to suggest the personality of the young Jerry Lee in a few short scenes, and he did it quite well. But I accept your account of his bio over the stuff I read a long time ago. My best acquaintance with Jerry Lee Lewis is through the Bear Family box-set that gathers his complete recordings for Sun.

Quote:
This was sort of brought out in the film and managed to surprised me the most.

Imagine....Johnny Cash hanging out with Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, a bunch of misfits blowing shit up in the parking lot.


You ain't seen nothin' yet. They all knew each other, because they were all recording for Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis. Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Elvis Presley before he became famous. They all toured the country together playing loud, wild music where none had ever been heard before. The reactions they provoked gave birth to rock and roll. Those tours were an adventure. Sam Phillips created a country / rockabilly renaisance in the mid-1950s. He also created a blues renaisance. A lot's been written about it. Walk the Line barely has enough time to delve into this incredible time; it's another movie, waiting to happen.

What I meant to say about The Carter Family -- Maybelle and family virtually created and defined country music with the songs they recorded between 1927 and 1938, and by the time Cash met the daughter June, a new industry had grown up around their songs. Every performer owed their career to the Carters and looked up to them. Yet they remained unaffacted, down-to-earth people, still living in rural Virginia, still driving a pick-up, ready to scare off the drug-dealer with the shotgun. So it makes sense for Sandra Ellis Lafferty and Dan Beene to underplay their roles. If they acted like celebrities, it would have been all wrong.

Everyone should check out those Bear Family box-sets here which collect all the original recordings for Sun in chronological order, and then some. What Criterion is to home video, Bear Family is to music.


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