Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dramatization may not have happened

Finally saw "Walk the Line" this weekend. I wanted to lie down afterward.
I love Johnny & June. I love singing along to "Jackson" on the Folsom Prison album, I love their voices and I love their story. But this movie was just unpleasant. When the final credits came up I just crumpled with relief; one more close-up of a sweaty face or big hollow eyes would've done me in.
It's not that it was too gritty. I've no doubt Johnny and June went through a lot of bad times, with the divorces and the drug addiction and the moral qualms. The movie happily outlines it all: John's hardscrabble childhood with a distant dad; his rocky first marriage; his drug-fueled smashing up of rooms; his screaming children. Meanwhile, June gets yelled at in a five-and-dime for getting divorced. It left me wondering what parts they left out.
What's missing is them FALLING IN LOVE. What do they like about each other? The movie gives you almost no moments of peace. Johnny is just suddenly obsessed with her and starts chasing her around, yelling at her offstage and being a jerk to her onstage. By the time he proposes, in what's supposed to be a lavishly romantic scene, I just couldn't stand it. Why should she say yes? What does she see in him? Obviously some biographical facts were edited out; why couldn't their story have been arranged to indicate some kind of progression? Neither of them seems to have matured or changed at all. Reese and Joaquin get so into working up the proper mannerisms that they abandon characterizations. They play Johnny and June as two sets of costumes. And their outfits are great, but you need more than that to hang a movie on.
Verdict: Blech. And that's without even mentioning Joaquin's singing voice, which sounds like a buzzsaw.

Today's book: Tithe, by Holly Black. I've been looking forward to this so much, and the first three chapters don't disappoint. It's both a sweet coming-of-age story and a fairy tale.

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