Monday, February 13, 2006

Line, Walked

Continuing this organ’s long and honoured tradition of spinning out tedious personal occurrence into startling new insights that transform your entire schema, let me tell you that I saw and was utterly conquered by Walk The Line. I was simply incapable of enjoying it more, couldn't be done, my body just can't handle any more pleasure, at least in celluloid form.

I’m usually no fan of pop biopics, not least because of the constant clinking, clanking backing track of Industrious Calculation, as the writer, director, actors, musical directors and attorneys of the estates of the actual stars in question all conspire to spin you a tale while satisfying their agendae. Walk The Line managed to…hmm…how you managed to proceed while neither deviating to one extreme nor…no, sorry. Anyhow, the film teems with pluriform delights. The central performances (Phoenix, Witherspoon, me) were entirely un-astonishing – at no point did I not think they actually, factually really were Black and Carter (i.e. disbelief not so much suspended as levitated right off the floor and out the door); the storyline’s brilliant simultaneous cake-devourage-and-retention (covering all the necessary Big Hits moments AND satisfying each character’s classical story arc without completely traducing the actual individuals or events involved).

But chief amongst my reasons for agogitude (and yes, agogididawooing go) was the gratitude I felt for the music. The film’s practically a musical, it’s so dense with performances: T-Bone Burnett (onetime Coward Brother of Elvis Costello, lest we forget, or care) outstrips any praise available to me for his efforts therein. Phoenix actually is Johnny Cash, remember, so he gets no praise for sounding exactly like him. But Burnett is owed particular props and praise for making it all sound new and fresh and revolutionary, and it’s SO hard to hear music of that vintage for the first time. It’s the same problem with Elvis or Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong or Charlie Parker or Wagner, they cast such long shadows, it’s as if they sound like everyone else, rather than everyone else sounding like them.

And if you were seeking any other reason to love Walk The Line, its DoP was Phedon Papamichel, son of Phedon Papamichel.

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