In the last year Chris and I have mostly been watching TV-series on DVD, and as result our film-on-DVD watching has markedly decreased. We have made it to the same amount of films at the Theatre, but have still fallen behind, and have huge backlog of movie released since Aay was born, and we moved to Brooks.
This weekend was a bit of movie watching extravaganza, watching Ray, The Godfather and Walk The Line in quick succession.
Ray was highly touted, well-reviewed, and Oscar bound last winter when we missed its theatrical release. The movie lived up to the hype. I found it moving, well-acted, and satisfying. My favorite aspect of the film was the fact they didn’t sugarcoat Ray Charles, and honestly presented him and his story warts and all. It was stomach turning at points to see they way he treated some of the people who loved him most in his life. Seeing his self-destructive behavior contrasted with his creative genius was amazing. The scene where he rejects Margery (brilliantly acted by Regina King) and her pregnancy and then channels her anger into his aggressive rendition of “Hit the Road Jack” was just eye-popping. I predictably cried early and often. Chris was particularly impressed by the quality of the sound editing, and how it made multiple scene in them movie hit the right note.
Months ago, I promised Chris that I would watch The Godfather trilogy with him at some point. On Monday night I finally lived up to my promise. I had watched approximately 80 of The Godfather, almost by cultural osmosis, watching snippets here and there out of order thanks to its multiple television airings in my lifetime, and many of the scenes that I hadn’t watched I have seen parodied, particularly the Brando tomato garden death scene. Despite that, I did enjoy the movie, even if I couldn’t resist responding meta-textually to many elements, like Michael’s relationship with Apollonia and Sonny’s incredible ill-suited to be a Mafia Don. Some of the time-hopping transition were jarring and confusing to me, especially Michael’s return to America, and he reunion with Diane Keaton’s Kay. Both Ray and Walk the Line did a much better job of creating clear timeline with the simple addition of date captions. The information was there in the Godfather, but when Michael returns and he says he has been back for a year, the part of me who already knew that he would soon by lying to Kay routinely made me extremely distrustful of him. The one element of the movie’s hype that decreased my enjoyment was the adoration for Marlon Brandon’s performance. I spent the first part of the movie wondering why Brando seemed to be have mothballs in his mouth but once I just accepted that Don Corleone must have been hit one too many times in the jaw as young man, I was able to accept it as acting choice and appreciate the performance. I am eager to see how the continuing two films further the story.
To our probably irrational shock, we were pleased to discover that our local movie theatre was bringing in Walk the Line to Brooks this week. We took advantage of discount Tuesday, and our friend Anna Marie’s kindness and took in the film in last night. As we sat in the theatre, and watched the rows continued to fill, I realized how perfectly fitted Walk the Line is for our community. After all, the target audience of middle-aged Christian Country music fans is well represented in our community. I really enjoy Johnny Cash, but only knew snatches of his biography, and I have to admit to having allowed a significant amount of myth to enter into my mental biography of him, as a result. The movie carefully laid out the emotional and music chronology that lead to the Folsom Prison Concert and the June and Johnny’s marriage. I really enjoyed the film and I think they did a wonderful job weaving Johnny’s signature hits into the story-telling. The one character in the movie that I think didn’t get is due was Mrs. Cash, Johnny’s mother, who introduced Gospel and music to his life, but is equally cold to Johnny during his adult-hood. Her quiet rejection at the Thanksgiving dinner I thought was sacrified for the showdown with Elder Mr. Cash. The Carter’s however stole the movie. Resse Witherspoon’s performance as June Carter was fantastic. Her attraction, sorrow, conflict, and pain were wonderfully conveyed and if I didn’t know how the story ended I would I have been rooting June to walk far far away from Johnny, because as her mother plainly expressed it, “the boy is mixed-up.” Yet, the Carter’s go so far as to nurse him thru withdrawal, shoo drug delivery men of Johnny’s property with double barreled shot-guns and just help him do what he couldn’t do by himself, learn to love himself. The sharpest and truest thing I think June tells him was on the bus as they leave Folsom and he tries to propose yet again, was that things don’t just sort themselves out, but that others where always sorting things out for him. She constantly tried to force him to take ownership of his life and his decisions. This statement was then quickly followed up by Johnny’s onstage proposal. I find public proposals to be manipulative and dangerous, but I think it was Johnny’s words of public commitment, of his desire to be the one to take care of her (if I am remembering correctly) that finally make the difference for June, and she finally accepts, and not the fact that it is in public, for she has never been shy about fleeing the stage when he tried other stage stunts in the past.
So 4 nights, 3 great movies, can’t complain about that.