Monday, April 17, 2006


After finishing the Nelson Algren interview book on Saturday I biked on down to Chicago’s corporate-posing-as-indie theater (our franchise of the Landmark Theater chain) and saw the documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Great if sad and troubling film about the artist’s life. Even if you’re not into his music it's worth seeing as a film that, on one hand, investigates the age-old connection of mental illness to great artistry, and on another, as a film that examines just how one devoutly religious middle-American family deals with the needs of a very troubled son. There’s so much more to the film than the hipster, name check, circle jerk it could have been in the wrong hands. Goddamn, go see this.

Sunday night the lady and I settled in to watch Oscar-bait biopic, Walk The Line. For all the hype, for all the good reviews (both professional and friendly) I’d expected to like it much more than I did. Sure, Joaquin (sp? I don’t care to look it up) Phoenix nailed the drawl and the music numbers, but his overall performance was a horrid display of posturing in place of actual acting. He didn’t for a second let us into Cash’s world, his psyche. Totally uninteresting, uninvolving and, perhaps most importantly, unrevelatory. That goes for the story as well. The story left out every ounce of politics in the guy’s life and music… an element utterly essential to understanding either. It instead revolved around little more than pill-popping Johnny's decade-long flirtation with his future wife, June—played by the singular light of the entire film, Reese Witherspoon. But even this aspect seemed crafted as a formula to yield maximum oscar-ability. Yeesh.

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