Posts Tagged ‘reese witherspoon’

This film tells the story of the life of Johnny Cash, covering the years from 1944, when he was a young boy working on his father’s farm, until his groundbreaking concert at Folsom State Prison in 1968.  The film concentrates on Cash’s rise to fame, and addiction to drugs, and his relationships with his first wife Viv, and his second wife, country singer June Carter (later June Carter Cash).

Johnny Cash personally approved Joaquin Phoenix to portray him (having apparently enjoyed Phoenix’s role in Gladiator) and June Carter Cash approved Reese Witherspoon to portray her.  (Sadly both Johnny and June died before the film was released.)  I thought that both Phoenix and Witherspoon were terrific.  Both were nominated for an Oscar for their performances in this film, and Witherspoon actually won.  (Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Best Actor award, beating both Phoenix, and Heath Ledger for his role in Brokeback Mountain.  Personally, I would have loved either Phoenix or Ledger to have won.)

What is quite amazing is that both the leads learned how to play the instruments which Johnny and June Cash played, and they also performed all the singing themselves.  And frankly, I thought they nailed it.  Phoenix may be a reluctant star, but he certainly has bags of talent and charisma.  He gives a note-perfect turn, and I really believed in his performance.

Ginnifer Goodwin was also great as Vivian Cash, Johnny’s long-suffering first wife.  It has been strongly suggested that the character portrayed in this film was unfair to Vivian, and that she was actually far nicer than shown in the film (Johnny and June’s son John Carter Cash, was an executive producer on this film, and he has acknowledged the criticism and said that he wanted to show the love story of his parents.  Roseanne Cash, Johnny and Vivian’s daughter, has been critical of the film also.)

The story was fascinating, showing how Cash always blamed himself for a family tragedy which occurred when he was a young boy, and which contributed to the very strained relationship with his father (Robert Patrick).  It chronicles his early struggles to make it in the music business, and his subsequent success.  Naturally, there is some excellent music throughout!  It is a gripping and sometimes very sad tale, but it is ultimately uplifting.  The chemistry between Phoenix and Witherspoon is almost palpable, and the play off one another very well.

I would have liked to have seen the story continue past 1968, and perhaps show more of Cash’s social and political views; it perhaps concentrated too heavily on the love between Johnny and June, but maybe this film is better viewed as a love story, rather than a complete biography.  Either way, the superb music and atmosphere, and the two incredible performances at the heart of the film make this well worth watching, even for those not familiar with Johnny Cash’s music.

(For more information about Johnny Cash, please click here.)

Year of release: 2005

Director: James Mangold

Producers: John Carter Cash, Alan C. Blomquist, James Keach, Cathy Konrad, Lou Robin

Writers: Johnny Cash (book ‘Man in Black’ – based on) (book ‘Cash: The Autobiography’ – based on), Patrick Carr (book ‘Cash: The Autobiography’ based on), Gill Dennis, James Mangold

Main cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Waylon Payne

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No…not the vampire love story with Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson. This film boasts an impressive cast – Paul Newman is the lead (and still looking great at 73), with Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, James Garner, Liev Schreiber, Reese Witherspoon and Stockard Channing. Newman plays Harry Ross, a slightly down-at-heel retired private detective, who lives with his friends Jack and Catherine Ames (Hackman and Sarandon). When Jack, who is dying of cancer, asks Harry to do him a favour, Harry finds himself entering a murky world of betrayal and deceit, and uncovering some unsavory aspects of his friends’ past.

This film reminded me very much of the film noirs which were so popular during the 1940s and 1950s – in fact, I could almost imagine it in smoky black and white, with Humphrey Bogart starring! That is no criticism on my part; I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It has a mature (and I do mean mature, not old) cast, and a mature storyline. The acting is, as you would expect from such a stellar cast, impressive throughout, and Newman is perfect as the narrator and hero – of sorts – of the picture. He combines his natural charm, with world-weary emotion. You get the feeling that Ross is just plain tired of the world he inhabits, and he is just one of many characters in this film who are unsatisfied wtih their lives. Susan Sarandon has a timeless beauty, and looks stunning here, and Hackman….well, he’s just always terrific.

The plot has twists and turns, but it doesn’t get too complicated, which is a good thing. I like films that encourage the audience to think, but not films that are just too convoluted and end up being just plain confusing.

I would say that this is not the best film that any of the stars ever made, but if you are a fan of any of the cast, it is certainly worth a watch.

Year of release: 1998

Director: Robert Benton

Producers: Michael Hausman, Arlene Donovan, Scott Rudin, Scott Ferguson, David McGiffert

Writers: Robert Benton, Richard Russo

Main cast: Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, Stockard Channing, Reese Witherspoon, James Garner

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Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, a pretty and popular blonde sorority queen.  She is stunned when her boyfriend dumps her because he needs “a Jackie, not a Marilyn.”  She decides that the only way to get him back is to go to Harvard Law School – where he is also going – so he can see that she is proper ‘wife material’.  Elle amazes everyone by getting into Harvard, but once there, she finds that a ditzy blonde with a love of fashion is not going to be very popular – and she will have to work hard, not just at her studies, but at fitting in and making friends.  And will it all be worth it in the end?  Will she get her boyfriend back?

Reese Witherspoon is a great actress and really shines in romantic comedies. Here, she plays the part of Elle to perfection, and makes the audience root for her all the way.  Able support is given by Luke Wilson (adorable as the only real friend she makes at Harvard) and Jennifer Coolidge, as Elle’s beautician. (Connelly, who I often find quite annoying, was great in this film).  Selma Blair also shines as Elle’s love rival.

The only scene which didn’t work for me is the ‘bend and snap’ scene, where Elle teaches a number of women in a beauty salon how to do a move which will make men find them irresistibly attractive.  However, I can certainly forgive one slightly dodgy scene in an otherwise good film.

The ending is pretty predictable, but the film is no less enjoyable for that.  The charisma of the main actress carries the audience along, and this is a movie that left me with a big smile on my face.  I’m certainly not surprised that this was popular enough to become a hit musical stage show.

Year of release: 2001

Director: Robert Luketic

Writers: Amanda Brown (book), Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith

Main cast: Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Luke Wilson, Jennifer Coolidge

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Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon) is a young doctor, so dedicated to her work that she has barely any social life at all.  She agrees to go on a blind date that her sister has set up for her, but as she’s driving there, she loses concentration for a second and when she looks up, a huge truck is headed straight for her car…

Three months later, David Abbot (Mark Ruffalo) – depressed at end of his marriage, and drinking too much – is looking for an apartment in San Francisco. After looking at several unsuitable ones, he finds one that seems perfect and moves in.  But he hasn’t been there long when a young woman named Elizabeth appears claiming that the apartment is hers.  She turns up with increasing frequency – but she has a habit of disappearing before his eyes…and why is David the only one that can see her?…

I thought this was a charming and amusing film.  The two leads are both wonderful and cute-as-a-button in their roles and there is real chemistry between them.  Mark Ruffalo and Reese Witherspoon raised the movie above ‘made for daytime tv’ status and I ended up caring about their characters and what happened to them.  There are also some very amusing scenes (including a few laugh out loud moments).  There was plenty of scope for visual comedy, and Ruffalo played these scenes to perfection.

This is basically just a feel great romantic comedy with a bit of a twist…able support is provided by rest of the cast, especially John Heder, as a young man who is able to sense ghosts and whose help David seeks, but this is really David and Elizabeth’s story.  I’d call it a ‘comfort movie’ – the sort of film that you’d put on when you need something to smile at.  It’s definitely one which I will watch again.  Definitely recommended to fans of comedy and rom-coms.

Year of release: 2005

Director: Mark Waters

Writers: Marc Levy (book), Peter Tolan, Leslie Dixon

Main cast: Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, Jon Heder

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