Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Geri and I watched the movie "Walk the Line" last night and it was like deja vu all over again. I was certain I hadn't seen the film before, yet there was something about it I felt was all too familiar. And then it dawned on me.

"Walk the Line" is "Ray" with white people.

Emerging music icon comes of age. Trace his humble beginnings from childhood. Early religious influence and financial hardship. Watch the lead character pursue an unlikely career in music, rise to fame, commit adultery, abuse narcotics, and cheat death. I found the similarities between the two life stories (as told by Hollywood) quite striking - right down to the tragic loss of a brother during childhood. It was as if someone sat down with the "Ray" screenplay and edited it over a few beers. Replace onset of blindness with abusive, distant father. Replace needles with pills. Replace Foxx with Phoenix. It was essentially the same movie. That's not to say it wasn't interesting - it was just a little late.

Speaking of movies, here's one I've been meaning to recommend for some time now: "The Machinist," starring Christian Bale. We rented this one a while ago, around the same time we first saw "Crash," and both were quite moving - for different reasons. Crash succeeded thanks to its storytelling. Each character was a caricature of prejudice, and the story leveraged its frustratingly hyperbolic stereotypes to create intense, dramatic scenes that swelled with dynamic tension. I am not embarrassed to admit I liberated several tears during that one.

The Machinist, on the other hand, delivered a similarly powerful message without the constant stream of dramatic intensity. Where practically every scene in Crash delivers a jolt of some kind, The Machinist is slow and steady...until the end. I spent the entire movie wondering, "What the fuck?" It was creepy, confusing, and intentionally slow-going. But it'll keep you guessing from start to finish as you try to solve the mystery. A Kafka-esque fable for the ages, and very well done. And those aren't special effects, friends - Bale actually lost something like 70 pounds to play the role. The guy looks like a broomstick. The movie is worth renting for that reason alone, nevermind the important life lesson it shares.

Finally, while we're on movies, feel free to avoid Broken Flowers starring Bill Murray. It's a dreadfully slow movie with a curiously uninteresting plot and no resolution. I say the plot was "curiously" uninteresting because it was SO uninteresting you assume something good HAS to happen at some point. So you keep watching - curious - waiting and watching and waiting and hoping and waiting and wondering. And nothing happens. And then the credits roll and you look around the room for the Candid Camera folks because you think this HAS to be a joke.

Honestly, I think I would have had more fun clipping my toe nails. Or someone else's for that matter.

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