Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2005-12-23

Walk The Line

Walk the Line: A Pop Goes the Library Review

Liz B: What a great movie! I loved the romance between Johnny Cash and June Carter. If I'd read it in a novel, I would have thought it was made up -- couldn't be real.

Melissa: I love getting reminded that truth is stranger than fiction. Especially when you can take that truth and make a really good movie about it.

Liz B: Joaquin Phoenix was amazing. I would never have thought of him for the role of Johnny Cash. But he was Johnny Cash. The way he stood, walked, smiled -- all those things that people do without thinking -- he did as if he was Johnny. And never with a sense that he was mimicking or pretending or acting; he just was Johnny Cash.

Melissa: Equally amazing to me was Reese Witherspoon. I never would have guessed she could portray the strength she showed as June Carter Cash. At first, she's all bouncy and giddy, just like you'd expect Reese Witherspoon to be. But you start seeing more from her, and you realize that the people who make you laugh are often the saddest people you'd ever know.

Liz B: Reese is one of my favorite actresses, because she can convey so much in just a look or an expression. Two high points in this movie: when June is confronted in the store by the woman who is angry that June Carter divorced her first husband; and the Thanksgiving Dinner with the Carters and the Cashs when June realizes the extent of Johnny Cash's demons.

Melissa: Oh, those are both great moments. The scene where June is confronted about her divorce was a very powerful one for me, because it shows how different things are now in this country. In particular, how about June accepting the woman's criticism? In this day and age of Jerry Springer and confrontation when you're criticized, how often do you see people turn the other cheek?

Sophie: I was amazed at how gracious and sincere June was in that moment, too. I think my favorite parts of the movie were the almost-throwaway touches, like Johnny's fandom of Bob Dylan-- Cash was one of the first real establishment musicians to embrace Dylan, and played on his album Nashville Skyline-- and references to Roy (Orbison), Buddy (Holly), and Elvis (no surname necessary, I think). At one point during the movie, my husband turned to me and asked, "Can you imagine seeing all those guys on one bill? For $2?" Which is what we guessed it must have cost kids in Texarkana to see all those soon-to-be legends at once in the mid-1950s. I think the best thing about the movie overall was that it made me want to know more about Johnny & June Carter Cash: more about their lives and about their music. It made me glad to hear interviews with both of them, and with Johnny's producer Rick Rubin on Fresh Air a few weeks ago, and I am now drooling over the new Johnny Cash box set.

Liz B: Sophie, I totally agree -- I want to know more, and I'm amazed at the people he knew and who started when he did. I get chills imagining being in the audience back then. The Johnny Cash box set is on my list of post-holiday indulgences. To be honest, I hadn't been aware of all the details of his life; I think my first memory is of watching him on Little House on the Prairie. And there was a great article in Vanity Fair about a year ago about the Rick Rubin/ Johnny Cash relationship.

Melissa: Like Sophie, I'm equally envious of those kids in Texarkana, who got to see so many legendary performers, on one bill, for 2 bucks. That's what I love so much about movies, how they can make the past seem so real that it makes you wish you were there. Walk the Line is certainly a great bio-pic, and even if you have next to no interest in Johnny Cash, like I
did before I saw the movie, you're bound to enjoy it. So try and catch it in a theater before it's gone, or put it on your list to see as soon as it's available on cable or DVD.

Additional reason to see it: Walk the Line received 3 Golden Globe nominations.

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