Blindspot 2017: Walk the Line (2005)

Walk the line

Plot: A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash’s life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins.

I’ve really had a very good run with my Blindspots this year. I really pretty much enjoyed every film on the list I’ve chosen, which makes it that much better than last year’s. I continued this good streak with Walk the Line, the 2005 biopic of Johnny Cash’s life. There is a bit more to the success of watching this film, as I’ve had the DVD for four years now. The protracted delay in seeing this reputably excellent film started to get silly, hence the adding to the Blindspot this year.

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I enjoyed Walk The Line very much. Joaquin Phoenix is simply phenomenal as Johnny Cash. He manages to be tortured, sad, brilliant and talented. He has an excellent voice. His love story with June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) is not some silly romance. It has depths and it develops over years of challenges for both of them. The film doesn’t try and make Cash a hero – they show a man who had a hard life and who had a lot of inner demons. His relationship with his father, Ray Cash (Robert Patrick), is hard and littered by a lifetime of resentment, anger and unresolved issues. I cannot praise Phoenix enough – the brilliance of his portrayal and the amazing voice he just pulled out of a hat and worked with. Ginnifer Goodwin has the undesirable task of being Cash’s first wife Vivian, a woman who was clearly never happy with anything Cash did for his family. She came across as the quintessential housewife of the 1950’s – bored, whiney and unhappy with everything that she ever received. In contrast Reese Witherspoon is the bounciest of bouncies with June Carter. Witherspoon has a surprisingly sweet voice and she delivers the performance of her life as Carter. She manages to portray a woman who is successful, charming and very much human. Her Oscar as best actress in a Leading Role is well deserved, though I do wish that Phoenix received an Oscar for his role as well.

The soundtrack is another rousing success. Littered with Cash’s poignant work, the soundtrack tells a story all on its own. I also really enjoyed the pacing of Walk The Line – it is never slow or boring and it doesn’t lose track of the story it is trying to sell.

I am so happy I finally sat down and watched this – I’ll definitely watch it again. Have you seen Walk The Line? Did you like it?

Rating: 8.5/10

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Watched, Read, Loved: June and July 2017

*warning: gargantuan post ahead*

I want to start every post now with “yes, it’s me, and I am still alive”. What a couple of months this has been! July has hands down just been the slowest month in everything for me. It was a roller coaster – I was away in Nelspruit end of June to bid my bestie goodbye, then for two weeks in Potchefstroom for university work and then I had to rush to finalize my younger sister’s 21st birthday. And when I looked down at the date it was suddenly the 19th of July and there were no blog posts from me! SHOCK, HORROR. So I am trying to move my blog into activity again, and herewith some of my favorite posts, a Watched, Read, Loved list for both June and July. I really hope to be back to full time blogging in August, I’ve really missed everyone and the feeling of having a creative outlet.

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I started off June by watching Wonder Woman (2017). I’m not really a weeper, but let me tell you I was misty eyed reading some of the truly excellent tributes that poured in. Little girls in costumes, women everywhere just flooding cinemas to watch a superhero films and all the financial and critical acclaim that accompanied this film just filled my heart. I can’t do any more justice to this excellent work of director Patty Jenkins that has already been done, but I assure you that I will always try.

Say Anything

I also saw Say Anything (1987) for the first time. I can now put a film to the iconic John Cusack pose that is everywhere on the internet, and I’m not really surprised that I enjoyed this film because it is right up my alley. It is a short, fun and easy watch and really good in its’ genre. I must post its review soon but a severe case of apathy towards typing out reviews has taken hold of me at this stage.

 

I also saw Rules Don’t Apply (2016) which has the unfortunate distinction of being one fantastic box office fail. It’s not really bad, it is just frustratingly boring. It could have been great with its excellent set design and costumes, solid acting and notable performances. It just lacked heart and a decent turn of events.

I picked up Mother’s Day (2016) to watch with my own mother, because I can promise you Gary Marshall won’t be putting too risqué sex scenes in any of his films. I was right – there is little to no romance. If you can get past the notion that Jennifer Aniston is supposed to be the old, washed out mom in here, you will likely enjoy it. Julia Roberts is hidden under the most horrible wig I have ever seen, but the film is sparingly okay and has some legitimately funny moments in. It also casts Jason Sudeikis, and I have never seen him in anything except this and that godawful We’re the Millers – can someone tell me why he’s famous?

I also watched Bad Moms (2016) which was rather fun and hilarious. I know, I was shocked too.

Then there was Jackie (2016), a movie that got an Oscar nod for Natalie Portman. While her performance certainly deserves a nod, the movie itself is quite slow and not really worth the hype.

On the Afrikaans movie front I watched Platteland again. It is such an intense musical, and as Afrikaans as can be. I really do have a fondness of locally produced movies, and my plan to branch a part of this blog off into local films will hopefully happen sometime.

Homecoming

Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) was a first of three July cinema watches for me. I really still struggle to formulate thoughts on this film. I sincerely didn’t hate it, but I have struggled to see the reason for Spiderman for years now, and this reboot even more so. Tom Holland is okay I guess. I particularly liked Zendaya. I think it is safe to say while I still have time for amazing and new superhero films (such as Wonder Woman), the generic Marvel film has become somewhat of a repetitive bore.

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I still cannot believe that I refreshed my makeup, made sure my outfit was okay and went out on a damn Friday night (this is torture for me) to watch Valerian and a City of a thousand planets. You will see that review hopefully Friday, but heads-up: I hated it.

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I also saw Dunkirk this last weekend and that at least was worth my time. Christopher Nolan is the salve to every hurt a bombastic Bay/Snyder movie throws out, and the beautiful, heart wrenching film hit me quite in the feels.

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Series:

Yes, I know. I need to tame this wild Pride and Prejudice obsession that has gotten over me. Not only did I see the 2005 film AGAIN – this is in addition to the watch I did in May of it, I also got my hands on the 1995 series version of it. I am a bit torn. I’ve read far and wide that it is the best adaption, and while it is certainly the most faithful adaption, I really hated the score – classical music makes me want to pull my hair out.

I finally started watching Alias season 4. It isn’t bad, still has plenty of Michael Vartan in, and I want to finish it before it somehow gets spoiled by the internet for me.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 6: Season five of this vampire-tastic show took me ages to finalize. It was slow, badly planned and really unimaginative in some places. I am glad to report that season six is wonderful – it is the first season with really legitimately funny moments in, and I am having a fantastic time.

Game of Thrones Season 7: This is still ongoing and I am avoiding people or comments like the plague who have watched it – the internet is the rudest place ever.

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On the reading front I haven’t been exactly revolutionary, but I have picked up Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon. I have never read anything by this author, and I am really enjoying it so far. It is fast paced plot and is well written with likeable characters. I didn’t think I would like a lawyery story, but it seems I was mistaken. I’ve hit a lag with it, and should really finish it up. I’ve slightly changed my opinion with the events that just loops all the time.

I have reread a bunch of Nora Roberts novels – Blue Smoke, The Obsession and some small ones which I really can’t recall the names of. I’ve also picked up Jewels of the Sun and Tears of the Moon, and I will review the entire trilogy once I am finished with the third book.

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I am also now reading Come Sundown – I did all the dance moves when I got a special on Loot (online shopping rocks) for this new release of Roberts. I always weep because I’m just not okay with forking out the prices retailers ask in South-Africa for new releases, so this was quite a score. I can tell you now that there is something different to Come Sundown. I will see how it ends, but it is one of the most unique books Roberts has ever done, and the tone is quite different from what she usually does.

I also should really get in to finalizing those 100 Happy Days post on here. They are just so much work and admin that I am not in the mood. I did finish the challenge, and you can few that all on my Instagram account.

As for adventures, I quickly went down to my bestie to see her one more time before she goes on her international adventure. The next time I see her will be in London, which at this stage is simply mind boggling to me.

Blindspot 2017: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

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Plot: Danny Ocean and his eleven accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.

Rating: 8.5/10

Brad Pitt and Matt Damon really is everywhere on my Blindspot list this year. I’m back with Brad Pitt today and looking at the 2001 heist film that proves just how cool Brad Pitt and George Clooney it.

If you are a clever deducer (I know that is not a word), you realized by the rating that I liked this. A good heist film remains a good heist film, and a fast paced, no-nonsense one provides for good entertainment. I thought the heist was brilliantly planned. The film is intelligent and quirky and doesn’t take time to tell its’ story.

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The core actors certainly contribute towards the camaraderie Oceans provides in spades. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac – really everyone on screen was great to behold. There is a chemistry in the group that comes across as authentic. I especially liked George Clooney and Brad Pitt together. Both men were able to look and sound like old friends who were up to no good.

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My favourite girl crush Julia Roberts was on screen again. She’s so talented and drop dead gorgeous and she’s so classy on screen. It takes a lot of an actress to be cold and angry and charming at the same time.

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I really liked that this film didn’t take ages to get through and sort itself out – I hate a long drawn out affair as you all know. The plan was laid out, the men were recruited and informed and things went down. Can’t all films just go like that??

Have you seen Ocean’s Eleven? What did you think? I see the next film in the franchise is an all women cast – a relatively popular decision nowadays. What you all think about that?

Blindspot 2017: Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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Plot: Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won’t lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.

Rating: 7.5/10

My venture into the horror / thriller continues, this time with The Nightmare on Elm Street. It is yet another film that I was sure would be so icky and scary that I would just puke and / or cry throughout. And guess who didn’t?! ME!

I quite liked it, but for the horror movies I watched I certainly liked Scream the most. However, this was still quite good, in a perfectly 1984 fashion – the acting, outfits, hair and makeup are so bad. That pink knitted pullover? WHY? The mother had some really interesting makeup as well. I loved seeing Johnny Depp so extremely young. Back then he was quite good looking (he has now progressed to creepy and a bad looking wife beater). I thought Freddy was quite dramatic with his crazy claws and how he put them on. I wanted to yell at them just to go Sam and Dean Winchester on his ass and burn the claw, because we all know that he would immediately perish. Pfft. I thought the movie was cleverly laid out and designed, and even sleep specialists bought in to address what Nancy Thompson went through. Heather Langenkamp was a great heroine – no crazy antics and she decided to fight back pretty quickly.

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I don’t have too much else to say this – I really watched quite a lot of movies in a short time and had no brain cells that instructed me to quite write down an opinion on it at the time. I can tell you that as for the horror genre I am really enjoying Wes Craven’s work – it is witty and well thought out and creative. The Nightmare on Elm Street is definitely worth the time to watch, and rather short too, which is always a great thing in my book!

Blindspot 2017: The Departed (2006)

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Plot: An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.

Rating: 8/10

I might get shot for this, but I’ve now seen two Scorsese films – The Departed and The Wolf of Wallstreet. Both are some of DiCaprio’s finest work, so I don’t have anything to complain about.  Are all Scorsese films this long? The length is about the only thing I didn’t like about The Departed. It’s three hours, and in my opinion only a few films are allowed to go on this long. It is good though, so I was able to sit through it and pay attention.

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Jack Nicholson makes a great gangster. He is criminal and cold and deranged in this film, and has a menacing presence even when he is nice to people. Finding Colin Sullivan and helping him out leads to Sullivan’s corruption, which makes that kind deed null and void on the scorecard of humanity. Colin Sullivan is portrayed by Matt Damon, a man so good at playing the good guy that I didn’t even think he’d do well as the bad guy. He was phenomenal as the reviled Sullivan, who has a perfect place in the State Police and so convincing even hardened cop Captain Ellerby (Alec Baldwin) suspects him of anything but a hardworking officer. Leonardo DiCaprio, the world’s boyfriend, plays Billy Costigan. In contrast to Sullivan, Billy entered the police force with honorable intentions. He is railroaded by his familial history, and Captain Queenan (Michael Sheen) and the cantankerous Staff Sergeant Dignam (Mark Whalberg) both have a hard time believing that he is what he says he is. They offer Billy a way to still serve his country despite his past, and plant him as a mole deep into the Frank Costello’s drug syndicate.

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I loved the smartness of the characters. Sullivan is immoral but is so fast on his feet that you can’t help but admire him. Costigan is increasingly desperate to get out and has sporadic outbursts no one can blame him for. I really liked Costigan – Leonardo is definitely one of the best actors I’ve ever seen on screen. He embodies his character, and although no outward displays of dread can be seen in Costigan, DiCaprio still manages to show you exactly how much anger and fear his character is dealing with. I also really liked Mark Whalberg’s character – he’s so ornery and ready to fly off the handle and action ready. He hated everyone and he didn’t care if anyone hated him back. Alec Baldwin as Captain Ellerby was an upstanding man. I liked him, his direct attitude and approach. He was a bit gullible in the end and quite easily fooled by Sullivan though. No one that pretends to be that good is really that good.

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The pace of The Departed is controlled, carefully laying out the story. It feels that it took ages to get to the end, the majority of the films time is spent developing every character’s situation properly and showing the viewer how incredibly close Sullivan and Costigan were to each other at all times. Being in love with the same woman is the best bit though. Beautiful poetry. The last twenty minutes keeps me from bitching too passionately about the length. Those 20 minutes were action packed and dramatic, leading to an enormously if shocking end. I appreciated the conclusion of the film and would have been furious if it had ended in another way – no justice would have happened.

If you haven’t seen The Departed yet and enjoy tense, complicated and well thought out films, you should definitely give it a try!

Blindspot 2017: The List

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A few things I can tell you about this list:

  • I deliberately chose “lighter” films than last year. My 2016 list and 2015 list contained some serious heavy weights. I’m happy I got through them all, but to change things up I chose some films that were in a different genre than the other frequenters of my Blindspots.
  • This list started forming as I was thinking about how little of Brad Pitt’s work I’ve actually watched – he’s quite popular on here.
  • I am going to have a lot of fun watching these, I can tell.
  • I actually have a small list of other films that I’ll post some time that I also want to watch this year despite it not being Blindspots.
  • Here is my actual list below that I hope to enjoy and actually post monthly for the rest of the year.
  1. Scream (1996)
  2. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
  3. The Departed (2006)
  4. Seven (1995)
  5. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  6. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  7. Ghost (1990)
  8. Basic Instinct (1992)
  9. Goodwill Hunting (1997)
  10. Interview with a Vampire (1994)
  11. The Italian Job (2003)
  12. Walk the Line (2005)

What did you choose this year? Let me know!