Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More on why I'm no fun at the movies

I always want to watch the other movie, the movie about the other person, the story that isn't being told. I wanted Ennis's wife's story in Brokeback, and in Walk the Line, there were lots of other stories I wanted. The band, now--who were they? How did they meet up? Were they really as bad as Vivian said, but they got better? He seemed to keep them throughout his career--did they mess up their marriages too? Rely on uppers to keep them going? We saw that one moment with them blowing stuff up, and another where they cancelled the tour, and that was pretty much it. But they looked interesting.

So did Vivian. I can see why Rosanne Cash isn't thrilled with the movie. The movie is a fairy tale, really, the love-at-first-sight thing that wraps up everything with the happy ending of the right marriage. "But...but...but..." Rosanne must have been saying. What about me? What about the family he came home to for all those years? What did Vivian see in him anyway, this guy she apparently dated for one month, then married after not seeing him for two years?

Oh, and his parents' stories. When Ray, at Thanksgiving dinner, says "I gave up drinking years ago," I wanted to know that story, too. When? Why? How? And Johnny's mother, whose name I can't remember--she got him started singing, but turns up later in his life with cat-eye glasses, a beehive, and no lines. What's up with that?

I know, I know, it was Johnny's story and not theirs. But they were part of his story, weren't they? (Oh, yes, along with Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and the Beatles and Bob Dylan and and and...some other interesting stories there, right?)

This is why I like Robert Altman movies (mostly, not all) and John Sayles movies (ditto) and Victorian novels (ditto, ditto). Lots of characters, lots of plots meandering around. Back story and front story confused. These aren't the only movies I like, of course, but movies with big casts and lots of characters that then shortchange those characters annoy me.

Oh, and yes, sure, Reese was great, though when they played June Carter Cash singing over the final credits you could tell how much bigger a voice the original really had...while Joaquin Phoenix actually did sound like Cash, I thought Reese didn't quite manage Carter as well. But that's ok, I thought she did a good job. And, really, a thankless one. Most acting is (or should be) interpretation rather than imitation, after all, and it's hard to play someone that so many people have seen and heard interpretively. So it was all about "how close is this to the original," which is something I hate in movies from novels, too.


caroline said...

The recent movie that most made me want the other story was Sideways. I know those guys all too well (I went to college with a lot of Jacks and to graduate school with way too many Miles), but I don't know those women at all, and they are women I'm interested in.

Meanwhile, I agree with you about Walk the Line, though I didn't much mind it at the time, probably because Eli was in my lap laughing inappropriately at all the melodramatic bits.

Libby said...

I'm sorry you knew so many Jacks & Mileses, Caroline! I didn't, which is I guess why I enjoyed that movie, but you're right, I did want more of the women even so.

I think I just shouldn't watch bio-pics. Even though everyone says Capote is really good...

Dawn said...

That's totally what I thought w/Walk the Line!! I decided I need to read Cash's biography. Lately I've been thinking about stories I missed in children's books -- I want to know more about the parents now.