20 March 2006

Reese Witherspoon: Double Feature

I. Just Like Heaven
II. Walk the Line

Just Like Heaven

Reese Witherspoon, I mean, Dr. Elizabeth Masterson, is smart, uptight, and hard-working, with a dash of vulnerability. Despite her dedication to her patients and the hospital, her colleagues, friends, and family continually clown on her for being a workaholic spinster with no social life. One fateful night, Elizabeth gets into a fatal car accident. Abruptly cut forward to an unspecified amount of time later, and we meet David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo), a non-threatening alcoholic, on the hunt for a furnished apartment. Fortunately for David, Elizabeth’s sister is quite morbid, and puts Elizabeth’s apartment up for rent, fully furnished – including her stained bed sheets and personal photos. David moves into the incredibly spacious San Francisco apartment only to find the demanding spirit of Elizabeth Masterson. Elizabeth has no idea who she is or what happened to her, and enlists the reluctant help of David to figure out her story. As is the way of chick flicks, David and Elizabeth find that the solutions to their respective problems are each other.

The film is predictable and at times, quite ridiculous, but now that I’ve had a few days to let it sink in, I think it was quite enjoyable. Firstly, how can you resist the charming Mark Ruffalo. Even if his character’s kind of an alcoholic, he’s still so likeable. Elizabeth Masterson is rather a challenge to like as she is bossy, self-centered, and really slow to realize that she’s a spirit, but if Mark Ruffalo likes her, then we like her. John Heder co-stars as psychic bookstore clerk, Darryl, or as I like to call him, “Napoleon Dynamite Moves to San Francisco.” Heder’s character is quite unnecessary except to draw in male audience members with the weak promise, “Dude, Napoleon Dynamite is in this movie.”

The best scenes in the film center on the relationship between Elizabeth & David. Witherspoon & Ruffalo build up some nice little tension before they quickly start falling in love. There’s also a strange, yet entertaining bit where Elizabeth teaches David how to perform a dangerous medical procedure on a dying man. In fact, that’s probably how I should describe the whole movie – strange, yet entertaining.

My recommendation: Mark Ruffalo.

Walk the Line

Feeling partly responsible for his older brother’s death as a young boy, Johnny Cash went through most of his life with some MAJOR issues. Walk the Line follows the rise of music legend Johnny Cash filled with all the requisite rock star clichés: rough childhood, lots of rejection, stifling first wife, drugs, meaningless sex, countless number of children, and a crush on Reese Witherspoon. The biopic quickly scans through Johnny’s professional career in order to focus on the tumultuous love affair between Johnny Cash and June Carter.

It’s really hard to make fun of Walk the Line because it’s a pretty awesome movie.

Joaquin Phoenix is definitely deserving of an Oscar nod. Phoenix was particularly effective in portraying Johnny’s harrowing addiction to prescription drugs. I don’t know if he subscribes to the school of method acting, but Phoenix looked like crap! Well done, Joaquin. Reese Witherspoon, to my chagrin, also proved to be a good actress. Generally, I think she gets by with her snappy personality and by wrinkling her little button nose, but she demonstrated subtlety in her portrayal of June Carter’s complex feelings towards Johnny Cash. My only problem with Witherspoon was her Southern accent. I know that Witherspoon is actually from the South, but her Southern twang was rather distracting, sort of equivalent to Halle Barry donning a mouth grill and dropping the last consonant of each word in B*A*P*S. Witherspoon just got a little too cartoonish when she went into angry Southern female mode. She may have been deserving of an Oscar nomination, but I still don’t understand how she was a sure-bet for the win. The film is very much a love letter to June Carter, so perhaps that confused Academy voters. June Carter was so cool (at least according to the film) that her coolness transferred onto Reese Witherspoon.

Much of the film is (fittingly) dedicated to the music of Johnny Cash & June Carter.
Both Witherspoon and Phoenix surprised me with their singing talents (even though I’ve seen the trailer a million times). Phoenix does a decent imitation of Cash. Witherspoon sounds nothing like June Carter, but after asking my sister to search for June Carter on itunes, I learned, that’s a good thing. I did not consider myself a Johnny Cash fan, but I am now a “Johnny Cash as portrayed by Joaqyin Phoenix” fan.

My recommendation: Despite all the hype, I recommend Walk the Line for the strong performances and the good music.

1 comment:

juanes moreno taniguchi said...

heheh you said BAPS