DVD REVIEW: FOR THE LOVE OF MEAT

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For The Love Of Meat is an original and eye-opening documentary series. This three-part show by former food critic and chef-turned-gourmet farmer, Matthew Evans aims to find out more about the animals we eat. Evans is no stranger to documentary films about food production with his previous series, What’s The Catch shining a spotlight on the fishing industry. For The Love Of Meat looks poised to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor as it gets us all to be more mindful about the protein we choose to eat.

Aussies love their meat. We eat on average a staggering 90 kilograms per person each year. This figure is around three times the OECD average and it leaves us second to America. But how much do people really know about meat? Evans looks at answering our questions with episodes dedicated to chickens, pigs and cattle (perhaps a second series could look at sheep, game and ducks?)

The first episode is a very difficult one to watch. Evans tries to demystify the different labels surrounding chicken (like organic, RSPCA-approved and free-range.) He is thwarted by his attempts to film in a “factory” farm. He does however, deliver some staggering statistics about the conditions battery hens are subjected to including being left in light for many hours per day so that they keep eating and living their short lives in cramped, dirty pens.

Organic farming is presented as a more sustainable solution. But Evans also counters this with the realistic fact that these birds cost more to produce and ultimately purchase. It is also quite harrowing to learn that chickens are smarter than we original thought, as they are capable of learning numeracy, empathy and self-control.

The second episode about pigs looks at the contentious issue of farrowing pens. These structures are like cages that sows are subjected to in order to stop them from accidently squashing some piglets while they are feeding from her. Evans also looks at alternatives to this pen including a swap pen and free-range pork. He also learns about a top-to-tail approach to cooking pork with former MasterChef contestant, Adam Liaw, who makes a Malaysian pork broth.

The final instalment looks at cattle and the environmental impacts of this farming, i.e. land-clearing and methane-gas emissions. An alternative is posed with the trial of feeding the cattle seaweed with early studies showing that this could help reduce or eliminate methane emissions. Chef, Shane Delia also appears and makes a Spanish dish out of beef’s tail. We also learn a staggering fact- that a 180 kilogram cow only has about four kilograms of eye-fillet steak. The message here is that we should look to cook with other secondary cuts of this large animal.

For The Love Of Meat is not overly preachy or forceful. It does not try to ram home the message of veganism or vegetarianism. Instead, Evans produces a knowledgeable and well-thought out program that poses a lot of questions for us to consider. It should make us stop and think about the environmental and health impacts of the food we eat. This show is ultimately a fresh and innovative look at food production and the questions it poses will ensure that we all have a lot to talk about when we sit down to dine, eat and chew the fat.

 

Originally published on 29 January 2017 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/love-meat-dvd-review/

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BOOK REVIEW: BEATRICE COLIN – TO CAPTURE WHAT WE CANNOT KEEP

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If you’re looking for a wonderful romance novel to consume on Valentine’s Day then To Capture What We Cannot Keep is a worthy candidate. This historic fiction book by Beatrice Colin is a good, old-fashioned love story set in the 19th century in Paris after building has commenced on the Eiffel Tower. Some of the real-life characters star in this novel and at the end of the day it’s the kind of tale that makes you realise why Paris is considered the city of love.

The story’s main character is the complex but likeable, Caitriona Wallace. She’s a young and mostly smart widow from Scotland. Her husband succumbed to an untimely death so in order to make ends meet she agrees to chaperone two annoying, little rich kids to Paris. Nice work if you can get it!

Catriona’s charges are the disorganised, lazy and privileged lady’s man, Jaime and his flighty younger sister, Alice. The latter is silly and quite often obsessed with appearances and keeping up with the Jones’s. There are quite a few occasions where Alice feels like she could be considered Lydia Bennett’s (Pride & Prejudice) Scottish clone. The similarities to Austen’s novel do not end there, as Colin’s work is also a multi-faceted one where love, revenge, lies, society and manners are all deftly-tackled, albeit in a historic setting.

This story looks at the burgeoning romance between the low-class, Caitriona and Emile Nouguier, a Frenchman who is an engineer working on the Eiffel Tower and a member of high society. The two have to keep their courtship a secret due to their marked differences in social standing. There is also pressure from Nouguier’s elderly mother because she wants her son to be betrothed to the “right girl.” These ingredients make for a beautifully-written slice of sexy escapism where rules are broken almost as often as they’re followed.

To Capture What We Cannot Keep is a novel that’s as vibrant, charming and atmospheric as the city of Paris itself. It also shares a few things in common with great romance stories by Austen or more recently Natasha Lester’s A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald. To Capture What We Cannot Keep is an absolute treat, an evocative and easy read where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the warm embrace of a sumptuous historic drama and a beguiling romance that is tres magnifique.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-to-capture-what-we-cannot-keep

FOOD REVIEW: HOLY DUCK! SYDNEY

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Daffy, Donald and Plucka are the names of famous ducks. But another one set to join their ranks is a little restaurant in Sydney called Holy Duck! It’s a casual eatery that’s been dubbed the younger, funkier brother of Chefs Gallery. It’s also another addition to the Sydney food trend for casual spin-offs of famous restaurants (see: Fratelli Famous, The Bavarian and Margherita & Co., to name a few.) Holy Duck! promises a relaxed, friendly atmosphere as well as great-quality food and drinks.

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Holy Duck! is the latest eatery to be conceived by Kaisern Ching, the man who brought us Chefs Gallery and Din Tai Fung. The duck menu items have always been popular ones at Chefs Gallery and Ching wanted a place where the delectable treat known as duck could be celebrated with a tasty fusion menu. Ching also wanted to turn the notion of eating duck on its head so that purists could enjoy it in the traditional way (in a roast, Peking-style and in pancakes) as well as with newer creative spins like in burgers and with different sauces and flavours.

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Holy Duck! is located in the recently revamped Kensington Street precinct in Chippendale. This is a bright restaurant with friendly staff. It has a cool, modern look with an industrial-feel and minimalist furniture. It’s a place where a diner could order take-away or sit and tuck into some tasty, street-style food. This is a place where you can sit and chat as a group or eat some quick things on the run with your hands because it caters to these different possibilities.

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The menu includes house specialities like roast duck. The crispy duck comes served with a delectable orange hoisin sauce as well cucumber and spring onions in quarter, half or whole sizes. This same flavour combination is found on the scrumptious What the Duck! burger. This comes with a brioche bun that is easily one of the tastiest burgers in Sydney (and it faces some stiff competition with the number of burger joints that have opened here of late). The best accompaniment to the burger is the moreish shoestring fries with duck salt that are incredibly tasty, as are the lotus root chips.

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For those diners that don’t want duck there are other burger varieties including crispy chicken, a caramelised sweet and sticky barbeque pork and a five-spice chickpea vegetable patty burger. The restaurant also sell roast and barbeque rice bowls that will impress discerning pork belly lovers (there are three different varieties) or alternatively there are roast duck and crispy fried shantung chicken options.

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Don’t be fooled by the name, Holy Duck! has a little something for everyone on its tasty menu. This new addition to the Sydney food scene looks poised to follow Ching’s other ventures in that it challenges your notion of Chinese food by fusing together modern techniques and concepts to make succulent roast and barbequed recipes and flavours. Holy Duck! offers simply the best of different camps as it combines an East-meets-West, street food via casual eats vibe, and offers something fresh and contemporary where a holy and humble little duckling can star and dance the funky chicken. Just kidding!

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Images supplied and used with permission.

 

Originally published in January 2017 at the following website: https://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/501/#33

Visit The Australia Times’ homepage at: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/

BOOK REVIEW: NADIA MARKS – AMONG THE LEMON TREES

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Love is a wonderful thing. We all want to experience it. Many musicians, artists and writers have used it as inspiration, but it was perhaps Darren Hanlon who put it best when he sang, “Love is just a lazy generalisation that we use for a hundred different feelings and as many situations.” Journalist and author, Nadia Marks knows a lot about this kind of love, as she proves in her debut novel for adults, Among the Lemon Trees. She says that the Greeks have no fewer than four different types of love: Agápe is the big love, storgé the tender other love, philia friendship, and éros sexual love.

To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201701/218733

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BOOK REVIEW: JOHNNY MARR – SET THE BOY FREE

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Here’s Johnny! For years Johnny Marr has created great music and influenced multiple generations of guitarists by wearing various musical hats. Set The Boy Free is the first time the former guitarist of The Smiths has committed the story of his life to paper. This book is a cracking read and it proves that Marr is one charming man, indeed.

Johnny Marr was born John Martin Maher to two young, Irish immigrants in Manchester in 1963. At the age of five he got his first guitar and he grew up to be a lad that was obsessed with music and clothes. As a teenager he would work at a few different clothing shops while he toyed with the idea of forming a band.

In 1982 Marr tracked down Steven Morrissey, whom he’d met through a mutual friend some years earlier. This meeting marked the beginning of a chaotic and important few years where The Smiths would release four studio albums and numerous hit singles. The group helped revitalise interest in guitar rock and independent music in England and their songs are anthems that continue to get played to this day. This period makes up a significant portion of Marr’s book, although he does tend to gloss over the band’s rather acrimonious break-up.

Marr sounds like the quintessential English gentleman in this book. He also sounds like a wonderful and affable chap that you’d love to have a beer with (or an orange juice, as he is now a marathon-running teetotaller and vegan). Unlike Morrissey’s more bitter and cynical, Autobiography, Marr’s story is instead one that is filled with a kind of romantic and misty-eyed optimism. When Marr does tackle a difficult subject like the lawsuit brought against himself and Morrissey by his former Smiths-bandmate, Mike Joyce, he gives the story short shrift, instead choosing to focus his words on sunnier things like music and songwriting. (Although in a curious twist, Marr does say that he met up with Morrissey in 2008 and that they discussed the possibility of a Smiths reunion but that this did not eventuate into anything).

This autobiography may take a positive stance towards things but this could be due to the fact that Marr realises that he has a lot to be thankful for. He met his wife, Angie when he was 15 and the pair remain happily married and together to this day. He’s the father to a grown-up son and daughter, Nile and Sonny, and there was a period where Marr and Morrissey’s friendship was a close and happy one. These elements of Marr’s memoir do not prevent him from being frank and honest at other points. Marr admits that he told a journalist he didn’t like Michael’s Jackson’s Thriller album and he describes the Twitter storm that erupted after he forbade David Cameron, the then Prime Minister of Britain from being (or claiming to be) a Smiths fan.

This book is not the most polished one in a literary sense but it is all of Marr’s own work and it is a fun and easy read. Marr is friends with and has collaborated with lots of people. There are stories involving no less than: Hans Zimmer, Paul McCartney, Neil Finn, The The, Talking Heads, The Cribs, Modest Mouse and Electronic, to name a few. Marr has a great anecdote about the time he discussed some important things with the former Beatle that’s worth the price of admission alone. Marr’s stories are interesting to read and are often filled with great advice and wisdom. For example, Marr received some advice from a teacher when he was a school boy and that was: to find something he liked, be good at it and be an artist rather than getting bored or in trouble. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it with the benefit of hindsight.

Set The Boy Free is a must-read for any self-respecting fan of The Smiths. It is Johnny Marr’s direct and grounded account of a wonderful life in music and his forays into the world of fashion. This rock autobiography is a romantic story from an energetic and enigmatic Englishman who isn’t content to just sit back on his laurels. Johnny Marr wants to continue making great music and he’s revved up by fans who know that in Messer Marr there is most certainly a light that never goes out.

Originally published on 23 January 2017 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/books/book-review-johnny-marrs-set-the-boy-free-is-an-honest-fun-look-at-the-energetic-life-of-the-former-smiths-guitarist-and-quintessential-english-gentleman/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

DVD REVIEW: PETER KURUVITA’S COASTAL KITCHEN

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Peter Kuruvita’s Coastal Kitchen shares a few things in common with recent cooking shows like Poh & Co. and River Cottage Australia in that he uses the local neighbourhood for food inspiration. Kuruvita is no stranger to TV screens with the restaurateur previously presenting series about his homeland, Sri Lanka, as well as Mexico. For Coastal Kitchen Kuruvita uses his sea-change from Sydney to Noosa as inspiration for many of the culinary treats on display here.

This six-part series is all about celebrating local produce and flavours from Queensland and the areas surrounding the Sunshine Coast, with the featured destinations, including: Noosa, Gympie, Maleny, Kenilworth, Mooloolaba, the Glasshouse Mountains and Kin Kin. Each episode has a different theme or focus with instalments about indigenous foods or bush tucker, seafood, locally-grown farm produce and food for health, to name a few. Kuruvita is a laid-back and calm presenter, an enthusiastic interviewer and a passionate foodie. These things are all apparent in his bubbly, on-screen presence and technique.

Each episode features recipes that Kuruvita has devised and some of these are Sri Lankan in origin (i.e. curries and dahl soup.) There are also other dishes where he has adapted the traditional recipe to add a twist of Sri Lankan flavours to the mix. Examples of these include the Sri Lankan egg curry pho and the pippies with Sri Lankan XO sauce. Over the course of the series Kuruvita learns how to make cheese, goes fishing, discovers artisan bee-keeping, and learns about tempeh, a bi-protein soya bean.

Kuruvita often offers handy tips and tricks in his cooking demonstrations. One useful piece of advice is when he tells viewers to soak shellfish overnight so that you can remove any excess sand if this has not already been done. The extras are good and include lessons in how to fillet and scale raw fish and how to serve a cooked fish. The only complaint is that there should have been more of these because not everyone is a MasterChef or a cook for that matter.

Coastal Kitchen demonstrates how beautiful and peaceful Queensland is and how it is poised to become an important foodie destination. Kuruvita’s relaxed delivery and passion for the local food and produce makes for a refreshing and entertaining watch. Coastal Kitchen is such a pleasant and enjoyable show it might convince others to embark on their own sea change because it encapsulates all of the benefits of coastal living. Divine.

Originally published on 22 January 2017 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/peter-kuruvitas-coastal-kitchen-dvd-review/

Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com

BOOK REVIEW: BRIAN WILSON & BEN GREENMAN – I AM BRIAN WILSON

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God only knows where pop music would be without Brian Wilson. The genius writer of many of The Beach Boys greatest hits has had a profound effect on popular culture. I Am Brian Wilson (his second autobiography; his first was published in the nineties) is a complex and forthright account of his life in music.

This book is written by Wilson along with Ben Greenman. It’s a story they claim is about music, family, love and mental illness. Wilson is often quite candid about his troubles whether it be his former drug-taking, the schizophrenic voices he hears in his head, the panic attack he experienced before a plane ride in 1964 or the major depressive episodes he has experienced over the years and the “treatment” he received by a domineering, quack psychologist by the name of Eugene Landy.

I Am Brian Wilson jumps around in time and it is by no means a comprehensive or linear account of his life. Instead, thoughts and ideas are weaved together based on themes and it doesn’t matter to Wilson that one event may have taken place in the sixties and the next memory may have taken place today. In this respect it’s an honest and chaotically-human piece. You also get the sense that you could imagine Uncle Brian in his armchair (a place he calls “the command centre”) recounting all of this to you. Or you could imagine Wilson sitting on a psychiatrist’s couch and doing the same thing. This is all deeply personal and often quite heart-wrenching stuff.

Wilson’s prose has a very gentle and familiar quality that often feels quite childlike too. He describes the famous people he knows rather casually and often with little introduction (for example: Paul McCartney is referred to as “Pablo” while Bob Dylan is met in an emergency department). I Am Wilson goes into some detail about the artist’s upbringing with his late brothers and bandmates Carl and Dennis Wilson and the abuse they experienced at the hands of their abusive and authoritarian father, Murry. Friend, Al Jardine and cousin, Mike Love (the other original members of The Beach Boys) are also described but the latter is painted as a stubborn, opinionated and litigious bad guy who had his own idea about what The Beach Boys should be and this was often incongruous to what Wilson believed.

Some of the anecdotes in this autobiography are worth the price of admission alone. Wilson’s description of meeting The Eagles’ Don Henley is particularly hilarious. There’s also the fact that Wilson once asked Bono for a diet coke, which proves pretty funny. But I Am Wilson is not just about silly little throwaway moments, this book also has real heart. Wilson describes his first marriage to Marilyn Rovell and the births of his biological daughters, Carnie and Wendy. Wilson acknowledges that he was an absent father but this is not the case with his current wife Melinda Ledbetter and their five adopted kids. Wilson gets rather misty-eyed when talking about Melinda because he claims she saved him from self-destruction (and this story is one that is told in the film, Love & Mercy).

This book also includes an in-depth look at Wilson’s song-writing and lots of his views and reflections on music. Wilson admits to being influenced by Phil Spector and The Beatles and is honoured that McCartney counts “God Only Knows” as one of his favourite songs. This memoir is ultimately a forthright look at music-making with Wilson describing his bands past and present as well as his work with session musicians, The Wrecking Crew. All of these things mean that this autobiography is essential reading for fans of The Beach Boys and Mr Wilson in particular.

I Am Brian Wilson is a multi-faceted look at the troubled virtuoso artist and Beach Boy. This memoir is also released at around the same time as Wilson’s cousin, Mike Love releases his own autobiography. The two will have different views on their lives as California boys singing about cars, surfing, girls and the sun but one things for certain, Brian Wilson’s brutal honesty ensures that his story has a modest and sensitive charm. This ultimately means that Wilson’s autobiography is a brilliant read and one that should make you stop and smile.

Originally published on 15 January 2017 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/book-review-i-am-brian-wilson-is-a-charming-music-memoir-guaranteed-to-make-you-smile/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

ARTS REVIEW: HAKAWATI AT SYDNEY FESTIVAL

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The term “Hakawati” may not mean a lot to people today. In fact, you’d probably be forgiven for thinking it was something Japanese. Hakawati actually means the art of storytelling in the Arabic tradition where story time is combined with the breaking of bread or sharing of food. It’s a wonderful concept and has now inspired a stage show, brought to us by the National Theatre of Parramatta, having its world premiere as part of the 2017 Sydney Festival.

This show is being staged in the private dining room of the El-Phoenician restaurant on Church Street in Parramatta. It is here that the audience sits down at a very long table, as if they were at a wedding. They then share a delicious four-course Lebanese meal of breads and dips, falafel, sambousek and chicken skewers with potato coriander before finishing off the proceedings with a strong, Lebanese coffee and a sweet baklava with fresh fruit.

The table had large wooden chairs elevated at the two heads. This is where the four storytellers of the night would come to deliver their complex tales of heroism, tragedy and familial clashes between generations and stories boasting complex emotions and layers. The Hakawati are traditionally rather cheeky so expect a few segues, jokes and some smoke and mirrors. This show also has lot of Australian references (to local suburbs like Kellyville, Granville and Auburn), local lingo (like “bro”) and stories that straddle the lines between being faithful to tradition while also navigating the waters of contemporary Australia.

Veteran Australian actress, Sandy Gore begins the narratives with a tale about a third son named Kareem and sometimes Kevin. This is a boy who is a pop tragic and someone who considers Kylie Minogue his fairy godmother. This story also uses stills from Moulin Rouge! and other pictures as well as the Minogue and Nick Cave duet “Wild Roses” to look at the topic of sexuality. It was an interesting way of tackling subject matter that could have been quite serious.

The second story was delivered by the effervescent and confident, Olivia Rose. She delivered a story about a cursed woman who had a bakery in Auburn. It also included some irreverent references to the Kardashians and a swipe at priests. The third tale was about a kid named Ali (whose surname may have been “Baba” and was told by Dorje Michael Swallow). Ali starts his own motorcycle gang called “The Thieves.” It’s basically a group of old bikers from North Parramatta who look like members of ZZ Top. The story also managed to link together the characters from the previous stories.

The final narrative of the night was delivered by Sal Sharah along with his fellow cast mates. This was a cautionary tale where the audience were warned to careful about what you wished for. By the time this rolled around the food and drinks had all been consumed and we’d had a pleasant evening getting to know the neighbours sitting around us. It also ended with a lovely surprise that was really the cherry on top for the evening and courtesy of Michael Stone and Emma Macpherson. To say anything more would ruin it.

The world needs more examples like the show, Hakawati. This night proved that it’s important for people to take a step away from being busy and distracted by technology and to sit and listen and get to know your neighbours. It is great to engage in some age-old customs that also felt relevant to Western Sydney and a fresh concept in terms of where theatre is concerned. The night offered some genuine opportunities to eat, drink, be merry and engage in ideas that were ultimately intriguing little bundles of food for thought.

Originally published on 15 January 2017 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/sydney-festival-review-hakawati-proves-its-important-to-switch-off-technology-engage-with-people-through-food-stories/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to the arts at: http://arts.theaureview.com

FILM REVIEW: JACKIE

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Jacqueline Kennedy (Onassis) has been depicted on the silver and small screens before but Jackie is the first film to really capture the complex nature of this remarkable woman. The film is not strictly a biopic in that it only focuses on a number of key events in Kennedy’s life prior to and in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination in 1963. But what this drama does do well is hone in on these important points to create an intense and visceral film that really gets at the heart and nature of this tragedy.

The film is written by Noah Oppenheim (Allegiant) and it is one that lifts the veil on this iconic figure’s private world. Natalie Portman puts in an Oscar-winning performance as Kennedy by capturing her vulnerability, strength and grief as well as other essential things like her accent and mannerisms. Kennedy’s role in the aftermath of the assassination is elevated and in doing so this film could have turned into a kind of exploitative voyeurism but instead it tells things from her perspective and handles the proceedings with the poise and grace that this former first lady of the United States was known for. It also handles the sensitive subject matter with a rather delicate hand (save for the graphic depiction of the events of 22 November 1963.)

Director, Pablo Larraín (No) and his production team have paid careful attention to recreating the look and feel of the period. Kennedy is shown wearing the famous pink Chanel suit and pillbox hat that was smeared with blood as she travels in Air Force One and defiantly declares that the world should see what it had done. The film also recreates in black and white a special that Kennedy had starred in a few years prior to John F Kennedy’s death where she describes her contributions to decorating the White House. The other major plot point sees a forward magazine journalist (Billy Crudup) quizzing Jackie in the weeks following her husband’s death. Jackie’s answers are frank, smart and illuminating.

Jackie is an intense film that has a certain starkness to it. Portman is often shown in close-ups and she conveys a multitude of emotions that were experienced by this young widow- from having to console her two young children and grieve her husband to her fiery determination in trying to ensure that his legacy was upheld. Jackie also has a rather intrusive string score by Mica Levi. At its best it reinforces the tragedy, particularly in the scenes where Kennedy walks alongside her husband in the funeral march where JFK’s body is led by a horse-drawn carriage (and this scene is just like what happened to Abraham Lincoln in 1865.)

This latest film about Jacqueline Kennedy (Onassis) is not a comprehensive biopic but it is a searing and intimate portrait of an amazing woman and the complicated emotions and circumstances she experienced in the wake of JFK’s death. This film is not a linear story but is instead a rather messy and chaotic one that reflects the raw and gritty real-life events that it is trying to portray. In all, this is one bold and heartfelt look at a tragic chapter in U.S. history.

Originally published on 9 January 2017 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/film-review-natalie-portman-gives-a-searing-oscar-winning-performance-in-jackie-usa-2016/

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DVD REVIEW: I AM JOHNNY CASH

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A lot of people would be familiar with Johnny Cash’s life and music thanks to the biopic, Walk the Line. But I Am Johnny Cash is a documentary about the late man in black that manages to be a great watch and offers us some more information about this iconic singer-songwriter. I Am Johnny Cash is not a comprehensive or definitive film but it is an entertaining look at his life and legacy as his family, friends and famous fans gather together to look back and describe Cash’s life in an honest and frank way.

Derik Murray and Jordan Tappis direct this documentary and frame the story around a number of Cash’s famous songs including “Cry Cry Cry,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk The Line” and “San Quentin.” It begins by describing how Cash’s mother would sing gospel songs in order to escape the drudgery of working in the cotton fields. It also talks about Cash’s fractured relationship with his father and it was one that suffered a terrible blow when Cash’s brother Jack passed away following an accident at the age of 15. This death was something that left an indelible scar on Johnny.

This documentary is forthright in describing the good and bad times in Cash’s career and saves the viewer from having to watch a hagiography. There’s Cash’s first marriage to Vivian Liberto and the births of his daughters as well as his long absences away from home after he began having success in music. There was also his amphetamine addiction and the career downfall he suffered in his twilight years. There is also lots of footage with Cash and his second wife, June Carter Cash. It was a marriage that lasted the long haul because the pair were like soul mates, so much so that even Cash’s daughter Rosanne admits that she could understand the reason why things worked out between her father and step-mother.

The film includes a number of black and white photographs as well as archive footage, including videos from Cash’s television series, The Johnny Cash Show. The latter sees Cash interviewing famous celebrities like Bob Dylan (the pair would record a duet together) as well as Joni Mitchell and Ray Charles. This documentary also includes a number of talking head interviews with Cash’s contemporaries, collaborators and famous fans including: Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, John Mellencamp and Eric Church, to name a few.

I Am Johnny Cash is a celebration of one complex and mysterious artist. This film manages to describe some key elements from his life but there was also some room for further discussion and exploration. The film features lots of Cash’s music and it is an honest portrayal of an anti-authoritarian, political songwriter and a charming, larger-than-life character who really was an all-American hero.

Originally published on 7 January 2017 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/johnny-cash-dvd-review/

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