Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Father and the Man in Black

Hollywood agent Jonathan Holiff has made a documentary entitled "My Father and the Man in Black," about his dad Saul, who managed Johnny Cash from obscurity to stardom during the 1960s and 1970s and took his own life eight years ago.

It quickly becomes painfully evident that Jonathan still bears the emotional scars of his father's verbal abuse and constant absences, so I hope that directing the film provided some form of catharsis for him; for viewers, though, it's a muddled mess and a big bore. Holiff not only stages frequent reĐĹnactments, but interweaves them with archival video footage and his father's own audiotapes without indicating where one stops and the next begins. I'd welcome a rougher-edged portrait of Cash than we got in "Walk the Line," but it seems unfair at best and unethical at worst to mix and match truth and fiction to show him at his pill-popping, proselytizing worst.

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