Flashback: Jackman and Mangold before The Wolverine

Tonight marks the release of The Wolverine, the sixth installment in the X-Men franchise and the sixth film to feature Hugh Jackman as the self-healing Canadian mutant with the retractable adamantium claws.

The Wolverine is also the second film, following X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), to feature the title character as a stand-alone protagonist, and one fun bit of trivia is that both of the stand-alone movies have represented a reunion of sorts between Jackman and one of his key collaborators on the time-travelling romantic comedy Kate & Leopold (2001). The first film co-starred Liev Schreiber as Wolverine’s half-brother; he had previously played Jackman’s great-great-grandson in Kate & Leopold. And now, the second film is directed by James Mangold, who directed Kate & Leopold. (If there’s a third Wolverine film, perhaps it will co-star Meg Ryan?)

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Walk the Line — the extended cut and faith

Johnny Cash was a Christian, and many of his fans are Christian, so when Walk the Line (2005) came out two years ago, the studio made a point of promoting the film to Christians — but a lot of Christians who saw the film, such as Terry Mattingly and the various critics he linked to at GetReligion.org, were disappointed to find that the film gave only the briefest of nods to the role that religion played in helping Cash get his life back together. So it is interesting to note that, according to IGN.com, the new “extended cut” of the film that comes out March 25 will include a featurette on “Cash and his Faith”. It will be interesting to see whether that aspect of Cash is enhanced at all by the 17 minutes that have been cut back into the film, too.

Interviews: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Waylon Payne, James Mangold (Walk the Line, 2005)

He sang gospel songs, but he also wrote darker tunes like the one in which he assumed the persona of someone who shot a man “just to watch him die.” He was a country star who found his greatest success after he teamed up with a producer of rap albums. He produced a haunting music video shortly before his death at 70 that offered a stark, unflinching look at human mortality, yet he had — and continues to have — many fans many years his junior.

Johnny Cash was a man of contradictions, and Joaquin Phoenix — who plays the Man in Black in Walk the Line, a film developed with Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash prior to their deaths in 2003, and overseen since then by their son John — had a chance to see those contradictions up close, when he accepted a dinner invitation from the Cash family.

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