By turns inquisitive, informational and indulgent, the documentary "My Father and the Man in Black" peels back the curtain on the late country music star
An especially rocky directorial choice is the extensive use of dramatic reenactments — whether starring Jonathan himself or actors playing his father and Cash. But in nearly every other way, when fortified by the tapes, archival footage and Jonathan's emotional narration, the story of how a tough-willed Canadian Jew helped transform a self-destructive Southern Baptist troubadour into a mythic sensation is fairly mesmerizing.
We learn how Saul played musical matchmaker for Cash and June Carter, engineered the Folsom prison gig, but also couldn't stop a born-again Cash's popularity-sapping, self-financed film of Jesus' life, "The Gospel Road." In the end, despite the clunky mix of narrative formats, "My Father and the Man in Black" makes for an illuminating alternate history of sorts to the Hollywoodized version of Cash's ascendancy in "Walk the Line."
"My Father and the Man in Black"
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.
Playing: At Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills.