Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15615
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:59 am

Stephen Daldry named Director of the Year by Palm Springs fest
‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ takes another step onto the field
Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 8:00 PM
Roth Cornet

Director Stephen Daldry has received Oscar nominations for all three of his previous films (“Billy Elliot,” “The Hours” and “The Reader”), but the initial response to “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” has been mixed. In general terms, critics are either responding to the unrestrained sentiment or find it lacking, disingenuous, and/or saccharine. The BFCA nominated both Daldry (Best Director), his young star, Thomas Horn (Best Young Actor/Actress) and the film (Best Picture) but SAG and the Golden Globes passed.

Today the Palm Springs International Film Festival came out in favor of Daldry when it announced that he will be presented with the Director of the Year Award at the upcoming January 7 Awards Gala. “Stephen Daldry has garnered international acclaim as a director, bringing his consummate skill to both the cinema and stage,” said fest chairman Harold Matzner via press release. “In his latest work...he directs a virtuoso cast. For this haunting film and for all of his achievements as a 'director’s director,' the Palm Springs International Film Festival is honored to present the 2012 Director of the Year Award.”

I’ve not yet seen the film, but I must admit that I find the choice somewhat perplexing. I hesitate to take the cynical stance that Palm Springs is boarding what it assumes will be an Oscar-bound train, but my sense is that there are more interesting, underserved and possibly more deserving options for "Director of the Year."

If they wanted to throw the industry for a loop they might select Tate Taylor, who has received almost no critical acclaim despite the fact that his film, “The Help,” is a contender in a number of categories (including Best Picture). These films do not direct themselves, after all.

I’d like to see Steve McQueen honored for “Shame,” which feels all but out of contention at this point. And Nicolas Winding Refn is certainly worth spotlighting for “Drive,” which has a distinctive tone that speaks to Refn as an auteur.

Those are just three of several possible honorees who may have made a lot of sense in this year’s field. Perhaps I will feel differently when I see the "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," though.

Other honorees previously announced for this year's fest include George Clooney, Glenn Close, Michel Hazanavicius, Brad Pitt, Octavia Spencer, Michelle Williams and Gary Oldman. The festival runs January 5-16. Past Director of the Year honorees include Ang Lee, Anthony Minghella, Alexander Payne, Sean Penn, Jason Reitman and David O. Russell.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

User avatar
OscarGuy
Site Admin
Posts: 12532
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 12:22 am
Location: Springfield, MO
Contact:

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby OscarGuy » Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:11 am

Our local theaters are around $7.50 for non-prime showings with a $2 to $3 uptick for 3D. Evening shows, I think are in the $9.50 to $10.00 range (seldom go at night).
Wesley Lovell
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15615
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:02 am

Reza wrote:
nightwingnova wrote: (Having just paid $16.50 for Tintin)


Shit man, is that how expensive it is now to watch a film at cinemas in America?

For 3-D films in Manhattan, maybe, I don't know. Where I am it's $10, with a senior discount "only" $9 - and I thought that was outrageous.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Reza
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 7915
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:14 am
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Reza » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:55 am

nightwingnova wrote: (Having just paid $16.50 for Tintin)


Shit man, is that how expensive it is now to watch a film at cinemas in America?

nightwingnova
Temp
Posts: 396
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:48 pm

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby nightwingnova » Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:01 am

Rating an average 41 on Metacritic out of 15 reviews. All the fuss about the NYFCC not having seen the movie before making its awards, doesn't seem as if it's even worth seeing. (Having just paid $16.50 for Tintin, I'm not paying for a movie again unless I really want to see it.)

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Damien » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:32 pm

Big Magilla wrote:I don't know what to make of these reviews at all.

On one hand, it seems as if those who like the kid, like the film, those who don't, dont.


A friend of mine interviewed the kid and said that his response to many of her questions was simply rolling his eyes. You pull that with the Hollywood Foreign Press and they take note. :D
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Damien » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:30 pm

I do have to say that Scott Rudin and the EL & IC gang are working the mixed reactions very well, and finding some willing accomplices in the press. Note, for instance, how this NY Times article picks up and accepts Daldry's assertion that the film flamed out with the Golden Globes because the Hollywood Foreign Press wasn't ready for a 9/11 movie, not that maybe they didn't think it was good enough.

JUST CLOSE ENOUGH FOR AN OSCAR NOD?
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
December 19, 2011
LOS ANGELES — Imagine a mother, Everywoman — in this case, Sandra Bullock — whose young son fervently wishes that she, and not his father, had died in the World Trade Center attacks.

You will have glimpsed the heart of “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” one of the last, and most challenging, films to enter an unusually chaotic field of Oscar contenders.

Directed by Stephen Daldry and produced by Scott Rudin, “Extremely Loud” is set for release by Warner Brothers in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas. Nearly a month later the picture will reach theaters around the country.

Along the way it will provide an occasionally shocking coda to the year of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The movie may also bring something new — the raw hurt of a still very open wound — to an Academy Awards race that has delivered novelty (in a nearly silent picture, “The Artist”), a look back at the racial divide (in “The Help”) and trouble in a tropical paradise (in “The Descendants”).

“Are we ready for it? Are we not ready for it?” Mr. Daldry asked rhetorically on Friday after two weeks of screening the film, only recently completed, for audiences on both coasts. “People will have to make up their own minds.”

Voters from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association were not ready. After watching the picture on Dec. 4, three days before a screening deadline for their Golden Globes nominations, they shut the film out. That dealt a snub to Mr. Daldry, who drew Oscar nominations for directing his last three features, “The Hours,” “Billy Elliot” and “The Reader.”

One of approximately 90 Globes voters, who spoke on condition of anonymity in deference to the association’s general practice of confidentiality, said the association had been deeply split on “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” Some members, this voter said, were very strongly drawn to it, while others were left cold by a story line they saw as a bit too fantastic.

Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” tells of a boy, Oskar Schell, played by Thomas Horn. His father, played by Tom Hanks, has died in the trade center collapse, leaving behind six telephone messages and, inadvertently, an unlikely quest that pushes Oskar — who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome — far out of his comfort zone.

Published in 2005, the book was admired by some critics but excoriated by others who found it exploitive or overly sentimental. “I got ‘This book is wonderful,’ and ‘This book is horrible,’ ” Mr. Foer recalled in a phone interview on Friday.

Oddly enough, such a polarity might now prove an advantage in the Oscar contest, because changes this year in balloting for best picture have put a premium on first-place votes. As few of 250 of those — assuming that about 5,000 of 5,800 voting members in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences actually cast ballots — can create a nominee by conferring the requisite 5 percent of the first-place votes that are called for under the Academy’s rules.

At the same time a further change in tallying procedures has diminished the potential impact of lower-ranked votes, explained Steve Pond, a writer for TheWrap.com, who has made a close study of the process.

“In previous years you were getting votes from many different places on the ballot,” Mr. Pond said. Under a complicated counting method, he said, second-, third- fourth- and even lower-place votes for a movie could push it onto the best picture roster.

But now the first-place votes are all but decisive, which may provide a path forward, albeit a narrow one, for Warner as it steers “Extremely Loud” through the Oscar race. Mr. Rudin acknowledged, after the Golden Globes snub, that “those who love it, love it passionately, and those who resist it find it too tough as an emotional experience.” The response from critics and audiences is likely to cover the range of those extremes.

But if the movie gains traction among filmgoers as a “talker” dealing with a substantive and contemporary subject — as “The Hurt Locker” did two years ago, and no current contender has yet done — it might conceivably follow that picture to the top.

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” faced a critical moment as an awards contender on Sunday, when it was screened for Oscar voters at the Academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters. The response, by Mr. Pond’s report, was muted, , but Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter, at the same time weighed in with a strong review predicting audiences “will be emotionally wrenched by the treatment of loss.”

“The only thing I can tell you is that I’ve done Q. and A.’s at six screenings, and I’ve never had a reaction like this,” said Eric Roth, who adapted Mr. Foer’s book for the screen. An Oscar winner for “Forrest Gump,” and three times a nominee since, Mr. Roth said he has been struck by the complexity of an audience response that has mixed raucous laughter with weepy breakdowns.

“They really enjoy, kind of, the grieving of it,” he said.

Unlike Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center” and Paul Greengrass’s “United 93,” both released in 2006, Mr. Daldry’s film dwells on the emotional aftermath of Sept. 11, rather than its immediate drama. It aspires to find the universality in grief, and, for some, at least, it succeeds.

“I think it’s a beautiful, beautiful film, I really do,” said Kathy Murphy, who saw it three times while advising Mr. Daldry on post-Sept. 11 realities.

A director of the nonprofit Tuesday’s Children, a support group for the families of the attacks’ victims, Ms. Murphy said Mr. Daldry was attentive to advice about details, like a tendency among the living to leave change on a dresser or clothes in the closet as mementos of a loved one.

A particularly tough encounter between Ms. Bullock’s Linda Schell and Mr. Horn’s Oskar, a centerpiece of both the film and the novel, she said, only mimics what she has seen between a surviving parent and angry offspring. “Is it normal teen behavior? Is it because of 9/11?” she said she has been asked by those whose children sometimes feel that the mother or father who died that day might have been the better parent.

Grief, of course, can be catnip for Academy voters. “Ordinary People,” “Terms of Endearment,” and, this year, another strong contender, “The Descendants,” come to mind. (And disability, handled properly, can be a plus, as with “Rain Man” and Mr. Roth’s own “Forrest Gump.”)

Further, the movie world has been inclined to linger on real-life trauma after the first shock has worn off. The Vietnam War-theme dramas “Coming Home,” a best picture nominee, and “The Deer Hunter,” the winner, were thus honored in 1979, four years after the fall of Saigon. In the next decade or so “Apocalypse Now,” “Platoon,” “Full Metal Jacket,” and “Born on the Fourth of July” all received nominations and awards from the Academy.

As for the Sept. 11 families, Ms. Murphy said most will not see Mr. Daldry’s film until it opens, or at a private screening in January.

And some, she added, will simply never look at almost anything connected to the attacks.

“There are plenty in the 9/11 community that are not going to go near this,” Ms. Murphy said. “They won’t go to the memorial. They want no reminders.”
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15615
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:34 pm

I don't know what to make of these reviews at all.

On one hand, it seems as if those who like the kid, like the film, those who don't, dont. As far as the manipualtion goes, it may be in the eye of the beholder. Brad Brevet and others who hate, hate, hate the maipulation of War Horse don't see EL&IC as manipulative.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

User avatar
rolotomasi99
Associate
Posts: 1924
Joined: Wed Jan 29, 2003 4:13 pm
Location: n/a
Contact:

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby rolotomasi99 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:50 pm

I feel like I have whiplash from the reviews on this movie. The two below are great examples. Neither one is a famous critic, but their opposing views probably reflect how audiences will feel about this film. Remember though, it takes only a few people loving your film to receive a Best Picture nomination under the new system. Add in Daldry's perfect streak in the Director category, and I think this film still has a strong chance of doing well nomination wise.


Scott Tobias
AVClub.com

Grade: F

In the aftermath of 9/11, the question arose of when it would be appropriate for popular art to address the events head-on. For a national tragedy of that magnitude, when would it not be “too soon”? Yet Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, an appalling adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, suggests that maybe that’s the wrong question. The 2006 docudrama United 93, once the trial balloon for “too soon,” dodged exploitation by focusing rigorously on the minutiae of a single flight. But it will always be “too soon” for Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, which processes the immense grief of a city and a family through a conceit so nauseatingly precious that it’s somehow both too literary and too sentimental, cloying yet aestheticized within an inch of its life. It’s 9/11 through the eyes of a caffeinated 9-year-old Harper’s contributor.

Thomas Horn plays that 9-year-old as a boy who’s somewhere between precocious and autistic, given to channeling his energies through whimsical projects that give his intellect the exercise it needs. After his father (Tom Hanks) dies in the World Trade Center attacks, Horn discovers a key hidden in a vase in an envelope labeled “Black,” and embarks on a quest across the five boroughs to find out what the key opens and perhaps receive one last message from his dad. This involves looking up “Black” in the phone book, visiting every address—on foot, for he is too neurotic for public transit—and sharing his story. (Does a montage of all the diverse people he meets evoke the memorialized faces of the missing and the dead on 9/11? Sure does.) Sandra Bullock gets a few scenes as his exasperated mother, and Max von Sydow plays a mute old lodger who tags along.

Through the boy’s journey, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close tries to link the personal with the universal, connecting one story of grief within the larger context of a wounded-but-resilient city. (Spike Lee’s The 25th Hour accomplished this in one breathtaking montage, but still.) Yet the film is like a monument that calls attention to its own magnificent architecture—at one point, a “Black” actually cradles one of Horn’s letters to her breast like a newborn babe. Rather than dilute the sap, director Stephen Daldry slathers on Alexandre Desplat’s prodding score—he did the same with Philip Glass in The Hours—and makes a motif out of a body falling from one of the Twin Towers. It’s all very tasteful, he presumes.





Laremy Legel
Film.com

Grade: A+

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is extremely well done … and incredibly effective. The acting, pacing, and massively large life questions posed within keep the film hurtling forward, building layer upon layer, first with waves of sadness, then joy, until you can’t help but admire the overall execution. This was no sure thing, as many of the subjects, when considered broadly, tilt awkwardly toward sentimentality, but Extremely Loud stays fully aloft. Every year we get a few of these, the ones that “matter,” and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is one of those films, the type that matters, though it’s a difficult watch, and potentially upsetting to an audience.

Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks are married, and they have a son named Oskar, played with verve by young actor Thomas Horn. Oskar is an extremely curious boy — you’d likely call him “precocious” if you were watching Annie. He sees the world through a prism of uber-intelligence masked by an utter confusion about human emotions. He’s prone to angry outbursts when life doesn’t fit his logical standards, but his father (Hanks) keeps roping him back to a state of normalcy through a series of planned adventures he calls “reconnaissance expeditions.” These missions serve to get Oskar out of the house and interacting with the community, a skill his father knows he’ll need to cultivate to help young Oskar relate to the world at large.

The film begins with Oskar ruminating on death, and the reason he’s doing so will become apparent as the story progresses. He’s a youngster who is all rough edges, tough on the sensibilities, not gifted with an ounce of tact, and that was before something terrible happened to him. The film refers to it as the “worst day,” though to say more on this front would undermine the narrative heft. Let’s just say it was a bad day, and Oskar and his family are left picking up the pieces.

From these ashes, Oskar begins his most demanding quest yet, trying to find the lock for a key he’s found, an impossible and daunting task in a city of millions. He breaks down the task scientifically, and he’s aided along the way by the people he befriends. Notable performances can be found here from Viola Davis and Max von Sydow; they take in young Oskar and try to impart a few life lessons along his journey. Throughout the running time of the film, the “weight” of people is routinely considered, not their physical weight, but the emotional toll we all exact on each other.

The score, haunting, conveys the sense of dread that pervades. Thankfully, it’s not the same depression found in director Stephen Daldry’s previous work, The Reader, where the point seemed to be that there isn’t a point at all. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a point, but even more importantly it has chemistry. Accolades must be given to Bullock and Horn, as their mother-son relationship is often tumultuous and jarring … but entirely moving.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is as much of a quest as it is a continually asked question, though some are never adequately answered, and people thrive and fail in a manner that reflects the world we live in, as great art must. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close‘s greatest strength is that it prods and provokes, never relenting, protagonist voice-overs and “quest” questions spurring us on to even greater depths of introspection. The imagery is periodically (and purposefully) horrific, terrible things are witnessed and heard, moments of loss are punctuated and overcome by the even greater strength of the ties that bind us together as a culture. The film’s central message — that we’ve got to try to be good to each other, and that we’re all slightly lost — evokes a sort of everyman earnestness that’s good for the soul. A treatise on faith and grief, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is an exceptional film.
"When it comes to the subject of torture, I trust a woman who was married to James Cameron for three years."
-- Amy Poehler in praise of Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4166
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:13 pm

Well, those reviews are definitely on the more positive end of my expectations, though I suspect the Village Voice/Slant crowd will be a lot grouchier. (And who is Brad Brevet, other than a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association?) I think the lack of precursors (and review embargo) made some think that the movie was a flat-out failure, which I don't think it is. But it's more akin something like The Pursuit of Happyness than The King's Speech, I think, in Oscar terms.

Let me put it this way: if The Reader was Stephen Daldry Does the Holocaust, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is Stephen Daldry Does 9/11. From the opening images, I was uncomfortable with the director's choices -- the image of Tom Hanks's body falling from the World Trade Center, gorgeously photographed, in slow motion, with emotional music playing, struck me as an alarmingly bad choice. I just don't much respond to the aestheticizing of a truly horrific event in such a manner. (The more simple, direct, and disturbing way Alejandro González Iñárritu presented the same situation in 11/9/01 was far more successful.)

But, as OscarGuy suggests, the majority of the movie doesn't take place on 9/11, but follows Thomas Horn's young protagonist a year after the tragic event that took his father's life. I think many viewers' mileage will vary on this movie depending on how well they respond to Horn's character -- if you're into excessively quirky, overly precocious children with flawless diction, then you'll probably find young Oskar Schell an absolute delight. I find him tough to tolerate in some moments -- if the portrayal of childhood in The Tree of Life was incredibly real, the portrayal of youth here is as movie-manufactured as you can get -- though I will acknowledge that Thomas Horn was quite solid in a couple of his big dramatic scenes (i.e. when the movie decided it didn't need to work overtime to make him appear "cute.")

The main plotline is sort of the inverse of Hugo's -- Oskar is looking around his father's room one day, breaks a vase, and finds a key in it; he then decides he needs to find the lock that this key opens. And yet, I was brought in to Hugo's search for his father's key far more, because 1) he and his father had bonded over the automaton, so it would make sense that Hugo would want to find the key that operated it, and 2) it seemed fairly within the realm of possibility that he WOULD find it somewhere in the station. Oskar's search, on the other hand, struck me as absolutely ludicrous, to the point that I found it very difficult to root for this character and his absurd quest. I understand that Oskar is embarking on this journey as a way to cope with his father's death, but...still...you find a key in a vase in your dad's room and assume it was left for you, then decide to go wandering around all of New York City trying to find the lock it opens? That makes perfect sense! Even more absurd is Sandra Bullock's character's response to her son's actions, which I won't reveal here, because it's way spoilerish, but it struck me as fairly unrealistic behavior from a mother.

Late in the film, a new character is introduced, which leads to a very emotional confrontation between him and Oskar. And once again, I felt like I understood Oskar's feelings as an outpouring of his grief, but wasn't emotionally affected because I wanted to ask of his scene partner...who is THIS guy and why should I suddenly have an investment in the final reel in HIS story? (Of course, it isn't the final reel...this is the kind of movie that feels as if it's about to end about seven times.)

As for the cast, I'm not surprised they haven't popped up in the precursors. Tom Hanks barely has a part. Sandra Bullock has one or two emotional scenes, but I didn't feel like she brought anything remotely special to the role that a superior actress would have. Thomas Horn, as I said before, does have his good moments, but also some grating ones. The best performance in the movie comes from Max von Sydow, touching and funny in a wordless role, though even then I didn't think the part was much of a stretch, and I thought the big twist with respect to his character was about as phony as anything else in the movie. I think an Oscar nod for von Sydow could still happen, if voters are in the mood to honor a genuine legend in a category that still seems pretty up-in-the-air at this point, but when I saw the movie, I didn't immediately think, this is a big Oscar role. Oh, and Viola Davis proves she's one of the best cryers in the movies, and maybe her part here will remind voters how powerful she was in The Help.

I still don't think this is a major Oscar nominee, but I guess huge enthusiasm from the real world (which I'm not sure will exist) could put it back in contention somewhere.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15615
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:12 am

If they didn't have such early awards deadlines they wouldn't need such a long time between critics' screenings and release dates. hence the long embargo for both this and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The embargo period for War Horse was probably shorter because Dreamworks thought it had a critic proof hit on its hands.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

User avatar
OscarGuy
Site Admin
Posts: 12532
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 12:22 am
Location: Springfield, MO
Contact:

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:03 am

Embargoes are embargoes. If they didn't apply it for all films, then they couldn't apply it for specific films. Besides, what happens if the buzz opens too early and people are sick of hearing about it before it comes out?
Wesley Lovell

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin

Reza
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 7915
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:14 am
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Reza » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:41 am

Why has there been such a mystery and drama about not allowing critics to review this film until now? Doesn't that happen when the studios think they have a bomb on their hands?

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15615
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:45 pm

'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' Movie Review (2011)

By: Brad Brevet
Published: Sunday, December 18th 2011 at 11:43 AM

With an absolute sensitivity to the people and events surrounding 2001's terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is an emotionally staggering adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel of the same name. Director Stephen Daldry has taken Eric Roth's (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) screenplay and crafted a film that will have you welling up early and often as it not only manages to be respectful of the events and the millions of lives that were affected, but it's done in such a way that the tears are earned rather than merely the result of the tragic event at the film's core.

Set one year after the September 11th attacks, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close follows the story of young Oskar Schell (played to perfection by Thomas Horn) after he lost his father (Tom Hanks) in one of the Towers. Oskar held a close relationship with his father, whom he says "never talked to him like a child" and would often send him on expeditions, the last of which involved the search for clues that would reveal the existence of a "sixth borough". However, this expedition was cut short on what Oskar calls "The Worst Day" and only now, a year later, has he decided to even dare enter his father's closet, untouched by his mother (Sandra Bullock). This is where Oskar begins his next expedition.

While searching through his father's things, Oskar causes a vase to fall to the floor and shatter, revealing a small envelope with the word "Black" written on it and a single key inside. Putting his youthful imagination to work he sees this as another one of his father's journeys, and with it he now has a new link to his father and a mystery he plans to solve. After all, if there's a key it must have a lock that it opens.

Oskar plots out his plan, which will take him across all five of New York's boroughs in search of said lock. Over the course of this journey, family secrets will be revealed, some semblance of catharsis will be found and, as I'm sure you expected based on the subject matter alone, an assault on your emotions will be waged.

Granted, if you view using the September 11th attacks in any way as an emotional cheat, or perhaps disrespectful, you are most likely going to be bothered by the film as a whole. In fact, I don't know why you'd even go see it. However, if you watch it with the understanding there is no malice intended you'll realize it's just as much a journey for Oskar Schell as it is a journey for all of us. It approaches the events of 9/11 and asks the question we've all asked at one point — "Why?" It's the simplest of questions and if anyone has been around a young child for any small measure of time I'm sure you've been faced with this one word in a constant barrage. Child or not, if any event in the last ten years deserves such a barrage it's 9/11. Then again, Oskar isn't your average child.

Oskar's a thinker. He's a reader. He's an amateur pacifist and inventor. He tells us he was tested for Asperger's but the "tests weren't definitive." He's a child of a different sort and I instantly gravitated toward him. Like all of us would, he wonders why people he didn't know would fly a plane into a building and kill his father. It doesn't make sense. There is no logical answer, but the struggle for understanding continues where no understanding can be found.

Thomas Horn is given a large task in carrying such a weighty story on his shoulders but he does so without a hitch and Stephen Daldry makes him look good every step of the way by not only editing a feature that balances time, emotions and performance with seeming ease, but by also playing to the film's title in terms of sound and visual intimacy be it a wide shot of the Brooklyn Bridge, soaring overhead views or the slow-motion drip of a leaky faucet. Coupled with an excellent score from Alexandre Desplat and moments of stark imagery caught by the masterful Chris Menges, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close tests your emotional stamina as you can only hope to hold on for so long before you break.

I won't go so far as to say Extremely Loud isn't manipulative, because it is, just as is any film that centers on any such similar tragedy. The key for Daldry and crew was making sure it wasn't done in such a way that the audience felt as if their emotions are being toyed with. The audience must be engaged to the point that when the characters react, the audience reacts, and there's no question this film has achieved that level of intimate connection.

Horn, as I've said, was excellent, but Daldry didn't stop there, surrounding the first-time film actor (and "Kids Week" Jeopardy! champion) with a talented ensemble.

Max von Sydow is outstanding as the mysterious house guest staying with Oskar's grandmother. Mute as the result of a past trauma, Sydow's performance is 100% physical from his eyes to the way he carries his aging body. One moment in particular, where Oskar is revealing his plan to the man he knows as "The Renter," is probably the first moment in the film where audiences will truly find themselves grabbing for a tissue as Oskar screams with frustration and Von Sydow serves as a kindly sounding board, his eyes weakening as he listens to the struggles of a young child who shouldn't be burdened with such trials. It's powerful stuff.

Sandra Bullock is also impressive as Oskar's mother in a performance that hues closer to her work in Crash rather than her Oscar-winning work in The Blind Side and Viola Davis proves she never has a misstep as the first of many New Yorkers Oskar encounters on his expedition. Even Tom Hanks, in a rather limited role, punched me in the gut just by saying, "Let's go do something."

The largest issue I had with this film was figuring out how to describe the effect it had on me emotionally. It's a crushing film that will leave many moviegoers in a heap, but I don't look at it as an overly sad movie even though the level of sadness on display is undeniable.

In trying to find words to describe this emotional onslaught I think it's best to say it's earnest, sincere, impassioned and heartfelt. Yet, emotional descriptors aside, I think it's best to simply say it's wonderful and as hard as it may be to swallow the lump it will create in your throat, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a film you'll walk away from happy you saw it. This is highly effective filmmaking from the top down. It's one of the year's best and I loved it.


GRADE: A+
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6394
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:04 pm

Hollywood Reporter

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: Film Review
9:00 AM PST 12/18/2011 by Todd McCarthy

he Bottom Line
An emotionally potent, noticeably literary story of a precious boy's reaction to his father's death on 9/11.

Emotional fluency and literary pretense go hand in hand in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, an affecting, well acted tale of 9/11 trauma and a boy's effort to piece things together after his father's death. A self-conscious prestige project with weighty thematic elements, a tony literary pedigree and top-tier actors, director Stephen Daldry's fourth film is dominated by the performance of a 13-year-old with no previous acting experience, Thomas Horn, who enables his character's pinball intellect and inchoate emotions to pulse through every scene. While the subject matter will keep some prospective viewers away, many who do come will be emotionally wrenched by the treatment of loss and the interplay between parents and child, indicating good commercial prospects in most markets.

“The worst day” is how young Oskar Schell (Horn) understandably refers to 9/11, the day his jeweler father perished in one of the twin towers while there for a meeting. As seen in multiple flashbacks, Oskar and his father Thomas (Tom Hanks) shared an unusually close relationship, with the dad concocting all manner of intellectually challenging games and propositions his son happily took up. His mother (Sandra Bullock) played no part in this and their distance from one another has not diminished in the year since his death, the vivid memory of which is preserved by a series of six progressively agitated phone messages from Thomas on the fateful morning that his son continues to play.

On the basis of his first two novels, Everything Is Illuminated and this one, which was published in 2005, Jonathan Safran Foer is a word wizard partial to bulgingly significant material and highly contrived narrative constructs of a sort that would never occur to a writer plotting an original screenplay. In this case, said invention is an odyssey on foot Oskar embarks upon throughout all the boroughs of New York to track down every individual with the last name “Black” (472 of them in all), for the reason that he found a key among his father's possessions with that name attached to it. He is convinced that, if he can find the matching lock, he will find or learn something of great significance about his father.

This trek is something one can more readily accept on the page than onscreen, especially as in a book you don't actually have to listen to Oskar carrying a tambourine everywhere he goes or see him wearing an Israeli gas mask in the subway. Fortunately, at a certain point he begins to be accompanied by a mysterious old man who has recently moved into a room across the way at the apartment of his grandmother (Zoe Caldwell). The man, known only as The Renter (Max von Sydow), doesn't speak, and instead writes down anything he has to communicate on slips of paper. Oskar does manage to learn that the rangy old fellow was born in Germany and that his parents died in the bombing of Dresden, but the man won't address the reason for his silence. Oskar reasonably suspects The Renter is his grandfather but proof is not forthcoming.

The pair's road trip to the nooks, crannies and far-flung outposts of New York City represents the film's highlight. From Queens to Staten Island and everywhere in between, parts of the city are seen that represent the astounding range and variety of its inhabitants. None of them, of course, knows anything about the key, but the odd relationship between the two temporary companions is a delight, as Oskar rattles on about this and that and The Renter reacts with everything from bemusement to angry annoyance. Best of all, von Sydow is absolutely wonderful, with the great veteran actor clearly relishing this very unusual role as he darts, skulks and, in a stealthy way, mugs across town. Without saying a thing, he dominates the middle part of the movie.

The other adult actor who's terrific here is Jeffrey Wright, as the figure who unsuspectingly awaits Oskar toward the end of his journey. Portraying a man harboring his own pain and disappointments, Wright has one long scene of incredible emotional delicacy and transparency in which he once again proves his position among the very top American actors.

Screenwriter Eric Roth and Daldry shuffle the chronological and emotional deck, slipping in past moments between father and son as well as incremental revelations of what Thomas experienced the morning of 9/11, all the while building to flashback revelations by the mother that, again, are harder to believe when depicted on film than when merely described in a book. More important, however, is the the crescendo of feeling the filmmakers have deftly engineered, a wave of such cumulative weight that, when it breaks, it will wipe a lot of viewers out. Whatever reservations one might have about various elements of the story, it's clear that such an effective climax can only have been achieved through the very skillful balancing and timing of elements by the writer, director and editor.

Through it all, the dominating presence is Horn as Oskar. A non-professional discovered when he won Kids Jeopardy on television (he has also been a repeated finalist in the National Geographic Geography Bee), Horn has torrents of complicated, verbose, highly charged dialogue to reel off, is paired with a host of extremely accomplished actors, is in virtually every scene and must be entirely convincing as a bright, driven, emotionally convulsed kid who is likely on the outer edges of the spectrum of either austism or Asperger's Syndrome. For all these reasons, it is entirely possible that some will find him annoyingly precocious. Given his real-life accomplishments, it's likely Horn is just as articulate and intellectually advanced as Oskar is supposed to be and is therefore a perfect fit for the role. Whatever the case, it's an exceptional natural performance, entirely convincing and exhilarating to experience.

The elimination of the Schell family's Jewish background, reportedly a result of casting decisions, feels unnatural, given their history and the context. Some repeated images of the father's likely fate on 9/11 are also jarring.

Top-billed but filling what are actually supporting roles, Hanks gives the father an eccentric side that aptly complements his son's personality, while Bullock necessarily cuts an opaque figure as the disconnected mother until very close to the end. Viola Davis is very good in her brief role as one of the “Blacks” Oskar encounters on his rounds.

Production-wise, the film is immaculate, from Chris Menges' lustrous cinematography and K.K. Barrett's spot-on production design to Alexandre Desplat's multi-flavored score.


Return to “2011”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest