30 September 2013

Extremely Loud and Incredible Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 2011
  • Director: Stephen Daldry
  • Based on book: by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Cast: Thomas Horne, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Zoe Caldwell, John Goodman
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Max von Sydow – Utvandrarna, Invandrarna, Nybyggarna, Robin Hood, Shutter Island, Awakenings, Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd, Voyage of the Damned, The Exorcist, Vargtimmen
    • Viola Davis – The Help, Kate and Leopold
    • Tom Hanks – Catch Me If You Can, Road to Perdition, Cast Away, The Green Mile, You Have Mail, Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, Philadelphia, A League of Their Own, Joe and the Volcano, Punchline
    • Sandra Bullock  Infamous, The Lake House, Crash, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, 28 Days, Practical Magic, While You Were Sleeping, Speed,
    • Zoe Caldwell – somewhere but I can’t find where!
    • John Goodman – My First Mister, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowsky, Barton Flink, Sea of Love,
  • Why? The book is very good.
  • Seen: September 22, 2013 with YW in our read book-watch movie circle

Usually I can let go of the book about halfway through the film but in this one too much of importance has been changed or left out.  The essence of the novel – the parallel story of the grandparents and the bombing of Dresden – is almost completely omitted, eliminating the vital juxtaposition of one terrorist act with another (who decides if it’s a terrorist act or a legitimate act of war? The winners of course).
If they had just gotten this point across instead of adding several searching-for-Black scenes not in the book it could have been a great movie even though they eliminated two of the best searching-for-Black characters: old Mr. Black upstairs (we only get a glimpse) and Ruth Black in the Empire State Building (not in the film at all).
Other objections: things end up just too feel-good and lovey-dovey. The last scene with Oskar on the swing actually takes a star or so away from my rating.
With all that said there is much about the film that is good.  The cast is generally well chosen and they play their roles well.  New York itself plays a strong role with its vast array of oddball characters and out-of-the-way nooks of exotic parks, buildings, streets.
The story of a boy’s grief at losing his father is very well done though again, this becomes a personal grief not really connected to the collective historical grief of 9/11. Maybe that was the intention.
Oskar reminds me continuously of Billy Elliot (without Jamie Bell’s incredible charm and passion and fury) and only in the closing credits do I realize/remember, “Oh yeah, same director.”
But I’m not comparing the film either to the novel nor to Billy Elliot – well, I’m trying not to – so judged on its own, it’s quite a good film.

3 * of 5

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