New Comic: Tryin’ to Be Ryan
Maybe this film isn’t as bad as my title suggests but I couldn’t resist making fun of it when there are so many possibilities. So why did someone like me who so closely monitors reviews see this film? Because I make it my mission every year to see every film nominated for best picture and I suppose every film deserves it’s day in court. Although now I can tell you that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is probably the least interesting Oscar nominated movie I’ve seen since The Reader, also a Stephen Daldry film. I wouldn’t go as far saying Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a bad movie, it’s just really average, and hardly Oscar quality. A lot of critics have gone as far to saying that this movie is offensive and I think I can see why, but I’ll get to that later.
Oscar Schell (Thomas Horn) is a bright but emotionally awkward young boy coping with the death of his father (Tom Hanks) who died in 9/11. From flashbacks we learn that Oscar’s father used to send him on scavenger hunts or “reconnaissance missions” to teach him life lessons. A year later in 2002 Oscar discovers a key in an envelope marked “Black” in his father’s closet and believes this to be a final mission. Oscar then sets out by tracking down everyone with the last name of “Black” in all of New York in an attempt to discover the key’s secret. It’s a ridiculous premise but still interesting to watch how it unfolds, at least it would be if it wasn’t bogged down by so much melodrama.
In-between all the searching we get a lot of flashbacks of Oscar and his mom (Sandra Bullock) dealing with their grief. I understand this is a story that uses 9/11 to setup the chain of events but I’d much rather see the story progress than watch scene after scene of Oscar and his mom yelling and crying at each other. Thomas Horn gives a strong performance as Oscar but his character is so unsympathetic and annoying that I just wish he’d shut the hell up. Oscar is rude, insensitive, and a real know-it-all, which makes it really hard for to get behind his little self-centered scavenger hunt. The other characters feel fairly stock although ably performed, most notably Max Von Sydow as a mute renter living with Oscar’s grandmother. A lot of people have criticized Von Sydow getting a Best Supporting Actor nomination but it is my opinion that it’s deserved, I just would of liked to see him say something.
So what makes Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close insensitive? A lot of critics have pointed out a recurring cutaway shot of a jumper falling from the sky. It’s an odd choice but it didn’t make me uncomfortable until referenced in a later scene. Later there’s a scene where Oscar is showing the mute renter pictures of a jumper on 9/11 that Oscar believes is his father. Not only is that morbid thought for a child to have but it seems insensitive to the people that actually did jump from the towers. Using such a tragic occurrence as an artistic statement or plot device feels like an insult. Even worse Oscar puts together a scrapbook that has a page where you pull out a tab and a man falls from a drawing of a man falls from a drawing of the towers. I’m sure they had some kind of message but the visual is so dark and depressing, it makes me very uncomfortable.
Aside from all the iffy handling of sensitive subject matter this film is fairly drawn out. Eric Roth, known for his lengthy and complexly detailed screenplays like Forrest Gump and Curious Case of Benjamin Button adapted the story but unlike those other two films this one is missing a key element “humor”. I’m aware this is serious subject matter but that doesn’t mean there can’t be some lighter moments as well. I suppose this film had some of those moments but they are so few and far between. The movie may have an intriguing mystery that’s somewhat entertaining but it’s too much of bummer. This isn’t the worse film but is it the worst film to ever be nominated for Best Picture? Maybe, I guess the Academy just loves the schmaltzy melodrama of Stephen Daldry.
Did you read John, Colin and Sean’s top 10 movie lists last week? If you liked those, you’re going to love this podcast. This week, those guys talk about their favorite movies of 2011, narrowing down all their personal preferences to a single list. What will make the cut? Who will feel the most betrayed? How much time will be spent on Fast Five? Find out for yourself by using your ears!
Total listage after the break! Only go that far if your time is too damn valuable to be listening to us.
Something changed me this afternoon. After feeling like I hadn’t seen “enough” movies from last year, like I wasn’t worthy of an opinion on the medium for 2011, I reread Colin’s top 10. And, having gotten past the weirdness that is Colin’s choice not to write about movies he likes, something stood out to me. He saw 32 movies last year. I saw 30. We had taken different paths, but we had gotten to basically the same destination. Now, sure, Colin saw a lot more critical darlings than I did, and I’m sure John blows both of us completely out of the water, but at least I got to have a little swim first.
For me 2011 seemed like a pretty solid year for movies, not spectacular or anything, but solid. It does seem like the harder-to-see indie films continue to be generally more impressive while the big budget films appear to be getting dumber and lazier. Yet at the same time, I found many of the more heralded indie films to be a bit overhyped, so my list for the most part falls somewhere in to that middle ground between the indies and the studio pictures. Saw 32 movies this year, by the way.
A new year means changes, especially at the ever-changing Mildly Pleased. We’ve thrown our hats into the podcasting ring once again, this time with the goal of turning our former T3 feature into a weekly show. So, come back every week for Top 10 Thursdays, where we’ll try our best to formulate a top 10 list based on a topic of almost random choosing!
This week, Sean, John and Colin discuss their favorite TV shows of 2011 as they try their best to narrow their list down to just 10 shows? Will they do it? Or will this podcast be an absolute failure right from the get-go?
Take the jump to spoil the show and reveal the list.
Every year I try to see all the movies I can and I’m still never ready for this list. I think I’ve done a good job seeing most of the year’s critically lauded films. My only regrets for 2011 is that I didn’t see Shame, Take Shelter, or the last Harry Potter, though that last one was just because of my own laziness. All that aside as long as I can settle on ten films I like I’m happy so here they are.