Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sarah's Review of "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" (2011)

Directed by: Stephen Daldry

Starring: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow

Sarah's Introduction: Grief. We’ve all experienced it; that all-consuming, gut-wrenching, lie-on-the-floor-because-nothing-in-the-world-makes-sense feeling. That is how “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” feels throughout the entire movie. A beautiful film, almost an homage to the great city of New York, that reaches down and rips all the feelings of that day almost ten and a half years ago and puts them back in front of your face. And the story! Ah, the story of this young boy holding himself together after losing the only person in the world who he thought understood him. There is a moment in the film where the boy, Oskar Schell, says "If the sun were to go out, it would take eight minutes for the darkness to reach the Earth." This is what Oskar is holding onto. His journey in the film centers on finding the one lock a key his father left him fits into, trying to stretch out his “last eight minutes” with his father.

I did not see this movie with Andrew. Instead I saw it with a friend, Kelley Miller. Not exactly the chick flick of the year, but it was a good crying movie. I didn't outright cry, but throughout most of the movie it felt like there was a weight on my chest. This movie is overwhelming at times, which I really think was the point. It’s meant to get you out of your comfort zone because the main character is out of his comfort zone.

Because Andrew didn’t see this movie with me, he’ll be interviewing me, of sorts. So, Andrew, what questions do you have for me about “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?”

Andrew: Well in all honesty, if we stopped the review with only what you just wrote, I think it would be a darn good review! But since you asked, what I want to know first and foremost is how the acting was, especially the boy who plays Oskar.

S: The acting is actually really amazing. The little boy, played by Thomas Horn, really makes you feel an array of emotion, from anger to laughing in a matter of minutes. I actually think that Sandra Bullock should have gotten an Oscar nod for Supporting Actress. She’s actually the character that I felt the most emotion for. Max von Sydow gave a great performance as well and he deserved his Oscar nod.

A: Interesting to hear that you thought Sandra was more powerful than the other characters. What was it about Max von Sydow's performance that you think earned him his Best Supporting Actor nomination? Was there more to it than him barely speaking?

S: There was, but I'm not going to tell you because it is a key element of the story. And there is no “barely” speaking. He literally does not talk throughout the movie.

A: Ah. Well then the readers and I will just have to see for ourselves then, eh? Ok, tell me about Tom Hanks' performance. He seems to be such a pivotal part of the movie but from the looks of it, he's not really in it much. Am I wrong?

S: He’s actually in the whole thing. There are several flashbacks and references to him throughout the movie. But I’m actually going to switch topics here for a minute and mention something Kelley said about the film. She said, "If they took away the whole 9/11 part, you wouldn’t be left with a story that was really original," and I think she’s right. While it was a great movie, what brought up the emotion wasn’t the direct storyline but the fact that this tragedy that affected the entire country is in the forefront of the movie.

A: So do you think the filmmakers were pandering a bit? Going for the easy tug of the heartstring?

S: I think so. I'm not sure the country needs to have all the images brought up again. That's not to say that we don't need to be reminded everyday, but we don’t need to be reminded of the death and destruction, instead it should be the fact that it brought this nation closer together than it had since Pearl Harbor. This film did exploit 9/11 to bring more emotion into it and from my perspective, that's just not right.

A: Well then I only have one more question, which is a two-part question.
Director Stephen Daldry has some great movies to his name in "The Hours," "The
Reader," and "Billy Elliot." What were your thoughts on his directing
and do you feel this movie belongs up there with those other three
films? (Two of which were also nominated for Best Picture.)

S: The directing is really well done, so I can't fault him for that. The movie is easy to follow and it flows very nicely. And what can I say? Just because it's not my favorite movie of the year, doesn't mean it’s not an Oscar-worthy film. In my opinion, for Best Picture the Academy looks for films that make you think. Whether that is the right way to do it or not isn't up to me, so you kind of have to take their nominations with a grain of salt. The award is a great honor for the person winning it, but does not always reflect the true quality of the film.

A: Interesting point of view on the Oscars, hun. I'll be interested to
see what our reactions are after we see "The Artist" later this week.

Now the last thing for this review: your final rating. This is a perfect
opportunity to explain how we'll rate movies on our blog:

 - Must Buy = we love the movie so much it's guaranteed we'll buy it
when it comes out. This is our highest rating for a movie.
- See In Theatres = it's not quite a lock for us to buy, but you
should definitely see it in theatres as soon as you can.
- Good Afternoon at the Theatre = we enjoyed seeing it in the theatre,
but it's not imperative to do so.
- Netflix It = wait until it comes out on DVD and then rent it/Netflix it.
- Skip It = not worth your time or money, obviously.

So what does "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" get, my dear?

S: Good Afternoon at the Theater. I missed having my original movie buddy to see it with, but glad that I got to see it with a friend who we are turning into a true movie fan!

A: Agreed!

(Out of Five)

Tomorrow's Post: Our goal tomorrow is to see "The Artist" and
hopefully get the review up tomorrow night. Otherwise the review will
get up on Friday. Thanks for reading!

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