REVIEW: The End of the Tour

16 08 2015

The End of the TourThe celebrity interview in fiction is something that often gets fetishized, probably because it is so frequently fantasized.  I have done a few myself, and it can be tough not to get carried away just by breathing the rarefied air of a talented artist.  Rationalize the experience away as journalism, but that does not do justice to the nature of the interview.

It’s a transaction.  An exchange of goods disguised as an exchange of words.  A delicate dance. Chuck Klosterman, in his excellent book “Eating the Dinosaur,” offered a deft explanation of just how these performances work.  “The result (when things go well),” he wrote, “is a dynamic, adversarial, semi-real conversation.”

The End of the Tour” makes a movie out of a journalistic conversation for the ages, a battle of wits on a more even playing field than usual.  Jesse Eisenberg plays David Lipsky, a minimally successful novelist who pays the bills for his aspirations of fiction writing by penning non-fictional articles for Rolling Stone. Somehow, he convinces his boss to let him go on assignment to profile another writer, the first time the magazine dares to feature a wordsmith in over a decade.

Lipsky’s subject is no average writer, though. He tags along with David Foster Wallace, played by Jason Segel, at the last stop of his 1996 book tour for “Infinite Jest,” a thousand-page tome that reaps hyperbolic praise and adulation. After publishing such a novel, a kind of literary legend status extended to very few authors looms on the horizon.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements




REVIEW: In the Loop

28 06 2010

I feel like I should be littering F-bombs throughout this review to keep with the tone of “In the Loop,” a movie where every other word literally was a profane one. But the language isn’t just thrown around indiscriminately. This movie is probably the best thing to happen to the F-word since its invention. Peter Capaldi and the screenwriters use it in such inventive and hilarious ways, none of which are all that irreverent.

But beyond all the profanity, there’s so much more that the Academy Award-nominated script of “In the Loop” has to offer. It’s a brilliant satire of an organization everyone loves to roast – the government. The movie shows politicians struggling over doing what is best for the country or doing what is best for their own interests. Everyone is struggling with this inner conflict, and it ultimately pushes the Britain and the United States towards a military conflict that no one really wants.

We see all sorts of government officials, from elected officials to their advisors to the interns toiling away below them. After Britain’s Minister for Internal Development Simon Foster calls war “unforeseeable,” the fiasco begins.  And once that one word flies, everyone from the Pentagon to the state department in America to Britain’s Foreign Office and Internal Devlopment is involved in a war of words.

Of the countless generals and government officials, my favorite tiny storyline was the rivalry between two twenty-something American aides, played by Anna Chlumsky and Zach Woods, both intent on destroying the other.  The Academy Award-nominated script has all the key aspects of a great screenplay: engaging dialogue to keep a well-organized plot moving. The plot shapers tie together all these plot lines in a very interesting way, although it gets a little exhausting to watch by the time the movie is over.

But the movie’s star is Peter Capaldi’s foul-mouthed enforcer Malcolm Tucker, who has a new obscenity for every time he opens his mouth. No matter what you think of the movie as a whole, it’s pretty hard not to enjoy Tucker. His unabashed speaking of his mind always makes for a good laugh, and his shameless dialogue enables his fellow actors to have their own hilarious moments by calling him out on his excessive profanity. Really, it’s Capaldi’s foul-mouthed antics that make “In the Loop” fun to watch; the satire takes a thought-provoking backseat.  B+ /