REVIEW: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

27 03 2012

I absolutely love the Oscars, and despite the cries of many naysayers, I believe they are overall a very good thing for film artistry and industry.  As tone-setters and taste arbiters, they have enormous influence over how and when movies get made.  This ability is not without a downside, though.  It may have scored a Best Picture nomination, but Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” as a piece of art is a victim of the Academy process.

The framework is there for the cinematic adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s incredible novel to be equally as compelling and emotionally moving.  But Daldry, who was still shooting a new scene for the movie on December 1 (yes, just weeks before the movie opened!), leaves us with merely a glimpse of what could have been.  He shows us how much potential the movie has, yet we are constantly left seeing the rough edges that should have been ironed out in post-production.  Tonally, it has some very rough swings, too.  If he had taken a few more months, really wrestled with the material, and released it in 2012, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” would have been a deserving Best Picture nominee – and dare I say it, a formidable threat to be a winner.

At a certain point, though, I have to stop mourning a movie that doesn’t exist.  Daldry made the movie that he made, and it does have some remarkable moments sprinkled sporadically throughout that really hit home.  He gets fine performances out of Sandra Bullock and Max von Sydow; Thomas Horn has flashes of brilliance every now and then, but his precociousness often errs towards the side of a grating whine.  Nevertheless, there were a number of scenes that just don’t work as well as they should, and knowing the source novel, I would periodically cringe.

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LIVE BLOGGING the 2011 Academy Awards!

26 02 2012

NOTE: I’ll be at my computer all day, so I will be craving some interaction with readers! Feel free to leave a comment or write on my Facebook fan page and I will happily respond to anything you might want to know!

11:36 P.M.  Uggie!  Uggie!  Uggie!  That’s a tie with five trophies for “The Artist” and “Hugo,” and “The Iron Lady” clocks in with two awards.  Everything else only won one award.  My ballot went 19/24 tonight, which is probably one of my better ones in years!  So by all accounts, it was a VERY good night.  Thanks for reading, everyone!  And I guess thanks to Billy Wilder, as Michel Hazanavicius insists!

11:35 P.M. BEST PICTURE: “THE ARTIST

11:34 P.M.  Just one big montage of all the Best Picture nominees… I guess this will do.

11:31 P.M.  Just to be clear, Meryl Streep is NOT winning her third Oscar for “The Iron Lady.”  She’s winning it for every movie between “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Iron Lady.”  That was bold of her to be so honest as to say, “Half of America went ‘Ohhhh no, not her again!'”  Hats off to the greatest actress of our generation.

11:29 P.M. BEST ACTRESS: MERYL STREEP, “THE IRON LADY

11:25 P.M.  Even if Viola Davis doesn’t win, it’s an empowering moment for women everywhere to see the actress with her natural hair.

11:19 P.M.  Jean Dujardin gave such a fun, energetic speech … but Harvey Weinstein is going to have his @$$ for not thanking the man who basically made his win possible.

11:18 P.M. BEST ACTOR: JEAN DUJARDIN, “THE ARTIST

11:14 P.M.  Wait, why did they get rid of all the amazing Best Picture tributes during the ceremony?  It help cut down on time, but I still really liked those!

11:04 P.M.  And the best way to get people to cry is to cue up “What a Wonderful World” when they think about dead people…

10:54 P.M.  “I’m the happiest director in the world” beats “I’m king of the world!” any day.  Michel, we love your humility … and the fact that you thanked Uggie!

10:53 P.M. BEST DIRECTOR: MICHAEL HAZANAVICIUS, “THE ARTIST

10:45 P.M.  Wow, I got all three short films right!  That’s never happened before!

10:45 P.M. BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM: “THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE”

10:42 P.M. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM: “SAVING FACE”

10:41 P.M.  And the SAG “Scorsese” drinking game continues…

10:40 P.M. BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: “THE SHORE”

10:39 P.M.  Oh, the “Bridesmaids” cast with their phallic jokes…

10:35 P.M.  In case you missed it early, this happened…

10:32 P.M.  Ok, what is with these random musicians in the boxes?

10:31 P.M.  Woohoo!!!!  That’s the one Oscar I really wanted to see!  I don’t even need an acceptance speech to top it off!

10:30 P.M. BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: “MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

10:28 P.M.  Gotta love the writer who made fun of Angelina Jolie’s sexy stance.

10:27 P.M. BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: “THE DESCENDANTS”

10:20 P.M.  Stewardesses handing out popcorn in the aisle?  Bordering on overkill…

10:18 P.M. BEST ORIGINAL SONG: MAN OR MUPPET, “THE MUPPETS”

10:16 P.M. “Please accept me because I have so much love to give.” – Ludovic Bource.  Awwww, yes, we accept you!

10:14 P.M. BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: “THE ARTIST

10:12 P.M.  I mean, it’s not like I screamed when I saw Uggie or anything.

10:09 P.M.  AHHHHHHHHHHHH UGGIE SIGHTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10:02 P.M. “You’re only two years older than me, where have you been all my life, darling?!” – Christopher Plummer.  What a wonderfully charming speech.  I’ll remember this one for a long time!

10:01 P.M.  The oldest actor EVER to win an Oscar! Congratulations, Christopher Plummer!  A much-deserved standing ovation!

10:00 P.M. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, “BEGINNERS

9:57 P.M. That’s five for “Hugo” now…

9:56 P.M. BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: “HUGO

9:56 P.M.  Dear Michael Bay, you are not allowed to talk about artistry.

9:54 P.M.  I’m really enjoying the Emma Stone-Ben Stiller meta-presentation.

9:52 P.M.  Melissa McCarthy’s legs are one way to introduce Ben Stiller and Emma Stone…

9:50 P.M.  Random ad for “Brave?”  I still trust Pixar … even after “Cars 2.”

9:47 P.M. BEST ANIMATED FILM: “RANGO

9:46 P.M.  “And then they give me a million dollars!” – Chris Rock.  I think a million unemployed Americans just found their calling.

9:46 P.M.  I’m sure every animator in the world wants to kill Chris Rock right now…

9:43 P.M. BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM: “UNDEFEATED”

9:41 P.M.  Hey Gwenyth, what happened to the cape?!

9:40 P.M.  “Next year, this will be called the Flomax Theater.” – Billy Crystal

9:37 P.M.  Random to have Cirque du Soleil performing at the Oscars … and awkward that someone fell.

9:34 P.M.  And now the Muppets talking about their first movie theater experience … WE GET IT ALREADY!  Sorry if I’m going to have to watch “We Need to Talk About Kevin” on my phone because it isn’t going to come to me!

9:33 P.M.  I do love a good Oscars ad for “Modern Family.”

9:28 P.M. BEST SOUND MIXING: “HUGO

9:26 P.M. Hu-go, you-go … very punny.

9:25 P.M. BEST SOUND EDITING: “HUGO

9:25 P.M.  Did NOT see that one coming!  Two in a row for Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall – much deserved, I must say!

9:24 P.M.  BEST FILM EDITING: “THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

9:20 P.M.  Gotta love Christopher Guest comedy!

9:15 P.M.  Throwback Octavia Spencer.

9:14 P.M.  What beautiful tears … they should NOT have made her wrap it up!

9:13 P.M.  She’s so overcome with emotion that she can barely walk, and a very fitting STANDING OVATION!!!

9:12 P.M.  BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: OCTAVIA SPENCER, “THE HELP

9:10 P.M.  A very classy and timely speech by Iranian director Asgar Faghadi.

9:08 P.M. BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “A SEPARATION”

9:06 P.M.  Is Sandra Bullock capable of smiling beneath that plastic facade?

9:00 P.M.  And another tribute to going to see the movies from your favorite movie stars, including 11-time Razzie nominee (just from 2011 alone) Adam Sandler!

8:58 P.M.  Ok, are Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez drunk?

8:57 P.M. BEST MAKEUP: “THE IRON LADY

8:54 P.M.  BEST COSTUME DESIGN: “THE ARTIST

8:52 P.M.  They are really pushing the big screen with a direct call-out to people who watch movies on their phones.

8:51 P.M.  I’m enjoying all these shout-outs to Kodak’s bankruptcy … “Chapter 11 Theater” and “Your Name Here Theater,” hopefully this is just the beginning.

8:46 P.M.  That’s 2 trophies for “Hugo” already … this could be a BIG technical sweep.

8:45 P.M.  BEST ART DIRECTION: “HUGO

8:44 P.M.  Short speech … there goes my ballot.

8:44 P.M.  BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “HUGO

8:42 P.M.  Aww, Tom Hanks’ shout-out to the seat-filler was very nice.

8:37 P.M.  “Nothing can take your mind off the economic woes quite like watching millionaires give each other golden statues.” – Billy Crystal

8:36 P.M.  I like the set.  Reminiscent of the 2006 set when “Crash” won Best Picture…

8:35 P.M.  Billy Crystal as Tintin … love it.

8:33 P.M.  This calls for…

8:32 P.M.  Appreciate the meta-joke about netting my generation, but get Justin Bieber the heck out of here.

8:31 P.M.  Who was the lucky person that Morgan Freeman winked at?

8:30 P.M.  Morgan Freeman?

8:26 P.M.  TIME TO START THE SHOW!

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Random Factoid #352

15 07 2010

I just finished my first book of summer reading, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer, today.  The first of four.

I really do love to read, and I used to use my free time to do a whole lot more of it.  It’s such a therapeutic thing for me to do, and it’s great for building vocabulary as well.  I have a huge bookshelf in my room filled with shelves of books I haven’t read.  I really do intend to get to them some day, but it’s hard to find the time.

And reading is another thing that gets pushed to the side doing movie blogging (like TV, which I described in Random Factoid #259).  It’s so hard to resist the temptation to get the full satisfaction of watching a plot arc develop in around two hours in a movie, while it takes days and days to read through a book.  Reading a book has less immediate gratification, something I’m constantly told my generation has a problem with.

Just so you know, the blogging may be slowing down a tad so I can finish up my summer reading.  It won’t be too noticeable, but I really do need to get this reading done.