Sunday, January 29, 2012

Your brother's not very polite, Eyeball.

So I like to try and see all the Oscar flicks, right? That won't be happening this year. Not because of time, but because I just learned the hard way that mindless devotion to some ridiculous goal often results in seeing really shitty movies.

I would like to draw your attention to Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Or rather, I wouldn't.

It wasn't offensive, mind you, it was no Forrest Gump, but it was pretty awful. In fact, after twenty minutes I was seriously considering walking out and getting my money back. But I was with D AND in the middle of a fairly crowded row. Then Viola Davis showed up and was easily the most entertaining thing yet.

But oh my god. I want those two hours back like you can't imagine. It's not even worth dignifying with a passionate rant ripping it to shreds because quite frankly, its own emotional core is cheaply ripped from the devastation of a real event and doesn't merit the energy.

In fact, here, Manohla Dargis of the New York Times says it far better than I:

Ms. Davis is such a good actress and such an empathetic screen presence that it’s difficult not to weep along with her, even as you wonder why. Crying is one of the great pleasures of moviegoing, but tears can be cheap. Much depends on your personal triggers, how you respond to having them pulled, who’s working those triggers and for what reason. In some movies a weeping woman is a routine cliché, but when an actress like Ms. Davis cries it can feel very close to home. You may think about your own heartbreaks. And Ms. Davis, a practiced weeper, has herself become a trigger (all those snotty tears she wept in “Doubt”). Max von Sydow, who plays Oskar’s grandfather, if more accurately his sidekick, and who brings natural gravitas to any role, is another.

The images from Sept. 11 of course remain profound triggers for many of us. Some of that day’s most vivid imagery appears in the movie: there are snippets from real television news reports, but there’s also an aestheticized re-creation of a falling man that’s mirrored, with stunning imbecility, by a shot of Oskar joyfully soaring into the air on a swing. There’s also a scene in which Linda, after receiving a call from Thomas, who’s trapped in one of the towers, gazes in horror out her office window at the burning buildings. The shot is obviously composited, but it’s nonetheless a jolt because the buildings reverberate so intensely. It’s this intensity — and our deep emotional responses — that the movie tries to appropriate for itself.

And worse than just being emotionally cheap and awful, it's also kind of fucking boring.

And should you deign to rest the weight of your story on the shoulders of a child, he probably shouldn't be irritating and you should probably try to make me care about him.

So after that horrendous shitshow of a film, how could I possibly be expected to sit through War Horse or Tree of Life? FAIL.


Friend L said...

Tree of Life wasn't for everyone, but it does not deserve to even be MENTIONED alongside a derivative Hollywood tear-jerking, national-tragedy-ripping-off schlockfest.

Ellen Aim said...

Well, if we were having a boring competition, both might very well be top contenders. Just sayin'.

And again, haven't seen it. But I would endure it over War Horse...