Archive for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Mawkish & Incredibly Maudlin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 9, 2012 by Will Link

I have seen every film nominated for best picture since 1992. The last film I haven’t seen that was nominated was Howard’s End. This means I’ve had to sit through some pretty rough stuff just on principal. The Blind Side. The English Patient.  And of course Crash. But I loved all those film when compared to Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

People often say to me “you seem to like every film you see.” Well I have become a savvy film viewer over the years. I pretty much know what I’m going to like and dislike ahead of time. Since I am not a paid critic I can afford to avoid the films I think look awful. Like say Jack and Jill. Or The Green Lantern. Occasionally there is a critically acclaimed film that my fellow cinephiles love that I avoid because I know it’s not for me. The Tree of Life was one such film. Into the Wild was another. I agree these films have their merits, for example they look gorgeous.  However I find them heavy handed. Tree of Life isn’t as deep as you think it is. Into the Wild is about someone who is selfish portrayed in a way meant to feel liberating. I knew I wasn’t going to like Extremely Loud…a film that didn’t even have the benefit of being critically acclaimed. As I popped in my screener I said “I bet it’s not going to be awful. I bet it’s going to be just average.” How this film is nominated for anything I will never know.

9/11 was the day (at least in my lifetime) that brought this nation closer together than ever before. I have distinctive memories of where I was. What I was feeling. We all do. For a film about such a unifying event it’s completely frustrating to have to view it through the alienating eyes of a child. An autistic child. His world is not fantastical enough to be memorizing nor is it real enough to be emotional. You are forced to follow him on his mission. A mission you barely understand because he is a terrible narrator.  It’s a goal set forth by the tiniest of coincidences. It would have been better served and more proactive if his father had left this key for him. Instead we follow a child around for hours as he gets nowhere. We meet people we only half get to know thus half get to care about. Even Oscar nominee Max Von Sydow isn’t given true closure. Most of his scenes in fact were in the trailer. If the idea is to make you feel like you too have aspergers then congratulations Stephen Daldry.

I actually found the 9/11 imagery semi offensive. An image of Tom Hanks falling from the building. Overly dramatic slow motion shots of a body in air. It’s not even sentimentality. It’s artsy spectacle.  Without hyperbole I will tell you United 93 is one of the greatest films ever made. Watching that realistic account of 9/11 you were thrust into that moment. As air traffic controllers gasped – you remembered how you gasped when the towers fell. It was cathartic. Greengrass put you on that plane. Made you ask if you would be as brave as those men and women.  You portray an event of this magnitude with truth. You portray it with honor. I don’t know who Extremely Loud is for. I don’t know whose 9/11 it is.