‘Extremely Loud,’ Meryl as ‘Iron Lady’ and Close as a man
While I was recovering from surgery last month, several Oscar contenders opened. Here are some quick opinions on those films and what chance they might have when the Oscars are handed out Feb. 26.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a film whose Academy Award nominations have me scratching my head. This film has earned mixed reviews on merit, directed by Stephen Daldry (The Hours, The Reader), with a screenplay by Eric Roth, author of the criminally over praised screenplay for Forrest Gump. Like Gump, this movie is a cloying collection of vignettes. It is another post-9/11 movie that doesn’t quite deliver the goods, leaving the field wide open for the definitive 9/11 movie that one hopes will arrive eventually.
Beyond the confusing, hard to remember title (based on the book by the same name), Extremely Loud feels uncomfortably forced as it tells us the story of a young boy whose father (played by Tom Hanks) was killed in the Twin Towers and whose grief takes the form of a quest he believes his father designed for him.
With a mother (Sandra Bullock) who is living in the fog of her grief, Oskar Shell (Thomas Horn) is determined to find the lock that fits the key he found in his father’s belongings.
He maps out his quest and hides it from his mother, who appears to be oblivious to the Saturday trips he takes to find the answer that will somehow makes his father’s death serve a purpose.
While there are nice performances from Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright as two of the people Oskar meets, and an Oscar-nominated turn by Max Von Sydow as his grandmother’s silent tenant, the movie falls short of engaging us fully in this quest. Part of the problem is that Oskar is annoying and lacks compassion for anyone but himself.
While it was nice to find out that Oskar’s mom wasn’t as clueless as she appeared, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is yet another disappointing attempt to wrap our collective psyche around the events of 9/11.
After catching up with some Oscar contenders, it was back to new releases at the multi-plex, the "found-footage" horror flick 'Chronicle' and family-oriented save-the-whales tale 'Big Miracle.'
While there are the usual stone cold lock Oscar nominees this year, the current award season has divided up the booty just enough to make this an intriguing and challenging year for Oscar prognosticators.
When one looks back over the year and designates a “best 10” list, it isn’t really a “best” ten. In all honesty it is my 10 favorite films of the year, since one’s personal tastes are such a big part of remembering which films gave you the most pleasure or had the biggest emotional impact, or just made you laugh your ass off.
The success of the Bourne trilogy has changed the landscape of spy movies. While there are still James Bond movies, even those have more grit these days. Safe House, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, is an obvious example of this new direction.
Romantic comedies have been so awful lately (with the major exception of Crazy, Stupid, Love) it is no wonder that director McG and his trio of writers decided to try and spiff up the genre by mashing it together with an action comedy.