Monday, January 30, 2012

30 Days of Oscar Day 6: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Movie: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Year: 2012
Nominations:Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor - Max von Sydow
Wins/Snubs: The movie is generally regarded as the one that squeaked into the Best Picture race.  Personally, I think Max von Sydow has an outside chance of beating Christopher Plummer

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close might only have gotten a 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but on this one, I am firmly in the "Loved it" category.  Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks) and his son Oscar (Thomas Horn) have a special relationship - they have adventures and Thomas tries really hard to create quests for his son that help him interact with people.  Oscar's mom Linda (Sandra Bullock) loves her boys, but can't really get a handle on the quests.  On "the worst day", Thomas is killed in the towers on 9/11.  Oscar obviously has trouble learning to deal with this - from finding clues to possible quests his dad might have left to hurting himself to not feel pain.  One day he breaks a vase and finds a key in an envelope with the name "Black" written on the back.  Oscar decides his father must have sent this clue to his son, and Oscar decides to find all the Blacks in the phone book to try to solve the puzzle.  He creates a map, and plans the route.  Along the way he meets some terrific characters, some of whom embrace him and share his pain, others who send him away.  One night he also gets to know The Renter (Max von Sydow), an old man staying with Oscar's grandmother.  The Renter doesn't speak - he even has YES and NO written on his palms for communication. But Oscar finds him easy to communicate with - he tells The Renter his secrets, unburdening his young soul.   They continuing look for the key's lock and the end of the quest to little success.  But Oscar can't give up, and continues his journey to complete his father's journey, slowly revealing the secrets that have prevented him from moving on with his life after the loss of his father.  

I loved this movie.  It started out slowly, and the dialogue didn't start great, but around the 20 minute mark, you start getting drawn into his journey - you start to care what connection to his dad can be maintained after such a devastating loss.  The way they portray a possible real-life story of 9/11 is both heartbreaking and uplifting.  On a personal note - I was living in Kenya on 9/11/01 and we only had a satellite radio, which meant when the satellite set, we had nothing.  So no TV, few magazines and because of that, I have consciously avoided ever seeing the video of the towers falling or the plans flying into them.  After seeing this movie, I can't say that anymore, and it made me cry both for loss in the film, and for finally seeing what the world has seen.  Yes, they do draw on your heartstrings.  It's probably manipulative.  But I don't think that it's done in a bad way - and it tells a story with a unique story that cannot be matched.  I think it deserved it's nomination for Best Picture, and von Sydow definitely deserved his for Supporting Actor.  I don't think Thomas Horn should supplant any of the current Best Actor nominees, but I think he did an amazing job for a young actor, carrying a huge load on his back. 5 of 5 star/lambs


Rachel said...


(Still haven't seen it though.)

Ryan McNeil said...

Full Disclosure: I just skimmed right down to the score.

Despite having read the book (thus being immune to spoilers in the usual sense), I'm looking to go in with an open mind.

But given how much venom so many people have for this film, I'm sort of enjoying seeing people actually get out and see it and give it a positive reaction.

David Bishop said...

I saw the movie pre-Oscar nomination when all I had to go on was a low RT score and low expectations. I wouldn't say the movie is undeserving of praise, but I didn't exactly like it.

As a habit, I've never really liked 9/11 movies because my more cynical side kicks in and feels like the filmmaker is exploiting it to get an emotion out of me. Even you noted that "it's probably manipulative." I don't know that it's that bad with this movie, since its emphasis is more on the grieving process than the attack.

I don't like to be one of those people that doesn't like a movie for a nitpick reason, but I just could not get over the fact that this kid was just allowed to explore Manhattan all by himself at any odd hour of the day. At first I was angry at the mother, but then I was angry at the filmmaker when nothing much is made of the issue outside of a single line of dialogue later in the film.

Jess said...

Rach - Sorry. I really liked it.

Ryan - Glad I could oblige

David - I agree. Thinking back on it, that does make it seem really impossible. I attributed it to Sandra being so distraught, she just couldn't stick with him.

Ryan McNeil said...

So now that I've seen it...

I found the tempo of this film a little bumpy. We get taken to some beautifully melancholy places, but then have the brakes slammed on three or four times to get into melodrama. Watching Oskar's somewhat spastic rants was intense...but some of the melodramatic moments didn't land for me.

What I loved most is something you didn't mention - all of Oskar's interactions with The Black's. All of those snapshots and memories were so individually beautiful, and easily what I'll most take away from this movie.