Sunday, 26 February 2012

9/11 Happened And It Was Sad

Movies often use worldwide events as a basis for their plots. Look at any war film ever made. The issue with these sorts of movies is they must be handled right. Think about [Robin Williams’ movie] about the holocaust. It was not handled right and therefore was not very good. Unlike Schindler’s List which handled the holocaust right and is considered a masterpiece in film. Today’s film takes a heavy and recent event that shocked the world: September 11th. This is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) loses his father Thomas (Tom Hanks) who was in a meeting when the World Trade Centre was hit. This leaves him alone with mother, Linda, (Sandra Bullock) and his Grandmother (Zoe Caldwell). Thomas used to set up little missions for Oskar to carry out which would teach him plenty as well as encouraging him to talk to more people, something he found hard. Oskar is a bright kid but also a very emotional one. After his father dies, he doesn’t enter Thomas’s room for a year. When he eventually does, he finds an envelope with a key. The only clue to where it leads is the name Black. Hoping that it’ll lead to something his father left - as a mission, perhaps – Oskar sets off to find what the key opens. Along the way he meets hundreds of people and gains some help from a man he simply knows as ‘The Renter’, who does not talk.

Oskar's social issues meant he couldn't talk to people normally.

I want to start with the good aspects of the acting. Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow Are absolutely brilliant. It really is a pity that they all have fairly small parts. Hanks perfectly captures the emotions of his character. Half of his performance is voice and through his voice you can hear every thought and every emotion. Max Von Sydow is really the star of this movie and is rightly nominated for Best Supporting Actor with a good chance of winning.  The lack of speech makes it far harder to portray what he wants and yet he makes it seem effortless. The most in depth character of the film. Unfortunately, there is one large let down for the acting/ characters in this movie. Doubly unfortunately, that is the protagonist. Oskar is one of the most frustrating and annoying characters I have come across. He is rude, loud, and believes he is superior to everyone he talks to. He’s horrible to his mother, extremely rude to his doorman, and completely controlling of The Renter, despite his attempts to help. This may not be Horn’s fault. It may be more to the writers/director. I mean, who gives a kid a tambourine? They’re incredibly annoying on their on their own, let alone when a kid is shaking them constantly. I feel no emotional attachment to him, which is what the film relies on.

How to make the worlds most annoying child:
Give him social issues and a tambourine.

As I mentioned a moment ago, I feel the negative aspects of this movie are almost completely down to the writers and the director. I’ve not read the book, so I cannot speak for how it has transferred to the screen. But I must say, I don’t like the way they used the disaster that was 9/11. I don’t mind movies using it, as long as it is used well and handled rightly. This isn’t. Tom Hanks’ character could have died in a car crash and the story would have made just as much sense. The use of 9/11 was for completely emotionally exploitive reasons. It was like the movie was screaming: ‘THIS IS SOMETHING REALLY SAD THAT HAPPENED! FEEL SAD!’ It was just trying too hard to evoke an emotional reaction but instead it simply became uncomfortable to watch. The film was too long for such a simple premise. I found myself really bored and there was nothing special in any of the technical elements.

Honestly, I don’t recommend this. I’m actually rather angry that it was nominated for Best Picture over the likes of Drive, Tintin, Shame and, The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. There is something good here; a decent premise done completely wrong. Three or four great performances but a horridly annoying protagonist. It just all comes together wrong. A more accurate name for it would be Extremely Long and Incredibly Dull.

Best Bit? The phone call between Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock is probably the most emotional scene in the entire film. Genuine emotion and some great acting. Also, when The Renter and Oskar visit a particularly angry Black together and The Renter has a little bit of fun ringing the doorbell over and over again.

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