Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Video Review: "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is probably the most disrespected film ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
This challenging drama was directed by high-toned director Stephen Daldry ("Billy Elliot," "The Reader") and adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer’s best-selling novel by screenwriter Eric Roth ("Forrest Gump"). Despite that prestigious pedigree, and the presence of major stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, "Loud" barely received a theatrical release. And reviews generally ranged from indifferent to openly hostile.
Me? I rushed it into the #3 slot on my Top 10 slot at the last minute.
Those lambasting the film seem to regard it as cynically manipulating the decade-old tragedy of 9/11, as a young boy searches the city of New York for clues to a game he played with his father, who died in the World Trade Center. I think these critics erroneously tried to force the label of "the definitive 9/11 movie" on the film, when really it's more a ruminative tale about a very specific, very unusual child.
As played with devastating effect by newcomer Thomas Horn, Oskar Schell is a brilliant but shy boy, possibly autistic, whose only substantial human relationship was with his dad (Hanks). When he dies, Oskar doggedly pursues the mystery behind one of the puzzle-like adventures his father would concoct for him, mostly as a ruse to force him to interact with other people.
As he traipses all around New York, encountering strangers and learning to come out of his shell, Oskar retraces the steps of his family life, and discovers that the mother he’d always kept at a distance is anything but uncaring. It’s a bracing, sad and joyous journey.
Video extras are pretty good, but not spectacular. The Blu-ray/DVD combo comes with a digital copy of the film and several featurettes.
The heart of the package is a making-of documentary that includes substantial participation by Daldry, his cast and crew. Other mini-documentaries focus on the search for an actor to play Oskar – Horn was, astonishingly, a total novice – and the lasting impact of 9/11 10 years later.
One of the more original pieces is a featurette about Max Von Sydow’s Oscar-nominated turn as a mute stranger who wanders into Oskar’s life, directed by Von Sydow’s own son.
Movie: 3.5 stars out of four
Extras: 3 stars