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Just saw "Into the Wild"

Wow. I had a really intense reaction to the book and the movie was just the same. Maybe more so, because seeing things unfold has so much more of an emotional impact. Emile Hirsch was fantastic, as was everyone in the film, particularly Catherine Keener and wow, is that little Kristen Stewart from Panic Room, all grown up (or nearly.) The cinematography was incredible and I was prepared for very slow pacing, so I wasn't put off by that. Each little vignette really added something, I thought. It's become my favorite movie so far this year.

Emile, wow. I'm very impressed. In scenes, he reminded me of a young Johnny Depp, then a younger Ewan McGregor and other times, of Leonardo DiCaprio. Either way, you have to admit he's very good. I hope he keeps doing small movies for each blockbuster. It would be a shame to have him get eaten up by Hollywood. (And ultimately, I think he also reminds me of River Phoenix.)


I think what got to me the most was knowing the whole time he was going to die, and they way the film cut back and forth between his last days and his meeting different people on the road, it really emphasized what each person found -- and lost -- with him. He was a mother's missing son, the grandson an old man never had, the boy a young girl will always love and miss.

There was a kind of rapture and joy and humor in the scenes where he's alone and exploring that comes through more strongly than in the book, as we're experiencing it all with him, firsthand. I was hoping we wouldn't see his final moments as I knew I'd sob right through them. And some of the directorial choices there were, um, a bit cheesy. But the final image, of him smiling in death was strangely beautiful. I don't see how his family could bring themselves to watch. You really felt what a huge loss it was to everyone he knew and that's what, as I said, got to me the most. Pardon the comparison, but it reminded me of that ultimate of tearjerkers, Lassie Come Home, where each new set of caretakers falls in love with Lassie and wants to keep her, but she has to be moving on, back to her owner. But there's a tearful reunion in that film, and here, it's all just in his mind, too late.

When I read the book, I went back and forth over whether I thought he was an idiot or admirably brave. He came so close to succeeding! It was great luck that he found the bus and rotten luck with the river being too high too cross and eating the wrong plant. But then again, if he'd prepared more, brought a map or more provisions, he would have lived. It seems such a waste of a life but some people are just driven in ways I won't ever understand.

I was very moved by the "Iconoclasts" episode where Sean Penn and Jon Krakauer journey to the actual site of the bus (did they actually film there too?) and drank in his honor. Those two men seem reckless in the same kind of way and I think he'd be honored by their telling his story.

Maybe the saddest thing of all is the last thing he wrote, that true happiness must be shared, and that he'd realized that too late to make it true. I can't help but think of the heartbreak everyone felt on learning of his death, especially Hal Holbrook's character. *sniffles*

And by the way, I timed by bathroom break when he was starting to cut into the moose. I'm all for realism but too squeamish for that!

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
vixerunt
Dec. 9th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
I thought it was a pretty impressive adapation, very emotional. Both the film and the book made me cry roughly the same. But yeah, there were some cheesy choices for the movie and some things from the book just didn't translate easily onto the big screen. I thought they handled the end very well though and the image of his death really stuck with me after I left.

Emile, wow. I expect good things from him in the future. He was so impressive in this film (Are they talking Oscar? They should be). ...and then I saw the new Speed Racer trailer. I hope he's like Ewan and can balance doing the blockbusters and the critics' darlings, you know? I mean, he sounds great in the trailer. I like actors that can do those action roles with some conviction or at least look like they're having fun. ;-)

Anyway, I've yanked the book off the shelf and put it into the pile by the bed. I'm looking forward to reading it again and soaking it up in a new way now that I've seen the movie.
halfdutch
Dec. 9th, 2007 05:48 pm (UTC)
I believe they are talking Oscar for Emile, but for the film overall, I don't know as it's such a scrappy little thing, in a way. It doesn't seem like the kind of film that wins Oscars. Not grand and pompous enough, you know?

I'm going to see Speed Racer regardless as it's a huge part of my childhood and Matthew Fox in leather! I do hope that Emile doesn't get swallowed up by crappy movies with special effects. There's something so immensely satisfying about seeing real actors in real locations doing real things, y'know?

I actually don't own the book. It was passed around where I worked several jobs ago but I would like to reread it. I read Into Thin Air and it didn't have quite the same impact.

And, a bit OT, I read The Perfect Storm and it took a while to click with me, but when it did, I stayed up all night reading. There were several scenes that were tailor-made for the movies, including the fisherman who got a bad feeling about the boat and made an excuse not to sign on, then seeing the news of the disappearance on Halloween, while all around him mill little children in Halloween costumes. They chose not to show how the men supposedly showed up as ghosts to their loved ones, instead they went with the most horrifically cheesy moment in recent films, where Mark Wahlberg sees Diane Lane's face on the waves as he's drowning. Oh well. That movie made George Clooney bankable so some good came out of it!
vixerunt
Dec. 9th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
I'm remember having to buy the book for a class. I'm kind of weird though and tend to like the books that are mandatory reading (Like Mother Night or The Handmaid's Tale). Into the Wild isn't a bad one to own. I've read it a few times and I always seem to pick up something new or kind of adjust my opinion on Chris.

I may have to pick up The Perfect Storm. That's one I haven't read.

And I loved Speed Racer growing up (Had a crush on Racer X before I knew what crushes were). Matthew Fox in black leather throughout the whole thing just sweetens the deal (Is it just me or is his voice deeper in this? Maybe I've gone too long without Lost...). I had no idea Emile was in it though so I was a little surprised when I saw the trailer. I'm sure he'll be great in it - provided the film doesn't screw up my childhood memories entirely like so many other cartoon adaptations (Inspector Gadget, Josie and the Pussycats...ugh, Garfield). Minus everyone saying "hah Hah" after every sentence, it looks like the W brothers tried to make it as close to the anime as possible.

I have high hopes at least. And you know, Foxy in leather. That can make anything bearable ;-)
halfdutch
Dec. 9th, 2007 09:09 pm (UTC)
Perfect Storm and Into the Wild are very similar in that they're recreations of events long after the people involved died, and they both draw on historical precedents and other first-person accounts to put those events in context.

And Speed Racer - yes, I'm intrigued but also a bit nervous! However, the leather quotient goes a long way to ease those fears! :) And yes, I thought the same thing about Foxy's voice seeming deeper than usual. Which is all to the good! I'm such a sucker for a nice baritone!
zelda_zee
Dec. 9th, 2007 07:25 am (UTC)
I really loved that movie. It packs a wallop in a whole different way than the book, which was after all, a work of journalism whereas the movie was concerned with telling a story. All in all, I thought it was pretty fantastic and one of the best films I've seen in a long time. It's not often that I go to a movie and actually find it a profound experience, but I did with that one.

On a rather interesting side note, our friends in Flagstaff know the guy who played Rainey, Catherine Keener's guy. He's a river guide on the Colorado and was the marine coordinator for the film when they were shooting on the river. Sean Penn decided he'd be good in that role and cast him even though he'd never acted before. I thought he was pretty amazing.
halfdutch
Dec. 9th, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
It's one of those movies that I think would have an impact on anyone who saw it -- and if not, then I'm not sure I want to know them!

It really was a rare, honest movie experience. There's times when I get so tired of CGI and the usual contrived forced romances. The scenes here between Emile and Kristen, for example, or Jan and Rainey, really were moving and true. And wow, that's the guy's first time acting? I'm incredibly impressed. Kudos to Sean Penn for seeing that in him and bringing it out. I have to say, I've seen all the films he's directed and this is probably my favorite. The Pledge was so dully paced and all the big movie star cameos really were distracting. This one felt very balanced, even when some slightly famous people popped up. I kind of hate Vince Vaughn but I really liked him here. BTW, I had read that Eddie Vedder had a cameo in the film as well and I never saw him!
neversince
Dec. 9th, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
I just finished the book and I cannot WAIT to see the movie. I just watched Alpha Dog with Emilie Hirsch and I was pretty impressed by his performance then. I'm so glad you liked it!!
halfdutch
Dec. 9th, 2007 10:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, if you liked the book, I think you'll really like the film. There were a few music video-esque moments whenever the Eddie Vedder songs kicked in, LOL, but I didn't mind too much. ;)
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